The $10,400 WPT Championship took place at the Wynn Hotel and Casino on the Strip in Las Vegas. Deep stacks, smooth structure and hourly levels, combined with three starting days, attracted an impressive 2,960 entrants, giving out seven-figure prizes to all players who made it to the final table. The tournament was opened by Doyle Brunson, participants included the reigning world champion, World Series record holder for bracelets, the famed winning player against the Borgata casino, and the wives of Phil Galfond and Jason Mercier. In heads-up, a highly experienced tournament specialist in limit games, the owner of several World Series bracelets Benny Glaser and an unknown Canadian Eliot Hudon, who only three years ago began his career as an MTT professional, met. Luck smiled on Hadon, and the Montreal resident, who had recently played dollar tournaments, received a fantastic $4,146,000.
The first level of day 1A was started by 342 players, among whom were Daniel Negreanu, Shaun Deeb, Chris Moorman, Maria Ho and other recognizable, and sometimes not very recognizable professionals were also spotted.
By the end of the first break, the number of starters came close to five hundred, and after the dinner break it reached 615. And this despite the fact that re-entry was allowed only the follwing day!
234 players survived to the stage of bagging chips. Justin Bonomo (1,011,000, 202BB) finished as the chip leader with ten starting stacks. Daniel Negreanu bagged 252,000. Streamer John "apestyles" van Fleet did slightly better with 270,000. Streamer Paulina Löliger (she didn't say if she was related to Linus) made it through with 488,000, and video blogger Andrew Neeme barely passed the 30 blind mark – 160,000 chips.
Ukrainians Artem Metalidi (410,000) and Andrey Lyubovetsky (408,000) were next in the chip count. Nikita Kalinin had a total of 180,000, he performed even worse than the eternal short stack Stephen Chidwick (181,000). Well, among the shortest stacks with only 11bb, Eric Lindgren unexpectedly showed up. Amazingly, someone continues to fund his poker career!
On Day 1B, 585 people played from the start. It was nice to see the legendary Johnny Bucks on the roster, Cliff Josephy, one of the strongest early online players – and one of the smartest too. There was also another online superstar that everyone forgot about – Isaac Baron. None of them, however, affected the course of the tournament, and we will not hear about them again today.
The fairer sex was represented by Olga Ermolcheva, Kristen Foxen, Maria Konnikova, Ema Zaimovich and Sofia Lövgren. Roger "The Drunk Master" Teska, popular among our readers, and the eternal hero of the poker world, Chris Moneymaker, honored the tournament with their presence. Eric Seidel, John Juanda, Steve Zolotov and Mike Matusow spoke for the old guard. Joe Ingram played for the poker PR people.
Registration, as on the first day, was closed in the afternoon. The number of participants in day 1B exceeded a thousand – 1,041, and the prize pool collected over two days exceeded $15 million.
On the second day, 438 people survived. Aryan Oliveira was the chip leader with 1,551,000 or 310bb. The sixth stack – 746,000 – was by Dan Smith. 333,000 was bagged by Natasha Barbour-Mercier. World champion Espen Jorstad hit 284,000, slightly ahead of Maria Konnikova's 265,000. Olga Ermolcheva advanced to the next day with a stack of 198,000. Professionals Igor Kurganov (120,000) and Ilya Nikiforov (114,000) performed worse, and Mikita Badziakouski, who flickered in chip counts at the first levels, was eliminiated.
Day 1C became the most massive – 788 people sat down at the tables from the first minute.
The pros have been diluted by well-known amateurs in the poker world, like election predictor Nate Silver or PokerNews editor Donny Peters. It's nice that photographers didn't miss the appearance of WSOP heads-up star John Smith. He hasn't changed much in all these years.
Unlike Michael Mizrachi.
A total of 1,280 people registered on Day 1C. The total number of participants in the tournament was 2,960. Among the last to sit at the tables were two Phils.
The first was quickly out, the second was close to the abyss, but hit his eight outs with an open-ended against a set and ended the day with two and a half starting stacks.
The barrier of the first day was overcome by 513 people. Krasimir Yankov had the most chips – 1,062,000. Least of all... well, less than many – Mikita Badziakouski with 88,000.
The second day was started by 1,185 people. The organizers announced 370 prizes and informed that everyone who entered the televised final table, which is always played in 6-max format at the WPT, will receive at least a million dollars.
