It was a day off on Sunday for the 2023 Poker Masters, but that doesn’t mean that the buzz had died down from its action. Saturday saw the crowning of the Event #2 champion, while Event #3 opened play. In both cases, the tournaments failed to come up to the numbers that were established by the first event on the schedule, perhaps indicating some troubles on the horizon regarding participants.

Darren Elias Takes Down Event #2, Drop in Players Significant

On Friday, Event #2 on the 2023 Poker Masters schedule, another $10,000 No Limit Hold’em tournament, saw a downturn in the player numbers. While 117 entries came to the felt for Event #1 (which concluded on Friday evening), only 97 entries came to the fore for the Event #2 battle. Thus, the prize pool for the tournament fell under the million-dollar mark and ensured that its participants wouldn’t receive the same points their compatriots in Event #1 had received.

That didn’t mean the players weren’t fighting it out for the cash and points, however. Chris Brewer was eliminated on the money bubble in fifteenth place, and from there such notables as Sam Soverel, Yang Lu, Ryan Riess, and Dan Shak all picked up a little cash and those all-valuable Poker Masters points towards the overall champion. After Michael Rocco was summarily eliminated by POY contender Bing Wen in eighth place, the official final table was set for Saturday with Weng as the chip leader.

The situation for Weng would turn ugly quickly on Saturday afternoon. After Alex Foxen was eliminated in seventh place by Antonio De La Cruz, Weng would clash with Darren Elias in a hand that would change the course of the tournament. In a blind versus blind battle, Weng would limp in and, after Elias popped the action, Weng moved all in. Elias made the call and, once the cards were turned up, the race was on:

Weng: pocket eights
Elias: A J

Two hearts would come on the 10-6-7 flop, keeping Weng in the lead not only with his pair but now with a gutter ball straight draw, and a black eight on the turn improved Weng to a set but also gave Elias outs to a straight along with the flush draw. The river 3 brought that flush draw home for Elias and, after the chips were counted, Elias was found to be the player all-in. The monster stack of 4.87 million chips was pushed to Elias, while Weng was left with scraps.

Perhaps indicative of his position in the POY race, Weng did not go quietly into the night. Event #1 champion Vladas Tamasauskas, Poker Hall of Famer Erik Seidel, and De La Cruz would all find the rail while Weng rebuilt his empire. Weng was only derailed by Eric Baldwin’s four-flush, otherwise he would have been the player who battled against Elias for the title instead of out in third place.

Elias and Baldwin would joust for about thirty minutes before Elias was able to pull out the victory. On the final hand, Baldwin moved all in with a steal attempt and a J♠ 8♠, but Elias woke up with Big Chick, suited nonetheless (A Q). Baldwin would have shots at both a flush and straight draws, but they wouldn’t materialize in any connotation as Darren Elias banked the win in Event #2.

1. Darren Elias (USA), $223,100 (223 points)
2. Eric Baldwin (USA), $155,200 (155)
3. Bing Wen (USA), $116,400 (116)
4. Antonio De La Cruz (USA), $97,000 (97)
5. Erik Seidel (USA), $77,600 (77)
6. Vladas Tamasauskas (Lithuania), $58,200 (58)
7. Alex Foxen (USA), $48,500 (48)

Familiar Names Back for Event #3 Final Table on Monday

Saturday saw Event #3, the latest $10,000 No Limit Hold’em tournament, take to the floor of the PokerGO Studios in Las Vegas. Once again, the player numbers were a bit deflated compared to the earlier incarnations. Event #3 would only draw 86 entries by the time the cage closed, with only 13 players divvying up the $860,000 prize pool.

If you’ve seen the results of the first two tournaments of the 2023 Poker Masters, then there are going to be some familiar names who landed on the payout sheet. Adrian Mateos finished on the bubble, while players like Riess (eleventh place) and Filipp Khavin (ninth place) came up just short of final table glory. After Shak (eighth place) and Andrew Lichtenberger (seventh) were dismissed from the proceedings, Michael Rocco took the final six familiar names to Monday’s final table:

1. Michael Rocco, 2.74 million
2. Ren Lin, 2.065 million
3. Daniel Rezaei, 1.87 million
4. Alex Foxen, 1.555 million
5. Chance Kornuth, 1.525 million
6. Vladas Tamasauskas, 1.11 million

Most notable of these final table performers is Tamasauskas, who joins Riess as the only two players who have been able to cash in all three of the tournaments held to this point.

The sextet of players will reconvene at the PokerGO Studios on Monday (along with the start of another $10,000 NLHE tournament) at noon (Pacific Time), with the bulk of the prize pool still on the line. The top prize for Event #3 is $209,000, plus the 209 points in the race for the Purple Jacket signifying the 2023 Poker Masters overall champion.

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