VEGAS DIARIES: WPT World Championship Day 3

1am: Day 1C in the books!

The third and final flight of the WPT World Championship has now come to an end, and leading the field at the end of tonight’s session is Krasimir Yankov from Bulgaria, who will return tomorrow with 1,062,000 in chips, with Nissar Quirashi (969,000), Adnan Mohammed (958,000) and Tim Reilly (943,000) also at the top of the pops.

Although for it was a horror day for most of our Aussie players, it was a very different story for Daniel Neilson, who bagged up 624,000 in chips to lead the green-and-gold brigade into Day 2! He’ll join fellow Aussies Alan Zheng, Yita Choong, Yang Lei, Elisa Onay and Lynn Gilmartin on their continued quest for the top prize of USD $4.13 million plus a free seat into next year’s Big Dance.

Approximately 540 players survived Day 1C, but sadly, WPT Ambassador Phil Ivey will not be amongst those returning tomorrow, with Robbi Jade Lew, Shaun Deeb, Isai Scheinberg and Ethan ‘Rampage’ Yau also confirmed on the casualty list.

The full seat draw is expected to be completed and published on worldpokertour.com later this morning, so on that note, we’re now going to sign off and rest up for another long day ahead, s join us once again at PokerMedia Australia and cheer on our Aussie heroes across our socials from 12pm local time.

Until then, thank you once again for tuning in, and from all of us here in Vegas, it’s ‘bye for now!


10:30pm: That’s a whole lotta cake

With about 20 minutes to go before the final level of play in today’s WPT World Championship flight, Executive Tour Director Matt Savage sauntered up to the Encore Ballroom registration desk, picked up the microphone and delivered the news we’d all been waiting for.

2,960 entries. USD $29,008,000 (AUD $42,458,723) in the prize pool. Top 370 players paid, with a min-cash worth USD $17,400 (AUD $25,477), while all six finalists for the televised final table will be guaranteed a million bucks apiece.

And for our inaugural WPT World Champion, their place in history awaits, along with a top prize of USD $4,136,000 (AUD $6,058,006), which is the largest first prize ever awarded in 20 years of the World Poker Tour.

But that’s not the only piece of good news that Savage delivered, as he also revealed that our winner will also earn themselves a bonus USD $10,000 seat into the 2023 WPT World Championship, which will return to The Wynn Las Vegas!

“The turnout [at The Wynn] has been magnificent, and the reports I’ve been getting back from players has been so thrilling!” Savage said. “Personally, it’s been amazing. From the hotel rooms to the ballroom here – this place is just fabulous!”

“The hard work from the whole team in putting it together has been the culmination of what [the WPT] worked so hard on for 20 years, and to come back next year bigger and better is really exciting for us.”

WPT WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP – FINAL TABLE PAYOUTS (USD $10,400 buy-in, 2,960 entries, 370 players paid)*

PlaceAmount (USD)Amount (AUD)*
1st$4,136,000$6,058,006
2nd$2,830,000$4,144,946
3rd$2,095,000$3,068,026
4th$1,608,000$2,354,291
5th$1,301,000$1,904,809
6th$1,001,050$1,465,648
*Exchange rates as of 10:30pm local time (Source: xe.com)

The full prize pool breakdown, once finalised, will available at worldpokertour.com.


8pm: Down (under) for the count

Time for another quick-fire update on the Aussies in today’s field, and the struggle is still real for Ehsan Amiri, who returned from the dinner break to a stack worth 84,300, along with Ken Demlakian, who despite picking up multiple monster hands, has found no justice against a calling station and started Level 7 with 65,000 and change.

Daniel Neilson is also hovering around the amount of the starting stack, coming back to a stack of 115,600, but sadly, it appears that Attila Bognar was eliminated before the dinner break, as was Ryan (Qi) Xu, who qualified for this event after winning the Star Sydney Champs Main Event last July.

The WPT World Championship has now been locked out, and while we’re still waiting on the official numbers, a quick calculation on our end – based on the clock’s showing of 1,293 entries being added to the 1,668 entries from the last two days – has our total prize pool in excess of USD $29,000,000 (AUD $42,404,191).

We’ll have the full prize pool breakdown and payouts for you as soon as they become available. Stay tuned!


7pm: What’s a jack for?

No matter whether it’s figuratively or literally, it’s never a good time to find yourself with a flat tire. In the case of Australia’s Adrian Attenborough, it resulted in ‘the tank heard ’round the world’ in his heads-up battle for the WSOP Main Event title against Espen Jorstad, while for Robbie Jade Lew and Garrett Adelstein, it led to one of the most talked-about poker controversies in recent memory.

There has been a major new development on the latter, however, as Hustler Casino Live (HCL) issued a press release this evening that outlined their findings from its 10-week-long investigation, which simultaneously vindicated both players and listed the improvements to game integrity on the part of High Stakes Poker Productions (HSPP), co-owned by Nick Vertucci and Ryan Feldman.

“The investigation found no conclusive evidence of wrongdoing in the J-4 hand, or any other hand played that night,” the statement read. “HSPP is taking further steps in its continuous efforts to improve game security and reduce the chance of wrongdoing in the future.”

It was also revealed that former HCL employee Bryan Sagbigsal has been charged on two counts of felony grand theft by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office after surveillance video showed him stealing USD $15,000 (AUD $21,933) of Lew’s chips from the table. If convicted, Sagbigsal faces a maximum of three years in prison and a fine of up to USD $10,000 (AUD $14,621).