It is at this point that we first see the mention of Benny Glaser. The Brit opens KQs from the button, gets all-in for 15bb from Maria Ho, calls and beats A8o.
At some point, Deeb becomes the chip leader of the tournament – not Shaun, but Freddie – an earlier version.
However, Freddie soon loses to Andrey Lyubovetsky.
Andrey leads almost until the end of the day and finishes with the second stack – 2,200,000. First up is Adrian Sorel State.
On the third day, about 400 people bagged. It's close to money!
Exactly one million with the blinds at 10,000/15,000 for Garik Yaroshevsky, 420,000 for Artyom Metalidi, 440,000 for Negreanu, 960,000 for Dan Smith (he eliminated Bonomo). 250,000 from Igor Kurganov. Glaser has 1,180,000, and the future winner already has 1,695,000, but the details of his rise are not reported. Hellmuth flew out, let's move on.
Day 3 starts with a prebubble. Brian Rast is among the first to be eliminated. I would like to write that the high roller made a mistake, but Brian did everything he could – bet preflop vs and even hit a good flop of , but then...something went wrong.
World champion Espen Jorstad could have been eliminated two places before the money, but he also did his best to survive, and although his all-in opponent showed two kings before the flop, the Norwegian was far ahead and even strengthened on the flop.
The bubble burst atypically: two players flew out at different tables at once, dividing the last prize in half ($8,700 each). One of the losers was Tony Dunst.
...and Kat Klassen became his girlfriend in misfortune. The poor girl busted with aces against Freddy Deeb's tens.
Mass eliminations begin. With a short stack, Negreanu survives. More than a million is taken from Kurganov from somewhere. Eliminated for small prizes are Andrew Neeme (286th) and Steve Zolotov (285th), all for $19,150. On the next jump, Jorstad leaves the tournament – 262nd place, $19,900.
Eliot Hudon, meanwhile, wins a coinflip from the short stack with vs and crosses the 4 million chip mark. Slightly more – 4.4 million – for Glaser, who just won a huge pot on the board of with vs .
Dan Smith is eliminated in 194th place for $21,750.
Garik Yaroshevsky finishes 170th with a prize of $23,100. 162nd ($24,800) is Artyom Metalidi.
Negreanu in the small blind with an 18bb stack resteals against open from the cutoff. The cutoff calls with a pair of queens. Negreanu has A9o, the flop contains two aces! With 38bb there is room to play.
At the very end of the day, Freddy Deeb flies out. 128 people move to day 3. Benny Glaser leads with 7,565,000. Where he got so much, we don't know.
The six-day tournament crosses the half way point.
At the start of Day 4, Negreanu defends the BB after a raise and call. On the flop the raiser bets a small continuation bet and Daniel makes a reasonable call with .
Turn – . Villain makes a microscopic bet, something like 1/6 of the pot. Negreanu check-raises three and a half times that bet. Villain calls.
River – . Negreanu, improving to a full house, bets big, albeit under the pot, and gets called by .
“Bad luck for you,” Daniel informs his opponent. Cannot argue with that.
Eliminated in 91st place is Lynn Gilmartin, a longtime PokerNews journalist and now on the WPT organizing team. Short stacked, she shoved with KJs against David Baker's AQo and didn't improve.
56 players leave for the dinner break. Eliot Hudon is left with 2,575,000, about the tenth shortest stack. Benny Glaser is 10th from the top with 8,925,000. With a comfortable stack – 5,900,000 – Igor Kurganov isn't struggling, he has never been featured in reports either by text or by photography – just solid chip counts. Negreanu with 3,825,000 is right in the middle. And Andrey Lyubovetsky's stack shrank completely – 1,575,000, the 6th shortest. Shortly after play resumes, Andrey will be eliminated in 53rd place for $71,400.
Refreshed with vegan food, Negreanu immediately after the break doubles with queens against nines.
We don't know what Benny Glaser ate, but in one of the first hands of the level, he also doubles. Benny opens on the button and calls a 4x 3-bet from chip leader Daniel Sepiol.
Flop – . Facing a 1/3 pot c-bet, Benny patiently calls.
Turn – . Sepiol check-calls and Benny bets heartily, about 3/4 of the pot.
River – . SPR is about 0.5. Sepiol checks. Benny all-ins fairly quickly and Sepiol calls with . Glazer has 18,100,000 chips and is a big chip leader.
And he keeps on gaining. Raise 300,000 from first position. Joni Juhkimainen 3bets 800,000 with 22bb in utg+1. Glaser calls.
