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


Daniel Sepiol Takes Down WPT World Championship For $5.7 Million

Massive Festival At Wynn Las Vegas Wraps With Multiple Seven-Figure Prizes

by Erik Fast |  Published: Jan 24, 2024


The second annual World Poker Tour World Championship At Wynn Las Vegas officially wrapped up just a couple days before Christmas. The festival spanned from Nov. 29 through Dec. 23, with 29 total events that paid out just over $101 million in total prize money.

The first ten events to conclude at the series were covered in the previous issue of Card Player. What follows is a recap of everything that you need to know about the climatic conclusion.

Daniel Sepiol Wins The Largest WPT Main Event Ever Held

The centerpiece of the whole series was, of course, the WPT World Championship. The $10,400 no-limit hold’em tournament drew a record field of 3,835 entries, the largest turnout in WPT main tour history. Even still, it was not quite enough to meet the ambitious $40 million guarantee. There was ultimately an overlay of $2,417,000, much to the delight of the field.

The massive prize pool resulted in seven-figure paydays for the top six finishers, with the largest chunk going to eventual champion Daniel Sepiol. The poker pro based out of Indiana took home $5,282,954 and his first WPT title for the win.

This was Sepiol’s 200th recorded tournament cash, and by far his largest. To put in perspective how big this final table was for the 29-year-old, the pay jump from sixth to fifth place in this event ($376,100) was almost twice as big as his previous top score of $204,735 earned for taking down a $2,700 buy-in event at this year’s Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open. The 2021 Mid-States Poker Tour Riverside champion now has nearly $6.9 million in recorded tournament scores to his name.

Sepiol was awarded 3,300 Card Player Player of the Year points for taking down this event. This was his third title and tenth final-table finish of the year. With 5,135 total points, he shot up the standings and into 22nd place on the 2023 POY leaderboard.

Sepiol came into the final table as the second-shortest stack but managed to fight his way up the counts to overtake the lead in time for a massive preflop race for more than 80 percent of the chips in play. Sepiol’s pocket jacks held up against the A-K of Andrew Lichtenberger to give Sepiol more than a 4:1 chip lead going into heads-up play.

“The big turning point was the big flip versus [Lichtenberger], jacks versus A-K,” Sepiol told WPT reporters. “Just get luckier than everyone else. That was my strategy. Try and pick my spots and get lucky.”

The event ran from Dec. 12-21, with four starting flights and six more days of combined-field action. Plenty of big names earned sizable pieces of the $40 million prize pool, including Alex Foxen (39th), Roberto Romanello (38th), Kristen Foxen (33rd), James Chen (30th), and Ren Lin (20th).

Despite the huge field, the final table also included several of the top players in the game, with more than $65 million in combined earnings between the final six.

The first knockout at the final table saw EPT champion and two-time bracelet winner Artur Martirosian run his pocket fives into the pocket sevens of Sepiol. The larger pair held up and the Russian poker pro settled for $1,207,000 as the sixth-place finisher.

This was the third-largest score of his career and increased his lifetime earnings to more than $15.2 million. He was also awarded 1,100 POY points for his efforts. This was his 16th final-table finish of the year, with two POY-qualified titles won along the way including his recent bracelet win in the Bahamas. His 6,582 total points are good for 11th place in the overall standings, which have yet to be finalized as of press time.

Sepiol climbed to second in chips after scoring the knockout and soon overtook the lead by winning a healthy pot with a turned straight against the two pair of bracelet winner Ben Heath. The British poker pro ended up finishing fifth for $1,583,100. His final hand saw him commit his stack preflop with Q-J and he was unable to overcome the A-7 suited of three-time bracelet winner Georgios Sotiropoulos.

Heath now has more than $21.5 million in recorded earnings. This was his ninth final-table finish of the year. With 4,923 total POY points, he climbed to 23rd place in the rankings.

Two-time bracelet winner and WPT L.A. Poker Classic main event champion Chris Moorman was the next to be knocked out. In a battle of the blinds, Sotiropoulos raised enough from the small blind to put Moorman at risk. He called from the big blind with QClub Suit JHeart Suit and was up against KClub Suit QDiamond Suit. The board offered no help and the online poker legend was eliminated in fourth place ($2,095,300).

This was the largest score ever for the 38-year-old British professional. He now has more than $9.7 million in live recorded scores after this strong showing, along with more than $24 million in cashes online.

