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Max Hoffman Crowned PokerGO Mixed Series Champion

Hoffman Fends Off Former Champion Dan Zack

by Erik Fast |  Published: Apr 17, 2024

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Dan Zack secured the first-ever PGT Mixed Games series champion honors when the festival was first run in February of 2023, cashing in five of the eight events for the title. The three-time bracelet winner came incredibly close to being crowned as the series champion for a second time, but ultimately finished runner up in the final standings for the 2024 series.

In the end it was Max Hoffman who ended up on top after cashing in five of the ten events offered in the third running of this series. The Massachusetts native racked up $376,300 in total prize money to fend off Zack, securing the championship trophy and a $10,000 leaderboard bonus in the process.

Hoffman ended with the most cashes and the most earnings of any of the 48 players who finished in the money during the festival. His 331 total PokerGO Tour points gave him a 44-point lead over Zack in the final standings.

More than $5 million in total prize money was awarded during the series, which ran from Feb. 28 through March 8 inside the PokerGO studio at Aria Resort and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip.

Hoffman’s campaign started with a fifth-place showing in the $5,000 eight-game event for $31,150. He then scored back-to-back runner-up finishes, earning $100,800 in the $10,000 triple stud mix and $103,400 in the $10,000 triple draw mix.

He cashed for a third day in a row in the $10,000 dealer’s choice, finishing sixth for another $28,200. But he saved the best for last, taking fourth in the $25,000 10-game championship for a career-best score of $112,750.

Hoffman now has more than $582,000 in total lifetime earnings, with six of his 19 total recorded lifetime cashes coming in PGT Mixed Games events. Five came this time around, with one last October in the second running of this series. Those six finishes account for $432,300, or just shy of three-quarters of his career haul so far.

Here’s a look at how all the action went down.

PokerGO’s Own Mori Eskandani Takes A Trophy

A total of 87 entries were made in the $5,100 H.O.R.S.E. kickoff tournament, creating a prize pool of $435,000 that was paid out among the top 13 finishers. Among that baker’s dozen, Russia’s Maksim Pisarenko took home the largest slice of the pie. Pisarenko defeated five-time bracelet winner Benny Glaser heads-up to secure the trophy and the top prize of $117,450.

This was the second-largest score yet for Pisarenko, trailing only the $189,840 payday he was awarded as the third-place finisher in the 2019 EPT Sochi main event. He now has nearly $740,000 in total lifetime earnings.

Multi-time bracelet winners John Monnette (7th), Mike Gorodinsky (6th), and Daniel Negreanu (5th) all ran deep in this first event.

Longtime mixed-games crusher John Hennigan was the next player to come out on top. The World Poker Tour champion and six-time bracelet winner captured his 13th career title, besting a field of 89 entries in the $5,100 eight-game mix event.

The 53-year-old took home $120,150 for the win, the 20th score of six figures or higher on his resume. He went on to cash three more times during this series, accumulating $256,900 in earnings along the way and finishing fourth in the series-long points race. Hennigan now has more than $9.4 million in lifetime tournament earnings.

This event also marked Hoffman’s first final-table appearance. Accomplished pros including bracelet winner Nick Guagenti (4th), Ken Aldridge (3rd), and five-time bracelet winner Adam Friedman (2nd) all ran deep.

Mori Eskandani has made a massive impact on the poker world. The PokerGO President was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2018 due to his instrumental role in the production of many of the most celebrated poker television programs in the game’s history.

But while Eskandani is best known for his work on shows like High Stakes Poker and Poker After Dark and his coverage of the WSOP, the 68-year-old is also an experienced player with more than $1 million in career tournament earnings to his name.

The largest score on Eskandani’s résumé was earned during the series, beating a field of 63 entries in the $10,200 H.O.R.S.E. event for his seventh career title and $201,600. Prior to this victory, which was his first on the PokerGO Tour, Eskandani’s largest payday was a $128,000 cash as the champion of a $10,500 high roller at Aria back in 2019.

Eskandani had to contend with some of the most accomplished players in the game down the stretch. With the other eight players having combined for 24 WSOP bracelets. Kickoff event winner Maksim Pisarenko finished sixth, while bracelet winner Jerry Wong placed fifth. Six-time bracelet winner Daniel Negreanu landed in fourth place, with five-time bracelet winner Benny Glaser in third and six-time bracelet winner Jeremy Ausmus taking runner up.

Dan Zack Finds Another Win

Dan Zack kicked off his bid for a second PGT Mixed Games series title by taking down the $10,200 10-game event. The New Jersey native outlasted a field of 61 for $195,200.

Zack survived to heads-up play against fellow three-time bracelet winner Jim Collopy, outlasting a final table that included the likes of John Hennigan (7th), two-time bracelet winner Chris Vitch (6th), three-time bracelet winner Mike Gorodinsky (5th), and bracelet winner Dylan Weisman.

