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The World Poker Tour wrapped its second WPT World Championship at Wynn Las Vegas just before Christmas. A month of live tournaments culminated in the WPT WC Main Event, which made news for its prize pool alone. Not only was the $40M guarantee historic, the $2.4M overlay was jaw-dropping and the value was undeniable. And in the end, a field that mixed pros, amateurs, and wild cards worked its way down to a talented final table, where the last player standing became a millionaire and a sudden star in the poker arena.
Dan Sepiol is the 2023 WPT World Championship champion.
The WPT World Championship was as exciting in 2023 as it was in its inaugural year at Wynn Las Vegas in 2022. The entries kept adding up, and the prize pool kept growing. The big difference was that prize pool, though.
In 2022, the World Poker Tour and Wynn set the guarantee at $15M, a sizeable and attractive number for a $10K buy-in event. The number of entries into the inaugural event left that guarantee in the dust when the prize pool settled at just less than $30M.
This year, they set the guarantee at $40M. It was historic and ambitious. And in the end, the WPT WC Main Event fell short of that number, requiring the World Poker Tour and Wynn to add $2,417,000 to the prize pool to meet the promise of $40M. It was the second-largest overlay in live poker history and a boon for the players.
Financially, the WPT World Championship took a hit, at least on the surface. But in every other way, the WPT and Wynn won. They solidified the respect of and standing in the poker community.
After the dust settled, the WPT and Wynn announced the prize pool and payout details:
Ultimately, every player at the final table would be guaranteed at least $1,207,000 and the winner promised $5,678,000.
When Day 2 began, there were 1,375 players in action. Play was intense, and at the end of the night, the money bubble burst with Tyler Hirschfeld out in 481st place. Of the 480 players remaining, all were in the money. Alessandro Siena had the chip lead with 3,035,000 in his stack, and the following six players had solid stacks but none in the top 30 on the leaderboard:
Day 3 finished with just 132 competitors at the tables and Naj Ajez in front with 11,435,000 chips. The six aforementioned players showed:
Day 4 thinned the field down to 45 players, with Mark Mounsey leading with a stack of 18,725,000 chips. Six players on the watch list had chips as follows:
Day 5 played down to just 16 players. Ben Jacobs sat on the 46.4M stack in front of the others, six of whom had:
On the day of the playdown to the final table, Moorman eliminated the 14th place player, Sepiol the next, and Lichtenberger doubled through a player and then ousted him in 12th place. Moorman busted another, and Lichtenberger took care of John Richards in tenth place, Jacobs in ninth, and Mounsey in eighth. Moorman busted Carl Shaw in seventh place to end the action.
The final six players created a final table of pros and semi-pros. All but Sepiol owned WSOP bracelets, Martirosyan with three of them and an EPT title. Moorman had won a WPT Main Event and Lichtenberger an Alpha8 and too many online poker titles to count. Heath had the highest total of live poker tournament earnings with nearly $20M, and Sepiol had the lowest with little more than $1.3M.
Their starting chip counts were:
The six men took their time getting settled, though Sepiol only waited 11 hands to take a bit pot from Lichtenberger. Several rounds later, Sepiol took pocket sevens into battle with Martirosyan and his pocket fives, and the sevens held to bust Martirosyan in sixth place.
Two hands later, Sepiol took a pot from Heath to climb into the chip lead. Action then settled a bit until Moorman took possession of some of Sotiroupoulos’ chips, but the latter found a spot to come back with A-7 suited. Heath called all-in holding Q-J offsuit but didn’t improve, leaving the table in fifth place.
Moorman was the shortest stack and took a chance with Q-J offsuit. Sotiropoulos showed his K-Q, which held up on an interesting runout of A-A-T-9-7 to oust Moorman in fourth place.
Even so, Sotiropoulos was the short stack, shorter still when he lost chips to Sepiol. But it was Lichtenberger who shoved with A-K offsuit preflop, and Sepiol called with pocket jacks. The board of Q-9-7-2-T left Lichtenberger out in third place.
Little more than 100 hands into the official final table action, heads-up play began with Sepiol holding a massive stack of 310.5M chips and Sotiropoulos looking down at 72.6M. But Sotiropoulos couldn’t get anything going at first. He fell to 50M and then 30M chips, eventually doubling back to 57M with A-7 over J-9. Then, he doubled again with 7-5 on a board of A-K-8-6-9, beating the K-2 of Sepiol.
That second double-up prompted the two players to discuss a chop. They agreed to the following:
They left $600K on the table, which included the trophy and a $10K seat into the 2024 WPT World Championship.
The deal seemed like a good idea for Sepiol, as Sotiropoulos subsequently took a pot that put him into the chip lead. But Sepiol then came back with a huge double. He had J-2 on a J-9-2-T-7 board, and the two pair took the pot from Sotiropoulos and his Q-J.
On the very next hand, Sepiol shoved with K-3, but Sotiropoulos had K-Q. However, the dealer delivered J-8-4-3-2. The turn card gave Sepiol the pair and victory.
The final payouts were:
Jackpot! You’ve flopped a winning hand! This article has surely added some extra chips to your stack. Tune in for more valuable insights and pro-level strategies!
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