Three-handed play lasted just 20 deals before the aforementioned monster coin flip between Sepiol and Lichtenberger. Lichtenberger limped in from the small blind with AClub Suit KDiamond Suit, and Sepiol raised from the big blind with pocket jacks. Lichtenberger then three-bet, and Sepiol went into the tank for a bit before moving all-in. Lichtenberger called off his healthy stack to set up the classic race. The board ran out QSpade Suit 9Spade Suit 7Club Suit 2Heart Suit 10Heart Suit and Sepiol’s pocket jacks held-up to earn him the pot, the knockout, and a more than 4:1 lead going into heads-up play.

Lichtenberger was awarded $2,798,700 as the third-place finisher. This was the largest cash yet for the 36-year-old bracelet winner originally from New York. The score increased his career earnings to more than $20.6 million, which is good for 43rd all time.

The final two battled for 27 hands. Sepiol was able to extend his lead to start, but a pair of double-ups for Sotiropoulos saw the Greek player close the gap. On a break in play, the two came to a deal that locked up $4,682,954 for Sepiol. Sotiropoulos was guaranteed $4,167,246, leaving the title and $600,000 in remaining prize money to play for.

Soon after play resumed, Sotiropoulos rivered trip jacks to best the flopped pair of queens of Sepiol. His value bet on the end was called and Sotiropoulos took down the healthy pot to move into the lead. The penultimate hand of the tournament began with Sepiol min-raising on the button with JClub Suit 2Diamond Suit. Sotiropoulos called from the big blind with QClub Suit JSpade Suit and the flop came down JDiamond Suit 9Club Suit 2Spade Suit.

Sotiropoulos checked his top pair and Sepiol fired a bet with jacks and deuces. Sotiropoulos check-raised and Sepiol called. The 10Diamond Suit turn saw Sotiropoulos check-call a big bet from Sepiol, and the 7Spade Suit completed the board. Sotiropoulos moved all-in, and Sepiol called to double back into a huge lead.

Sotiropoulos was left with just 22 big blinds, and they went in on the next deal with KHeart Suit QClub Suit against KClub Suit 3Heart Suit. The board came down JDiamond Suit 8Club Suit 4Heart Suit 3Diamond Suit 2Diamond Suit to give Sepiol a pair of threes for the win.

Sotiropoulos took home the $4,167,246 he negotiated for as the runner-up. This was his first seven-figure payday, and grew his lifetime earnings to more than $8.4 million.

Mikita Badziakouski Moves To No. 5 All-Time With WPT Big One For One Drop Win
Mikita Badziakouski is the first-ever champion of the WPT Big One For One Drop at Wynn Las Vegas. The 31-year-old poker pro from Belarus defeated an elite field of 17 entries in the $1 million buy-in no-limit hold’em event to earn a colossal payday of $7,114,500.

This was Badziakouski’s 15th seven-figure score, with four multi-million-dollar paydays earned along the way. Prior to this, his largest cash was a $5,255,077 win in a $2 million HKD ($254,000 USD) buy-in 2018 Triton Super High Roller Jeju tournament.

This latest victory increased Badziakouski’s career earnings to just shy of $53.3 million. As a result, he has moved into fifth place on poker’s all-time money list. He trails only Bryn Kenney ($65,366,406), Justin Bonomo ($65,233,900), Jason Koon ($55,318,445), and Stephen Chidwick ($54,779,794).

“I feel great. The tournament itself is the biggest title I’ve ever had,” Badziakouski said. “I just got lucky in a couple of big coolers. That’s how it goes, one of the sides has to get lucky and that was me today.”

In addition to the title and the money, Badziakouski also earned 240 POY points for this huge victory. This was his second title and 10th final-table finish of the year. With 4,210 total points and nearly $12.2 million in to-date earnings, the high roller moved to 41st in the POY rankings.

There have now been six million-dollar buy-in poker tournaments held since the first Big One For One Drop ran at the 2012 WSOP. All but one have been associated with One Drop, excluding the 2019 Triton Million for Charity. This latest seven-figure buy-in was the first run in conjunction with the World Poker Tour.

With $60,000 from each buy-in earmarked for One Drop, the event raised seven figures for the foundation which will go towards the international non-profit organization’s stated mission to, ‘provide access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene communities facing extreme barriers.’

The field included 10-time bracelet winner Phil Ivey, two-time bracelet winner Chris Brewer, two-time POY award winner Stephen Chidwick, four-time bracelet winner Adrian Mateos, 2016 WSOP High Roller For One Drop champion Fedor Holz, and the aforementioned Koon, a bracelet winner and the all-time Triton Poker title leader.

The final day began with six players remaining and only four set to cash. Dan Smith held the lead to start with two-time bracelet winner Nick Petrangelo and recent WSOP Europe €50,000 high roller champion Santhosh Suvarna as the two shortest stacks.

