First World Series of Poker ‘Gladiator’ Tops Field of 23,088 to Claim Title

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Now this is what the World Series of Poker is all about: A massive field that turns a $300 buy-in into a payday worth nearly a half a million dollars. And that’s what happened at the WSOP’s first Gladiators of Poker event that wrapped up Monday to a player who won 58-times more than his best cash.

Jason Simon
Jason Simon is the 2023 WSOP Gladiator. (Image: WSOP).

Jason Simon, of St. Louis, whacked and hacked his way through the enormous filed of 23,088 entries to become the first Gladiator of the WSOP, winning $499,852 and his first bracelet. It’s the second-largest entry field in WSOP history, coming a good chunk away from missing the record of 28,371 entrants set in WSOP’s “Big 50” in 2019.

Four starting flights overfills pool

The Gladiators of Poker tournament was one to circle when the WSOP schedule came out earlier this year for both those with big poker dreams and small bankrolls, as well as the champs who have been at it forever, including Daniel Negreanu, who bagged a huge stack on his Day 1, and won $5,840 for his 72nd finish.

The players broke the $3 million prize-pool guarantee by more than $2.6 million. They did it by showing up on four consecutive starting flights that began June 7. Players were allowed to rebuy twice per flight, and many did. The fourth flight saw a whopping 8,467 entries.

The official second day on June 11 saw 827 return for a shot at the nearly half-million top prize. They played down to 14, and returned to find out the winner yesterday. Payouts began during the first flights, with the top 3,173 cashing at least $480. Those who made it to Day 2 cashed at least $1,120, and the top 14 cashed at least $23,300.

But each of those players who made it to the final day was in line for what could be a life-changing payday. Gladiators often fought for their freedom, and these players were fighting for at least a little piece of financial freedom as they returned to the Strip to see what fate and skill had in for them.

It was new territory for most as they took their seats at the final table on Monday. None of the final nine owned a bracelet and the only two players with WSOP hardware were Simon and Wesley Cannon — Cannon won a Circuit ring at Harvey’s Lake Tahoe last October, and Simon a ring at AmeriStar Casino in his hometown in a $400 PLO event for $8,563, his largest cash until this event.

The only player with WSOP final table experience was Bohdan Slyvinskyi, who made one in a $1,500 event in 2018, his first WSOP cash, a sixth-place finish for $54,160. He would finish no higher here. 

Top nine of WSOP $300 Gladiators of Poker 

  1. Jason Simon — $499,852
  2. Eric Trexler — $301,097
  3. Wesley Cannon — $210,024
  4. Wade Wallace — $160,818
  5. Kfir Nahum — $123,831
  6. Bohdan Slyvinskyi — $95,883
  7. Jonson Chatterley — $74,664
  8. Caio Sobral — $58,466
  9. Thomas Reeves — $46,051

Simon was fourth in chips when the final table begin, but soon found himself short-stacked. Remaining calm and resigned to the fate of the cards, he stayed the course and got back into it.

“Your tournament life is so valuable, you have to stay alive no matter what,” Simon told the WSOP. “When I fell down to 14 million, I never really panicked, found a double up and went up from there.”

He sure did.

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