Back in the day, a famous Full Tilt Poker commercial espoused that “poker is no game of luck.” What was true then, remains true today, as this week’s crop of big winners proves, with a number of familiar faces, like Phil Hellmuth, Wiktor Malinowski, and Sergio Aido finding their way back into the limelight.
Of course, you don’t have to have a recognizable name in order to prove your skills, as a variety of newcomers also proved. Players like Joon Park, defeated a star-studded field to claim the largest No-Limit Hold’em tournament ever played in the great state of Texas. So, come pull up a chair and see which players were skillful enough to capture our attention for the week ending Saturday, May 8, 2021.
GGPoker Super Millions
Malinowski makes a return to our Big Winners round-up this week. The Polish pro has long been a force in high-stakes cash games, winning $842,438 in one of the largest online poker pots ever recorded. He’s no slouch when it comes to MTTs, either. Malinowski proved that again on Tuesday by following up his recent SCOOP victory by winning his first $10,300 Super Millions. The payday may not have been worth as much as some of his cash game pots, but we don’t think he’s complaining. Even though this week’s event was 16 players short of meeting its $2 million guarantee, Malinowski still had to beat 183 players, including the likes of EPT winner Ami Barer and 2019 WSOP Main Event runner-up Dario Sammartino.
Lone Star Poker Series $1 Million Guaranteed Main Event
Champions Poker Club, Houston
Joon Park made history on Monday, winning the largest poker tournament in Texas history. The Texas native shipped the $1,300 buy-in main event at the Lone Star Poker Series at the Champions Poker Club, a card room in Houston that is quickly becoming a hotspot for poker in the area. Park earned the largest share of a seven-figure prize pool in a three-way chop with Gabriel Andrade ($195,955) and Nick Shkolnik ($257,170). The event, which had 1,818 entries, completely obliterated the $1 million guarantee ($2,090,700), a clear sign there’s some pent-up demand to play live poker in Texas, and all around the United States.
High Stakes Duel II Round 2
PokerGO Studio, Las Vegas
All Phil Hellmuth does, as he likes to say, is “win, win, win.” Yet, he doesn’t seem to get much respect from the high-stakes community. Despite that, he booked his fifth straight win on High Stakes Duel as the underdog (three against Antonio Esfandiari, two versus Daniel Negreanu). On Wednesday night, Hellmuth prevailed in a hard-fought battle against Negreanu, and earned the $200,000 prize pool from Round 2. He got lucky on the final hand — his A-5 beat pocket 8’s — but he put himself in a position to win thanks to a gutsy all-in bluff with 10-high moments earlier.
High Roller Series $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em
Aria, Las Vegas
Aria Resort and Casino, an MGM Resorts-owned property, is back to hosting its popular high-roller events that attract some of the best players in the world, including Sergio Aido, who shipped Thursday’s $10k for $159,800, beating out 46 other players. He defeated Matas Cimbolas heads-up for the title, and now has over $12.2 million in lifetime live tournament winnings. Aido beat a field that included pros such as Daniel Negreanu, Sean Winter, Nick Schulman, and Ali Imsirovic.
WSOP Super Circuit Online Series Double Stack
Mosböck is back in the winner’s circle after topping a field of 3,063 entries. Following on from his $838,908 SCOOP main event win last week, the Austrian pro picked up a WSOP Circuit ring on Tuesday. The victory didn’t net Mosböck the biggest prize of the tournament, that honor went to second-place finisher Csaba Szasz ($130,557) after a heads-up deal. However, winning the $400 MTT did give ‘livinmydream1’ another title. For someone that used to play professional soccer, the 25-year-old is now scoring from all angles at the poker table. As well as winning two major events in two weeks, Mosböck represents training site Pokercode and founded a luxury travel agency alongside fellow pro Fedor Holz.
Kelly Joe Andrews
Bestbet Trifecta Series Main Event
The just-concluded 2021 Trifecta Series at Bestbet Casino drew 146 entries and saw Florence, South Carolina’s Kelly Joe Andrews walk away with $64,067, the largest share of the event’s $258,420 prize pool. Andrews picked up the largest win of his career and his second-largest poker payday — trailing only a six-digit, third-place score in a 2015 WSOP Circuit main event at North Carolina’s Cherokee Casino Resort — to push his career earnings close to the $300,000 mark. Andrews came from behind during heads-up play, then closed out the win when his made two-pair hand held up against eventual runner-up Jeffrey Trudeau, whose pair and flush draw failed to improve in the event’s final hand.
Wynn Spring Signature Series $400 NLH $100,000 Guaranteed
San Jose, CA poker pro Toko Luu made his latest trip to Vegas pay off in a major way, taking down the $400 NLH $100K Guaranteed event for a $42,045 score. Luu topped a 626-entry field that built a prize pool more than doubling the posted guarantee, and in the process posted the first five-digit win and second-largest tourney payday of his poker career. Luu is a regular in tourneys across northern California and Nevada, though like many players, his opportunities were limited during pandemic closures; the win was his first recorded cash since February 2020.
Japan Open Poker Tour Main Event
The Bagus Palace, Tokyo
Sponsorship Worth $30,570
Toshi-san bagged himself a sponsorship deal with GGPoker after winning the Japan Open Poker Tour Main Event on Wednesday. The young player might be unknown outside of Japan, but he put on a poker masterclass at Bagus Place this week. Like the 506 other players in the main event, Toshi-san qualified via a satellite. In order to comply with Japanese gaming laws, direct buy-ins weren’t permitted. The current ban on real-money poker also meant that he didn’t win a cash prize. However, his two days of playing did earn him prize package worth $30,570. GGPoker took over from PokerStars as sponsor of the Japan Open Poker Tour on April 1. As part of the deal, it will cover Toshi-san’s buy-ins for a selection of upcoming international poker events.
Daniel Smyth, Haley Hintze, and Jon Sofen all contributed to this report. Got a big winner we should know about? Let us know with an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.