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Michael Wang and Chance Kornuth Shine At Stairway To Millions Series

A Look At The Results From The Recent PokerGO Tour Series Held At Venetian® Resort Las Vegas


The Stairway To Millions first debuted in the early weeks of 2022 as part of the PokerGO Tour. The series features a unique format that sees players who make the money in each event earn a seat into the next event on the schedule that features a larger buy-in.

That initial festival saw Nick Petrangelo emerge victorious in both of the final two events, winning the trophy and a combined $1.8 million across four final-table appearances.

The second iteration was recently held at the Venetian® Resort Las Vegas. This time around, a new wrinkle was added that saw the top three finishers in each event qualify to skip a level entirely.

Francis AndersonThe series was originally scheduled to feature 12 events, but the final two tournaments were ultimately canceled. Before the series wrapped up, however, several big names managed to put together impressive runs, including two players who each earned their third S2M titles. Below is a look at the results from events 1-10.

The series kicked off with a pair of $460 buy-in no-limit hold’em events. Event no. 1 a field of 93 entries, building a prize pool of $37,200.

The largest share of that was ultimately won by Francis Anderson, who finished third in this year’s World Series of Poker ‘Monster Stack’ for $449,912. He added another $6,702 to his career totals with this win, while also securing a seat into his choice of either event no. 5 or 6, both of which featured $1,640 buy-ins.

Anderson nearly went back-to-back, but ultimately finished as the runner-up in event no. 2, which sported the same buy-in. He added another $4,071 and an additional future seat, while eventual champion John Yelaney took home $6,417 after beating out 94 entries. This was his first recorded live tournament victory.

Arsh GroverArsh Grover finished third in event no. 2, and promptly turned around and took down the next tournament on the agenda: event no. 3. Grover was one of 82 entries in the $900 buy-in event. He took home $12,510 and a $2,740 seat in event no. 7 as the champion. This was the third-largest score of his career.

The second $900 buy-in on the schedule drew 74 entries, with 2021 WSOP tag-team event winner Sami Dighlawi coming away with the title and the top payout of $11,330 to go with his future entry. Francis Anderson secured his third final-table finish of the series by placing fifth for $2,231 and a future seat.

Michael Wang became the first player to ever win a Stairway To Millions title at two different venues when he took down event no. 5, a $1,640 buy-in. The two-time bracelet winner had previously won a $15,000 buy-in event during the initial running of this event, which was held at ARIA Resort & Casino. Wang earned $22,986 and a $5,350 seat in event no. 8 as the champion.

Michael WangThe very next day, Wang once again found himself with all the chips in the second $1,640 buy-in event on the schedule, adding another $22,458 and becoming the third player in the young history of the series to win back-to-back events.

Three-time bracelet winner and World Poker Tour champion Chance Kornuth and the previously mentioned Nick Petrangelo achieved the feat during the inaugural Stairway To Millions. The pair of wins saw him increase his career earnings to more than $4.6 million, while making him the only three-time winner in the series. That lasted only a day, however.

Event no. 7 saw 92 entries made at the $2,740 price point. In the end, it was none other than Chance Kornuth who came away with the title. He earned $45,373 and a seat in the $10,400 buy-in event. He also joined Wang as the second player with three wins in Stairway To Millions tournaments.

This was his fourth overall title of the year, with seven final-table finishes and nearly $2 million in to-date POY earnings. As a result, Kornuth moved into 16th place in the 2022 POY race standings.

Kornuth now has more than $12.1 million in recorded earnings to his name. Joining him at the final table were the likes of WPT Venetian champion Qing Liu (8th), frequent high-stakes tournament contender Bill Klein (7th), Venetian high roller event winner Victoria Livschitz (5th), and recent winner Sami Dighlawi (4th).

Chance Kornuth

The $5,350 buy-in event drew a field of 42 entries. Andre Butler came out on top in the end, outlasting a stacked final table to secure the title, the top prize of $60,945, and entry into event no. 10.

This was the second-largest score on his tournament resume, trailing only the $176,000 the Evanston, Illinois resident earned as the third-place finisher in a 2021 Venetian DeepStack Championship II $1,100 buy-in event. Butler now has more than $400,000 in recorded earnings after topping the likes of Francis Anderson (5th), high-stakes regular Adam Hendrix (4th), Michael Wang (3rd), and bracelet winner Stephen Song (2nd).

Michael RoccoThe $10,400 buy-in event drew 18 entries, which resulted in just the top three making the money. Francis Anderson was knocked out on the effective $50,700 bubble, falling just short of securing his fifth cash of the series.

