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Phil Hellmuth Extends Record With 17th WSOP Bracelet

$268 Million Paid Out So Far At The 54th Annual World Series Of Poker

by Erik Fast |  Published: Aug 09, 2023


Phil Hellmuth credit: Rachel Kay MillerWe have arrived at the business end of the 2023 World Series of Poker, with 91 bracelets awarded thus far and just 24 yet to be handed out. There have been 191,425 entries made across the 76 live events and 15 online events that have wrapped up to date, with more than $268 million in prize money awarded across those tournaments. That total is still set to grow in a big way, however, with this year’s main event now underway at the time of publishing.

Let’s take a look at the latest stories from inside the Paris and Horseshoe Las Vegas, starting with a monumental victory from the most accomplished player in WSOP history.

Phil Hellmuth Continues To Prove The Haters Wrong

He’s done it again. Everybody’s favorite poker brat, Phil Hellmuth, extended his lead as the all-time series winner by taking down the $10,000 super turbo bounty event for a record 17th gold bracelet.

Hellmuth now has seven more bracelets than his nearest competition, with legends of the game like Phil Ivey, Johnny Chan, and the late Doyle Brunson all tied for second with 10 wins a piece.

This latest victory saw the 58-year-old Hellmuth overcome a field of 642 entries in a tournament that took just a single day to complete. Even with a blisteringly fast structure, the final hand was not dealt until around 5:20 in the morning, meaning the event took a little more than 15 hours from start to finish.

In addition to the bracelet, Hellmuth also earned $803,818. This was the fifth-largest score of his career, increasing his lifetime earnings to more than $26.4 million. More than $17.7 million of that money has come at the WSOP, the third-most of any player. He now trails only Antonio Esfandiari ($21.9 million) and Daniel Negreanu ($20.9) in that category.

This was Hellmuth’s 14th hold’em bracelet, with his first being his 1989 main event title run. Hellmuth also took down the WSOP Europe main event back in 2012, a victory that saw him become the only player to have won both of these main event titles. Hellmuth’s has three non-hold’em bracelets, with one in no-limit deuce-to-seven single draw lowball and two in razz.

Hellmuth was awarded 2,100 Card Player Player of the Year points for the win. This was his second title and third final-table finish of the year, having taken down a U.S. Poker Open event back in March and finishing fifth in another tournament at the same series. With 2,755 total points, Hellmuth has climbed into 37th place in the 2023 POY race standings, presented by Global Poker.

Hellmuth also surged up the PokerGO Tour leaderboard thanks to this victory. The 804 PGT points he secured were enough to see him claim the sixth-place spot in those rankings.

Incredibly, Hellmuth was not the only player from the top of the bracelets leaderboard that made this final table. Phil Ivey came within a handful of spots from winning his 11th bracelet but ultimately was knocked out in sixth place for $133,461.

Jason Mercier credit: PokerGO Miguel CortesJason Mercier Returns, Nabs Bracelet No. 6

Jason Mercier has cashed in just ten poker tournaments over the last five years, and yet managed to come away with the title in three of those events. The 36-year-old father of two from Florida has stepped back from the full-time grind on the poker tournament circuit in recent years to spend more time with his family. But despite his time off, he has proven that he still has what it takes to win on the game’s biggest stage.

Mercier’s most recent victory saw him defeat a field of 548 entries in the $1,500 no-limit deuce-to-seven single draw lowball event, overcoming a stacked final table to earn $151,276 and his sixth gold bracelet. Other notables at the final table included Bradley Ruben, Jon Turner, and Erik Seidel.

Heads-up play began with Mercier holding a slight lead over the red-hot Mike Watson. The two went on to battle it out for more than an hour, with a few lead changes before Mercier gained control for the final time.

Watson earned $93,495 as the runner-up finisher. This was his sixth second-place showing in a bracelet event, including a runner-up finish to Mercier in the $10,000 buy-in version of this same game back in 2016. This latest score saw him surpass $21.3 million in recorded earnings, and solidifies him as one of the best players without a bracelet.

Watson has made ten final tables and won four titles so far this year, cashing for more than $3.4 million in POY earnings along the way. As a result, he has moved into ninth place in the standings.

