Big Winners of the Week (May 2 -8): Mesqueu Makes History in Monte Carlo, Speranza Get His First Live Major, and Connolly Continues Mother’s Legacy

5 min read

One of poker’s glitziest EPTs wrapped up last week with two players taking home a little less than $1 million each which, in a place like Monte Carlo, is just enough to cover a night of celebrations. Also stepping into poker’s spotlight and picking up career-best paydays were Vladimir Grechnikov and Shawn Morales. Finally, when you throw in some impressive performances from elsewhere in Europe, as well as a victory written in the stars, you’ve got another worthy collection of champions. So, without further ado, here’s CardsChat’s Big Winners of the Week ending May 8.

Marcelo Simoes
(Image: PokerStars)

Marcelo Mesqueu

EPT Monte Carlo Main Event
Casino Monte Carlo


Mesqueu might not be known outside of the local tournament circuit in Brazil, but he made a big impression in the millionaire’s playground of Monte Carlo. The 55-year-old recreational player only had one six-figure score on his résumé prior to the €5,300 ($5,580) EPT main event. However, after carving his way through a field of 1,073 entrants like a pro, he made history on Saturday’s final table. Starting the session second in chips, Mesqueu had the rail on his side as he beat all before him to become the first Brazilian EPT champion.

Gianluca Speranza
(Image: Danny Maxwell/Rational Holdings)

Gianluca Speranza

EPT Monte Carlo High Roller
Casino Monte Carlo


Online poker fans will know Speranza as the man who won back-to-back SCOOP titles in 2019. With top-three finishes in Partypoker Million and WPT tournaments, as well as the 2017 WSOPE Main Event, he’s been on the cusp of a live title for a while. The Italian finally got over the line first on Sunday in EPT Monte Carlo’s €25,000 ($26,300) high roller. One hundred seventy-nine players anted up, but only one could claim the title. Eventually, Speranza collected his first major trophy and a career-high payday after cutting a deal and beating Bruno Lopes heads-up.

Waheed Ashraf
(Image: Twitter/Partypokerlive)

Waheed Ashraf

Partypoker UK Championship Main Event
Dusk Till Dawn


Dusk Till Dawn regular Ashraf, aka Wadey, picked up the second-largest score of his career on Monday by winning the £560 ($690) main event in Nottingham. Ashraf was already one of the popular poker room’s top-ranked tournament players. After beating a field of 1,044, he cemented his place among its top five winners. Not only that, he picked up a Partypoker Live trophy for his mantelpiece.

Vladimir Grechnikov
(Image: Twitter/RunGoodGear)

Vladimir Grechnikov

RunGood Poker Series Coconut Creek Main Event
Seminole Casino, Florida


Grechnikov might have shades of Eastern Europe in his heritage, but he was born in New Jersey and played like an American all-star in the latest $1,100 RunGood main event. Grechnikov was one of 608 players that anted up in Florida. With a career-best prize of $16,153 prior to the event, winning was something of a pipedream for the recreational player. However, as we’ve seen before in poker, dreams can come true and, after a four-way deal, Grechnikov won his first live title and his biggest payday.

Nijo 2008
(Image: Facebook/Pokerroomkings)

Nijo 2008

$ZTO$ Main Event
King’s Resort

€45,700 + €10,350 WSOPE Main Event seat
($48,136 + $10,900 WSOPE Main Event Seat)

A German player wishing to remain nameless (but not faceless) became the latest $ZTO$ tour champion on Monday. Nijo 2008 might be keeping his name out of the spotlight, but he can’t hide the fact he’s €45,700 ($48,136) better off after beating 1,350 entrants in the €230 ($240) main event held in Rozvadov, Czech Republic. Where that ranks on the elusive player’s list of achievements is like, his real name, unknown. However, with a free seat in the 2022 WSOPE Main Event as part of his prize package, we’ll certainly be seeing Nijo 2008 in the spotlight again.

Shawn Morales
(Image: Facebook/D4Events)

Shawn Morales

Unibet European Deepstack Championship
Dublin Poker Festival
Bonnington Hotel


Morales picked up the biggest win of his career on Sunday after taking down the €570 ($600) Deepstack final in Dublin. The Unibet-sponsored event attracted players from across Europe, including a host of local talent. However, when the chips had settled and the final players had fallen, Morales was the only one left standing with a smile on his face and trophy in his hand.

(Image: Twitter/@DJVEGAS3)

Jake Poling

“The Bear” Event
Commerce Casino


The 2022 California State Poker Championship is in full swing, and the first big event of the series wrapped up on Saturday. As ever, the masses were out in force, which tipped the prize pool over the $234,000 mark thanks to a total of 1,174 entrants. In the end, Poling won the $250 event, taking home a five-figure score after a heads-up deal. Local regulars Paul Lui, Anthony Devone, and Mark Leblanc all made the final table as well, but it was Poling’s time to roar.

Wilhelmine Connolly
(Image: Twitter/blannon68)

Wilhelmine Connolly

Irish Seniors Championship
Dublin Poker Festival
Bonnington Hotel


There was an air of destiny in the recent Seniors Championship thanks to Connolly. The Irish pro played her way through a field of 187 entrants in the €230 ($240) event last Monday to win a healthy payday. What really makes her win special, however, is the fact she got to lift a winner’s trophy named after her mother and former Irish champion, Jenny Hegarty.

Daniel Smyth, Bob Pajich, Kevin Taylor, and Chris Wallace all contributed to this report. Know a big winner we missed?

Related Posts

Did you know about our poker forum? Discuss all the latest poker news in the CardsChat forum

Popular Stories