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WSOP 2022: Latvia’s Aleksejs Ponakovs Denies Phil Ivey 11th Bracelet; Wins Career-Second Bracelet in Event #42: $100K High Roller ($1,897,363)

Aleksejs Ponakovs
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  • RUPAM THAKUR June 21, 2022
  • 2 Minutes Read

The 53rd annual World Series of Poker (WSOP) is in its fourth week, and already we have witnessed some mind-boggling action! In one of the most significant moments of the series so far, poker legend Phil Ivey came strikingly close to bagging his eleventh career WSOP bracelet (his first in an NLHE event) in Event #42: $100,000 High Roller. However, it was not to be as Latvian poker pro Aleksejs Ponakovs (cover image) pipped Ivey (2nd for $1,172,659) in heads-up play to clinch his second bracelet and a career-best $1,897,363.

Phil Ivey
Phil Ivey


Aleksejs Ponakovs won his first bracelet last year in WSOP Online Event #8: $7,777 NLHE Lucky 7’s for $432,491, making this his first bracelet win in a live event. Ponakovs has also become the first Latvian player to win a bracelet. According to his Hendon Mob profile, he now moves into the #1 position in Latvia’s All-Time Money List with $3,318,328 in recorded tournament earnings.

Ponakovs had his moments on the FT and got lucky in a few spots, especially with Kings against Talal Shakerchi aces six-handed. Understandably, he was on cloud nine following the win. “I’m really pleased to finally get the bracelet. There is for sure some good stuff happening right now in my head. I will realize later [as it sinks in],” he said.

He said, “At first, I was really laughing about it, but it really helped in the end,” and added that the poker world would be seeing a lot more of him soon, “I am getting better and better in life. I am coming for more events.”

Ponakovs was especially appreciative of his strong rail, “I definitely had the best support here. It’s definitely amazing, and I’m going to celebrate with them for sure.”

As for whether he was afraid of playing Ivey, Ponakovs said, “Not really, “I’m battling the best players all over the world, all the time. It’s another legend, but still beatable.”

The $100,000 buy-in Highroller attracted a star-studded field of 62 players that helped collect a massive $5,998,500 in the prize pool. The top 10 places got paid with a min-cash worth $162,623. The final day began with 23 survivors.

The defending WSOP Main Event champion Koray Aldemir was eliminated on the money bubble in eleventh place, and Eric Worre bubbled the final table (10th for $162,623).

You can watch the first 1 hour and 13 minutes of the final table action below. The full FT replay is available by subscription on the PokerGO app.


Aleksejs Ponakovs (10,800,000) entered the final table as the chip leader. Gregory Jensen (8,900,000) and 10-time bracelet winner Phil Ivey (5,850,000) carried the other top stacks into the event’s final leg.

Final Table Chip Counts

  1. Aleksejs Ponakovs – 10,800,000
  2. Gregory Jensen – 8,900,000
  3. Phil Ivey – 5,850,000
  4. Michael Moncek – 4,540,000
  5. Mikita Badziakouski – 3,200,000
  6. Ben Heath – 1,960,000
  7. Masashi Oya – 850,000
  8. Talal Shakerchi – 750,000
  9. Nick Petrangelo – 540,000


Final Table Recap

The action on the final table began swiftly with a double elimination. The shortest stack, Nick Petrangelo, went all-in with and found two callers. The flop came , and Ben Heath moved all-in with . Masashi Oya called with , risking his tournament life. The turn and river were complete bricks for Oya (eighth place) & Petrangelo (ninth place), and Heath scooped the pot.

Not long after that, former bracelet winner Mikita Badziakouski crashed in seventh place after losing a blind vs. blind battle. With the flop open , Ben Heath three-bet jammed with . Badziakouski called with (top pair). The turn was a safe card for Badziakouski, but Heath hit his diamond flush on the river , eliminating the Belarusian high-stakes pro.

Just four minutes, Talal Shakerchi was sent packing in sixth place in a brutal beat. It was a set up hand with Shakerchi’s dominating Aleksejs Ponakovs`s but the board gave Ponakovs quad kings.

Next on the chopping block was the Event #13: $1,500 Limit Hold ’em winner Michael Moncek who fell in fifth place after his could not improve against Ben Heath’s .

Twelve minutes later, Gregory Jensen was sent packing in fourth place. Jensen three-bet shoved with only to see Ben Heath waking up with .

Despite his aggression, Ben Heath was sent to the rail in third place. He got it in good with but Phil Ivey’s spiked a queen on the runout .

Entering the heads-up match, Aleksejs Ponakovs (21,275,000) was leading Phil Ivey (15,925,000). Ponakovs lost his chip lead for a brief period but pulled in front before the final hand was dealt.

With the entire poker community closely watching the heads-up, Ponakovs scripted a different ending! With the board open , Ivey check-shoved with a straight draw, and Ponakovs tank called with . The on the river wasn’t enough for Ivey, who fell one place short of winning his 11th bracelet. Aleksejs Ponakovs entered the history books as the first-ever Latvian to win a live WSOP bracelet (his second) and a career-best $1,897,363.

Aleksejs Ponakovs
Aleksejs Ponakovs


Final Table Results (USD)

  1. Aleksejs Ponakovs – $1,897,363
  2. Phil Ivey – $1,172,659
  3. Ben Heath – $805,024
  4. Gregory Jensen – $571,896
  5. Micahel Moncek – $420,944
  6. Talal Shakerchi – $321,437
  7. Mikita Badziakouski – $255,001
  8. Masashi Oya – $210,485
  9. Nick Petrangelo – $181,068


Content & Images Courtesy: PokerGO, PokerNews & WSOP

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