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Stephen Chidwick Adds Poker Masters Purple Jacket To Long List Of Accolades

British Pro Closes Out Stellar Series At PokerGO Studio In Las Vegas

by Erik Fast |  Published: Nov 01, 2023


A total of $11,065,000 in prize money was paid out during the ten events of the 2023 Poker Masters. British poker pro Stephen Chidwick was the only player to accumulate seven figures in cashes during the high-stakes tournament series held at the PokerGO Studio inside ARIA Resort & Casino Las Vegas.

The 34-year-old poker pro from Deal, England, recorded four final-table finishes, including one title, accruing a total of $1,109,000 and 688 PokerGO Tour points across those scores.

As a result, Chidwick finished on top of the festival’s points race leaderboard to secure the Poker Masters Purple Jacket and the $50,000 championship bonus to bring his total haul to over $1.15 million for the series.

His success in this festival saw him surpass $53 million in recorded tournament earnings, but he was far from done adding to that number. Just a few days after locking up the Player of the Series honors in this festival, Chidwick ran deep in the Super High Roller Bowl for another big score.

There were 60 players that cashed during this year’s Poker Masters, with 30 managing multiple cashes. Chidwick was one of just seven contenders that made the money four or more times during the festival.

Incredibly, Chidwick managed to get to the top of the leaderboard despite not recording a cash during the first five events of the series. His first in-the-money finish came in event no. 6, the final $10,000 buy-in tournament of the festival. He placed sixth from a field of 95 entries to earn $57,000 and 57 PGT points.

The final three events of the festival saw Chidwick shift into high gear, recording three consecutive podium finishes. He kicked off his big push down the stretch with a dominating performance in event no. 7, a $25,000 buy-in tournament.

Chidwick topped a field of 50 entries in that event, taking the lead wire-to-wire at the final table to earn $400,000 and another 240 points. The very next day, Chidwick placed third in the penultimate event of the series, adding another $148,000 and 89 PGT points to his tally. That $25,000 buy-in drew 37 entries.

Heading into the $50,000 buy-in finale of the series, Chidwick sat in a tie for second place on the Poker Masters points leaderboard with Chino Rheem. The two were trailing only Vladas Tamasauskas, who won two titles during the early stages of the series to jump out in front.

Both Rheem and Chidwick ended up navigating their way through the 42-entry field and down to the final table. Rheem went on to finish sixth in that event, ending with one win, five cashes, and $602,650 in earnings for the festival. He landed in third place in the final player of the series standings.

Chidwick officially locked up the Purple Jacket by making it down to heads-up in the final event. He ultimately finished as the runner-up, earning $504,000 and 302 PGT points for his efforts.

Jonathan Jaffe was the champion of that event, securing $756,000 for the win. Jaffe finished fifth in the overall points race, just six points behind Alex Foxen, who finished third in the final event for his fifth cash of the series.

This was Chidwick’s second PokerGO Tour player of the series victory, having previously won the inaugural U.S. Poker Open. Chidwick has also won the 2022 PGT Player of the Year, recording six qualified wins and 32 cashes that year.

Newcomer Vladas Tamasauskas Dominates Early

This year’s Poker Masters schedule was composed entirely of no-limit hold’em events, a change from the 2022 festival which included two pot-limit Omaha offerings and an eight-game tournament. Instead, PokerGO has scheduled full series for each in October.

The early star of the series was undeniably Vladas Tamasauskas. The 28-year-old Lithuanian was fresh off a third-place finish in the EPT Barcelona €10,000 high roller for $439,650 less than two weeks before making his way to Las Vegas for this series. Tamasauskas followed that score up with back-to-back-to-back cashes in the first three events of the Poker Masters.

Tamasauskas’ spree began with a win in the kickoff event. The tournament attracted a record turnout of 114 entries, resulting in a $1,140,000 prize pool. The largest share ultimately went to Tamasauskas, who entered the final table as one of the short stacks but managed to walk away with the trophy and the top prize of $239,400.

The very next day, Tamasauskas placed sixth from a field of 97 entries in event no. 2, adding another $58,200 in earnings. That event was ultimately won by four-time WPT champion Darren Elias for $223,100.

The final table featured plenty of big names, including Foxen (7th), nine-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner Erik Seidel (5th), current Card Player Player of the Year race leader Bin Weng (3rd), and two-time bracelet winner Eric Baldwin (2nd).

