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Jonathan Little Hoists The PokerGO Cup

Poker Coach Puts On A Clinic With Clutch Win In Series Finale

by Erik Fast |  Published: Mar 06, 2024

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The 2024 PokerGO Cup series paid out more than $7.3 million in total prize money from Jan. 25 – Feb. 3, with 637 total entries made across the eight-event high-stakes tournament festival.

This year’s series-long points race came down to a photo finish, with Jonathan Little able to close out the victory in the clutch, taking down the $26,000 final to jump to the top of the leaderboard.

With two titles and $730,350 in total earnings made across four cashes during the eight-event tournament festival, Little was officially crowned this year’s PokerGO Cup champion, securing the trophy and an additional bonus of $25,000.

“What an amazing feeling! This week was a blast battling against many of the best players in the world and I’m incredibly lucky to win this $25,000 and the PokerGO Cup,” said Little. “Thanks for all the love and support, it means the world to me!”

This high-roller victory was the fourth-largest payday of Little’s tournament career. The Card Player columnist and two-time World Poker Tour champion now has more than $8.8 million in lifetime earnings to his name after his impressive showing during this series.

The 39-year-old poker pro and owner of the PokerCoaching training site has cashed for nearly $800,000 in 2024, which is already good enough for his third-biggest year on the live circuit since he first showed up on the scene in 2006.

David Peters Strikes First, Jonathan Little Follows

Despite only eight events on the schedule, half of them were won by two players. Like Jonathan Little, David Peters also won two tournaments during the series, and would have secured the leaderboard title had it not been for Little and Zaki finding themselves heads up in the finale.

Peters was the first player to pose for a winner photo, having topped a field of 111 entries in the $5,100 kickoff event. The four-time bracelet winner earned $141,525 and his 42nd recorded tournament victory.

Dylan Weisman came out on top of an 89-entry field in event no. 2, banking $240,300. His victory in this $10,500 buy-in event earned him his second-largest career tournament score.

This was also the biggest no-limit hold’em payday for Weisman, who has found most of his success on the circuit playing pot-limit Omaha events, including his WSOP bracelet win. Thanks to this two-card victory, Weisman now has more than $2.8 million in recorded earnings to his name.

This was Weisman’s second title of 2024, having also won a $5,300 buy-in event and cashed in another during the PGT Kickoff series. He has already accrued 912 POY points this year, good for 34th place in the 2024 POY standings. He has also locked up 505 PGT rankings points across these two wins and three in-the-money finishes. As a result, he sits in fourth place on that leaderboard.

The first of Little’s two titles came in event no. 3. He defeated a stacked final table in the $10,500 tournament to earn $229,500, which was his largest live victory in a decade.

The event drew 85 entries to build an $850,000 prize pool. The top 13 finishers made the money, including six-time bracelet winner and 2021 PokerGO Cup champion Daniel Negreanu (7th), two-time bracelet winner Jesse Lonis (4th), and bracelet winner Alex Foxen (2nd).

Speaking of past PokerGO Cup champions, 2023 series points leader Cary Katz was the next to get his hand on a trophy. The 53-year-old businessman and poker player defeated a field of 81 entries in the $10,500 tournament for his latest tournament victory, earning $226,800 for the win.

The PokerGO founder surpassed $40 million in career tournament earnings with this victory, becoming just the 15th player in poker history to top that milestone.

The final $10,500 buy-in on the schedule was won by Justin Zaki, who topped a field of 83 entries to earn $232,400 and just his third live tournament title.

Zaki’s win in this event put him in the position to go for the series win with a deep run in the finale. More on that later, though.

Coleman Continues Hot Streak, Peters Gets No. 2

David Coleman didn’t win his first live tournament title until 5,055 days after making his first cash on the circuit. That long-awaited breakthrough has seemingly opened the floodgates.

After more than 13 years on the scene with plenty of success but no outright live wins, Coleman has captured four titles already in 2024, with $766,000 in earnings across eight in-the-money finishes.

Coleman’s latest victory saw the 30-year-old former online grinder from New Jersey defeat a field of 63 entries in the first of two $15,700 buy-in tournaments on the PokerGO Cup schedule. He took home $302,400 for the win, increasing his career earnings to more than $4.4 million in the process.

This hot streak began with a win in the $1,600 Card Player Poker Tour Venetian main event for $115,989. He then made four cashes and won two events at the PokerGO Kickoff series before adding two more final tables during the PokerGO Cup, including this win.

Coleman has already accrued 2,156 POY points, with three qualified wins and six final-table finishes. One of his four titles came in an event that did not award POY points due to not meeting the minimum prize pool requirements. Nonetheless, Coleman has surged into first place in the 2024 POY standings thanks to his impressive start to the year. He also leads the PGT points race with 937 total points in that high-stakes-centric competition.

The penultimate event of the festival saw David Peters best a field of 70 entries to come away with $315,000 and his second title of the series. As a result, he took the lead in the series-long points race heading into the final event, having accrued 457 PGT points and $456,525 and has climbed into fifth in the year-long PGT standings.

