Sign Up For Card Player's Newsletter And Free Bi-Monthly Online Magazine


Poker Training

Newsletter and Magazine

Sign Up

Find Your Local

Card Room


Inaugural WSOP Paradise Series Ends With Main Event Victory For Stanislav Zegal

German Online Qualifier Bests 3,010 Entries To Win First Bracelet

by Erik Fast |  Published: Jan 24, 2024


This year saw the World Series of Poker make its way to the Bahamas for the brand-new WSOP Paradise festival. There were 15 bracelets awarded during the 12-day series. Full results have been released for the 13 live events held at the Atlantis Resort & Casino Paradise Island, with the final info on the two online events expected in the coming weeks. The live events awarded more than $68.8 million in total prize money, with more than 15,300 entries.

Card Player covered the first half of the series in our most recent issue. This time around we will take a look at the back half of the schedule, including the massive WSOP Paradise main event.

Stanislav Zegal Finds Paradise In Main Event

The $5,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em main event attracted a field of 3,010 total entries. In the end, the championship bracelet and the top prize of $2 million were awarded to German online qualifier Stanislav Zegal.

The poker pro from Berlin has been playing for a living since 2016. This was not only his first bracelet win, but it was also his first live final-table finish.

“It was somewhat exhausting and needs to settle,” Zegal told PokerNews reporters. “You always make plans for when stuff like this happens, but then when it happens it’s so overwhelming.”

This event featured four starting flights and three more days of tournament action. The strong turnout technically just met the $15 million guarantee, with the WSOP stating that the 3 percent staff fee counted towards meeting that prize pool goal.

The top 447 finishers earned a share, with several big names running deep. Among those who cashed and came close to a final-table berth were bracelet winner Sam Greenwood (39th), four-time bracelet winner David Peters (35th), Kevin Martin (25th), bracelet winner Timothy Adams (20th), bracelet winner Bryce Yockey (17th), bracelet winner Vitor Dzivielevski (12th), 2023 WSOP main event third-place finisher Adam Walton (11th), and bracelet winner Mikita Badziakouski (10th).

The final day began with just seven players still in contention, with Australia’s Daniel Neilson leading and Zegal tied for second chip position with Gabriel Schroeder. Matt Glantz scored the first knockout of the day. His pocket fours won a preflop race against the K-10 of Montgomery McQuade (7th – $300,000) to narrow the field to six.

Schroeder lost a huge flip with A-K against pocket queens for Michael Sklenicka to slide to the bottom of the leaderboard. The Brazilian was unable to recover from that hit to his stack and was eliminated in sixth place ($400,000) not too long after.

Sklenicka’s surge up the leaderboard continued thanks to his A-Q holding against the Q-9 suited of Rui Sousa. The flop gave Sousa an open-ended straight draw, but he failed to improve any further and was knocked out in fifth place ($510,000).

Glantz’s run in this event came to an end when his KClub Suit QClub Suit ran into the ASpade Suit QDiamond Suit of Neilson. Neither player connected with the board and Neilson’s ace high was enough to earn him the pot.

Glantz, who famously drew the $1 million envelope in the 2022 WSOP million dollar bounty event, took home $685,000 for his fourth-place showing. He now has more than $8.3 million in recorded earnings to his name.

Neilson lost the majority of his stack with top pair, top kicker against the top two of Zegal. He was soon all-in against Sklenicka who made two pair to score the knockout.

Neilson, who finished runner-up in the $3,000 six-max event earlier this series, earned $900,000 as the third-place finisher. He now has more than $3.5 million in lifetime cashes.

Heads-up play began with Zegal holding a 3:1 lead. Sklenicka got all-in with A-J leading Zegal’s A-9 suited and was well positioned to double, but the runout brought an ace, a pair on the board, and a king to give both players aces and fours with the same kicker for a chop.

Not long after that, Sklenicka raised from the button with 7Spade Suit 3Spade Suit. Zegal defended his big blind with JHeart Suit 4Diamond Suit and the flop came down 10Diamond Suit 4Heart Suit 2Heart Suit. Zegal check-called a continuation bet and the QSpade Suit rolled off the deck. Both players checked and the 5Club Suit appeared on the end.

