Darren Elias is one of the most accomplished players ever on the World Poker Tour, holding records for the most titles won (4), the most official final tables made (13), and the most in-the-money finishes (46) on the main tour. While Elias has cashed for multiple millions outside of WPT events, the three largest paydays for wins of Elias’ career came on the tour.
On the final day of March, the 36-year-old poker professional added a big victory on another tour to the top of his tournament resume. Elias defeated a field of 87 entries to emerge victorious in the 2023 U.S. Poker Open $15,700 buy-in no-limit hold’em event, securing his first PokerGO Tour title and the first-place prize of $313,200. This became the fourth-largest payout for a victory in Elias’ career and also increased his total lifetime earnings to more than $11.6 million.
Elias also earned 576 Card Player Player of the Year points after coming out on top. This was his second POY-qualified final-table finish of the year, with his first being a fifth-place showing in a $10,500 buy-in no-limit hold’em event a few days earlier at this same series. He has now cashed three times during this series, having also recorded a ninth-place finish in the kickoff event. With $399,200 in total earnings accrued, Elias now sits in second place in the USPO player of the series points race, with his 399 PokerGO Tour points trailing only the 457 accrued by current leader Sam Soverel. He has also moved into 16th place in the season-long PGT standings.
This event was held inside the PokerGO Studio at ARIA Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada over the course of two days. At the end of day 1, Masashi Oya held the chip lead while Elias and Soverel sat with the next-largest stacks.
Chris Brewer was the first to fall, with his Q-10 suited running into the pocket jacks of Elias. Brewer earned $78,300 and 192 POY points for his seventh final-table finish of the year. With two titles, $2.4 million in POY earnings, and 2,746 points, he now sits inside the top ten in the 2023 POY race sponsored by Global Poker.
Reigning USPO series champion Sean Winter’s run in this event came to an end when his A-K clashed with the pocket tens of Brandon Wilson, which flopped middle set. Winter had picked up a straight draw, but the river improved Wilson to quads to send Winter packing in fifth place ($104,400). This was his eighth PGT cash of the year, moving him into seventh place on the season-long leaderboard.
Despite starting the day in the lead, Oya was ultimately the next to be eliminated. He lost a sizable pot early in four-handed action, with his bluff being called by the straight of Wilson on a paired board. Oya’s final hand saw him get all-in with top pair and a king kicker, only to be shown a turned seven-high straight for Elias. Oya was drawing dead with one card to come and was knocked out in fourth place ($130,500).
Wilson slid to the bottom of the chip counts during three-handed action. In his final hand, he called all-in from the big blind with A-Q leading the A-2 of Elias, who had open-shoved from the small blind. A deuce on the flop gave Elias a lead which he never relinquished and Wilson was sent to the rail in third place ($156,600). This was the biggest cash of his career, topping the $111,600 he earned for another third-place showing earlier this series.
With that, Elias took more than a 4:1 chip lead into heads-up play with Soverel, who was just a few days removed from a win in event no. 3 at this festival. It didn’t take long for all of the chips to get in. Soverel limped in from the button with 77 and Elias moved all-in for about 17 big blinds effective with AK. Soverel quickly called and the board ran out K862Q to lock up the pot and the title for Elias. Soverel earned $221,850 as the runner-up, bringing his total haul for the series to $456,750 to give him the lead in the USPO points race.
Soverel also climbed into 26th place in the POY standings and second on the PGT leaderboard thanks to this second-place showing. He has now made seven POY-qualified final tables, cashing for $767,085 across those scores.
Here is a look at the payouts and rankings points awarded on day 2:
|Place||Player||Earnings||POY Points||PGT Points|
Photo credits: PokerGO Tour / Enrique Malfavon.