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Alex Kulev Wins FIrst Bracelet In World Series of Poker $50,000 High Roller

The Bulgarian Defeated A 176-Entry Field To Secure The Hardware and $2,087,073


Alex Kulev is on fire on the high-stakes live tournament circuit in recent months. The Bulgarian poker player’s top three scores, each for seven figures, have all come since the start of May.

Kulev’s most recent, and largest, tournament success saw him defeat a field of 176 entries in the 2023 World Series of Poker $50,000 no-limit hold’em high roller event to earn his first bracelet and $2,087,073.

“I’m just very grateful and very excited to be here. It has always been a dream of mine to win a bracelet, and doing it in this event against this type of field is the best that it can be,” Kulev told PokerNews live reporters after coming out on top.

This streak began on May 1, when he emerged victorious in the €100,000 buy-in super high roller at the European Poker Tour Monte Carlo festival for $1,108,827. Just shy of seven weeks after that, he placed fourth in the $250,000 buy-in event at the WSOP for another $1,632,005. Kulev now has more than $6.9 million in lifetime tournament earnings, with more than $5.5 million of that coming from cashes made on the live circuit in 2023.

In addition to the hardware and the money, Kulev was also awarded 1,326 Card Player Player of the Year points for this latest victory. With two titles, nine final tables, and 3,247 points, he is now the 26th-ranked player in the 2023 POY standings presented by Global Poker.

He also took home 800 PokerGO Tour points for the win, climbing to fifth place on that high-stakes-centric leaderboard.

The third and final day of this event began with Kulev in the chip lead among the five remaining contenders. 2021 WSOP main event champion Koray Aldemir got all-in with jacks up and the nut flush draw facing the flopped trip nines of Gergely Kulcsar. Aldemir bricked out and was eliminated in fifth place ($533,561). The German pro now has more than $22.5 million in lifetime earnings after this latest deep run.

Kulcsar then busted Daniel Smiljkovic (4th – $713,413) to take a solid lead into three-handed play. Kulev managed to battle his way back out in front in time to play an all-in pot against bracelet winner Jake Schindler. Kulev raised the button and called off with A-9 when Schindler three-bet shoved from the big blind with A-8 suited. Kulev flopped a nine and held from there to knock Schindler out in third place ($957,491).

Heads-up play began with Kulev holding roughly a 2:1 lead, but he soon extended that to more than 4:1. In the final hand, Kulev raised on the button with AClub Suit9Club Suit and Kulcsar shoved for nearly 16 big blinds with ADiamond Suit5Heart Suit. Kulev called and the board ran out 9Diamond Suit2Diamond Suit2Spade Suit3Club Suit7Heart Suit to secure the pot and the title for Kulev.

Kulcsar earned $1,289,909 as the second-place finisher. This was his second runner-up showing of the summer, having also made it down to heads-up play in the online and live hybrid $5,300 buy-in no-limit hold’em event that was part of the WSOP Online schedule.

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

Place Player Earnings POY Points PGT Points
1 Alex Kulev $2,087,073 1326 800
2 Gergely Kulcsar $1,289,909 1105 700
3 Jake Schindler $957,491 884 574
4 Daniel Smiljkovic $713,413 663 428
5 Koray Aldemir $533,561 553 320
6 Johannes Straver $400,562 442 240
7 Brandon Wittmeyer $301,859 332 181
8 Moshe Refaelowitz $228,347 221 137

Visit the Card Player 2023 World Series of Poker page for schedules, news, interviews, and the latest event results. WSOP coverage sponsored by Global Poker.

Photo credit: WSOP / Matthew Berglund.