The 36-year-old American poker pro came into this festival with two final-table finishes already under his belt in 2024. He now has four, accumulating 1,324 POY points. This latest win catapulted the 2016 POY award winner into the top 10 in the 2024 POY standings.

Peters now has more than $47.7 million in lifetime earnings accumulated across 505 in-the-money finishes, which is good for ninth place on poker’s all-time money list.

Kristen Foxen finished second for $204,750 in the tournament. She has now made six final tables so far in 2024, with one title won along the way, and as a result, she now sits in seventh place in the POY standings and second in the PGT points race.

This was her second cash of this series, having also finished eighth in event no. 4 for $32,400. She now has more than $8.2 million in lifetime tournament earnings, the second-highest total of any female player. Only Vanessa Selbst with $10.9 million has cashed for more on the circuit.

Little Closes Out The Series In Style

Little came into the final event with not only the victory in event no. 3 but also a seventh-place showing in event no. 1 and a ninth-place finish in event no. 5. His strong performance inside the PokerGO Studio at Aria Resort & Casino on the Las Vegas Strip came amidst a social media beef between poker pros Daniel Negreanu and Matt Berkey that arose from criticism of Little’s play by Berkey. Despite the drama, Little was able to shut out the noise and put together one of his best runs yet on the tournament circuit.

There were 55 entries in the $26,000 buy-in finale, which resulted in a $1,375,000 prize pool that was ultimately split up amongst the top eight finishers. Stephen Chidwick (8th) and Jim Collopy (7th) each earned $55,000 after being knocked out late on day 1 after the bubble had burst thanks to the cracked pocket aces of four-time bracelet winner Nick Schulman. Two-time bracelet winner John Riordan’s Q-9 suited improved to two pair on the turn after the chips went in preflop, which helped Riordan bag the chip lead heading into day 2.

Little was in fifth chip position among the remaining six contenders when cards got back in the air. PokerGO newcomer Shaneil Stokes (6th – $82,500) was the first to fall. His pocket sixes were outraced by the A-Q of event no. 5 winner Justin Zaki, who had already overtaken the lead. Zaki flopped a queen and held from there to pull even further ahead.

Little scored a key double up with middle pair holding against Zaki’s open-ended straight draw and overcards to find some room to maneuver. He then knocked out short-stack Seth Davies in fifth place ($110,000), besting his fellow WPT champion’s A-9 with A-K to narrow the field to four.

The surge up the leaderboard continued for Little when he picked off a river bluff from Zaki. Little’s diamond flush draw improved to a pair of aces on the end, while Zaki’s bottom pair and club flush draw bricked out.

Riordan’s run came to an end when his A-J was unable to come from behind facing the A-Q suited of Zaki. He earned $137,500 as the fourth-place finisher to increase his career earnings to nearly $4 million.

Not long after that, another two-time bracelet winner found himself all-in and at risk against Zaki. This time around, it was Justin Saliba who was facing elimination. His AClub Suit 3Heart Suit was in rough shape against the ASpade Suit ADiamond Suit of Zaki. The board came down QSpade Suit QClub Suit 3Spade Suit 2Spade Suit 7Spade Suit to give Zaki the nut flush and the knockout.

Saliba earned $192,500 for his third-place showing. Like Little, he also cashed in half of the events on the schedule. The 29-year-old already has more than $5.9 million in cashes despite being one of the younger players on the high roller circuit.

With two previous event winners heads-up, Peters was officially eliminated from leaderboard contention despite his two wins. Little had the advantage over Zaki to start with a 4:3 lead.

Little was able to extend his lead to nearly 3:1 by the time the final hand was dealt. He shoved from the button with AClub Suit 3Club Suit and Zaki called with KHeart Suit 7Heart Suit. The board came down AHeart Suit 9Diamond Suit 7Spade Suit JClub Suit JHeart Suit and Little made aces and jacks to lock up the pot, the title, and the PokerGO Cup championship.

Zaki earned $288,750 as the runner-up, the fourth-largest score of his career. He now has more than $5.3 million in lifetime cashes to his name.

In addition to earning enough PokerGO Tour points to top this festival’s leaderboard, Little’s 549 points accrued during this series were sufficient to move him into third place in the season-long PGT standings. His hot start to the year has also moved him into a tie for 17th place in the 2024 Card Player Player of the Year rankings presented by Global Poker. ♠

PokerGO Cup Leaderboard

Rank Player Points Wins Cashes Winnings
1 Jonathan Little 549 2 4 $730,350
2 David Peters 457 2 2 $456,525
3 Justin Zaki 405 1 2 $521,150
4 David Coleman 347 1 2 $346,900
5 Seth Davies 277 0 3 $321,050
6 Daniel Smiljkovic 261 0 2 $260,750
7 Cary Katz 252 1 2 $251,700
8 Justin Saliba 250 0 4 $326,875
9 Dylan Weisman 240 1 1 $240,300
10 Kristen Foxen 237 0 2 $237,150