2 Minutes Read
Ala Aqel, popularly known as Alex Aqel (cover image), claimed the 2017 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Circuit Potawatomi $1,675 No-limit Hold’em Main Event title, defeating a field of 677 strong entries to win Wisconsin’s first-ever live poker tournament with a seven-figure prize pool.
Aqel, who earned his maiden WSOPC gold ring and the top prize of $208,184, also got an automatic entry into the 2017 Global Casino Championship by virtue of this win.
Aqel is well-known on the tournament circuit in Potawatomi. Only last November he won an MSPT $1,100 buy-in event for $138k at Potawatomi and he can now boast of holding two of the three biggest scores in Wisconsin poker history. Despite having a six-figure score in the past, this $208k win more than doubled his career poker tournament earnings.
This marked Aqel’s fifth career WSOP cash and second career final table. In 2013, Aqel finished in second place in a Hammond Circuit turbo event for just under $12k.
“Playing for that amount of money is a lot easier because I just recently had a big score myself,” Aqel latter confessed.
But he agreed saying, “It was more that I just wanted to win a WSOP Circuit main event. That was huge for me.”
Although Aqel had played in about 10 WSOP Circuit Main Events, he had always struggled to make it to Day 2. It all changed for the 32-year-old and in a big way, when he not only made Day 2 in this event, but went the distance!
Aqel was involved in some of the most notable hands in the tournament that included six-time gold ring winner Josh Reichard midway through Day 2. Aqel said that he didn’t think Reichard would limp-call to try to outplay the second biggest stack at the table, but if he did, good for him and props to him.
Although Aqel did lose a good portion of his stack on that hand, he didn’t allow the setback to slow him down from collecting chips for the remainder of the day. Aqel ended Day 2 second in chips with just eight players remaining.
Aqel came out all cylinders firing on Day 3. He made a strong start overtaking chip leader Denise Pratt within the first hour of play. However, it was not all-smooth riding for him. He ran a failed bluff against Garrett Riley and then started trending downward, in part to being card dead.
Aqel did get the momentum back after doubling through Riley. He regained his swagger from that pot and from that point forward he looked invincible.
He doubled through Pratt after flopping a set to jump back up to the top of the chip counts. Eventually he got heads up with Chad Wiedenhoeft with more than a 3-to-1-chip lead.
Aqel made some key hands against Wiedenhoeft, including hitting quads once, to help propel him to victory. But he latter stated that it was not that easy.
“The kid was an animal. He had heart, man, he had heart,”said Aqel about his heads-up opponent. “He was willing to gamble it up a little more than I was,” he concluded.
1. Alex Aqel – $208,184*
2. Chad Wiedenhoeft – $128,816
3. James Gregg – $94,482
4. Denise Pratt – $70,262
5. Garrett Riley – $52,958
6. Nicholas Pupillo – $40,447
7. Nikolas Stone – $31,298
8. Josh Reichard – $24,534
9. Brad Jansen – $19,477
* includes WSOP Circuit gold ring & 2017 Global Casino Championship seat