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Benjamin Kaupp Wins 2022 World Series of Poker Tournament of Champions

Kaupp Qualified For This Freeroll By Taking Down A WSOP Online Circuit Event, Went On To Earn $250,000 and His First Bracelet

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In February of 2022, Benjamin Kaupp took down a $215 buy-in World Series of Poker Online Circuit event on WSOP.com in Pennsylvania. The Feasterville-Trevose, Pennsylvania resident earned $14,954 and his first WSOPC gold ring, but perhaps more importantly, qualified for the $1,000,000 freeroll Tournament of Champions event that closed out the 2022 World Series of Poker.

Kaupp managed to make the most of the opportunity, topping a field of 470 entries in the ToC to emerge victorious with his first WSOP gold bracelet and the top prize of $250,000.

“It doesn’t feel real yet. It just hasn’t sunk in quite yet,” Kaupp told WSOP reporters after the victory. "Before this tournament, I was going to be just happy to cash.”

This was by far the largest score of Kaupp’s tournament career, blowing away the $53,072 he secured with an 11th-place finish in the 2011 $10,000 pot-limit Omaha championship event at the series. He now has more than $360,000 in career scores.

The top 60 finishers made the money in this event, with a min-cash being worth $3,500. Given that this freeroll event was available only to bracelet and ring winners from the 2022 WSOP season, there were plenty of recognizable names among those that ran deep, including three-time bracelet winner and 2022 WSOP Player of the Year Dan Zack (55th), $100,000 high roller bracelet winner Aleksejs Ponakovs (53rd), two-time bracelet winner Daniel Strelitz (28th), bracelet winner and high-stakes superstar Dan Smith (28th), bracelet winner Antoine Vranken (15th), 2022 Seniors championship winner Eric Smidinger (19th), and bracelet winner Dominick Sarle (13th).

By the time the final table was set, Kaupp had climbed into the top half of the remaining field. Gianluca Speranza, just days removed from his first bracelet win in the $5,300 buy-in online high roller, earned another $15m000 as the ninth-place finisher.

Raul Garza picked up pocket aces against the pocket fours of Eric Bensimhon (8th – $20,000) and held to narrow the field to just seven contenders. Kaupp also found pocket aces, with his holding against A-K suited to see him surge up the standings.

Yuliyan KolevKaupp further added to his stack when his pocket queens beat out the pocket eights of two-time bracelet winner and reigning ‘Millionaire Maker’ champion Yuliyan Kolev (7th – $27,500). This cash saw the Bulgarian surpass $3 million in career tournament earnings.

Gregory Wish was the next to fall. His A-10 was outdrawn by the A-9 suited of Raul Garza with all of the chips having gone in preflop. Garza made a pair of nines to drag the pot, sending Wish home with $37,500 for his sixth-place showing.

2022 WSOP $1,5000 stud eight-or-better champion Ali Eslami lost the majority of his stack with top pair to a turned flush for Ryan Messick. Eslami was left with just a single chip after that hand and was soon busted in fifth place ($50,000).

Kaupp was all-in and trailing with pocket nines up against the pocket kings of Messick during four-handed play. He found a set on the turn and held from there to earn the crucial double up, though.

Two-time bracelet winner Robert Cowen fell to the bottom of the chip counts when his pocket sevens lost a key pot to the K-Q suited of Garza. Cowen was soon all-in in a classic preflop race, with A-J facing the pocket nines of Messick. Cowen was unable to hit his overcards or straight outs and was eliminated in fourth place ($75,000). The UK poker pro increased his lifetime earnings to more than $3.1 million with this score.

Things were relatively tightly packed when three-handed play began, but Kaupp picked off a bluff from Garza to jump out to a healthy lead.

Messick was ultimately the next to be sent to the rail, however. The Philadelphia-based poker player was a last-minute qualifier, having won his bracelet in the final event of the Pennsylvania online series just before 3 a.m. on Monday morning. He immediately booked a flight for later that morning to Las Vegas, and managed to make it through on no sleep.

His run finally came to an end when he got all-in from the small blind with A-4 suited and Kaupp called with K-10. Kaupp flopped two pair and held from there to see Messick finish third for $100,000, a score more than four time larger than the $24,300 he pocketed in the online event.

With that, Kaupp took more than an 8:1 chip advantage into heads-up play with Garza, who had also earned his way into this event by taking down a WSOP Circuit title this year. In the final hand, Garza shoved from the button with KClub SuitJDiamond Suit. Kaupp called with AClub Suit6Club Suit and the board ran out 10Club Suit8Spade Suit2Diamond Suit1Heart Suit5Spade Suit to lock up the pot and the title for Kaupp. Garza was awarded $150,000 for his runner-up showing.

Here is a look at the payouts awarded at the final table:

Place Player Earnings
1 Benjamin Kaupp $250,000
2 Raul Garza $150,000
3 Ryan Messick $100,000
4 Robert Cowen $75,000
5 Ali Eslami $50,000
6 Gregory Wish $37,500
7 Yuliyan Kolev $27,500
8 Eric Bensimhon $20,000
9 Gianluca Speranza $15,000

Winner photo credit: WSOP / Rachel Kay Miller.

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