For Lew – who is playing in today’s WPT World Championship Day 1C flight – the news came as sweet relief, telling Poker.org‘s Sarah Herring that it was nice to get that final result.

“It just feels like a different time in my life now where I can kind of mentally move forward,” Lew said.

HCL’s full statement and findings from its investigation can be found here.


5pm: Oh, it looks like Daniel

The sea of players in the Encore Ballroom today does make it a challenge to track our players, but we’re pleased to confirm that Attila Bognar, Ehsan Amiri and Ken Demlakian are currently still in the field, along with one other Aussie player who we haven’t seen back home in a very long time.

Along with the likes of James Obst, Joel Dodds, Jarred Graham, Jonathan Karamalikis and Ben De’laney, Daniel Neilson was amongst the first generation of online young guns that rose to prominence during the height of the Great Australian Poker Boom, having earned more than USD $2.6 million (AUD $3,788,436) in lifetime tournament earnings, including a third-place finish in the 2011 EPT San Remo Main Event.

To cut a long story short, Neilson moved to Mexico about four years ago, got married in Peru, and now grinds online “about two to three times a week”, but as soon as he saw how big the WPT World Championship was getting, he packed his bags and hopped on the first flight out to Las Vegas this morning. Let’s hope he can run it up into another big result here at The Wynn!

The tournament clock has now ticked up to 1,229 total entries for today’s Day 1C flight; Joe Cada, Liv Boeree, Erik Seidel and Mike Matusow have all returned, with Eddy Sabat, Donnie Peters, Jake Schwartz and Donnie Peters amongst the faces we’ve spotted as we approach the dinner break.


2:30pm: Welcome to the Hall of Fame!

As Day 1C of the WPT World Championship got underway at The Wynn, the PokerMedia Australia contingent were whisked across to the PokerGO Studio to attend the 2022 Women in Poker Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.

It was there that we had the privilege to witness Angelica Hael becoming the second Australian alongside Marsha Waggoner to receive this prestigious honour, together with her fellow Class of 2022 inductees: WSOP bracelet winner and Hollywood actor Jennifer Tilly, poker industry stalwart and historian Terry King, and American poker superstar Vanessa Selbst.

Hael has come a long way since she began her industry career at Crown Melbourne in the early 2000s, with her and her husband Ozzie Yildiz travelling the world working and consulting with several internationally renowned gaming brands before she moved into her current role as the Vice President for WPT Global Tour Management.

Hael’s accomplishments with the brand over the last 12 years have been vast, which has not only seen her elevate the brand in all aspects, but also use her influence as a force for positive change for women in the industry by helping to establish the WPT Women’s Poker Initiative.

But it is indeed Hael’s role as the chief architect of this year’s WPT World Championship that has proven to be her greatest achievement to date, which as of this moment has moved beyond a total prize pool USD $27,000,000 (AUD $39,360,271), with late registration still available until the start of Level 7.

It was a particularly proud moment for all of the WPT Family in attendance, especially for WPT Anchor and producer Lynn Gilmartin, and CEO Adam Pliska, who was given the honour of delivering Hael’s induction speech.

“You could see her talent from the very early days,” said Pliska, “and I said to her at one point, ‘This corporation will see you as the greatest lieutenant … but honestly, I think you will be the greatest general’, and that has certainly been the case.”

But it was Pliska’s closing statements from the heart that left everyone in tears.

“I very much believe that Ange is the epitome of what we have wanted the World Poker Tour to be,” he said, “in that we could strive to do our best, to be competitive, but to treat people with decency.”

“I look over here [to your] team, and I realise that they are a reflection of you, and they are passing on to a new generation exactly what we want to be, and can be … in the 20 years of the World Poker Tour, I can truly say that you are one of the best executives I’ve ever met.”

PMA will have more on this story in the coming days; in the meantime, you can watch the full Women in Poker Hall of Fame Ceremony on YouTube, courtesy of our friends and ceremony broadcast partners at PokerGO (skip to 49m 20s for Angelica’s induction).

On behalf of the entire Australian poker community, we’d like to extend our heartfelt congratulations to Ange and all of these incredible women who have brought to so much to our great game. Thank you all!


Wednesday 14 December 2022

From wherever you’re watching in Australia, New Zealand or around the world, hello and welcome back to PokerMedia Australia and our next instalment of the Vegas Diaries!

Cards are now in the air for Day 1C of the WPT World Championship, which already has more than 800 players seated within the first five minutes of play. Australia’s Attila Bognar has returned for another crack, and we’re expecting both Ehsan Amiri and Adrian Attenborough to also re-fire and hopefully bag through to Day 2.

Our running prize pool total for this event now stands at more than USD $24.1 million (AUD $35,259,178), and with late registration still available until after the dinner break (approximately 7:30pm local time), our early projections are well and truly on their way to being smashed!

Suffice it to say, the tireless efforts of the team here at The Wynn Las Vegas and the World Poker Tour are paying off in spades, and even more fitting that one of the chief architects of this festival – WPT Global Tour Management VP Angelica Hael – is being duly recognised and rewarded for her efforts, as she accepts her induction into the Women in Poker Hall of Fame, with the ceremony now taking place at the PokerGO Studio just a couple of miles south from The Wynn.

All that and more coming your way on PMA, so stay with us here on our website and follow our socials for all our content as our Vegas journey continues!

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All images courtesy of the World Poker Tour. WPT, World Poker Tour and the Spade Card Design are registered trademarks of WPT Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.

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