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Michael Moncek Wins First World Series of Poker Bracelet In Game He'd Never Played Before

The Three-Time WSOPC Ring Winner Topped A Field of 522 Entries In The $1,500 Limit Hold'em Event

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Michael Moncek came into the 2022 World Series of Poker with six figures in tournament earnings and three WSOP Circuit rings to his name. One thing the Chicago, Illinois resident did not have, though, was any experience at all playing limit hold’em. Despite that fact, he managed to outlast a field of 522 entries to win the $1,500 buy-in limit hold’em event, topping a tough final table to secure his first bracelet and a career-best payday of $145,856.

“It feels awesome, especially in a game that I’ve never played before,” Moncek told WSOP reporters after emerging victorious. “I’m going to have to learn to play it now.”

In addition to the title and the money, Moncek also scored 840 Card Player Player of the Year points as the champion of this event. This was his first POY-qualified score of the year, but it alone was enough to move him within reach of the top 250 in the 2022 standings, which are sponsored by Global Poker.

This event saw 79 players earn a share of the $696,000 prize pool. Notables who made the money but hit the rail on day 2 included two-time bracelet winner Brandon Shack-Harris (46th – $3,006), 2019 WSOP POY Robert Campbell (37th – $3,931), four-time bracelet winner Tom Schneider (32nd – $3,931), and four-time bracelet winner Anthony Zinno (20th – $4,629).

The final day began with just 16 players remaining, with Christoph Kwon leading and Moncek towards the bottom of the middle of the pack. Bracelet winner and recent $1,500 stud event fifth-place finisher Kenny Hsiung was sent home in 11th place ($8,446) to see the field combine onto one table.

Hsiung was knocked out by three-time bracelet winner and 2015 WSOP main event champion Joe McKeehen, who took the chip lead into the final ten.

Nicholas PupilloDamoun Nikouie’s elimination in tenth place ($8,446) meant that the official final table had been set. The next to fall was World Poker Tour champion Lee Markholt. His pocket jacks were outflopped by Moncek, who hit two pair with 9-7. The turn and river brought no help and Markholt was eliminated in ninth place ($10,701).

Three-time ring winner Nicholas Pupillo’s run in this event came to an end when his final bet went in preflop with K-7. McKeehen called with pocket eighths from the big blind and held through a ten-high runout to narrow the field to seven. Pupillo took home $13,789 for his eighth-place showing.

Moncek jumped into the lead thanks to winning a big pot with tens full of threes besting the ace-high straight of McKeehen. The 2015 world champion regained some of that lost ground by eliminating Fred Lavassani in seventh place ($18,100).

Two-time bracelet winner Steven Wolansky got the last of his short stack in with K-8 on a queen-high flop. He was up against a better king-high for bracelet winner Yueqi Zhu, whose K-J had picked up an open-ended straight draw on the flop. The draw didn’t materialize, but Zhu’s superior kicker was enough to earn him the pot. Wolansky was awarded $24,149 for his sixth-place finish.

Joe McKeehenMcKeehen managed to battle back into the lead briefly during five-handed play, but a turned set of eights for Zhu saw him soon slide back into the middle of the pack. Zhu did even more damage when he flopped a set of threes, which improved to a boat when the turn paired the board. McKeehen called a raise on the river and flashed a six for trips after Zhu showed down his boat. The hand left McKeeehen on fumes. He managed one double up, but was eliminated in the next hand when he flopped a queen-high straight but ran into a flopped king-high straight for Moncek. McKeehen hit the rail in fifth place, earning $32,761 for his latest deep run at the series. He now has just shy of $19 million in lifetime tournament earnings to his name.

With that, Moncek took a big lead into four-handed action. He extended it even further by making a ten-high straight to eliminate Kwon in fourth place ($45,178). He then finished off Zhu, who had lost the majority of his stack to Ben Ross’s set of threes a few hands earlier. Zhu got the last of his chips in with king-high and a gutshot, which was trailing a pair of fives with a king kicker for Moncek. A brick on the end sent Zhu home in third place ($63,314) and gave Moncek the lead going into heads-up play with Ross.

The lead changed hands early on, and Ross went on a run that saw him take more than a 4;1 lead of his own at one point. Moncek hit a flush to halt the slide, though, and then began his comeback. He regained the lead thanks to a rivered ten-high straight. Mocek began to pull away before landing what was likely the decisive blow with a turned flush beating the pocket jacks of Ross, which had improved to two pair on a double-paired board.

Ross got the last of his stack in on a JDiamond Suit6Diamond Suit5Heart SuitQDiamond Suit board with JHeart Suit6Heart Suit. His flopped two pair had been beaten on the turn, with Moncek revealing 3Diamond Suit2Diamond Suit for a flush. The 8Diamond Suit on the end was no help to Ross and he was knocked out in second place, earning $90,150 for his runner-up finish.

Here is a look at the payouts and POY points awarded at the final table:

Place Player Earnings POY Points
1 Michael Moncek $145,856 840
2 Ben Ross $90,150 700
3 Yueqi Zhu $63,314 560
4 Christopher Kwon $45,178 420
5 Joe McKeehen $32,761 350
6 Steven Wolansky $24,149 280
7 Fred Lavassani $18,100 210
8 Nicholas Pupillo $13,798 140
9 Lee Markholt $10,701 70

Winner photo credit: WSOP / Seth Haussler.

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