The 2023 World Series of Poker concluded on July 18 at the Horseshoe and Paris Las Vegas, marking the end of a record-setting summer. Before the final curtains drew closed, four events awaited their grand finale.

Ryan Miller’s Triumph in Event #91: $3,000 H.O.R.S.E.

From a field of 331 players, generating a prize pool of $886,440, the face-off came down to Ryan Miller and Leonard August in Event #91: $3,000 H.O.R.S.E. A fourth day was necessary to determine the champion, culminating in less than a single level of heads-up play and Miller clinching his second summer bracelet and the $208,460 grand prize. Meanwhile, August took home an impressive second-place purse of $128,835. Both contenders outlasted renowned poker personalities such as Todd Brunson, Barbara Enright, and Calvin Anderson at the final table.

Day 4 was the scene of intense competition, with August initially seizing control only for Miller to rally and wrest back the lead. August found his position increasingly precarious after conceding three consecutive limit hold ’em pots, leaving him with less than one big bet. The decisive play occurred when Miller’s suited jack-deuce outmatched August’s suited seven-deuce, resulting in Miller’s second bracelet win following a successful flop and river.

Primarily a cash game player, Miller’s performance was extraordinary, with him participating in just five events, cashing in three, and triumphing in two. Describing his record as surreal and unexpected, he indicated that his plans would likely remain unchanged, expressing little interest in the Player of the Year race. Despite his nonchalant attitude towards competitive accolades, Miller’s outstanding skill set and recent success positions him as a formidable adversary in any poker tournament he enters.

Martin Nielsen Conquers the Short Deck Championship

Internet-based Short Deck enthusiast Martin Nielsen emerged victorious in Event #93: $10,000 Short Deck Championship, triumphing over an impressive assembly of 106 participants. The third day of the event started with high expectations for John Juanda, who could have joined the exclusive ranks of Josh Arieh and Phil Hellmuth as the only players to secure a bracelet at Binion’s, the Rio, and the Horseshoe. Yet, Juanda, starting with the smallest chip stack, was the first to bow out of the competition.

Hailing from the Faroe Islands, Nielsen’s commanding win and accompanying $270,160 prize pool catapulted him to the peak of his nation’s all-time money list. His success highlights his individual prowess in Short Deck poker and draws international attention to the Faroe Islands, establishing it as a potential hub for budding poker talent.

A Long-Awaited Victory for Alex Keating in the No-Limit Hold’em

The penultimate event of the World Series of Poker attracted 813 players, significantly up from last year’s 573, each vying for the coveted WSOP bracelet. After two strenuous days, Alex Keating emerged victorious, earning his first WSOP bracelet since his initial WSOP cash in 2009. Many big-name pros, including Viktor Blom, Alex Foxen, Alex Livingston, David Peters, and Phil Laak, entered the event but fell short of victory. Keating’s win awarded him $701,688, outperforming runner-up Guoliang Wei from China and third-place finisher Nozomu Shimizu from Japan.

Day 2 witnessed intense competition among the remaining players, with Peters leading initially, only to fall to the 20th position. Pat Lyons also briefly surged to the top before his chip count dwindled, ending in 15th place. The final table was a fierce battleground, with Keating and Shimizu seizing control and looking most likely to claim the bracelet. Participants fell rapidly, with Massoud Eskandari, Jason Hickey, Christian Harder, Josh Reichard, Alexandros Kolonias, Marcello Delgrosso, and Shimizu all getting eliminated, eventually leading to a head-to-head between Keating and Wei.

Reflecting on his triumphant moment, Keating expressed a mix of surprise and satisfaction. Even recalling a disappointing loss against Lyons’ ace-queen, he maintained a relaxed attitude, acknowledging the casual atmosphere of the tournament. Despite a rough start to the series where he claimed he had gone “zero for forty,” Keating planned to celebrate his victory in style with first-class flights to a friend’s wedding, looking forward to the offered caviar and champagne as part of his deserved festivities.

Last-Minute Triumph for Paul Berger in the Super Turbo No-Limit Hold’em

The 2023 World Series of Poker at the Horseshoe and Paris Las Vegas culminated in a dynamic fashion with Event #95: $1,000 Super Turbo No-Limit Hold’em. Amidst the hustle and bustle of clearing tables and chairs, this event shone with non-stop action, capturing the interest of poker enthusiasts. The tournament began with 1,482 participants, amassing a prize pool of $1,318,980. After about 12 hours of intense gameplay, the final summer bracelet and a hefty $212,645 top prize were clinched by Paul Berger. The event also saw the participation of renowned players like John Juanda, Jen Harman, Daniel Negreanu, Jesse Sylvia, and Bryan Piccioli, who failed to secure the top spot.

The final table evolved into a swift and exhilarating showdown, with rapid eliminations at every level due to players’ short stacks. After intense face-offs and quick eliminations, the fight for the bracelet was narrowed down to Berger and Yuri Dzivielevski. Despite an evenly matched struggle, Berger seized the final chip lead. In the following hand, Dzivielevski, failing to secure the necessary cards, had to content himself with second place.

Paul Berger, a Las Vegas local, entered the event almost by chance and emerged as the final champion of the 2023 WSOP. For Berger, the victory wasn’t just about the bracelet or the cash prize; he plans to donate the winnings to charity, with a significant portion going to an orphanage in Nepal. This generous gesture and Berger’s unexpected triumph underscore the unpredictability and allure of poker, providing a fitting close to the remarkable 2023 WSOP. As anticipation builds for the 2024 series, the poker world reflects on a memorable summer filled with high stakes and high spirits.

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