In 2023, the buy-ins for the U.S. Poker Open in Las Vegas will be much more than they were in previous years. Two additional winners have been recognized in events for $15,000, and two players who won the 2023 USPO are gearing up to face each other in a rematch for the title. Considering that Sunday is the $50,000 Main Event, it is of the utmost importance.
First-Time Grand Prix Winners Kempton and Elias
Event #6 on the USPO calendar was a $15,000 buy-in Pot Limit Omaha event, and on Thursday afternoon, Isaac Kempton checked it off his list of accomplishments by winning it. With his first-place finish in the PGT, Kempton earned a respectable $279,000 and, more significantly, significant points toward becoming the 2023 USPO’s overall champion.
Day One’s devastation left just four players from the original 62-person field to return on Thursday. Of these four guys, Kempton was in command with 3.2 million in chips, and only Gregory Shuda (2.51 million) seemed to be a formidable opponent. Martin Zamani (1.22 million) and Ben Lamb (820K) rounded out the foursome and also needed to mount up if they were to have any chance of doing well in the event.
Lamb was eliminated first after he moved all-in holding A-Q-6 against Shuda’s Q-10-9-2. Although though Lamb held the lead before the flip, that would soon change (as it often does in Omaha Hold’em) since Shuda had several outs. Lamb’s top pair with a Broadway draw was immediately captured by Shuda’s club flush after the turn card, a J. After holding draws to a boat, Lamb was eliminated from the event in fourth position when a five appeared on the river.
Zamani, of all people, would be the next to go. All three family members participated in this hand. Zamani (Q-Q-8-7) and Shuda (K-6-5-5) both had flopped sets and played aggressively after the Q-5-2 flip, but Kempton folded. Zamani was ready to put his whole stack in the pot with the lead, but the case five on the board gave Shuda the initiative once more. The river card was a no-show for Zamani, and he finished third in the event as a result.
The championship match between Kempton and Shuda lasted for about an hour. As Shuda (K-7-6-2) was forced to commit his last chips to action with just a bottom pair and probable straight draw, Kempton (Q-10-9-8) flipped the world on a Q-J-6 starter. Kempton won the pot with a straight against Shuda’s two pair despite the turn and river cards being 4 and K, respectively.
- $279,000 for Isaac Kempton
Second, $186,000 to Gregory Shuda.
Thirdly, $130,200 for Martin Zamani.
Ben Lamb, number 4, $93,000
Chris Brewer ($37,200) ranks fifth; Roussos Koliakoudakis ($74,400) sixth; Erik Seidel ($55,800) seventh; Jim Collopy ($46,500) and
(* – went out on Day 1, Wednesday; in the official final table)
Darren Elias won his first PGT event on Friday, following in Kempton’s footsteps by winning Event #7. Elias won the $15,000 No Limit Hold’em tournament, beating out Sam Soverel in the finals. While Elias’s victory was undoubtedly satisfying, Soverel’s second-place showing gave him the edge he needed to take the lead in the Player of the Series voting.
The distribution of the bulk of the $1,305,000,000 prize pool took six guys around two hours to complete (87 entries). Before the start of the action, Masashi Oya was on top of the scoreboard. However, Chris Brewer (6th) and Sean Winter (5th) unexpectedly eliminated him from contention with their small stacks, sending Oya to fourth place. With a seven-high straight against Oya’s top pair of tens, Elias knocked him out and continued his rampage against the rest of the field.
In a blind-versus-blind struggle for third place, Elias defeated Brian Wilson with A-2 and a deuce flip against Wilson’s A-Q. Once Wilson cashed out for third place and left the table, Elias used his huge lead to eliminate Soverel. On the penultimate hand, Soverel had pocket sevens and was trying to double against Elias’ Big Slick, creating a classic racing scenario. As the turn and river both failed to yield a seven, all Elias needed was a King on the flop to win the PGT tournament and add another title to his CV.
One (1) Darren Elias, $313,200
Second, $221,850 for Sam Soverel.
Thirdly, $156,600 for Brandon Wilson.
$ 130 500 for number four, Masashi Oya
Sean Winter, $5 (or $104,400)
Number Six, Chris Brewer, $78,300
Seventh place: Isaac Kempton; $65,200*
(* – eliminated on Day 1, not included in unofficial top ten)
Weissman, Hellmuth Hoping for a Repeat Win in Competition #8
Competition for the 2023 USPO overall title is heating up. For the record, Soverel assumed leadership after Event #7, while Kempton climbed the leaderboard thanks to his strong showings in Events #6 and #7. In the final table of Event #8, a $25,000 No Limit Hold’em tournament, two more players will attempt to displace Soverel as leader.
On Saturday, Dan Smith, who has 2.71 million in chips, will be in the lead among the last six players, but the spotlight will be on the two guys farther down the board. Although Joey Weissman, winner of Event #1, sits in fifth place with just less than a million in chips, Event #5 champion Phil Hellmuth is in fourth with just over a million. With just a few tournaments left, any guy may overtake Soverel for the overall lead with a victory here.
- 2.71 million for Dan Smith
Number Two: Issac Haxton, $1,520,00
Three, Alex Foxen (1,14,000,000)
Fourth: Phil Hellmuth, $1,065,000
Joey Weissman, at #5, $990,000.
$680,000 for #6 Bill Klein.
The final round, which will choose a winner, will continue live on Saturday at noon (Pacific Time). On the same day as the $50,000 No Limit Hold’em Main Event gets underway on Monday, the second $25,000 No Limit Hold’em event will get underway. With so many players still in it, the 2023 U.S. Poker Open is sure to be a thrilling final table.
(Image provided by PokerGO.com.)