After busting in sixth, Tamasauskas hopped into the next event and managed to navigate his way through the field of 87 entries to his third consecutive final table. This time around he defeated Ren Lin, who had finished third in event no. 1, heads-up for the title.

Tamasauskas earned $208,800 for his second victory of the series, bringing his total earnings at the Poker Masters to $506,400. The 506 PGT points he accrued were enough to keep him atop the standings in the series-long points race up until the closing stages of the final event, which saw Chidwick surge ahead and ultimately snatch away the Purple Jacket.

Three-time WPT champion, European Poker Tour main event winner, and WSOP main event final tablist Chino Rheem took down the fourth event on the schedule. The 43-year-old poker pro outlasted 91 entries to take home $218,400.

Rheem went on to cash five times during the series, including a fifth-place finish in the $50,000 buy-in finale. All told, he accumulated $602,650 in earnings and 487 points, good for third place in the final points standings.

The penultimate $10,000 buy-in on the agenda featured a fun storyline. The tournament drew 85 entries, but in the end it was birthday boy Andrew Lichtenberger who came out on top. The bracelet winner was celebrating his 36th birthday when he closed out the win, earning $204,000.

“A truly magnificent moment and experience. Much thanks and love to everyone supporting as well as, and especially, the PokerGO staff for being so warm and kind on my 36th revolution around the sun,” said Lichtenberger.

This was the third of Lichtenberger’s four in-the-money finishes recorded during the Poker Masters. With $367,450 and 327 points, he wound up just outside the top five in the rankings by the end of the festival.

UK-based Turkish entrepreneur Orpen Kisacikoglu may not be a professional poker player, but you would never know that from looking at his tournament résumé. He has accumulated over $15.1 million in recorded earnings across 97 cashes, with seven titles won including a WSOP bracelet.

Kisacikoglu’s latest victory saw him defeat a field of 95 entries in event no. 6. Kisacikoglu earned $218,500 as the $10,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em event champion.
Upping The Ante

The first of three $25,000 buy-in events drew a total of 44 entries, creating a prize pool of $1.1 million. After two days of action, it was Nick Schulman who picked up the title and the top prize of $374,000.

This was the second title of the year for Schulman, who won his fourth career WSOP gold bracelet in the $1,500 seven card stud event this summer. The 39-year-old now has nearly $16.6 million in lifetime tournament earnings.

Chris Brewer finished fourth in that event for $121,000 and then ended up busting in the same position in the following tournament, adding another $125,000. These were his 21st and 22nd final-table finishes of the year. The 690 in POY points he earned across three total final tables at this series increased his 2023 total to 7,880. He now sits in fifth place in the overall POY standings as a result.

The winner of the second $25,000 buy-in was none other than Stephen Chidwick, who absolutely dominated the final table. The event drew 50 entries, with just six moving on to the final day. Chidwick came in with 60 percent of the chips in play and leveraged that advantage to great effect, taking just over an hour and a half to convert his start-of-day lead into the win and $400,000, with four of five knockouts along the way.

Justin Bonomo looked to be running away with the title in the final $25,000 buy-in, until he wasn’t. After surviving from 37 down to six and scoring every elimination from there down to heads-up, he went from holding more than a 4:1 chip lead to trailing by nearly the same margin in the blink of an eye.

Bonomo, who was poker’s second-highest-earning tournament player with more than $64 million in career cashes to his name prior to this event, found an impressive hero call to quickly correct course.

Daniel Rezaei limped the button with JSpade Suit 8Diamond Suit and Bonomo raised from the big blind with AClub Suit 8Club Suit. Rezaei called and the flop came down 9Spade Suit 7Diamond Suit 4Spade Suit. Bonomo made a continuation bet and Rezaei called with his gutshot straight draw and one overcard. The turn brought the 7Club Suit to pair the board and Bonomo checked. Rezaei bet and Bonomo called, leaving himself with just over a million chips remaining while the pot had ballooned to 1,730,000. The 5Diamond Suit completed the board and Bonomo checked again. Rezaei moved all-in and after plenty of consideration, Bonomo correctly called for his tournament life with ace high.

Rezai went on to earn $222,000 as the runner-up. The other four players at the final table (Rheem, Kisacikoglu, Lichtenberger, and Chidwick) had all won titles already during the series. Chidwick’s third-place showing moved him into striking distance going into the main event.