The next two events on the agenda each featured three variations on a game type. The first of these two ‘triple’ events was the $10,200 triple stud, which included a mix of seven-card stud, stud eight-or-better, and razz.

John Racener, a bracelet winner and 2010 WSOP main event runner-up, overcame a field of 42 entries for the win. Racener sat in third chip position heading into the second and final day of this event, with none other than Hennigan in the lead.

Adam Friedman would take fourth for $46,200, felling to Max Hoffman in a hand of stud after all the chips went in on sixth street. Three-handed play saw plenty of swings, but eventually Hennigan was knocked out for $63,000 at his third cash of the series.

Hoffman jumped out to a big lead heads-up, with Racener having just over a single big bet at one point. The Floridian was able to mount a big comeback, however, to secure the title.

Hoffman earned $100,800 as the runner-up, but just a day later had a shot at redemption. This time around it was the $10,200 triple draw mix event, which sported a rotation of badugi, triple draw deuce-to-seven lowball, and triple draw ace-to-five lowball.

Once again, Hoffman fell just short of the title, which was hoisted by bracelet winner Jerry Wong. He earned $164,500 as the last player standing from the 47-entry field.
This was his second of four cashes made during the series, for a total of $260,150. The 2016 WSOP main event eighth-place finisher finished in third in the final series standings.

Hennigan placed fourth for $49,350. This was his fourth cash of the series, which left him in fourth place in the rankings at the festival’s end. Hennigan led the points race heading into the final four events but would add no further deep runs while Hoffman and Wong still had a couple left in them.

Hoffman’s Big Push Down The Stretch

The penultimate $10,200 event on the schedule was the dealer’s choice. The tournament included a selection of 20 games to choose from, with all of the most commonly spread variants, as well as some less frequently seen games like badeucy, badacey, and no-limit five-card draw high.

From the 47 entries, it was Germany’s Philip Sternheimer who emerged victorious with the title and the top prize of $164,500.

Sternheimer defeated a stacked final table that included all-time bracelet leader Phil Hellmuth (5th), two-time bracelet winner Maxx Coleman (4th), five-time bracelet winner Adam Friedman (3rd), and six-time bracelet winner Daniel Negreanu (2nd). Hoffman lodged his fourth final-table finish of the series, placing sixth for $28,200.

Negreanu earned $103,400 as the runner-up. The very next event saw him make another podium finish, placing third in the $10,200 big bet mix event. He was one of 37 entries in the mixed event that included no-limit hold’em, pot-limit Omaha, pot-limit Omaha eight-or-better, five-card pot-limit Omaha eight-or-better, no-limit five-card draw, pot-limit 2-7 triple draw, and no-limit 2-7 single draw.

This time he earned $55,500 as the third-place finisher. With 252 PGT points for taking fifth, fourth, third, and second during the series, he wound up in fifth place in the final standings.

Dan Shak was the player who ultimately came away with the trophy. The 64-year-old hedge fund manager and highly successful tournament player earned $133,200, bringing his career totals to more than $14.5 million. This was also his first victory inside the PokerGO studio.

Shak had to contend with two previous winners from this series at the final table in John Racener (6th) and Jerry Wong (5th). Wong ultimately finished third in the points race with four cashes and one title, earning 261 points and $260,150 along the way.

Shak then faced a three-handed battle against Negreanu and Jeremy Ausmus, who had finished runner-up in an earlier event. Ausmus cashed for $88,800 as the second-place finisher and finished ninth overall by series’ end.

The highest buy-in event of the series was the $25,300 10-game championship. The tournament drew 41 entries to create a prize pool of $1,025,000. Canada’s Alex Livingston nabbed the title and the single largest payout awarded during the series with $324,465.

This was the fourth-largest cash ever for the bracelet winner and 2019 WSOP main event third-place finisher. He now has more than $8.5 million in career earnings, which was his first in a PGT event. He came incredibly close back in the October running of this same series in 2023, but ultimately finished as the runner-up. This time around, he was able to beat bracelet winner Dylan Weisman heads-up to grasp the trophy.

John Racener finished fifth to set up a final four that featured Livingston, Weisman yet again, and somehow both Zack and Hoffman, who were each still battling for the overall series title.

A no-limit deuce-to-seven lowball hand spelled the end of Hoffman’s run, with his 8-7-4-3 draw unable to hold against the 9-8-4-2 draw of Weisman. Hoffman drew an ace, while Weisman picked up an eight to make a 9-8 low. Hoffman earned $112,750 and 113 points to put him in the lead, but Zack would overtake him with a top-two finish.

Zack ultimately fell in third place, though, earning $153,750 and 92 points when his 7-6-4-3-2 ran into the 7-5-4-3-2 of Weisman in a round of triple draw. Zack finished with $348,950 in total earnings and 287 points for the series, good for second in the final standings.

Walter Chambers finished sixth for his second cash of the festival. He then hopped right into the final tournament on the schedule, the $5,100 no-limit single draw deuce-to-seven lowball event and topped a field of 28 entries to earn $63,000 and the title. ♠