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2022 PGT Stairway to Millions: Paul Zappulla Wins Maiden Live Title in Event #10: $15,800 NLHE ($124,500); Last Two Events Canceled by Organizers to Avoid Filling in Overlays

Paul Zappulla
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  • RUPAM THAKUR September 19, 2022
  • 3 Minutes Read

The curtains have fallen early on the 2022 PokerGO Tour (PGT) Stairway to Millions at The Venetian Resort Las Vegas with Paul Zappulla (cover-image) taking down the last event of the series, Event #10: $15,800 NLHE.

Zappulla overcame the 18-entry field in Event #10 to win his maiden live title for a career-best $124,500 and the PGT trophy. Event #8 runner-up finisher Stephen Song, making his second runner-up finish of the series, collected $95,100 in second place.

The PGT Stairway to Millions initially had 12 events on the schedule, but The Venetian Resort Poker Room canceled the last two events to avoid filling in overlays. Several players had won seats for those two events and were offered equivalent cash prizes.

According to his Hendon Mob profile, Paul Zappulla nearly doubled his tournament earnings after the win and now boasts $284,178 in lifetime earnings. His previous best score was the $111,501 he won for his third-place finish in the 2022 WSOP Event #7: $1,500 Omaha Hi-Lo.

Event #10 began with a small field of players sitting on one table, but a flurry of late entrants extended the field to 18 players. The top three places got paid a share of the $300,000 prize pool.

Adam Hendrix and Sam Simmons were eliminated before the final table of nine was set.

Jeremy Ausmus was eliminated in tenth place to set the nine-handed final table in motion.

Final Table Chip Counts

  1. Paul Zappulla – 589,000
  2. Adrian Mateos – 358,000
  3. Stephen Song – 323,000
  4. Michael Wang – 250,000
  5. Chance Kornuth – 245,000
  6. Ethan Yau – 179,000
  7. Sean Winter – 150,000
  8. Sam Soverel – 116,000
  9. Justin Saliba – 28,000


Final Table Recap

The final table began swiftly with the eliminations of Justin Saliba and Ethan Yau in ninth and eighth place, respectively.

Soon after, Michael Wang crashed out in seventh place after his lost the race against Sean Winter’s , who made a straight on the rundown.

Even after stacking Wang, Sean Winter couldn’t extend his stay much longer and fell in sixth place. His lost the flip against Stephen Song’s .

Next on the chopping block was the Event #7 champion, Chance Kornuth, in fifth place. His had a fatal collision with Stephen Song’s .

A minute later, Sam Soverel money-bubbled the event fourth place, assuring the remaining players at least $80,400. The hand in question saw Soverel moving all-in from the button with , and Paul Zappulla woke up with in the big blind. The rundown gave Zappulla a full house, eliminating Soverel.

The three-way action went on for another 90 minutes before Spanish poker phenom Adrian Mateos was sent packing in third place. Stephen Song took over Mateos’s stack after moving all-in with , and Mateos called for his tournament life with . The board gave both players two-pair, but Song took down the pot with the better hand.

The heads-up between Stephen Song (1,855,000) and Paul Zappulla (395,000) began with Song firmly in the lead. But two quick double-ups and a failed bluff from Song turned the tide in Zappulla’s favor.

Armed with a commanding lead, Zappulla moved all-in with , and Song called with . The board ran , giving Zappulla a rivered straight, getting him a career-best $124,500 payday and his maiden live title.

Paul Zappulla
Paul Zappulla


Complete Results (USD)

  1. Paul Zappulla – $124,500
  2. Stephen Song – $95,100
  3. Adrian Mateos – $80,400


The Venetian Resort Las Vegas Cancels Last Two PGT Stairway to Millions With $1.10 Million Worth of GTDs

The PGT Stairway to Millions initially had 12 events on the schedule, but The Venetian Resort Poker Room canceled the last two events a day before Event #11 was to start.

One of the two canned events was the $500K GTD Event #11: $25K. Anyone cashing the event was to receive a free ticket to the $600K GTD Event #12: $51K scheduled on Monday.

But the organizers decided to cancel both the events at the last moment, despite a few players having already won free tickets to #Event #11. They took this step to avoid expected overlays.

After the incident, several poker players thrashed the Las Vegas Strip card room on social media. The first eight events of the series were a success and quickly surpassed their advertised guarantees. But Event #9 and Event #10 registered overlays of two entries each.

In the final live update of Event #10, mentioned, “The Stairway To Millions originally had 12 events on the schedule, but due to decisions made by The Venetian Resort Poker Room, the final two events were canceled.”

After the incident, Event #9 runner-up finisher Adam Hendrix, who had won a free seat to Event #11, tweeted:

Hendrix said he was offered cash for the free seat he had won, but he added, “canceling a guarantee to a tournament you won a satellite into already is unacceptable.”

After Hendrix, several others joined the thread to thrash the organizers.

@nogoodlogan said, “Venetian is horrible for poker, and this isn’t their first time doing something like this, yet all of you degenerates still go there to play,”

Dan Colpoys tweeted, “There won’t even be a 50k hopefully, lesson learned, and they just stop running PGT stuff there,”

Ryan Laplante said:


PGT Stairway to Millions – List of Winners

EventWinnerPrize (USD)
Event #1: $460 NLHEFrancis Anderson$6,702
Event #2: $460 NLHEJohn Yelaney$6,417
Event #3: $900 NLHEArsh Grover$12,510
Event #4: $900 NLHESamy Dighlawi$11,330
Event #5: $1,640 NLHEMichael Wang$22,986
Event #6: $1,640 NLHEMichael Wang$22,458
Event #7: $2,740 NLHEChance Kornuth$45,373
Event #8: $5,350 NLHEAndre Butler$60,945
Event #9: $10,400 NLHEMichael Rocco$61,750
Event #10: $15,800 NLHEPaul Zappulla$124,500

Content & Images Courtesy: PokerGO Tour & PokerNews

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