This was Mercier’s first win at the series since 2016. With it, he became just the 21st player in poker history to have won six or more bracelets. He is the fourth player to join that prestigious list in 2023, alongside Shaun Deeb, Jeremy Ausmus, and Brian Rast.

Mercier, who is also a European Poker Tour main event champion, now has nearly $20.6 million in recorded tournament earnings to his name.

Mike Gorodinsky credit: PokerGO Enrique MalfavonMike Gorodinsky and Ryan Eriquezzo Complete Bracelet Hat Tricks

Hellmuth and Mercier were not the only multiple bracelet winners to add to an existing collection of WSOP hardware over the past fortnight. A pair of two-time champions emerged victorious in that span, securing their third bracelets in the process.

The first of these two was Mike Gorodinsky, who took down the $10,000 H.O.R.S.E. championship event. He outlasted a 185-entry field to secure the gold and the second-highest tournament payout of his career worth $422,747.

Gorodinsky’s first bracelet was won just over a decade earlier when he took down the $2,500 Omaha eight-or-better and stud eight-or-better event at the 2013 series. Two years after that, he won the prestigious $50,000 Poker Players Championship for his second bracelet and a career-best payday of $1.3 million. With this most recent victory, Gorodinsky now has nearly $4.3 million in lifetime tournament earnings. More than $3.4 million of that has been earned in WSOP events.

Connecticut native Ryan Eriquezzo outlasted a field of 1,810 total entries in the WSOP Online $400 no-limit hold’em ‘Ultra Deepstack’ tournament to earn $145,375 and his third career bracelet.

Eriquezzo’s first bracelet win came back in 2012 when he took down the WSOP National Championship event for $416,051. Seven years later, he won the 2019 WSOP Global Casino Championship in an event that marked the culmination of the WSOP Circuit season.

Eriquezzo, who played this tournament under the screen name ‘GoFeltaFish2,’ now has more than $2.6 million in recorded tournament earnings, with nearly $1 million of that coming from his 28 in-the-money finishes in bracelet events.

A Trio of High-Stakes Pros Secure Second Bracelets

The three remaining victors from the past week with a prior bracelet win under their belt are all frequent high-stakes tournament regulars. First up is Chris Brewer, who earned his first bracelet by taking down the $250,000 high roller for a career-best $5.3 million payday on June 18.

Just two weeks later, the 30-year-old former collegiate distance runner found himself atop the podium once again. The poker pro defeated a tough field of 154 players to win the $10,000 no-limit deuce-to-seven single draw lowball championship, earning $367,599 and his second piece of hardware of the summer.

“The other one was a $250,000 tournament with $5 million on top,” Brewer told PokerNews reporters when asked about his two WSOP wins. “I wanted to win the bracelet and it still means a lot, but the stakes were very different and it definitely was a lot less intense.”

Brewer has been on a tear in 2023. While this was his second title at the series, it was his fifth victory of the year. He has made 14 total final tables so far, cashing for $8,960,186 across those tournaments. Thanks to the 720 points that he secured for this latest win, Brewer now sits in fourth place on the POY leaderboard. This win also saw Brewer take home 368 PokerGO Tour points, enough to see him surpass Isaac Haxton to take the outright lead in the PGT standings heading into the back half of the year.

In late June of 2018, Jesse Lonis recorded his very first live tournament cash, placing ninth in a $250 buy-in event at the Turning Stone Casino and Resort in his native New York for $1,645. Just over five years removed from that first score, Lonis is now a two-time bracelet winner with more than $5.6 million in career tournament earnings to his name.

Lonis’ latest win was also his biggest. The 27-year-old poker pro defeated a field of 200 entries in the $50,000 pot-limit Omaha high roller event for a career-best payday of $2,303,017. Lonis’ first bracelet came in a $1,000 buy-in online event held during the 2022 WSOP Online series.

This was the second title and fifth final-table finish of the year for Lonis, with nearly $3.1 million in to-date POY earnings accrued along the way. He is now ranked 26th in the 2023 standings as a result.

As one might expect in a major high roller, several big names were among those that ran deep, including recent bracelet winner Isaac Haxton, who finished seventh.

