While most of last week’s biggest winners could be found in Tokyo where, sadly, poker still isn’t considered an Olympic sport, that doesn’t mean there weren’t gold medal performances to be found on the felt around the globe. From Phil Hellmuth, who continues to dominate in heads-up play to Alexey Ignatyev, who found himself on the top step of the podium in three different events in Russia, poker top performers all came out to play.
So, crank up your favorite national anthem and join us for a look at poker’s Big Winners of the Week, ending on Sunday, Aug. 1.
Of all the big winners in tournament poker this week, Ajayi was the biggest of them all. The Colorado native took down the $3,700 buy-in World Poker Tour event at Choctaw in Durant, Oklahoma on Monday evening, beating out 964 players over four grueling days of play. If you’re looking for an up-and-comer in poker who’s just waiting to bust out, this might be your guy. Prior to COVID-19, Ajayi was coming into his own as a poker pro, having finished in 39th place in the WSOP Main Event for more than $210,000 in 2019. Three months later, he lost a heads-up match to Geoff Hum for the WPT Montreal title, which paid him over $250,000. This past week, Ajayi finally got over the hump and took down his first World Poker Tour title and his first major poker championship.
8-Max Turbo Deepstack Championship
WSOP Online Bracelet Series
There are very few things Moorman hasn’t won in poker, and, thanks to his latest victory, he can now call himself a WSOP Online champion. The Englishman picked up his first WSOP bracelet in 2017 when he won the $3,000 6-Max event for just under $500,000. He also picked up an Online Circuit Ring in January 2021. Now, with the new normal making WSOP bracelets more accessible online, he’s been on the hunt for one over the past 16 months, and he completed that quest on Wednesday night. Paying $800 to take part in the Turbo Deepstack, Moorman was the only Brit among a sea of Americans in the final stages. Despite being outnumbered, he bested a field of 418 players to claim his first online bracelet and another six-figure payday.
High Stakes Duel
It doesn’t matter if you put a pro (Daniel Negreanu) or an amateur (Nick Wright) up against Hellmuth on High Stakes Duel, the champ simply doesn’t lose. Wright, an FS1 sports television show host gave it his best effort on Wednesday night in the $50,000 buy-in, Round 1 match. At times, the amateur was competitive — if not dominant — especially during the first two hours of play. But after more than five hours, he was simply no match for the 15-time WSOP bracelet winner, who is now 7-0 on the PokerGO show. On Friday, Wright called it quits instead of demanding a rematch, which means Hellmuth now awaits his next victim, who will likely be Tom Dwan or Phil Ivey.
Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open
It’s been a while since Tony “T.K.” Miles took down a big event. Actually, it’s his first such win in a big-field No-Limit Hold’em tourney, which is surprising considering he has more than $5 million in career cashes, including a runner-up in the 2018 WSOP Main Event, and is ranked 11th on Florida’s all-time money list. Miles’ breakthrough win came at Hard Rock Hollywood, near Miami on Wednesday where he topped a 2,056-entry field that built a $328,960 prize pool, easily shattering the event’s $150,000 guarantee. The win — the second-largest payday of Miles’ career — pushes his recorded lifetime earnings over $5.24 million.
July Mega Stack
Seminole Hard Rock Tampa
As it turns out, there’s one more Miles to go when it comes to talking about big winners in Florida. This time, we’re focusing on Larry Miles (no relation to Tony, that we know of) who booked a solid score of his own at the Seminole Hard Rock in Tampa, winning SHR Tampa’s monthly $500 Mega Stack tourney early on Monday. This four-event drew 411 entries and offered a solid $176,730 prize pool. Larry Miles, who lives in Orlando, recorded about $11,000 in lifetime winnings before breaking through for the nice payday here.
Russian Poker Tour, Minsk
Ignatyev won in virtually every way possible at the latest Russian Poker Tour (RPT) event. A regular on the tour with dozens of cashes and final tables, he added three more victories to his tally this week. He kicked off his winning run last Thursday by taking down the $125 Russian Poker Open. Despite starting the final table with the short stack, Ignatyev told reporters that he had eggs for breakfast and a lucky cap. They seemed to do the trick, as he went on to win the title and $4,550. From there, it was straight into the unpredictable Under Pressure event. As we’ve shown in previous BWOWs, these $200 bounty tournaments have a unique twist in that the tables are covered in smoke. That added element of uncertainty didn’t faze Ignatyev on Monday. A straight flush in the final hand put him in the clear and up another $3,400. Ignatyev completed his hat-trick of wins in the $250 Progressive Knockout event. A more laid-back performance on Tuesday gave the man nicknamed Lesha his third RPT title and another $3,495.
Daniel Smyth, Haley Hintze, and Jon Sofen all contributed to this report. Know a big winner we missed? firstname.lastname@example.org