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Max Neugebauer Wins Largest-Ever World Series of Poker Europe Main Event

Former Professional Basketball Player Defeats Record Field of 817 Entries To Earn First Bracelet and $1,590,000


Each of the past three World Series of Poker Europe €10,350 buy-in no-limit hold’em main events have set field size records. That trend continued in 2023, as this year’s running saw a seven percent increase on last year’s 763-entry field, with 817 turning out blowing the €5,000,000 guarantee to create a final prize pool of €7,761,500 ($8,300,148). In the end, it was 26-year-old Austrian former professional basketball player Max Neugebauer who closed out the win in style.

The final hand of the tournament saw Neugebauer a hero call with third pair facing a multi-barrel bluff that ended in river shove by his heads-up opponent, Eric Tsai. After some tense time in the tank, Neugebauer found the impressive call to win the tournament, locking up his first WSOP gold bracelet and the top prize of $1,590,000.

This was by far the largest live tournament score for Neugebauer, blowing away his $27,000 payday for a seventh-place finish in a $2,500 buy-in event in a Venetian DeepStack Championship Poker Series this summer.

On top of the hardware and the money, Neugebauer also took home plenty of rankings points thanks to this huge victory. The 2,280 Card Player Player of the Year points he secured, when combined with the 270 he took home for that previously mentioned final-table finish in Las Vegas, are enough to move him into 113th place in the 2023 POY race standings presented by Global Poker. With 1,250 PokerGO Tour points, Neugebauer also surged into 19th place on the 2023 PGT leaderboard.

This tournament played out over the course of two starting flights and four more full days of action. Plenty of big names were among the 123 players to make the money, including two-time bracelet winner Daniel Dvoress (109th), two-time bracelet winner Manig Loeser (98th), recent bracelet winner Tobias Peters (93rd), two-time bracelet winner and last year’s champion of this event Omar Eljach (89th), 2020 WSOP Online main event winner Stoyan Madanzhiev (67th), bracelet winner Leon Sturm (58th), Viktor Blom (55th), two-time POY award winner Stephen Chidwick (44th), four-time bracelet winner Adrian Mateos (42nd), three-time bracelet winner Anson Tsang (36th), and poker triple crown winner Davidi Kitai (33rd).

The final day began with eight players remaining. Tsai was in the lead while Neugebauer sat in third chip position to start. Alf Martinsson was the first to fall, with his last ten blinds going in with A-3 facing the pocket tens of Michele Tocci. With tens full of sixes by the river, Tocci scored the knockout to send Martinsson home in eighth place ($156,880). Ruslan Volkov’s run came to an end in seventh place ($204,580) when his pocket tens were unable to hold up against the A-10 suited of Kasparas Klezys, who spiked an ace on the turn and held from there to narrow the field to six.

After three hours of six-handed grinding, two eliminations happened in relatively rapid succession. The first saw Michael Rocco’s pocket aces hold up against the A-5 of Nils Pudel, who had three-bet shoved over Rocco’s button open from the big blind. Pudel earned $270,300 as the sixth-place finisher.

The very next hand, Rocco opened from the cutoff with A-9 and then four-bet shoved for 28 big blinds effective over the three-bet of Tsai from the button. This time, Tsai had picked up two aces. He called and held to take a big chunk out of Rocco’s stack.

Rocco soon got all-in, shoving from the big blind against a small-blind limp from Tocci, who once again had pocket tens. Rocco’s A-7 was unable to come from behind and Rocco was eliminated in fifth place. The American poker pro earned $361,460 for his second final-table finish of the series. Just over a week earlier, he placed second in the €25,000 high roller for another $386,900. These two big scores have increased his career earnings to more than $4.7 million.

Neugebauer overtook the lead during four-handed action. He added to his advantage by busting Kasparas Klezys, who shoved his last 10 big blinds with Q-8 from the small blind. Neugebauer called with K-J and made two pair to drag the pot. Klezys earned a career-high payday of $491,840 for his deep run.

The next big clash saw Tocci limp from the button with pocket sixes and then call a 13-big-blind shove from Tsai, who had pocket deuces in the small blind. The board ran out AHeart SuitAClub Suit10Heart Suit2Spade Suit3Club Suit and Tsai turned a full house to double through Tocci, leaving him on fumes. He somehow found pocket jacks on the next deal and got all-in against the K-4 of Neugebauer, who drilled a king on the river to eliminate Tocci in third place. The Italian was awarded $677,340, by far the largest cash on his resume.

With that, Neugebauer entered heads-up play holding 64,100,000 to Tsai’s 17,400,000. Tsai was able to close the gap a bit in the early going, but was still well behind when the previously mentioned dramatic final hand arose.

With blinds of 300,000-600,000 and a big-blind ante of 600,000, Tsai min-raised from the button with JDiamond Suit9Diamond Suit. Neugebauer called out of the big blind with JSpade Suit8Club Suit and the flop came down QDiamond Suit8Diamond Suit7Heart Suit. Neugebauer checked with his second pair and Tsai bet 1,000,000 with his gutshot straight flush draw. Neugebauer called and the ASpade Suit rolled off the deck on the turn.

Neugebauer checked again and Tsai unleashed an overbet of 6,300,000 into the pot of 5,000,000. Neugebauer called and the 4Spade Suit completed the board. Neugebauer checked for a third time and Tsai, who had missed completely, moved all in for 16,000,000. Neugebauer mulled over the huge decision for over two minutes before flicking in a chip and announcing a call. Just like that, it was all over.

Tsai, a poker vlogger from Taiwan, earned $944,460 as the runner-up, bringing his lifetime earnings to more than $1.4 million.

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

Place Player Earnings POY Points PGT Points
1 Max Neugebauer $1,590,000 2280 1250
2 Eric Tsai $944,460 1900 891
3 Michele Tocci $677,340 1520 639
4 Kasparas Klezys $491,840 1140 464
5 Michael Rocco $361,460 950 341
6 Nils Pudel $270,300 760 255
7 Ruslan Volkov $204,580 570 193
8 Alf Martinsson $156,880 380 148

Photo credit: WSOP / Tomas Stacha.