Online Qualifier Stanislav Zegal is the 2023 World Series of Poker Paradise Main Event Champion

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The World Series of Poker Paradise $5,000 Main Event champion is Germany’s Stanislav Zegal, who wins a career-best $2 million after securing his entry via an online qualifier on GGPoker.

Stanislav Zegal
Stanislav Zegal is the first World Series of Poker Paradise Main Event Champion. (Image: WSOP)

Runner-up Michael Sklenicka’s cash of $1.2 million was also his lifetime best, as was Daniel Neilson’s $900,000 score for third. The three pulled the biggest chunks from a prize pool that squeaked by the $15 million guarantee by only $50,000.

“I was so lucky, the cards just fell my way all the time,” Zegal told a WSOP pool reporter in a winner’s interview. “I think I played well too, but obviously (there’s) tons of luck. This is what you call life-changing money, I guess.”

The big-time cash stunned Zegal to near silence, and he said the moment “has to settle first.” 

“It was somewhat exhausting and needs to settle,” he said. “You always make plans for when stuff like this happens, but then when it happens it’s so overwhelming.” 

He not only wins that giant pile of money. He also takes home a unique WSOP bracelet that was designed specifically for the event, as well as the title of the inaugural Main Event Paradise champion.

Zegal was one of several dozen who played their way into the $5,000 Main Event online. The prize packages included a week-long stay at Atlantis Resort in The Bahamas and a chance to compete for a bracelet and a hunk of cash.

Zegal said he started playing poker about 18 years ago with friends for Euros, but started taking it seriously and turned online pro in 2016. And unlike all of his final table opponents, this was Zegal’s first live final table. He doesn’t even have a Hendon Mob page and his WSOP results page counts 8 cashes, the second-best for $2,108 for a 261st-place finish in a six-handed online event in 2010.

There are literally more zeroes in his $2 million score than in all the other cashes combined.

So what will Zegal do with this life-changing amount?

“I guess I’m going to do something for myself, for my health more, study more poker and just enjoy the time (with) friends and family,” he said. “But I won’t play higher. I felt comfortable here.”

 1stStanislav ZegalGermany$2,000,000
 2ndMichael SklenickaCzech Republic$1,200,000
 3rdDaniel NeilsonAustralia$900,000
 4thMatt GlantzUnited States$685,000
 5thRui SousaPortugal$510,000
 6thGabriel SchroederBrazil$400,000
 7thMontgomery McQuadeUnited Kingdom$300,000
 8thLuke GrahamUnited States$250,000

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