Event #53: $1,500 MILLIONAIRE MAKER No-Limit Hold’em

Moldova has a bracelet winner, and his name is Pavel Plesuv. The long-time professional won his first-ever World Series of Poker bracelet event after beating French player Florian Ribouchon to the gold and the top prize of $1.2 million. At a fun-packed final table, both men won a massive seven-figure sum as the Millionaire creating two unforgettable winners… but only Plesuv got his hands on the bracelet.

WSOP 2023 Event #53 $1,500 Millionaire Maker Results:

1stPavel PlesuvMoldova$1,201,564
2ndFlorian RibouchonFrance$1,003,554
3rdPaul GunnessUnited States$650,058
4thAndreas KniepGermany$501,182
5thAnton SmirnovRussia$373,524
6thMyles MullalyUnited States$287,522
7thVitor De Souza CoutinhoBrazil$222,749

Shallow Waters Produce Early Eliminations

This year’s WSOP Millionaire Maker event broke a world record, as the biggest-ever attendance in a $1,500-entry event saw 10,430 buy-ins create poker history. It also meant that instead of the winner, both first and second place would earn a seven-figure sum. The action at the final table was officially nine-handed, but the final day saw just seven make it on to the PokerGO stream and play out a dramatic conclusion to poker fans around the world.

Plesuv entered the final seven in the lead, but with the top stack on 44 big blinds and the shortest stack on 12 big blinds, there was a shallow spread between the surviving players, and it was all still on the line. Vitor De Souza Coutinho was low in chips when he four-bet all-in for 17.4 million with ace-king offsuit. Called by German player Andres Kniep with pocket tens, the Brazilian needed help, but on the nine-high board got none of it, losing out in seventh place for $222,749.

Myles Mullaly lost one flip to double up the Russian player Anton Smirnov, which sank Mullaly to the bottom of the chipcounts. The American needed to do something and quick, so moved all-in with four and a half big blinds with ace-five of hearts. Florian Ribouchon had raised with pocket nines and Mullaly suddenly needed a huge amount of help. The flop of J-6-5 paired up Mullaly’s five, but he needed more. Amazingly, he got it on the ace turn and suddenly he was one card away from a vital double-up. To gasps and cheers from the rail, a two-outer nine fell on the river and in spectacular fashion, Mullaly was sent home in sixth place for $287,522.

Here’s how that dramatic hand played out:


Kniep’s Barmy Army Sent Packing

Five players remained, and the Russian player Smirnov was the next one to leave, never recovering from dropping to a short stack earlier in the final table. Smirnov called off his final nine big blinds with ace-deuce of hearts and couldn’t hold against Ribouchon’s king-queen. The board of Q-T-9-J-7 saw the French player overtake Smirnov and eliminate the Russian in fifth place for $373,524.

Four-handed, Plesuv had 100.1 million chips, and was some way clear of his three rivals, Ribouchon (72.1m), the German player Andreas Kniep (49.4 million) and Paul Gunness (37.8m). The next bust-out didn’t totally go with the chip stacks, however, as Kniep was the next player to depart the party.

Moving all-in with pocket aces, Kniep was a big favorite to double-up, but Plesuv, who had called with ace-deuce, turned a ‘wheel’ straight on a dramatic board of T-5-3-4-7 and the pink-hat adorned German rail were distraught to see their countryman fall. Kniep, so often the entertainer, was suddenly denied his audience, as the spotlight moved from him to the three remaining players in with a chance of grabbing WSOP gold.

Plesuv Seals Historic Victory

With three players remaining, the short stack was clearly Paul Gunness. The last American at the table had laddered into the podium places but could go no further, cashing for $650,058 when his ace-three couldn’t hold against the queen-eight of Plesuv, a queen arriving on the turn to doom the home crowd’s favorite a chance to compete for the gold bracelet.

That result also guaranteed both remaining men a seven-figure sum no matter who took the title, and it was the first such score of each player’s careers at the felt. It looked like only one man had victory in his sights, however, as the Moldovan Plesuv went into the final battle with a dominant chip lead of 222.7 million chips to Ribouchon’s 37.4 million chips.

Soon into the heads-up, it was all over. Worse than a 3:1 dog in the fight, Ribouchon was all-in on the turn of a board showing K-5-2-K with pocket jacks. He was in terrible shape, however, with Plesuv having king-queen. Only a jack on the river would save the Frenchman, and it didn’t arrive as a three landed and Plesuv celebrated a landmark victory. The first-ever Moldovan to win a WSOP bracelet, he was $1.2 million better off, Ribouchon at least consoled by receiving a runner-up prize of $1 million himself.

Here’s how the final moments played out:

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Paul seaton

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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