Michael Rocco was the last player standing in this event, earning $87,750 in total payouts when factoring in that the $26,000 seat he won was converted into a cash payout after that event was canceled. Rocco now has more than $3.1 million in total tournament earnings as a result. Adam Hendrix took home $63,050 in total payouts as the runner-up, while Cary Katz finished third.

The final event to play out at this series was the $15,800 buy-in. The final trio of contenders cashed again this time around, thanks to the second consecutive field of 18 entries. Paul Zappulla took home the trophy and a career-high payday of $124,500 as the champion. He outlasted the likes of four-time bracelet winner Adrian Mateos (3rd – $80,400) and Stephen Song (2nd – $95,100).

The PokerGO Tour now heads back to Aria for the Poker Masters, which will feature buy-ins between $10,000 and $50,000.

Below is a look at the results from throughout the series.

Stairway to Millions No. 1 – $460 NLH

Place Player Earnings POY Points
1 Francis Anderson $6,702 86
2 Wu Zhou $4,255 72
3 Karapet Galstyan $2,799 58
4 Danny Chi $1,909 43
5 Jerry Dababneh $1,352 36
6 Nathan Henry $996 29
7 Daniel Sepiol $765 22
8 Roland Israelashvili $613 14

Stairway to Millions No. 2 – $460 NLH

Place Player Earnings POY Points
1 John Yelaney $6,417 86
2 Francis Anderson $4,071 72
3 Arsh Grover $2,677 58
4 Sami Dighlawi $1,826 43
5 Victor Shih $1,295 36
6 Edward Jiang $956 29
7 Jeffrey Peters $736 22
8 Brian Frenzel $591 14

Stairway to Millions No. 3 – $900 NLH

Place Player Earnings POY Points
1 Arsh Grover $12,510 96
2 Wu Zhou $7,898 80
3 Roland Israelashvili $5,177 64
4 Qing Liu $3,528 48
5 Darren Rabinowitz $2,504 40
6 Mikael Anderson $1,854 32
7 Brian Frenzel $1,435 24
8 Jesse Lonis $1,163 16

Stairway to Millions No. 4 – $900 NLH

Place Player Earnings POY Points
1 Sami Dighlawi $11,330 84
2 Kevin Thomas $7,086 70
3 Elvis Toomas $4,616 56
4 Robert Zeidman $3,138 42
5 Francis Anderson $2,231 35
6 Danny Chi $1,662 28
7 Yu Tang $1,300 21
8 Benjamin Brown $1,070 14

Stairway to Millions No. 5 – $1,640 NLH

Place Player Earnings POY Points
1 Michael Wang $22,986 168
2 Mikael Andersen $14,355 140
3 Ryan Laplante $9,340 112
4 Qing Liu $6,342 84
5 Josue Barrera $4,502 70
6 Charles Capobianco $3,349 56
7 Victoria Livschitz $2,616 42
8 Maria Konnikova $2,152 28

Stairway to Millions No. 6 – $1,640 NLH

Place Player Earnings POY Points
1 Michael Wang $22,458 168
2 Frederic Heller $14,044 140
3 Kenny Huynh $9,149 112
4 Stephen Song $6,220 84
5 Fred Tada $4,422 70
6 Brett Kennedy $3,293 56
7 Kostas Kalathakis $2,576 42
8 Landon Tice $2,121 28

Stairway to Millions No. 7 – $2,740 NLH

Place Player Earnings POY Points
1 Chance Kornuth $45,373 324
2 Dave Lin $28,133 270
3 Kao Saechao $19,814 216
4 Sami Dighlawi $14,369 162
5 Victoria Livschitz $10,588 135
6 Wu Zhou $8,168 108
7 William Klein $6,353 81
8 Qing Liu $4,840 54

Stairway to Millions No. 8 – $5,350 NLH

Place Player Earnings
1 Andre Butler $60,945
2 Stephen Song $35,850
3 Michael Wang $22,227
4 Adam Hendrix $14,340
5 Francis Anderson $10,038

Stairway to Millions No. 9 – $10,400 NLH

Place Player Earnings POY Points PGT Points
1 Michael Rocco $61,750 0 62
2 Adam Hendrix $37,050 0 37
3 Cary Katz $24,700 0 25

Stairway to Millions No. 10 – $15,800 NLH

Place Player Earnings POY Points PGT Points
1 Paul Zappulla $124,500 144 125
2 Stephen Song $95,100 120 95
3 Adrian Mateos $80,400 96 80

All photos provided by PokerGO / Antonio Abrego.