It’s finally here – the final day of the 2023 World Series of Poker Main Event, and out of the record-setting field of 10,034 runners, just three players remain. It took six hours of play to lose six players at a tense final table that saw short stacks holding on for massive pay jumps and very few times in which players got terribly far out of line.
Now, the three players who started the day at the top of the chip counts are going to be the three who will return on Monday at 1 pm local time (2 pm start of stream) to try to take home the title of WSOP Main Event champion and the historic $12.1 million first-place prize.
Steven Jones – 238M (119 BBs)
Steven Jones started the final table second in chips and will return, with three left, as the chip leader. Although Jones may have the fewest results of the final three, he showed poise at the final table minimizing risks when he needed to and taking big swings when he had the goods.
“It’s literally a dream, and I think it’d be good to have someone who’s not a professional win,” said Jones. “I think it’s just good for the sport in general. I do play a lot, but I wouldn’t consider myself a pro by any means. In the summers, I guess I’m a pro, but other than that.”
Jones talked about not getting too far ahead of himself and how, despite the massive stakes that are at hand, he’s looking to take in the experience for all that it’s worth.
“I’m just in the moment,” said Jones. “This has been my dream. I guess I just visualized it so many times that I guess it’s not as surprising. I don’t know what it is, but I thought I’d be a lot more nervous than I am. But I’m just not for some reason.
“Poker should be fun and I’m just trying to have fun with it. This is a hobby for me, so I [think you can] enjoy it when you don’t need it to make money because you have a career. I’m just trying to live in the moment and enjoy every bit of it.”
Jones also pointed out that for the first time since 2018, the World Series of Poker Main Event bracelet will stay in the United States.
“Now we’re guaranteed an American champion, which I think is cool,” said Jones. “It’s been five years – John Cynn was the last one five years ago. I think we needed an American champion again, and now we’re guaranteed, so it’s pretty cool.”
Daniel Weinman – 199M (99 BBs)
Playing like the pro he is, Weinman never looked uncomfortable while navigating the first part of the final table. He came into the day third in chips and held steady, and picked up critical pots off Walton on more than one occasion. Weinman found good spots to win dead money, and when he needed it most, his big hands hold in critical spots.
“Everything went right, honestly,” said Weinman. “I was on the right side of the deck, had a couple of big pairs hold up in some big pots. I managed to bust [Prydryk] in fifth, just winning a 60/40 in a pretty standard spot. I didn’t really get put to too many tough decisions. I think I probably played on the tighter side, which is kind of expected at a big final table like this. I didn’t really expect anyone to get too out of line.
“It’ll probably change a lot tomorrow, as the stacks are really even.”
Despite the noise and potentially overwhelming atmosphere, Weinman was able to lock in pretty quickly. Beyond his big final table experiences, Weinman credited being on the rail for Jake Balsiger’s WSOP Main Event run in 2012 and the straightforward nature of the spots he was put in.
“Today was easier than I thought it would be,” said Weinman. “I don’t know if it was because I made the right hands at the right time. I expected to be so much more nervous up there. But I didn’t really have to pull off the big bluff. I kind of just had it every time I put a lot of chips in, which is not always going to be the case. That obviously makes some things easier. But I never really felt out of place.”
As far as the final day goes, Weinman appears to be in a good spot to make a run at the title. When it comes to playing short-handed, Weinman sounded just as comfortable as he looked while playing at the Final Table on Sunday.
“I’m not sure how much shorthanded No Limit these guys have played,” said Weinman. “For a long time, that was kind of my main game, so I’m looking forward to a battle tomorrow in a spot where the three of us probably aren’t the most comfortable and playing for a shit-ton of money.”
Adam Walton – 165.5M (82 BBs)
Walton started the day as the chip leader and clearly came to play. He was making moves when he had to, and when they didn’t work out, he didn’t panic. He pressed on, played his game, and bounced back from the middle of the pack to make the final day of the tournament. He received a major shot in the arm when he found himself in a dream scenario that allowed him to bust Jan-Peter Jachtmann in fourth place.
