2023 WSOP Chips

At the World Series of Poker, the excitement comes from the quest for a gold bracelet. There is one event, however, where main thrill for many is not the final table or the bracelet: the $1,000 Mystery Millions event. And this year, there were not one, but two million-dollar bounty prizes, both won on Sunday.

The tournament drew a tremendous field of 18,188, making it the largest $1,000 buy-in tournament in WSOP history. $300 from each buy-in went to the bounty pool, with the rest (minus tournament fees and what-not) going to standard tournament prize pool. There were Day 1 flights, with regular payouts starting on the first day.

Day 2, though, is where the real fun began. With every elimination from Day 2 forward, the player that won the knockout hand received a knockout ticket. Players with knockout tickets entered their information on a tablet, which put them on a list to open a “chest” with a minimum bounty prize of $1,000. Some players got very lucky and received a “golden chest,” which contained a bounty of at least $25,000.

And with such a large field, there were two million-dollar bounties instead of the originally-planned one.

Shant Marashlian, who would eventually finished 138th in the tournament for $7,380, was the first player to nab one of the $1 million bounties. As many players do, he opened the envelope slowly on the stage in front of the entire poker room, opting to build the tension for himself, rather than just ripping it open. After seeing the first digit was a 1, he knew he had something fantastic, at least $100,000, but looked stunned when he saw the rest of the digits.

Marashlian was obviously thrilled, but he told PokerNews upon winning the prize that he still needed to focus on the tournament, saying, “I don’t know what I’m going to do with the money just yet because there’s a lot of poker to play.”

He also added that he felt “cynical” because he immediately thought about the taxes he’d have to pay on the winnings.

Patrick Liang won a $25,000 bounty, but soon found himself in front of the golden chest again, selecting another sealed envelope. He played the same suspense game as Marashlian, but was much more demonstrative when he won.

And what was doubly great about Liang’s luck was that he gave $1,000 to everyone at his table.

“I think I’ve been very blessed to share. So, like, you know, I believe that what you do comes around,” he told PokerNews.

Liang also said that he has had some tough times of late, so the million-dollar prize was quite the blessing. Two years ago, he suffered from a brain tumor that caused him two go blind for about two months. So it was about time he had something go his way.

“I told some people that something special was going to happen, but I didn’t know what, so I didn’t want to say what, but I talked to a lot of people said: I’m coming this year. Something’s going to happen,” Liang said.

Liang finished 62nd for $17,700.

Image credit: PokerGO.com

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