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WPT World Championship At Wynn Las Vegas Off To Hot Start

by Erik Fast |  Published: Jan 10, 2024


The second running of the WPT World Championship at Wynn Las Vegas kicked off on Nov. 29. This year the festival continues through Dec. 23, with over 30 events on offer. The focal point of the festival is the record-shattering $40 million guaranteed $10,400 buy-in championship event, which runs from Dec. 12-21, but there are plenty of other huge tournaments on the agenda, including several that have already wrapped up in the early days of the series.

With full results available for the first 10 events, there have already been 11,000 entries made and nearly $9 million in prize money awarded, with all of the largest tournaments yet to play. Here is a look at the early winners.

With many of the high rollers still in the Bahamas, the $10,500 no-limit hold’em tournament drew 77 entries, growing the prize pool to $770,000. The top nine finishers made the money, with the largest share going to eventual champion Ian Bradley. The Teesside, England resident earned $240,625 for the win.

This was Bradley’s second-largest recorded tournament score behind only the $515,000 he secured as the runner-up in a €2,200 buy-in side event at the 2022 European Poker Tour Barcelona stop.

Two-time bracelet winner Joao Simao finished second for $154,000, while WPT’s Brad Owen (3rd – $107,800) and WPT Global ambassador Ethan ‘Rampage’ Yau (4th – $77,000) also ran deep.

The biggest tournament to wrap up during the first few days of the series was the $1 million guaranteed $600 buy-in no-limit hold’em event. A total of 4,960 entries were made across the eight starting flights, surpassing the guarantee by more than $1.5 million dollars.

Michael Rossitto emerged victorious in the end, securing $340,698 for the win. Like Bradley, this was the second-largest payday yet for Rossitto. His first was also earned at Wynn Las Vegas, taking down a $3,500 tournament at this year’s Wynn Millions for $604,637. Rossitto now has nearly $3.4 million in total tournament winnings to his name.

Brian Barker took home $268,559 as the runner-up. This was his first six-figure payday on the circuit.

George Tomescu overcame a field of 3,421 entries in the $1,600 buy-in Mystery Bounty event to earn the top prize of $500,202 plus bounties, which was by far the largest live tournament payday yet for the Romanian.

The strong turnout for this event built a final prize pool of $3,215,740, blowing away the $2 million guarantee. The top 427 finishers made the money to earn their share of that main prize money purse, with another $1,710,500 paid out among the bounties.

The largest bounty up for grabs was a $250,000 payout that was ultimately secured by David Hipperson. There were also four $100,000 bounties pulled, with one of those going to two-time bracelet winner Shannon Shorr.

The 2023 World Poker Tour Ladies Championship $1,100 event drew a sizable field of 457 entries, easily surpassing the $250,000 guarantee to build a fi
nal prize pool of $443,290.
After three days of tournament action, the largest share of that sum was awarded to Lisa Costello, who overcame WSOP Circuit ring winner Ashley Sleeth heads-up. She took home $85,297 for the win, the largest tournament score yet for the Las Vegas resident. This marquee victory increased her lifetime earnings to nearly $270,000.

“I actually used to play poker for years,” Costello told the WPT. “I played full-time for two years, five or six years ago. But in the last few years, I just haven’t played much at all. I haven’t had it in me to grind it out like I used to. But it’s great because now I get to pick and choose all the tournaments that I want to play, just like this one. And it’s a lot of fun.”

Chris Read, who won a massive field Ladies event at The Lodge Poker Club earlier this year, was eliminated in fourth place ($34,220). Sleeth was awarded a career-high payout of $57,069 as the runner-up. She now has more than $409,000 in total cashes to her name.

The first event of the series was a $600 buy-in Omaha eight-or-better tournament. Of the 152 entries, it was three-time bracelet winner ‘Miami’ John Cernuto who scooped the final pot and the top prize of $16,592. This was Cernuto’s 75th recorded title. The all-time tournament cashes leader is now nearing 600 for his career.

Ten-time WSOP Circuit gold ring winner David Larson outlasted an 805-entry field to be crowned the $1,100 seniors champion. He took home $141,385 for the win, his largest score yet. This brings his career earnings to more than $1.6 million.

Michael Beck (not pictured) defeated three-time bracelet winner and 2015 WSOP main event champion Joe McKeehen to win the $1,100 six-max event, taking home $70,045 after topping the 367-entry turnout.

Australia’s Martin Kozlov took down the $1,100 pot-limit Omaha and no-limit hold’em mixed event, outlasting Ben Ludlow heads-up to earn the top prize of $74,373. The bracelet winner from Melbourne now has nearly $3.3 million in lifetime earnings after this latest score.

Wasim Assaf took down the $500 ClubWPT Challenge event, taking home $16,728.

WPT champion and bracelet winner Mike Leah returned from a brief circuit hiatus to finish on top in the $2,200 eight game mix event. The $77,841 he was awarded as the champion grew his lifetime earnings to more than $8.5 million.

Make sure to check out the following issue of Card Player for an update on the final weeks of this massive series, including recaps of the $40 million guaranteed WPT World Championship (Dec. 12-23), the $5 million guaranteed WPT Prime Championship (Dec. 7-12), and the $1 million buy-in Big One for One Drop (Dec. 18-20). ♠