Jonathan Jaffe Wins $50,000 Finale

Jonathan Jaffe had not recorded any in-the-money finishes during the festival, but managed to come out on top in the highest buy-in tournament offered. The 36-year-old poker pro beat a field of 42 entries to earn $756,000 as the champion of the $50,000 event that brought the series to its conclusion.

This was the third-largest score yet for Jaffe, trailing only the $1.5 million he earned as the winner of the $111,111 buy-in WPT Alpha8 for One Drop this summer and the $766,890 he was awarded for a third-place finish in a $30,000 buy-in at the Triton Poker festival in Vietnam this spring. Jaffe now has nearly $9.8 million in earnings, with more than $3.5 million of that coming from nine cashes he’s recorded this year.

The final day began with eight players remaining and only six set to earn a share of the $2,100,000 prize pool. Jaffe was second in chips to start, with Rheem just a handful of blinds ahead of him on the leaderboard.

Ren Lin fell in eighth place to set up a $105,000 money bubble, which took nearly three hours to finally burst. The hand that got it done saw PokerGO founder Cary Katz’s pocket tens lose a preflop race against the A-J suited of Alex Foxen.

The first knockout inside the money saw Chidwick’s pocket sixes outrun the A-10 suited of two-time bracelet winner Nick Petrangelo. Petrangelo earned the aforementioned six-figure payout, increasing his career total to $32.2 million.

Rheem’s run in this event came to an end when he got all-in preflop with A-J trailing the pocket aces of Jaffe. Rheem picked up a jack on the flop to give him a glimmer of hope, but blanks on the turn and river saw him sent packing with $168,000 for his fifth-place showing. This was his fifth cash of the series, including a win in event no. 4, earning him enough points for a third-place finish in the series-long points battle.

A classic preflop coin flip set up the next elimination. Bracelet winner Brian Kim got all-in with A-K facing the pocket tens of Chidwick. Neither player improved by the river and Kim was knocked out in fourth place ($231,000). This was his 12th final-table finish of the year. With 4,231 total POY points and nearly $2.9 million in to-date POY earnings, he has moved into 20th place in the 2023 standings.

It would take another two hours for a champion to be decided. Jaffe pulled away from the pack in the early going thanks to a big pot won with a set of deuces against the top pair of aces held by Chidwick.

Foxen was ground down to an extremely short stack during three-handed play. He picked up A-2 suited when he was forced in from the big blind but was unable to hold up against the 10-9 suited of Jaffe. Foxen flopped an ace to take a big lead, but running cards gave Jaffe a queen-high straight and the knockout.

Foxen banked $336,000 as the third-place finisher. He now has more than $30.8 million in career earnings. This was his 20th final-table finish of the year, with three titles won. The upshot of all that is that he now occupies the seventh-place spot on the POY leaderboard heading into the final quarter of the year.

Heads-up play began with Jaffe holding 6,995,000 to Chidwick’s 1,395,000. That gap was narrowed a bit in the early going, but Jaffe remained well out in front when the final hand was dealt. Jaffe limped in from the button with ADiamond Suit 3Heart Suit and Chidwick raised out of the big blind holding ASpade Suit 9Diamond Suit. Jaffe moved all in and Chidwick called off.

The KDiamond Suit 10Diamond Suit 7Spade Suit 8Club Suit flop and turn meant that Chidwick would earn at least half the pot as long as a three didn’t appear on the river. The 3Club Suit did roll off on the end, though, giving Jaffe a pair of threes and the pot.

Chidwick earned $504,000 as the runner-up while locking up the purple jacket and all that comes with it. ♠

Poker Masters Standings

Rank Player Points Wins Cashes Winnings
1 Stephen Chidwick 688 1 4 $1,109,000
2 Vladas Tamasauskas 506 2 3 $506,400
3 Chino Rheem 487 1 5 $602,650
4 Alex Foxen 460 0 5 $663,500
5 Jonathan Jaffe 454 1 1 $756,000
6 Andrew Lichtenberger 327 1 4 $367,450
7 Ren Lin 325 0 4 $342,800
8 Darren Elias 319 1 3 $359,500
9 Justin Bonomo 314 1 2 $447,000
10 Brian Kim 284 0 2 $375,500