Zegal checked again and Sklenicka announced all-in. Zegal went into the tank, but eventually made the call. Fourth pair was good enough to earn him the pot and the title.

Sklenicka was awarded $1.2 million as the runner-up, by far the largest score of his career. He now has more than $2.5 million in lifetime earnings.

Masashi Oya Triumphs In $100,000 Ultra High Roller

Masashi Oya’s very first recorded live tournament cash came in the final days of 2021, taking down a $1,100 buy-in event at the Venetian DeepStack New Year’s Extravaganza. Less than two years after, the Japanese player earned the largest victory of his career.

Oya defeated a field of 111 entries in the WSOP Paradise $100,000 buy-in ultra high roller event. For the win Oya was awarded his first gold bracelet and the top prize of $2,940,000.

The strong turnout resulted in a prize pool of $11.1 million that was split up amongst the top 17 finishers. Notables who cashed included David Peters (17th), Ren Lin (15th), Rui Ferreira (14th), Pieter Aerts (13th), Taylor von Kriegenbergh (12th), and Justin Bonomo (11th).

The stacked final table included several superstars of the game, including bracelet winners Lucas Greenwood (9th), Danny Tang (8th), Ben Heath (7th), Ivan Luca (6th), Leon Sturm (3rd), and Jason Koon (2nd), as well as four-time bracelet winner Nick Schulman (5th).

Koon took home $1,817,000 as the runner-up, but was not yet finished accumulating stats in 2023. Check out our recap of the WPT World Championship series at Wynn Las Vegas on pg. 18 for another big finish from Koon.

Artur Martirosian Wins Flip & Go Event For Second Bracelet

The $800 buy-in Flip & Go event was won by none other than high-stakes tournament regular Artur Martirosian, who nabbed the title and the top prize of $110,591. This was the Russian player’s second career bracelet, having earned his first earlier this year by taking down the WSOP Online $10,000 heads-up championship for $424,698.

Martirosian was already a top POY contender before this win, and was not yet done adding to his 2023 tally in December. (Again, head to the WPT World Championship section of this issue to learn more.)

The Flip & Go event drew 767 entries, with over 80 players winning their flip to move on to day 2 with even 150,000 stacks. Martirosian held the lead when the field combined onto a single table and added to it by busting $100,000 buy-in event winner Masashi Oya in sixth place.

Dongwuk Moon had a 4:1 lead going into heads-up play with Martirosian, but an early double saw that gap quickly narrowed. Martirosian then edged his way ahead and pulled away before closing it out.

Dong Chen, Dante Goya, and Bernardo Neves Close With Wins

Dong Chen outlasted 169 entries in the $10,000 no-limit hold’em six-max event, earning $411,659 and his first bracelet for the win. This was the largest cash yet for the Chinese player, who also added to his trophy collection with a win at Wynn Las Vegas later in the month.

Canadian poker pro Mike Watson finished fourth for $132,800. He now has more than $22 million in career cashes to his name, and remains one of the best players without a bracelet. This was Watson’s 12th final table of the year, with four titles won and 5,502 POY points accrued along the way. As a result, Watson has laid claim to the 16th-place spot on the leaderboard.

The second of two pot-limit Omaha high rollers on the schedule saw 104 entries made at $10,000, surpassing the $1 million guarantee. The top 16 finishers made the money, with $277,700 for the eventual champion Dante Goya.

The Brazilian now has more than $500,000 in career earnings. This was his third WSOP final-table finish of the year, having previously placed eighth in the 2023 WSOP Online $400 colossus and third in a $840 pot-limit Omaha bounty event.

Six-time bracelet winner Josh Arieh (8th), bracelet winner Isaac Haxton (7th), bracelet winner Bryce Yockey (3rd), and three-time bracelet winner Jim Collopy (2nd) also made the final table. Collopy made 16 final tables in 2023, climbing to 24th place in the POY rankings.

The $2,000 no-limit hold’em turbo bounty event was dubbed ‘The Closer,’ a last-chance dance for players to try to get their hands on a bracelet before departing the Caribbean.

The player who ended up succeeding in that endeavor was Portugal’s Bernardo Neves. He outlasted a field of 406 entries to secure his first piece of WSOP hardware and $166,000. ♠