Haxton was already the top-ranked player in the POY standings for this year prior to cashing in this event. The $329,142 and 383 POY points he banked helped maintain his lead over second-ranked Nacho Barbero. Haxton has won six titles so far in 2023, with 15 final-table finishes and more than $7.8 million in to-date POY earnings.

The final player in recent weeks to become a two-time winner was Sam Soverel. The high-stakes regular earned his second bracelet by taking down a unique online and live hybrid event that was part of the WSOP Online festival, topping a field of 408 total entries in the $5,300 buy-in no-limit hold’em high roller event.

Soverel earned $393,516 for the win. He now has nearly $22.1 million in lifetime cashes under his belt.

This tournament began July 3 online at for players located within the borders of Nevada and New Jersey. By the end of the online session, the field had been narrowed from 408 down to just six contenders. The final six then resumed play two days later in person inside the Horseshoe Las Vegas. Soverel, who went by ‘ApesSonIMHO’ during the online portion of the event, was the chip leader when the live segment got underway and was able to convert it into the title.

Ka Kwan Lau Wins Largest PLO Tournament In WSOP History

The $25,000 pot-limit Omaha event at this year’s series attracted an astounding field of 449 entries, creating a $10,551,500 prize pool to set the record for the largest PLO event in WSOP history (by prize money). This same event drew 264 entries in 2022, which means there was a 70 percent increase in year-over-year turnout.

After four days of intense four-card action, Spain’s Ka Kwan Lau emerged victorious with his first bracelet and the $2,294,756 top prize. This win came just two years after Lau finished second in the 2021 running of this same event. He also final-tabled this event in 2019, placing eighth that year. The pot-limit Omaha specialist now has nearly $4.6 million in recorded tournament earnings, with more than $3.2 million of that coming from cashes in this tournament alone.

It was an all-Spain final as Lau made it down to heads-up against Sergio Martinez Gonzalez. The two traded the lead a few times, but Lau was eventually able to take control. Martinez Gonzalez earned $1,418,270 as the runner-up finisher.

Tamar Abraham Wins Biggest WSOP Ladies Event Ever

The $1,000 ladies championship attracted a field of 1,295 entries to set a new record for the event. Before this year, the largest field had been the 1,286 entries made in the 2007 running.

The huge turnout resulted in a prize pool of $1,152,550. After four days of tournament action, the largest share of that money was captured by Tamar Abraham of California. For the win, Abraham earned $192,167 and her first gold bracelet.

This was the largest live tournament score yet for Abraham, and her third in-the-money showing in this event. She has now cashed three out of the last five times that this tournament was held, including a 45th-place finish in 2021 and a 30th-place finish in 2018. She now has more than $218,000 in career earnings after this latest victory.

Pavel Plesuv Wins Millionaire Maker For Moldova’s First Bracelet

Pavel Plesuv outlasted a massive field in the $1,500 Millionaire Maker to become the first player ever from his home country of Moldova to win a WSOP gold bracelet. Plesuv came incredibly close to earning his first win at the series last year, falling one spot short with a runner-up showing in the $10,000 six-max event. This time around, he was able to seal the deal and walk away with the gold.

In addition to the hardware, Plesuv also took home a career-high payday of $1,201,564 for the win. He now has nearly $7.6 million in recorded tournament earnings, with more than $2.2 million of that coming from in-the-money finishes at the series.

This event drew 10,430 entries, the largest turnout event for a $1,500 buy-in poker event. As a result, the prize pool swelled to $13,905,360, with seven-figure paydays for both the champion and the runner-up. France’s Florian Ribouchon walked away with $1,003,554 for his second-place showing.

William Kopp Joins Sister Katie As WSOP Bracelet Winner

William Kopp scooped the final pot in the $1,500 pot-limit Omaha eight-or-better event, earning $259,549 and his first gold bracelet for the win. The victory was particularly special because it saw Kopp join his sister Katie as a WSOP bracelet winner.

Katie Kopp took down the $500 casino employees event in 2022 to win the first bracelet awarded last year. The Kopps now join a short list of siblings with titles at the series that includes the likes of the Mizrachis (Michael and Robert), the Hinkles (Blair and Grant), the Zamanis (Martin and Benjamin), and Howard Lederer and Annie Duke.

