Event #40: Super High Roller No-Limit Hold'em

Chris Brewer conquered not only some great players at the final table of Event #40: $250,000 Super High Roller but also rode a rollercoaster of emotions. Coming back from the short stack with six players left, Brewer had to maintain his concentration after another player was accused of cheating before beating Artur Martirosian heads up for the gold.

WSOP 2023 Event #40 $250,000 Super High Roller Results:

PlacePlayerCountryPrize
1stChris BrewerUnited States$5,293,556
2ndArtur MartirosianRussia$3,271,666
3rdMartin KabrhelCzech Republic$2,279,038
4thAlex KulevBulgaria$1,632,005
5thChance KornuthUnited States$1,202,318
6thDan SmithUnited States$912,022
7thDavid PetersUnited States$712,953

Peters First to Bust on PokerGO Stream

Seven players were at the final table when the cameras and lights pointed at the action, with PokerGO viewers around the world joining in their thousands to watch what would turn out to be a highly controversial live stream. The first bust-out contained little controversy. American professional David Peters was all-in with ace-nine in a standard spot. Chance Kornuth called having run his chips up early and got lucky when his ace-eight prevailed across a board that rivered him the nut flush.

That hand sent Peters home for $712,953 and further strengthened Kornuth’s chances of winning the $5.2 million top prize. Kornuth only sat behind Czech player Martin Kabrhel at the top of the chip-counts.

As three players got involved with big stacks and big paired hands, the action really kicked off. The best hand did not win.

It wasn’t long before Smith was out, and he lost at the hands of Kabrhel, who had wound up the table and was alleged to have marked cards by several well-known players in the game.

Smith’s reaction after losing with ace-queen to Kabrhel’s ten-six with all the cards in diamonds, was noticeable.

“Good luck, most of you.” Smith said to the other players at the table, before jabbing his finger at Kabrhel.

“I hope you get barred.”

Kabrhel wanted clarification on what ‘The cowboy’ meant.

“Banned.” Smith said, clearly boiling with anger. “Your antics are the worst of anybody I’ve ever met. Everyone else is a great player.”

“Somebody must be worse.” Kabrhel joked as Smith left the table. Everyone else was silent and Kabrhel had made no friends, antagonizing others at the table during the game. Here’s how that heated exchange went down.

Kornuth and Kulev Unable to Survive

With five players still in the hunt, Chance Kornuth was the next player to bust. Having led with six remaining, the Chip Leader Coaching owner lost in fifth for $1,202,318. Losing to Alex Kulev after the Bulgarian made a pair on the river, Kulev’s gain was enough for his to stabilise, but soon after, he hit the rail too.

All-in with queen-jack, Kulev couldn’t hit against Russian player Artur Martirosian’s pocket eights, busting for a score of $1,632,005 in fourth place. That left three men at the table, each of whom had their own fanbase – except the controversial Kabrhel.

Chris Brewer had fought back from being the short stack and having never won a WSOP bracelet, was the home crowd’s favorite. Even Martirosian had several fans, who cheered him on passionately in his attempt to win his first bracelet too. Kabrhel already had two WSOP victories in his collection from Prague in 2018 in the WSOP Europe festival and three years ago on the International Circuit.

Despite those achievements in his career to date, Kabrhel had no fans on the rail.

Dan Smith and Kabrhel
Dan Smith (background) eyes Martin Kabrhel with some unease after the Czech player was accused of cheating.

Heroes and Villains

Three-handed, Brewer and Martirosian stretched ahead and the Thunderdome crowd got what they craved as Kabrhel was crushed. All-in with a suited queen-deuce, Kabrhel lost to Martirosian’s ace-king as a king on the flop was followed by not nearly enough help for the Czech player. Silence enveloped the stage as identified ‘villain’ of the piece left the party.

Martirosian’s stack was three times that of the underdog Brewer, but No Limit Hold’em poker loves a comeback story and sure enough the American fought back. Getting back into contention wasn’t done by a single double-up, but more through a hard grind. A series of small pots went his way, some raises never got to showdown and he applied pressure brilliantly on Martirosian’s stack.

Working his way into a 2:1 chip lead via crucial coinflip with pocket threes beating Martirosian’s ace-ten, the Russian never came back from that devastating defeat. Having been one run-out from the bracelet, Martirosian lost with the better hand at the last as his ace-king fell to Brewer’s ace-seven, an extraordinary board of K-9-5-8-6 giving the American a rivered straight for the victory, worth an incredible $5,293,556 and that priceless first WSOP bracelet.

Emotional Chris Brewer
An emotional Brewer realises the magnitude of his achievement in his winner’s interview with PokerGO’s Natalie Bode.

Afterwards, an obviously emotional Brewer poured his heart out as a poker world watched on to applaud the popular high-stakes pro.

Final Table Fireworks Followed by Allegations of Cheating

After the final table, the dust settled, but the industry remained outraged by some of the perceived antics of the villainous Kabrhel. The ‘card-marking’ row prompted a statement from Kabrhel himself via Twitter where he venomously denied the allegations… or says there’s no proof.

Former Full Tilt Poker poster boy Tom Dwan called for a full-scale investigation into Kabrhel’s antics after several complaints from fellow players. His words carry some weight and clearly, what he said was echoed by the vast majority of fans and players alike.

A full-scale investigation, you say? Step forward Doug Polk, who today released this “deeper look” at Kabrhel’s antics. It’s well worth a watch, especially if you believe Kabrhel to be out of order and worthy of a lengthy ban. Either way, let Doug take you through the footage.

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Paul Seaton, a poker luminary with over a decade of experience, has reported live from iconic poker events, including the World Series of Poker, European Poker Tour, and World Poker Tour. He's not just a spectator; he's been the Editor of BLUFF Europe Magazine and Head of Media for partypoker. Paul's poker insights have graced publications like PokerNews, 888poker, and PokerStake, where he's interviewed poker legends such as Daniel Negreanu, Erik Seidel, Phil Hellmuth, and The Hendon Mob’s, entire lineup. His exceptional work even earned him a Global Poker Award nomination for Best Written Content. In the poker world, Paul Seaton's expertise is a force to be reckoned with, captivating enthusiasts worldwide.

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