The first Friday of the 2023 World Series of Poker brings the usual bustle that is associated with the biggest poker tournament on the planet. It also brought history as, on Thursday evening, a new star was born on the Mothership in the $25,000 “High Roller” event. While that was occurring, the Tournament of Champions freeroll inched closer to its final table, with a champion set to be determined today.
Switzerland’s Alexandre Vuilleumier Surprises in High Roller
The nine men who returned on Thursday to determine the champion of Event #2, the $25,000 Six-Handed High Roller tournament, had some hefty resumes to their credit. At the bottom of the standings was Jake Schindler, who picked up his first bracelet in 2022, alongside such other High Roller regulars as Ren Lin, Joey Weissman, Sean Winter, and Chance Kornuth. It was France’s Axel Hallay who ruled the roost – at least at the start – with his nearly eight million in chips.
First, there was the work to do to reach the “official” six-handed final table. Both Schindler and Elior Sion, shorties to start the day, left within the first few moments of action. Winter took care of the other knockout in beating up on Chris Moore, doubling up first with quad nines and then spiking an Ace against Moore’s pocket Jacks to send Moore out on the final table bubble.
When the six-handed action started, Kornuth had worked his way into the lead over Hallay, but Vuilleumier put his name into the mix by knocking out Weissman in sixth place. Hallay, meanwhile, saw his fates falter when he couldn’t get Winter to lay down top pair on a 4-9-3-4-6 board (Winter’s K-9 bested Hallay’s A-3). The big clash that would essentially determine the tournament was about to occur, however.
Winter, with his usual hyperactive style, pounded in a raise from the button with a Q-9 and Vuilleumier, with K-Q, defended his big blind. The K-8-6 flop didn’t slow down Winter, who put out a 725K bet that Vuilleumier check-called. A five on the turn changed nothing except the action, with both players checking, but the Queen on the river lit the wick.
Now it was Vuilleumier’s turn to fire a bet and it was a big one – 1.79 million in chips. Winter considered his options, and the fact he had hit a pair on the river, and pushed all in. Vuilleumier would make the call for less and, after turning up his two pair to Winter’s inferior pair of Queens, raked in the nearly 17 million chip pot.
Winter would demonstrate why he is one of the most dangerous players in the game. He would hit on several double ups to rebuild his stack, even to the point of eliminating Halley in fourth place, but Vuilleumier would eventually take him down in third. Kornuth went to the heads-up battle against the Swede with an eight million chip disadvantage and never glimpsed the lead. On the final hand, Vuilleumier limped with A-Q and Kornuth jammed his K-3, which Vuilleumier called. The J-10-8-9 flop and turn gave Vuilleumier a straight and left Kornuth drawing to one of three outs (the remaining Queens) for a better straight, but it wasn’t to be – another Jack on the turn ended the tournament and crowned Alexandre Vuilleumier the latest King of the High Roller world.
1. Alexandre Vuilleumier, $1,215,864
2. Chance Kornuth, $751,463
3. Sean Winter, $518,106
4. Axel Halley, $363,326
5. Ren Lin, $259,220
6. Joey Weissman, $188,219
Tournament of Champions to Play to Bracelet on Friday
The invitational Tournament of Champions, featuring the ring winners of the WSOP Circuit, will crown a champion today. 31 players will come back for Day 3 action from the 747 entries that took advantage of the freeroll. Scott Wilson holds the edge for the throng that will return to the Horseshoe on Friday, stacked with 2.885 million chips. Brent Gregory (just over two million), Dakota Britton (1.4 million), and Vincent Moscati (1.12 million) are the only other players with seven-figure stacks.
Lurking down the leaderboard is a WSOP bracelet winner, though. Jason Somerville, who earned that bracelet in an NLHE preliminary event back in 2011, qualified for this event by winning in an online event back in January. He’s making the most of that ring win, sitting with just over 400K in chips and a danger to most of the stacks around him.
Here’s how the Top Ten look as the cards hit the air for the final day of action:
1. Scott Wilson, 2.885 million
2. Brent Gregory, two million
3. Dakota Britton, 1.4 million
4. Vincent Moscati, 1.12 million
5. Katelin Koper, 990,000
6. Dustin Wills, 905,000
7. Justin Hotte-Mckinnon, 880,000
8. Patrick White, 870,000
9. Barry Schultz, 795,000
10. Wissam Gahshan, 780,000
Action Abounds Around the Arenas
Six tournaments will be in action on Friday, including the Tournament of Champions. The “Mystery Millions” bounty event will be working on the third of four Day Ones, while the $1500 Dealer’s Choice will try to take eleven players down to one. Most eyes in the Paris Las Vegas tournament room will be on the next “major” tournament of the 2023 WSOP, the $25,000 Heads-Up No Limit Hold’em Championship.
There should be no issue with coming up with 64 players to battle it out for the Heads-Up title. In 2022, Dan Smith and Christoph Vogelsang would be the final two players standing, with Smith emerging victorious for his first-ever WSOP bracelet. Plans are for the 64 players to play down to the “Sweet Sixteen,” with Saturday being used to reach the “Final Four” and the champion determined on Sunday.