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Chris Hunichen Breaks Through, Winning First Bracelet and $2.8 Million at 2024 WSOP

Longtime Online Tournament Crusher Tops Field of 112 In $100,000 Buy-In Event For His Largest Career Payday Yet

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At one point during the wild three-handed section of the 2024 World Series of Poker $100,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em final table, Chris Hunichen was all-in and one card away from elimination. He had gotten the last of his stack in preflop with his pocket fives racing against the A-J of six-time bracelet winner Jeremy Ausmus, but an ace on the turn had left Hunichen drawing to two outs to stay alive.

Hunichen went for the pre-river handshake of congratulations, which Ausmus politely waived off. Ausmus may have been able to successfully evade Hunichen’s grasp, but he could not dodge the 5Spade Suit on the end which gave Hunichen a set and much-needed infusion of chips. After plenty more twists and turns, Hunichen was eventually able to close out the win, earning his first WSOP gold bracelet and $2,838,389 as the champion.

This was the largest live score yet for Hunichen, bringing his recorded tournament earnings to nearly $16 million. The 39-year-old from Clayton, North Carolina also has untold millions in online earnings accrued across nearly two decades of internet play at the highest levels.

Prior to this big breakthrough, his two largest scores had come in close calls at the series. He finished third in the 2022 $250,000 buy-in for $1,931,718 and second in a $25,000 buy-in held during the 2020 WSOP Online festival for $1,332,097. He had one other runner-up finish with a bracelet on the line, earning $358,677 for a second-place showing in the 2017 $5,000 six-max event.

“It has been tough. One of the hardest years of my life, with my Dad passing,” Hunichen told PokerGO reporter Drea Renee after closing out the win.

“He was my biggest fan, he supported me from the beginning,” he continued.

“It felt destined,” Hunichen also offered. “I really felt like I was gonna win this one. Some of my friends flew in from all over the world to be here for me for this moment. I can’t let them down.”

In addition to the hardware and the money, Hunichen also earned plenty of rankings points as the champion of this event. The 1,200 Card Player Player of the Year points he secured shot him up the standings and into 215th place in the 2024 POY race presented by Global Poker. He also nabbed 550 PokerGO Tour points, good for 27th place on that high-stakes-centric leaderboard.

This event drew 112 entries, building a massive $10,836,000 prize pool. The top 17 finishers made the money, with heavy hitters like recent $50,000 buy-in champ Sergio Aido (16th), two-time bracelet winner Nick Petrangelo (13th), bracelet winner Andrew Lichtenberger (12th), three-time bracelet winner Justin Bonomo (10th), and bracelet winner Isaac Haxton (8th) running deep.

Daniel Aharoni bowed out in seventh place ($396,396) to bring day 2 to a close. Recent $50,000 buy-in third-place finisher Viktor Blom held the lead among the final six, with Hunichen in second chip position when day 3 got underway.

Ausmus earned an early double up through three-time bracelet winner and recent $50,000 buy-in runner-up Chance Kornuth. He then had A-Q hold against the K-J of two-time bracelet winner Justin Saliba, who earned $512,465 as the sixth-place finisher.

Kornuth then doubled through two-time bracelet winner Aleksejs Ponakovs, who was left on fumes as a result. Kornuth’s A-5 held against Ponakovs’ K-J suited to send him to the rail in fifth place ($681,796). This was his fifth final-table finish of the year. With 3,327 total POY points and $3,932,654 in POY earnings, he now sits in 15th in the POY rankings.

Jeremy AusmusAusmus doubled into the lead when his Q-J outran the A-J of Hunichen. He then added to his lead when his K-6, shoved from the small blind, bested the pocket nines of Kornuth in the big blind. Ausmus turned trip kings and held from there to send Kornuth home with $932,725. He now has more than $19.1 million in career earnings after his two deep runs in high rollers in the past week at the series.

Hunichen’s big five on the river came early in three-handed play. He nearly followed it up with the elimination of Blom in third place, but Blom’s mis-clicked four-bet with A-7 suited ended up being rewarded, as it drew out against the A-J suited of Hunichen after all of the chips went in preflop. Turnabout is fair play, though, and Hunichen soon came from behind with A-6 suited besting the A-K of Blom.

Blom eventually finished in third place ($1,311,091) when his K-J squared off against A-7 suited for Hunichen, which made the nut flush by the turn. Blom had outs to a full house, but missed on the river. The Swedish online star, known to many by his online screen name ‘Isildur1’, now has more than $5.6 million in tournament earnings, with nearly $2.3 million of that coming from his pair of third-place finishes in high rollers at the 2024 WSOP.

Hunichen held better than a 2:1 chip lead over Ausmus when heads-up play began. Ausmus was almost out the door in the early going, getting all-in with K-8 dominated by Hunichen’s K-9. Both players flopped a king, but Ausmus found an eight on the turn for two pair and the double up. He was able to edge into the lead for a bit, but Hunichen regained the edge in time for the final hand of the tournament.

Hunichen raised from the button to 2,500,000 with 9Diamond Suit7Diamond Suit and Ausmus three-bet to 7,500,000 from the big blind with JSpade SuitJDiamond Suit. Hunichen called and the flop came down 9Heart Suit5Spade Suit2Diamond Suit. Ausmus led out for 7,400,000 and Hunichen moved all-in. Ausmus called for 24,000,000 total and the KClub Suit hit the turn. The 9Club Suit completed the board, giving Hunichen trips and the title.

Ausmus earned $1,892,260 as the runner-up, surpassing $20.2 million in career earnings in the process. This was his tenth final-table finish of the year, with one title won. He now sits in 11th place in the POY standings and seventh on the PGT leaderboard.

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

Place Player Earnings POY Points PGT Points
1 Christopher Hunichen $2,838,389 1200 550
2 Jeremy Ausmus $1,892,260 1000 450
3 Viktor Blom $1,311,091 800 400
4 Chance Kornuth $932,725 600 280
5 Aleksejs Ponakovs $681,796 500 205
6 Justin Saliba $512,465 400 154
7 Daniel Aharoni $396,396 300 119
8 Isaac Haxton $315,805 200 95
9 Michael Jozoff $259,371 100 78

Visit the Card Player 2024 World Series of Poker page for schedules, news, interviews, and the latest event results. WSOP coverage sponsored by Global Poker.

Winner photo credit: WSOP / Danny Maxwell. Ausmus photo credit: PokerGO / Enrique Malfavon.