With much of the European poker world occupied with the start of the 2023 World Series of Poker Europe at King’s Casino in Rozvadov, there has been a handful of players that have peeled off to Las Vegas for the second running of the PokerGO Tour PLO Series II. Two men, Bryce Yockey and Joao Simao, have taken the most recent titles at the PokerGO Studios in Las Vegas. Leading the way overall, however, is earlier champion Stephen Hubbard, who racked up some huge points in the early action.

Yockey Takes $10K PLO Tourney, Simao Wins Dealer’s Choice

After coming to the final table with a slight lead over Kyle Merron in Event #5, a $10,000 Pot Limit Omaha tournament, Bryce Yockey faced a tough battle. Arranged against him around the felt were such players as Jeremy Ausmus, John Riordan, Ben Yu, and Alex Foxen (along with Merron). Yockey didn’t let that interrupt his pursuit of the title, however, even though he would face challengers all tournament long.

Merron drew closer to Yockey by knocking out Foxen in seventh place and would take the chip lead moments later after tangling with Yockey. Yockey would start on the road to recovery in eliminating Riordan in fourth place before three-handed play bogged down the final table. While it only took slightly more than an hour to take out the first four players, Merron, Yockey, and Ausmus decided to play a bit before the next elimination came down.

It was Merron who was the leader for most of the action, but Ausmus would make an Icarus-like rise and fall that was particularly notable. In a blind versus blind battle against Yockey, Ausmus was able to get two streets of action on a 10-10-2-8-4 board before Yockey let him go. That hand would push Ausmus into a slight lead, which he gave right back in sending a three million plus pot to Merron that sent him back to the basement.

It was Yockey who was able to finally grab ahold of the final table, first taking down Ausmus after Yockey rivered a flush. That gave Yockey 7.8 million in chips against Merron’s 6.45 million, and Yockey would never let him get a sniff of the lead. On the final hand, Merron would commit his chips on the turn after he flopped a set of fives, only to see Yockey had turned a Broadway straight. Once the board failed to pair on the river, Yockey took the hand and the title for a decent payday.

1. Bryce Yockey (USA), $239,400 (239 points)
2. Kyle Merron (USA), $171,000 (171)
3. Jeremy Ausmus (USA), $125,400 (125)
4. John Riordan (USA), $102,600 (103)
5. Artem Maksimov (USA), $79,800 (80)
6. Ben Yu, $68,400 (69)
7. Alex Foxen (USA), $57,000 (57)

In Event #6, the $10,000 PLO Dealer’s Choice tournament, the challenges were different but still featured quality players. Brazil’s Joao Simao ruled the roost with his 3.685 million in chips, outpacing the other players on the felt. Only Bulgaria’s Veselin Karakitukov and the U. S.’s Jordan Spurlin and Alex Foxen were over a million chips, while Tyler Brown brought up the end of the pack.

Simao went on the attack from the start in Pot Limit Omaha. He cracked the four million mark in that discipline before knocking out Karakitukov in fifth place in Big O (five starting cards instead of four). Foxen would try to draw closer in eliminating Brown in fourth place, but Simao reestablished his dominance in defeating Spurlin to get to heads-up against Foxen.

The battle between Simao and Foxen saw the former Player of the Year get out to an early lead in PLO and PLO Hi/Lo, but Simao captured a key double-up that nearly brought the tournament to an end. In PLO, Simao raised and Foxen called to see a 4-3-2 rainbow flop. Foxen now seized control with a minuscule 140K bet, which Simao called, and an eight came on the turn. Foxen bet the pot and Simao burned a couple of time extensions to consider his options.

The option Simao settled on was “playing for my stack,” as he put his 3.6 million in the center to be all-in. Foxen didn’t ponder nearly as long as Simao did, calling after about thirty seconds, and the cards went to their backs:

Simao: Q-9-8-4
Foxen: A-8-6-3

Simao’s two pair was in the lead over Foxen’s two pair and a river nine did not change anything. Once the chips were counted, Foxen was left with only about a half-million in chips; those would end up in the stack of Simao after he used a K-J-10-7 to river a Broadway straight on an 8-A-3-J-Q board and best Foxen’s rivered Queen-high straight (J-10-9-7) and earn the championship.

1. Joao Simao (Brazil), $182,000 (182 points)
2. Alex Foxen (USA), $123,500 (124)
3. Jordan Spurlin (USA), $84,500 (85)
4. Tyler Brown (USA), $65,000 (65)
5. Veselin Karakitukov (Bulgaria), $52,000 (52)

Stephen Hubbard Holds Edge in Overall Championship Race

After finishing on the final table bubble in Event #1 and winning Event #2, Stephen Hubbard is the man in charge of the race for the Overall Champion of the PGT PLO Series II. The two finishes (the win was Hubbard’s first-ever tournament victory) allowed Hubbard to compile 262 points after six tournaments of the Series. That puts him ahead of Yockey, with 250 points overall, and Richard Gryko, who has cashed in three events to gather 246 points.

With four tournaments left on the horizon, including the $25,000 PLO Championship Event, here are the Top Ten in the race for the $25,000 bonus that the Overall Champion will receive:

1. Stephen Hubbard, 262 points
2. Bryce Yockey, 250
3. Richard Gryko, 246
4. Eelis Parssinen, 236
5. Joao Simao, 227
6. Vasil Medarov, 200
(tie) Adam Hendrix, 200
8. Daniel Geeng, 188
9. Alex Foxen, 181
10. Allan Le, 171

Thursday is a day off for the PLO Series II, with action set to resume on Friday with another $10,000 PLO battle. PLO Hi/Lo takes center stage on Saturday before the $25,000 Championship Event steps to the fore on Sunday. It promises to be an entertaining weekend at the PokerGO Tour PLO Series II, one that will certainly go in the record books as one of the most popular non-Texas Hold’em series in recent memory.

(Photo courtesy of PokerGO.com)

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