There are now just three players remaining in the record-smashing 2023 World Series of Poker no-limit hold’em main event, with one of them just a couple of eliminations away from getting their hands on the championship bracelet and top prize of $12,100,000.
The final three contenders are all that remain from the largest WSOP main event field ever assembled, with 10,043 players posting the $10,000 buy-in this year to create an unprecedented $93,399,900 prize pool. While all their eyes are surely on first place, they have all now locked up at least $4,000,000 for making it to this point of the tournament.
Steven Jones is the chip leader with 238,000,000 (119 big blinds). His stack represents 39.5 percent of the total chips in play.
The 35-year-old Scottsdale, AZ real estate broker (pictured above) scored two knockouts early at the final table and then won some key pots without showdown down the stretch to seize the top spot on the chip counts heading into the final day.
Jones is now guaranteed a multi-million-dollar payday that will blow away his prior top score of $57,425 earned for a ninth-place finish in the 2018 WSOP Colossus tournament.
“It feels great. Like I’ve been saying this whole, it’s a dream come true. It was all a dream, baby!” Jones told PokerGo’s Jeff Platt, pointing to his shirt with a graphic of the late hip hop legend The Notorious B.I.G. emblazoned across the front. “It feels great, though. Today went really well. I picked up some big hands in some key spots. I couldn’t have asked for a better day.”
Daniel Weinman bagged up the second-largest stack with 199,000,000 (100 big blinds). The 35-year-old poker pro is a two-time World Poker Tour main event champion and WSOP bracelet winner, having taken down a $1,000 pot-limit Omaha eight-max event last year for more than $255,000.
Weinman came into this tournament with more than $3.7 million in tournament earnings, which means that he will at least double his career total no matter how he fares on the final day of this event.
Rounding out the final three is Adam Walton with 165,500,000 (83 big blinds). The 40-year-old professional poker player from Seattle, Washington is mostly focused on cash game play, but had accrued over $950,000 in prior tournament earnings before entering this year’s big dance, including a 42nd-place showing in the 2021 main event for $163,900.
Final table action got underway at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, July 16 with Walton in the chip lead to start.
Italy’s Daniel Holzner was ultimately the first to fall. The 30-year-old made an impressive run in his first main event ever, turning the buy-in that was a birthday gift from his family into nearly a million-dollar payday.
He lost a big chunk of his stack early when his pocket aces were outflopped by the pocket tens of Jan-Peter Jachtmann, who spiked a set and extracted plenty of value. In Holzer’s final hand, he got all-in preflop with AJ flipping against the 1010 of Jones. The pocket tens held up and Holzner was sent to the rail in ninth place with $900,000 for his efforts. This was by far his largest tournament score, having come into this event with just a few small cashes to his name.
“I’m just glad that I got to the final table. Like you said, I was soo short, soo many times. I did my best, I guess, and that’s how poker works. I lost a coin flip, and I’m okay with that. I’m still happy,” Holzner told sideline reporter Kara Scott during the exclusive livestreaming coverage of the final table on PokerGO.
It had taken more than two-and-a-half hours for the first knockout to arrive after the final table began. Then, just a few minutes after Holzner was sent packing, Spain’s Juan Maceiras open-shoved for his last 14.5 big blinds with K9 from the hijack. Toby Lewis called for the majority of his stack with A10 when it folded to him in the big blind. The board came down AJ24K and Lewis’s top pair earned him the pot. Maceiras earned a career-best $1,125,000 payday for his eighth-place showing. The 39-year-old now has nearly $2.2 million in lifetime earnings.
About 20 minutes or so into seven-handed play, the next big showdown arrived. Steven Jones min-raised from the hijack with 1010 for the exact same hand he eliminated Holzer with. Adam Walton flat called out of the cutoff with 98 and it folded to Lewis in the big blind. He thought it over before electing to three-bet shove for a bit over 21 big blinds with KJ. Jones called and Walton bowed out to set up a classic race situation with Lewis’ tournament life on the line. The board ran out A73A2, missing Lewis’ holding to see him knocked out in seventh place.
“In like a week or two, it’ll probably be pretty nice… but it’s a little bittersweet right now,” admitted Lewis when asked about his run in this event by Scott on the broadcast.
The 33-year-old English poker pro was awarded $1,425,000 as the seventh-place finisher, surpassing his prior top score of $1,235,204 earned for a third-place showing in the 2021 Wynn Millions main event.
The 2009 European Poker Tour Vilamoura main event winner and 2018 Aussie Millions champion now has nearly $9.9 million in lifetime earnings, which is good for sixth place on England’s all-time money list.
Scotland’s Dean Hutchison was the next player to find himself all-in and at risk. The 36-year-old poker player from Glasgow spent much of the day folding, but eventually took a stand with 55. He made a committing raise of 18.4 million off of his 22.4 million stack when it folded to him on the button. Jachtmann moved all-in from the big blind with 77 and Hutchison called it off.
The board came down J92A4 to keep Jachtmann’s sevens ahead through the river. With that, Hutchison was eliminated in fifth place, earning $1,850,000 for the runaway largest live tournament score of his career. Prior to this, his biggest payday was the $154,935 he earned for winning the 2014 UKIPT Edinburgh £1,100 event. This deep run grew his lifetime earnings to more than $2.5 million.
“I’ve played the main event like eleven times, and this is the first time I’ve ever cashed,” Hutchison told Platt after busting. “I’m just relieved to actually get a cash, never mind making the final table.”
Ukraine’s Ruslan Prydryk was left as the short stack heading into five-handed action, as the only player sitting below the nine-figure mark in the chip counts. He managed a double up to close that gap somewhat, getting all-in for his last 11.5 big blinds with A-J dominating the A-8 of chip leader Jones. Neither player improved and Prydryk doubled to 50 million.
After a cautious start to the day, Prydryk began to become a lot more involved after doubling. He started off winning through aggression but began to encounter some pushback as he continued to stay active. Eventually, he was back down to 12 big blinds when he open shoved from under the gun with Q10. Weinman called in the cutoff with AJ. The AJ2Q8 runout gave Weinman aces and jacks to win the pot.
Prydryk was awarded $2,400,000 for his fifth-place finish. The 50-year-old part-time poker player now has nearly $2.8 million in career cashes under his belt.
The final four played on for a bit, with Jachtmann eventually sliding to the bottom of the chip counts thanks to coming out on the wrong side of a sizable pot against Jones, who had overtaken Weinman for the chip lead during early four-handed action.
Not long after that clash, Jachtmann attempted a squeeze play that ended up being his last move of the tournament. Action began with Jones min-raising from the cutoff with J4. Walton picked up AA on the button and flat called. It folded to Jachtmann in the big blind, who shoved for 28 big blinds with KQ. Jones quickly got out of the way and Walton snap-called.
The flop came down 952 to keep Walton well out in front. The 6 on the turn officially brought Jachtmann’s run in this event to it’s conclusion. The 55-year-old marketing CEO and bracelet winner from Hamburg, Germany took home $3,000,000 as the fourth-place finisher. He now has more than $4.2 million in total tournament scores, with his second-largest being the $661,000 he earned as the 2012 WSOP $10,000 pot-limit Omaha championship winner.
With that play was halted for the final three, who bagged up their chips with the plan being to resume at 1:00 PM local time on Monday, July 17 and play until a champion is decided. Blinds will be 1,000,000-2,000,00 with a big blind ante of 2,000,000 for the remaining 43:33 of level 40.
Here is another look at the chip counts of the remaining three players:
Remaining payouts up for grabs in the 2023 WSOP main event: