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Dan Cates (cover image), who had donned the Randy ‘Macho Man’ Savage persona on all five days in Event #56: $50,000 Poker Players Championship at the 2022 World Series Of Poker (WSOP), had claimed early on the final day that he would ‘sweep them (the competition) under the rug.’ He stuck to his words and has now created history by successfully defending his PPC title against Brazilian poker prodigy Yuri Dzivielevski, banking his biggest score at the WSOP to date worth $1,449,103.
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Cates won his second PPC title eight months after taking down Event #60: Poker Players Championship 6-Handed at the 2021 WSOP. That was also his career-first WSOP bracelet, making this his second bracelet win.
Cates had gained the chip lead at the end of Day 4 and held on to it for the majority of Day 5. After eliminating Japan’s Naoya Kihara in third place, Cates entered the heads-up against Dzivielevski with a commendable chip lead. But it wasn’t an easy heads-up to win. The lengthy heads-up battle against the two-time bracelet winner Dzivielevsk lasted over seven hours and came with wild swings. In the end, Cates prevailed, taking home the shiny gold bracelet.
Despite being a high-stakes crusher, this was Cates’ career-fourth WSOP score, improving his lifetime tournament winnings to $2,586,428.
Dzivielevski was looking for his third WSOP bracelet win in four years. He had many opportunities in the marathon, topsy-turvy heads-up battle in front of a raucous Brazilian rail. However, he fell short and had to settle for a second finish worth $895,614. This was the partypoker Ambassador’s 65th WSOP cash, boosting his WSOP earnings to $2,460,049.
The final table was live-streamed on PokerGO. You can catch a preview of the first hours of the final table action below.
If the WSOP Main Event is the ‘King’ of all bracelet events, then the Poker Players Championship is the ‘Queen.’ Often considered the Main Event for all mixed game enthusiasts, the PPC is one of the most prestigious tournaments of the series, second only to the Main Event. It has been running since Chip Reese won the first edition of the prestigious championship back in 2006 and consistently attracts a star-studded field.
This year’s event registered 112 entries, the largest PPC field since 2013, generating a whopping $5,362,000 prize pool.
Day 3 began with 41 returning poker heavyweights and the top 17 assured payouts. Three-time PPC champion Michael Mizrachi fell out before the money line was breached. He was joined at the rail by ten-time WSOP bracelet winner Phil Ivey, 2007 PPC champion Freddy Deeb, and French mixed game specialist Julien Martini.
Event #29: $1,500 No-Limit 2-7 Lowball Draw champion Maxx Coleman money-bubbled the event.
The subsequent four eliminations occurred within two hours after Coleman’s exit, and Dan Smith (17th for $83,738) was the first player to finish in the money.
David “ODB” Baker (15th for $83,738) and Scott Bohlman (16th for $83,738) fell out quickly one after the other, and Bryce Yockey (14th for $100,866) was the last player to fall on Day 3.
Day 4 saw the 13-player field narrow down to the final five. Matthew Gonzales (13th for $100,866) was the first player to be eliminated.
Matthew Ashton (8th for $155,421), Daniel Weinman (9th for $155,421), Lou Garza (10th for $123,974), Philip Sternheimer (11th for $123,974), and John Racener (12th for $100,866) were all notable departures before the unofficial final table was formed.
Unofficial Final Table Chip Counts
Seven-handed play continued for about four hours before Dan Cates pulled off a double whammy. The hand in question saw Johannes Becker open the action with a raise to 200,000 in the hijack. Cates called from the button, and Taylor Paur pushed all-in for 400,000 in the small blind. Koray Aldemir, in the big blind, went into a frenzy. He carefully checked his stack and opted to call with 500,000 left behind.
Both Becker and Cates called, and the four players saw the flop open . Aldemir checked to Becker, who bet 300,000. Cates then fired a bet of 1.25 Million. Aldemir tanked for over half a minute before calling all-in. Becker quickly got out of the way, and the two short stacks turned over their cards.
“I have a really good hand,” Cates uttered without showing his cards. After Becker reminded him to reveal his hand, Cates tabled .
Even though Aldemir was in the lead with his pair of Queens, the bettered Cates’s hand to a two pair. The on the river sealed the deal, eliminating Aldemir in sixth place for $258,812 and Paur in seventh place for $198,661.
With this double knockout, Day 4 ended with five players remaining.
Final Day Chip Counts
Final Day Recap
About two hours into the final day’s play, the first elimination took place. Johannes Becker jammed his last 75,000 from the small blind against Benny Glaser’s 300,000 raise from the button. Yuri Dzivielevski called from the big blind.
The flop showed . Dzivielevski check-folded when Glaser bet. Both Glaser and Becker flopped top pair. Still, Glaser’s Queen high put him in the lead. Becker needed a ten to stay alive in the tournament, but it was not to be as the remaining two streets brought the and the , ending his run in fifth place.
The play continued for another two hours before four-time bracelet winner Benny Glaser was eliminated in fourth place by Naoya Kihara in a hand of No-Limit 2-7 Single Draw. After his elimination, a crestfallen Glaser told Jeff Platt, “It’s obviously very bittersweet. I had much higher hopes when I was chip leader. I’m obviously still happy and grateful to have come this far, but winning this would have meant everything. It’s the best mixed game tournament on the planet, and I love mixed games.”
Finishing in third place was Naoya Kihara. Having started with the shortest stack on the final day, the Japanese player did well to make several pay jumps before falling prey to Cates.
Kihara’s elimination set up the heads-up between Dan Cates (25,925,000) and Yuri Dzivielevski (7,675,000). The heads-up lasted for over seven hours and was a swingy one, to say the least. The two traded pots almost as often as they exchanged the chip lead. Eventually, the blinds started increasing, making it challenging to make comebacks.
Dzivielevski was short after a 2-7 Triple Draw hand, and despite several No-Limit Hold ’em doubles to stay alive, Cates was finally able to close out victory shortly before 6 AM (PDT).
On the final hand, Dzivielevski shoved for 2.2 Million, and Cates tanked for a while before calling.
Despite being ahead pre-flop, Dzivielevski lost the lead on the flop , with Cates spiking a pair of fours. The turn and river bricked for Dzivielevski, ending his run in second place.
Final Table Results (USD)
Content & Images Courtesy: PokerGO, PokerNews & WSOP
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