“I mean, when you flat aces on the button, you’re just like, ‘Please big blind jam. Please big blind jam,’” said Walton. “That is exactly how I was hoping it would happen, and obviously it felt amazing.”
Walton’s rail was particularly loud and boisterous, wearing A&W T-shirts and cheering loudly for him throughout.
“It’s obviously a blast,” he said. “When you’re not an athlete, and then you have a chance to have people cheer for you in the one possible atmosphere for it to happen, this seems like a dream coming true. It’s obviously a crazy feeling.”
Walton, who’s a regular at the cash game tables at Wynn Las Vegas and typically only plays two $10K events a year – the WSOP Main Event and the WPT World Championship – was incredibly happy about how the first part of the final table played out. He feels like he’s ready to play the hands that come to him, and let the cards fall as he may. Beyond bolstering his stack, Walton doesn’t put much thought into how winning the last hand of the night Sunday could help him.
“I don’t really believe in things like momentum,” said Walton. “I think that things just happen. I don’t know if momentum is really a thing in sports or poker. I think there’s just like variance and sometimes it goes your way and sometimes not.”
Originally the day was designed to play down to get to the final four. However, as the rate of play progressed and there were a couple of quick eliminations, officials opted to press on until just three players remained. Bustout hands courtesy of PokerGO.
Daniel Holzner – 9th place for $900,000
Daniel Holzner was the first of the final nine to hit the rail. The Italian started the day 8th in chips but after a confrontation where his pocket aces clashed with Jan-Peter Jachtmann’s flopped set of tens, Holzner dropped to around 10 big blinds. Holzner had been battling for the better part of the past two days, and eventually, his luck ran out in a hand against Steven Jones.
Juan Maceiras – 8th place for $1,250,000
Two hands later Spain’s Juan Maceiras Lapido made the next move. It was a rather quick spiral down the chip counts for Lapido that started at the end of Day 7 (a day in which he started as the leader) and spilled right into Day 8. He was looking to make something happen. Earlier during the final table Lapido shoved a 20bb stack with ace-eight, and put Toby Lewis to a decision with ace-ten. That time, Lewis folded. The next time, Lapido was not so lucky.
Toby Lewis – 7th place for $1,425,000
That hand gave Toby Lewis a healthy boost to his chip stack, but he was by no means comfortable. After taking a couple of minor hits, Lewis picked a prime squeeze spot to try and pick up some chips. However, Lewis’ three-bet shove from the big blind ran into the real hand from the surging Steven Jones and the U.K. pro was going to need to win a flip in order to stay alive.
Dean Hutchison – 6th place for $1,850,000
It took another 32 hands before another player was eliminated. Dean Hutchison had been quiet for most of the day. Norman Chad, during the broadcast, commented multiple times about how uninvolved Hutchison was, likely due to simply not picking up hands to play with. The U.K. grinder floated through the better part of two levels and, in late position, picked up pocket fives and moved all in. Unfortunately for him, Jachtmann, who had been picking up premium holdings all afternoon long, woke up with pocket sevens and made the quick call.
Ruslan Prydryk – 5th place for $2,400,000
After the elimination of Hutchison, it was Ruslan Prydryk’s turn at the bottom of the chip counts. As his stack began to dwindle, the Ukranian opened up his place and made some moves that ended up costing him chips. Finally, he took a stand, open-shoving his and running into a call from Daniel Weinman, who had , to put Prydryk’s tournament on the line.
Jan-Peter Jachtmann – 4th place for $3,000,000
WSOP bracelet winner Jan-Peter Jachtmann was cruising early in the final table, but as the field narrowed to four he attempted a big bluff against the chip leader Jones that backfired, costing him some valuable chips. Just a few hands later, Jachtmann looked to get back into it and moved all in for his final 25bb with king-queen offsuit. But Adam Walton was there, on the button, quickly calling with pocket aces.