The entire Kopp family plays poker. Katie travels the circuit with her mother Patty as tournament dealers when she’s not playing herself, and William already had two WSOP Circuit rings prior to his bracelet win.

More First-Time Champions

The popular $1,000 seniors championship drew an absolutely huge field of 8,180 entries, each of whom was at least 50 years of age. From this sea of players, the last senior standing was 54-year-old Lonnie Hallett. The Canadian earned $765,731 and his first-gold bracelet for the win.

Despite the massive field, Hallett still had to outlast some major talent at the final table, topping 61-year-old Dan Heimiller (3rd), who won this event in 2014, and 83-year-old Billy Baxter (2nd), who has seven bracelets.

From a field of 566 entries, this year’s $1,500 seven card stud eight-or-better event came down to a battle between Marcin Horecki and four-time bracelet winner Mike Matusow. In the end, Horecki came away with the title, scooping up his first bracelet and the top prize of $155,275. The Polish player now has nearly $1.2 million in lifetime tournament earnings after this latest win.

Horecki became just the second Polish player ever to win a WSOP bracelet, and the first to do so in a live event. In 2021, Dominik Panka took down a $2,100 buy-in bounty event during the WSOP Online festival to become the first player from Poland with gold.

This year’s $500 Salute To Warriors event saw 4,305 entries made by the time registration concluded. With $40 from each entry going to the United Service Organizations and other veteran-focused charities, that meant that more than $172,000 was donated.

There was also $1,936,350 in prize money up for grabs for those that participated, including a top prize of $217,921. That sum was ultimately captured by Steven Genovese, a retired fireman from California.

The $3,000 limit hold’em event drew 263 players. The top 40 finishers made the money, with $702,210 in total prize money up for grabs. The largest share was won by Jason Daly, who ran away with the title down the stretch. The Texas resident earned $165,250, his second-largest score yet. His biggest payday came earlier this year, when he finished as the runner-up in the Lodge Championship Series $3,000 main event for $290,864.

Germany’s Robert Schulz was the last player standing from a field of 1,598 that entered the $3,000 no-limit event. For the win, Shulz earned $675,275 and his first bracelet. The score increased his total earnings to nearly $1.6 million. Prior to this victory, his largest cash had been a runner-up showing in a $1,600 event at the Venetian earlier this summer for $160,278.

The $1,000 super seniors no-limit hold’em event requires all participants to be at least 60 years of age. A total of 3,121 entries were made by the time registration closed in this year’s running, building a prize pool of $2,777,690 that was split up among the top 468 finishers.

Klaus Ilk emerged victorious after four days of tournament action, earning his first bracelet and $371,603. This was only the second recorded in-the-money finish at the series for the 66-year-old Austrian. His first came when he finished 262nd in the same tournament last year.

David Simon came out on top of a 2,076-entry field to win the $1,500 no-limit hold’em and pot-limit Omaha event. The Hawaii resident earned $410,659 after defeating bracelet winner David Prociak heads-up for the title. This was by far the largest live tournament score on Simon’s résumé, blowing away the $18,158 he earned for a third-place showing in a small event at the 2019 Wynn Classic.

After a protracted heads-up battle with bracelet winner Bryn Kenney that lasted several hours, Ryan Miller finally came away with the $10,000 stud eight-or-better championship event. Miller earned $344,677 and his first live tournament title ever, as he primarily focuses on mixed cash games. Prior to this, his top finish was a second-place showing in the $1,500 razz event back in 2015.

It took just two days of tournament action to narrow the 2,824 entries made in the $1,000 no-limit hold’em bounty super turbo freezeout event down to a champion. When the dust settled, Brazil’s Gabriel Schroeder had collected the last bounty, his first bracelet, and the top payout of $228,632. This was the 32-year-old’s second live final-table finish of the year, having placed fourth in a $1,100 buy-in event at the Venetian DeepStack Series for $99,922 just a week prior to his win.

On the final day of the $600 Deepstack Championship event, Canada’s David Guay wore a shirt with the words ‘determination & grit’ emblazoned across the top. Guay displayed just those qualities when he finished atop a field of 4,303 entries to earn his first gold bracelet and the title of $271,032.

Guay had come painstakingly close to winning a WSOP title twice before, finishing as the runner-up in both the 2017 $1,000 tag team event and the 2021 $1,000 double stack event. This time around, he was finally able to come out on top of the heads-up match while a bracelet hung in the balance. Guay now has nearly $1.5 million in recorded tournament earnings.

Weiran Pu bested a 1,199-entry field to win the $5,000 no-limit six-max event, earning $938,244 and his first gold bracelet for the win. Pu was the fifth player from China to win a title at this year’s series, and the 11th in the history of the WSOP.

This was by far the largest live tournament score yet for Pu. Prior to this victory, his top finish had been a $190,320 win in a 2018 Poker King Cup Macau side event. He now has more than $1.5 million in recorded earnings.

The latest running of the $400 Colossus once again saw the tournament live up to its name, with a colossal turnout of 15,894 total entries. Of course, only one player could walk away as the champion. After two starting flights and two more days of action, it was Moshe Refaelowitz who banked the top payout of $501,120. The Israeli player, now based in Miami, increased his career earnings to nearly $700,000 with this massive victory.

The $2,500 mixed big bet event featured a rotation of seven games, all with either pot-limit or no-limit betting structures. The games that constitute the mix were: no-limit hold’em, no-limit deuce-to-seven single draw lowball, no-limit five-card draw high, pot-limit Omaha, pot-limit Omaha eight-or-better, pot-limit deuce-to-seven triple draw lowball, and Big O (five-card pot-limit Omaha eight-or-better).

The tournament attracted a record field of 377 entries, creating a prize pool of $836,600. After three days of big-bet action, Argentina’s Julio Belluscio dragged the final pot to earn his first bracelet and the top prize of $190,240. Mixed-games master Benny Glaser finished third, falling just short of his sixth bracelet.

Bradley Gafford is this year’s mini main event champion. The San Diego resident outlasted 5,257 entries in the $1,000 no-limit freezeout for the top prize of $549,555. That was the largest tournament score yet for Gafford, surpassing the $97,386 he earned for a second-place showing in a $1,100 event at the Wynn Millions last spring.

The $10,000 buy-in pot-limit Omaha eight-or-better championship was won by Hassan Kamel. He survived a field of 247 total entries to earn $598,613 and his first gold bracelet after scooping the final pot. This was not only Kamel’s first win at the series, but also his first-ever cash in a WSOP event.

The $1,500 pot-limit Omaha bounty event saw 1,214 entries create a $1,620,690 prize pool. The largest chunk of that was secured by Thomas Skaggs, who earned $171,742. Earlier this year Skaggs also earned his first WSOP Circuit ring, taking down a $400 PLO event at the Caesars Indiana stop.

The Latest WSOP Online Champions

In addition to the WSOP Online bracelets won by multi-time champions Eriquezzo and Soverel, four other players earned their first bracelets on in Nevada and New Jersey in recent weeks.

The $888 buy-in no-limit hold’em ‘Crazy 8’s’ event attracted 1,050 entries to create a prize pool of more than $1.3 million. After about 13 hours of play, that field was narrowed down to Robert ‘Suki_The_Sav’ Como. The California resident earned $227,001 and his first gold bracelet.

The UK’s Thomas ‘lultaxpayers’ Hall came out on top in the $500 no-limit deepstack. The tournament attracted 1,754 players and another 937 re-entries to create a $1,210,950 prize pool. As a result of the strong turnout, Hall was awarded $176,920.

The $400 no-limit hold’em turbo event attracted 1,767 fans of fast-paced action, creating a $636,119 prize pool. Zachary ‘Kings702’ Grech won the race to the finish line, earning $107,504 and his first gold bracelet for the win.

Finally, the $1,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em online championship event saw Blaze ‘skillz225’ Gaspari outlast a 1,365-entry field to earn $224,816 and his first bracelet. Prior to this, Gaspari’s most notable victories were a pair of WSOP Circuit Online gold ring wins from 2022. ♠