Suvarna was the first to go after a big preflop confrontation, with his pocket threes racing against the A-K of Mario Mosbock. Suvarna remained ahead through the flop and turn, but an ace on the river saw him sent to the rail empty-handed.

That set up the seven-figure money bubble. A few hands after Suvarna was sent packing, Petrangelo shoved on Badziakouski in a battle of the blinds. Badziakouski, who had become the short stack at the time, called with ADiamond Suit 7Spade Suit and found himself up against JClub Suit 8Heart Suit. Neither player connected and Badziakouski doubled up, leaving Petrangelo as the short stack once again.

Not long after that, Petrangelo got all-in with AClub Suit QDiamond Suit trailing the AHeart Suit KSpade Suit of Isaac Haxton. Both players flopped a pair of aces, and Haxton’s king kicker played to earn him the pot and put the final four players in the money.

Haxton was out in front to start four-handed action, but quickly lost a couple of big pots to Mosbock to lose the lead. He eventually got the last of his stack in with AHeart Suit QHeart Suit racing against the pocket eights of Badziakouski. The board ran out ten-high to see the pocket pair hold up.

Haxton earned $1,224,800 as the fourth-place finisher. Look for more on him and his incredible 2023 performance later in this article, as he was not yet finished making deep runs in high-stakes events at this festival.

Smith, who had placed third in two previous million-dollar buy-in tournaments, ended up with the same finish this time around. Smith raised the button with AHeart Suit 4Diamond Suit, leaving himself just one chip behind. Mosbock raised all-in with KClub Suit 7Club Suit from the big blind and Smith made the call. The board gave Mosbock two pair and the knockout.

Smith, who won the $200,000 Triton Monte Carolo Invitational two months earlier for $3.8 million, earned $2,806,750 for his latest podium showing, growing his career earnings to $52,868,731. That’s good for sixth on poker’s money list.

Heads-up play got underway with Mosbock holding a nearly 2:1 lead. The balance of power soon shifted dramatically. Just four hands into the match the two played an all-in pot that saw Badziakouski with a straight against two pair.

Mosbock managed one double up, but was soon all-in and at risk holding KClub Suit JDiamond Suit against ADiamond Suit 9Spade Suit. The dealer put out no cards higher than a ten, and Mosbock was eliminated, banking $4,663,950 as the runner-up.

This was his second multi-million score of the year, having placed second in the Triton Monte Carlo Invitational to Smith for just shy of $2.7 million in October. The former professional soccer player from Austria and Fedor Holz protégé now has nearly $9.7 million in recorded tournament earnings.

Calvin Anderson Takes Down Prime Championship For $1.4 Million

The WPT Prime Championship $1,100 buy-in no-limit hold’em event debuted at the Wynn Las Vegas in 2022, attracting a massive turnout of 5,430 entries to blow away the tournament’s $2 million guarantee.

The second running of the WPT Prime Championship upped the ante considerably, increasing the guarantee to $5 million while keeping the same buy-in. The field blew that number out of the water with 10,512 entries, resulting in a prize pool of nearly $10.2 million.

After four starting flights and four more days of action, that sea of contenders was narrowed down to a single winner in Calvin Anderson. The Oklahoma native earned a career-high payday of $1,386,280 as the champion and the special WPT Prime Championship trophy. The four-time WSOP bracelet winner now has more than $5.9 million in recorded tournament earnings.

Bin Weng Wins Again, Takes Down High Roller To Cap Insane Year

Bin Weng could not be stopped in 2023. He made 16 final tables and won six titles, with several coming in large-field main events. The 40-year-old Pennsylvania resident’s latest big win saw him outlast a field of 194 entries in the $25,000 high roller. Weng ultimately struck a heads-up deal that saw him earn $958,279 and the title.

Weng was already the clear leader in this year’s Card Player Player of the Year race, but this victory gave him a massive advantage over the nearest competition with the finish line just in sight. The 1,176 POY points he secured with this win increased his total to 12,256. That’s 2,243 more points than second-ranked Isaac Haxton.

The majority of Weng’s nearly $8.6 million in career tournament earnings have now been recorded in 2023, with his five largest scores yet all coming in the past 12 months. He has cashed for more than $6.6 million across 50 in-the-money finishes this year, mostly in mid-stakes buy-in tournaments.

Prior to Weng’s victory in this high roller event, the average field size in the five events he had won was 1,370 entries. The smaller field for this high-stakes tournament dropped that average to 1,174.

Ren Lin Emerges Victorious In Alpha8 Event

Nine of the ten largest scores on Ren Lin’s poker tournament resume were recorded in 2023. His most recent was also his biggest, as Lin took down the WPT Alpha8 at Wynn Las Vegas $50,000 high roller event for a career-best $1,045,781 payday.

