Broken Records, Bad Beats, but Big Smiles: Pavel Plesuv Wins WSOP Millionaire Maker

4 min read

The WSOP Millionaire Maker made headlines in more ways than one this week after Pavel Plesuv was involved in a brutal bad beat on route to winning his first bracelet.

2023 World Series of Poker
Pavel Plesuv enjoyed a healthy slice of good luck on route to beating a record-breaking field in the Millionaire Maker and winning his first WSOP bracelet. (Image: WSOP)

The $1,500 WSOP Millionaire Maker has been a hit with poker players ever since it first launched in 2013. Benny Chen became the first Millionaire Maker champion after topping a field of 6,343.

This year, Pavel Plesuv overcame a field of 10,416 to claim the biggest payday of his career. That alone is newsworthy, but the Moldovan’s win sparked many more talking points.

WSOP Millionaire Maker proves its worth

The first talking point is the fact that 10,416 entries is a record turnout for the Millionaire Maker. That figure also makes it the biggest $1,500 live event ever held. By those measures, the Millionaire Maker was a success for the WSOP and, moreover, the poker community in general.

One player who will hail it as more of a success than any other is Plesuv. He entered Wednesday’s final session as one of the big stacks and he made every one of his chips count. Coming into the event, Plesuv had come close to winning a WSOP title, finishing second in the 2022 six-max event.

That $509,674 score added to an already impressive record that includes a WPT title, a win at the PokerStars Championship in Barcelona, and six-figure scores in MSPT DeepStack Championship and Partypoker Live Millions events.

Perfect timing for Pavel Plesuv in WSOP finale

With just under $6 million in live earnings prior to the Millionaire Maker and a stack on his side, Plesuv was one of the favorites from the off. His chances of winning the bracelet got even better when it became apparent the poker gods were also on his side.

WSOP Millionaire Maker Result

  1. Pavel Plesuv – $1,201,564
  2. Florian Ribouchon – $1,003,554
  3. Paul Gunness – $650,058
  4. Andreas Kniep – $501,182
  5. Anton Smirnov – $373,524
  6. Myles Mullaly – $287,522
  7. Vitor De Souza Coutinho – $222,749
  8. Andras Matrai – $173,683
  9. Charles Benoit – $136,302

Plesuv pushed the pace as the stack-to-blind ratio decreased. When someone does that, they need a bit of luck, and that’s exactly what Plesuv got when he moved all-in with A 2. He needed some luck because Andreas Kniep had pocket aces.

Kniep called Plesuv’s three-bet shove and, as you can see from the video above, he was pretty happy about the situation. That was until the flop came out. The 3♠ 5♠ 10♥ board gave Plesuv some equity courtesy of a straight draw.

The equity was quickly realized after the 4♠ landed on the turn. That gave Plesuv a straight and put Kniep in a world of trouble. However, the hand wasn’t over. Kniep had the A♠. A fourth spade would have given him a flush, but it wasn’t to be.

The 7♦ on the river brought the dramatic hand to an end. A bad beat sent Kniep to the rail but gave Plesuv an even bigger stack. From that point on, he never took a backwards step. Before too long, Plesuv was the WSOP Millionaire Maker champion after taking out Paul Gunness and Florian Ribouchon (see video below).

Every WSOP champion needs some luck and Plesuv certainly got his during the final table. However, he’d played almost flawlessly leading up to the finale and put his experience as a poker pro to good use. So, bad beat or not, Plesuv is a worthy WSOP champion and, after beating a record-breaking field, $1.2 million richer.

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