On a board of both players check to the river. On the river, Benny pushes his opponent all-in for 2,600,000. Joni thinks for three minutes but calls with – and loses to a flush . The Finnish High Roller is eliminated in 44th place ($83,900) with Benny Glaser's stack already over 30 million.
David Baker has one blind left. He stoically goes all-in.
After some preflop action, David is left head-to-head with Krasimir Yankov. Yankov has two tens, ODB has kings.
The flop with a ten makes David smile sadly, but on the turn the king comes reassuringly.
On the next hand, ODB bets 90% of his stack before the flop, Yankov calls, seeking revenge. On the flop of both players go all-in, and the of Baker is beaten by AQo. The veteran could have had 16bb – you can relax for a while. But instead, he crashes out in 41st place and still gets the same $83,900. Just wasted my good luck.
On the fifth day, 37 people remain. Glaser leads with 28,800,000, followed by Yankov with 26,100,000. Kurganov in stealth mode rises to 5th place – 11,300,000. 18th stack, 7,525,000, for Negreanu. Eliot Hudon with 24 blinds, 3,600,000, is 30th.
On the first level of the new day, Eliot Hudon manages to 4-bet with fold equity with 18 blinds. To his 600,000 raise from the small blind, Villain bets 1,500,000 but folds all-in for 3,600,000. Photographers of the festival captured a stunned Canadian: the Internet did not prepare him for this.
At the beginning of the next level, we said goodbye to Kurganov. First he put three barrels on the board reading and threw the cards in the muck, after having heard he's been called. His opponent with a sonorous name – Colton Bloomberg – also did not show his hand. And then Igor made a squeeze with AKo and lost to the ladies of the same Bloomberg. 31st place earned Kurganov $119,300.
Glaser, who started out as a big chip leader, set himself the task of doubling all the short stacks and successfully managed the first four attempts, which ate almost 10 million from his stack. However, in the fifth confrontation, Benny went against a comparable stack and immediately regained his stack, holding in the flip with vs – and here he is again the chip leader!
In the top 20, Benny raises from first position. Nate Kogel 3-bets into the BB. Benny 4-bets to 6,300,000. Kogel goes all-in for 17,000,000 – almost 60bb.
“But I tried to warn you…,” Benny thinks sadly, turning over two aces and looking at how the owner of offsuit goes home. .
Glaser has 60 million chips, about 20% of the chips in play.
Various grandfathers continue to bust. At first unknown, and then...
Negreanu raises to 800,000 from the button and calls a 2,300,000 3-bet from Lucas Foster.
Flop . Foster cbets 2,500,000. Negreanu calls with a set of deuces.
Turn – . Foster is interested in his opponent's stack, and when he finds out he has only 5 million left, he goes all-in. You can understand – he has two kings.
Negreanu snap calls.
The River is a King!
Glazer continues to cruise, he wins all-ins, he loses, he is constantly in hands. After another knockout, his stack exceeds 100 million – more than 200bb! Hadon keeps in the background, after one big hand, he has only 18 bb left – mere crumbs for a previous chip leader who is used to a big stack.
After the elimination of Rami Oliveira in 10th place, the remaining nine people gather at the "final" table. It's not quite the finale yet, but it's still serious.
Frank Funaro – 22,300,000
Michael Rocco – 24,900,000
Lucas Foster – 51,100,000
Jean-Claude Mousse – 8,500,000
Drew O'Cannell – 20,500,000
Adam Adler – 20,900,000
Colton Bloomberg – 11,000,000
Benny Glazer – 100,600,000
Eliot Hudon – 12,250,000
9- 3rd place: $429,000
Glaser skillfully stifles short stacks without encountering much competition from Foster. At level 34, three finalists have less than 10 blinds left, and four more, including Hudon, have less than 20.
And then Hudon is given chips out of the blue.
In this hand, Michael Rocco left the tournament in 9th place. Hudon saw both the flop and the turn for free – Rocco limped and checked the flop. And then, apparently, he simply did not believe...
However, a gift is a gift, but there is still no intrigue in the tournament. Glaser continues to steal from his opponents, taking over half of the tournament's chips while still 8 handed. Then Adler (who's that?) knocks out O'Connell (who's that?) with vs , seven remain. In the top 7, Benny has 103bb, while second-placed Adler has 20bb. Comments are not required.