Lin outlasted a 69-entry field in the high-stakes affair to lock up his first seven-figure cash and his third title of the year. He also earned 612 POY points for his third title and 26th final-table finish of the year. With 9,380 total points and more than $5.9 million in earnings this year, Lin moved to the fifth spot in the POY standings.
Isaac Haxton finished eighth for $125,494. This was Haxton’s 27th final
table of the year. With seven titles won, $15.9 million in POY earnings, and 10,013 POY points, Haxton is the second-ranked player in the POY standings, trailing only Weng with the race heading into the final days of 2023 at the time of publishing.

Jason Koon finished runner up for $669,300. This was his 18th final table of the year, with six titles won. His 8,592 POY points and nearly $12.4 million in POY earnings put him in eighth place in the standings.

More Winners At Wynn Las Vegas

The final weeks of this series were jam-packed with plenty of massive side events in addition to those headlining tournaments, with big turnouts and prize money awarded.
One of the bigger events, in terms of top prize, was the $10,000 seniors high roller. A total of 162 entries saw the $500,000 guarantee more than tripled, with $1,539,000 ultimately awarded to the top 20 finishers.

In the end, 14-time WSOP Circuit gold ring winner Daniel Lowery emerged with the title and $394,636, having just turned 50 years old a few weeks prior. This was the largest tournament score yet for the Arkansas native, increasing his lifetime earnings to more than $2.9 million.

The $3 million guaranteed $3,000 tournament drew 2,196 entries, doubling the guarantee. The top 274 finishers made the money, with $1,001,377 for eventual champion Dennys Luis Ramos. This was the largest score yet for the Brazilian, whose previous top payday was the $276,696 he earned as the champion of the 2022 BSOP Millions main event.

The 582 entries made in the $3,000 no-limit hold’em progressive bounty event saw the $500,000 guarantee more than doubled as well. The final bounty was secured by Clemen Deng, who earned $249,280 as the last player standing.

Yet another big $3,000 buy-in event saw 572 entries made in the six-max no-limit hold’em tournament, more than tripling the $500,000 guarantee to build a final pot of $1,573,000. Bracelet winner Dong Chen, who took down the $10,000 six-max event at the WSOP Paradise less than a week before this win, earned $290,048 as the champion.

The $10,500 pot-limit Omaha saw Quan Zhou strike a heads-up deal with Jesse Lonis. Zhou bested a field of 123 entries to earn $282,513 and his fourth title of the year. With 14 final tables and more than $4.7 million in POY earnings, he now occupies the tenth-place spot on the POY leaderboard. Lonis meanwhile, jumped to 18th place.

The $1,100 pot-limit Omaha event ended up paying out more than five times its $100,000 guarantee. With 547 entries, the top 71 finishers cashed. Canadian Mike Leah, who was just a few days removed from taking down the $2,200 eight-game mix at this festival, came out on top for his second title of the series. Leah earned $99,916, giving the bracelet winner and WPT champion more than $8.6 million in lifetime cashes under his belt.

The $1,100 limit Omaha eight-or-better event also doubled its $100,000 guarantee, attracting 209 entries to make a $202,730 prize pool. Two-time bracelet winner Nathan Gamble overcame fellow two-time bracelet winner Yuval Bronshtein heads-up for the title and the top prize of $47,472. (You can read more from Gamble on pg. 38.)

Frederic Normand continued his winning ways in the $1,600 event, topping a field of 2,109 to chop with Valentyn Shabelnyk for $417,827 each. Normand was only one month removed from winning the WPT bestbet Scramble in Jacksonville, Florida for $351,650.

Nicholas Pupillo bested a 77-entry field in the $3,000 dealer’s choice event, earning $66,171 as the champion. The $200,000 guarantee was just surpassed in this mixed-game affair, with the top nine finishers earning a share of the $211,750 prize pool. Pupillo, who won his first bracelet this summer, now has more than $5.3 million in recorded tournament earnings.

Two-time bracelet winner Maxx Coleman was the last player standing in the $1,100 H.O.R.S.E. event. He bested 286 entries to earn $60,240, overcoming five-time bracelet winner John Monnette heads-up for the title.

The $1,600 no-limit hold’em turbo bounty drew 403 entries. The last knockout was scored by Shunsuke Tokoo, who earned $73,657 from the main prize pool for the win.

The final $10,500 event on the schedule drew 133 entries, ultimately paying out $359,099 to Joris Ruijs as the champion. A pair of $1,100 events closed out the series, with Atanas Pavlov ($82,204) and Adam Swan ($50,115) taking home trophies. ♠