And here Hudon is lucky again. Glaser attacks his BB, Hadon looks at the kings and decides to play the call.
The flop comes an ace, but Benny has played every hand and plays a wide continuation bet, so Eliot calls.
The turn is the king.
Benny check-calls the turn and fails to fold on the river. Hudon gets as much as 24 blinds!
Foster flies out on the final table bubble – he has , Hudon , the flop was an ace, and Eliot Hudon entered the televised final table with the second biggest stack.
Frank Funaro – 21,100,000 (13bb)
Jean-Claude Moussa – 19,000,000 (12bb)
Adam Adler – 27,200,000 (17bb)
Colton Bloomberg – 14,000,000 (9bb)
Benny Glaser – 133,600,000 (83bb)
Eliot Hudon – 80,800,000 (51bb)
ICM baby! On the fifth day they played right up to six in the morning, so it cannot be said that on the night before finishing the tournament, all the boys did not sleep, but practiced with ICMizer. But damn it, they should have done! Prize jumps up to third place – $300,000 each.
And this guy will not give up – he manages to play for stacks even in limit game tournaments!
The fourth hand of the final table is suddenly the highlight of the tournament.
Benny Glaser is in first position... all-in for 148,800,000 (yes, he's already won more).
Sitting behind him, Hudon knows that there is a call only with aces and kings, for the sake of formality he checks the cards – and there are kings. WELL, CALL.
Benny has AJo.
Hudon, as you understand from our numerous spoilers, doubles, and without much intrigue.
He has 99bb, Benny down to 45bb.
In the 11th hand, Bloomberg is busted.
In the 14th – Funaro.
Then they play without incident for a long time, Hudon uses the stack and gains, his opponents suffer.
In the 39th hand, the chip leader opens with , Adler defends BB with .
On the flop Adler checks, Hudon c-bets 2,000,000 and Adler pushes all-in for 13,600,000.
Hudon calls fairly quickly, and his pair manages to survive both the turn and the river. Three remain in the game.
In the 46th hand, Glaser doubles up against Moussa, > . Moussa has three blinds left and will soon be eliminated in 3rd place.
Heads-up stacks: 114bb for Hudon, 34bb for Glaser. The difference between first and second place exceeds $1.3 million.
At the very beginning of the heads-up they play a big pot, where the Canadian has , the Brit , and the flop is an ace. However, all other cards on the board are higher than seven, and on the river the pot is split in half.
Then a stuffy tournament heads-up is played, Benny outplays his opponent a little more often postflop, including with worse hands, but the pots are still small ones. And here comes hand #55.
Hudon calls 1M chips with , Benny checks . Flop – . Glaser checks. Hudon bets 2 million. Benny calls.
Turn – . Glaser – check. Hudon, now open-ended, put in the second barrel – 8 million. Glaser also has a draw and also without much value at showdown, he answers with a heavy check-raise – 28 million!
Hudon thinks for a long time and calls.
River – . It's not very fun to bluff when there are four cards to the straight on the board and the main draw that your opponent could have hit has hit. On the other hand, there may be a marginal made hand, which should now definitely give up. Benny goes all-in for 59 million. Hudon calls and takes first place in the biggest tournament in WPT history!
The new champion is 25 years old. He lives in Montreal. He started playing poker three and a half years ago. Having given himself a $2,000 bankroll, Eliot immediately spent $500 on a training course, after which he began to grind one-dollar tournaments on the Internet.
Playing buy-ins from 50 cents to $5, he won his biggest tournament and got $2,000. Then he won another... A little time passes, and Hudon is already playing all the tournaments on the Internet from $100 to $1,000. The guy also wins in them, and in December 2022 he decides to play a $10,000 live tournament...
“There are a lot of young guys like me who dream of a big victory, and I am no different from them,” says Hudon. “I fully understand how lucky I am. Of course, now I will play more high stakes – I will fly to the Bahamas, to the World Series. I think that I objectively evaluate my level, and I think that I am fit, but it is impossible to give a guarantee. This is the beauty of our game – it always has an element of mysticism. Nothing can be completely sure."
– Finished second at the WPT Championship for $2.83 MILLION! Glaser wrote on Facebook. A truly incredible result, the biggest success of my career. Just fire! It's a little sad, of course, to miss out on a $4.14 million victory (and the title), but it's still a crazy result, and I'm grateful for it. It was an amazing experience that I still haven't fully digested. Thank you all for your love and support!