One Big Blind to Champ: Nikolaos Lampropoulos Wins WSOPP $25,000 High Roller PLO ($871,600)
The inaugural 2023 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Paradise at the five-star Atlantis Resort & Casino concluded one of the busiest days of the series so far. A trio of gold bracelet winners was crowned on Friday night and the last player to lift the hardware happened to be cash-game specialist Nikolaos Lampropoulos from Greece.
He did so in a rather remarkable fashion in Event #5: $25,000 High Roller PLO, which drew a field of 140 entries for a $3,500,000 prize pool. With 22 hopefuls still in the mix, Lampropoulos lost a big pot during the three-hour-long money bubble and was down to fewer than one full big blind. However, the Greek secured several double-ups and eventually came out on top of a short-lived heads-up duel with Dan Shak.
"I don't really care about the bracelet and all ... I care about cash, and this one was really good."
We both already won, Shak said with a big smile on his face before the heads-up duel started and he added, I was even more lucky," despite Lampropoulos having staged an incredible comeback already. The true "chip and a chair" success story then concluded fewer than ten minutes later when a setup hand saw Lampropoulos spike a flush on the river. Both players flopped the same two pair with redraws on the turn, at which point all the chips went into the middle.
The gold bracelet was not the most important thing for the Greek, who earned a top prize of $871,600 to more than double his tournament cashes on the live poker circuit.
"I don't really care about the bracelet and all, nor the fame, I care about cash, and this one was really good," Lampropoulos remarked during the winner interview. Shak was once more denied the victory as he had to settle for a consolation prize of $537,900.
Five of the last nine contenders were also aiming to improve upon their earnings thanks to GGPoker's WSOP Paradise Parlay promotion. Isaac Haxton was eliminated in ninth place and missed out on a $25,000 cash prize courtesy of the leading online poker operator by one spot, as only the official final table counts.
Yuri Dzivielevski, Michael Moncek, Nick Schulman, and Tyler Brown were the other four with at least two final tables and one bracelet win during the 2023 WSOP in Las Vegas to their name. They all locked up $25,000 on top but missed out on a potential $100,000 for a victory, at least for the time being.
WSOPP Event #5: $25,000 High Roller PLO Final Table Results
|Prize (in USD)
"I mainly focus on cash games and usually play some mid to high-level tournaments, mainly PLO. Last year, I mostly played hold'em tournaments and in 2023 I switched back to Omaha tournaments," Lampropoulos mentioned. He was supported by a small but boisterous rail from his home country, all of which he considers as "hold'em pros" despite Ioannis Angelou-Konstas having finished in 16th place for $47,600.
The rail played an important factor for Lampropoulos, who is also well-connected to several Greek high-stakes PLO cash game specialists.
"It is a fantastic atmosphere, I think I was the only one with friends on the rail for this final table and it was very good that they supported me so close nearby, chanting Niko Niko when I won a big pot," a now relaxed Lampropoulos confirmed. In the moment of victory, he also pointed out that one of poker's most sought-after hardware was not the most important thing on his mind.
"I don't care about the glory of the bracelet or something, I only care about the money and this was very important for me. It was the first $25,000 Event I have played and maybe I will play in more of them or even higher buy-ins in the future," the champion declared.
It was by no means an easy ride to victory despite starting the final day's journey with a "stack of thirty big blinds". During the extensive bubble, the Greek lost a big pot and then kept folding until he was down to fewer than one big blind. A series of double-ups brought him back in contention and he considered the double-up through Moncek at the start of the final table as a pivotal moment.
"From there on, I could use my chips to put more pressure and play my game," Lampropoulos mentioned and he indeed became far more active thereafter en route to becoming the newest WSOP gold bracelet winner. He will certainly compete in the upcoming $5,000 Main Event Championship and the $10,000 PLO Championship.
Action of the Final Day
The final day brought back 32 hopefuls out of a 140-entry-strong field, all aiming to secure a portion of the seven-figure prize pool. Early casualties outside of the money included such big names as Chino Rheem, Shaun Deeb, Alex Foxen, Chris Brewer, and Daniel Dvoress.
Likewise, Adam Hendrix and Keith Lehr came close but ultimately missed out on another WSOP cash. It was then Jeffrey Davoud who became the bubble boy in a roller coaster showdown against Michael Moncek.
Once the money bubble had burst, six of the remaining contenders had at least two final tables and one gold bracelet in Las Vegas earlier this year on their resume, giving them a shot at an extra payday of up to $100,000 thanks to GGPoker's WSOP Paradise Parlay promotion. Only Chad Eveslage came up short of reaching the unofficial final table, which turned into a tense affair with an average below twenty big blinds.
Nine hopefuls returned from the dinner break and the very first hand brought fireworks. Haxton got it in with an ace-high rundown against the aces of Schulman and came up second-best despite two clubs on the flop to miss out on a $25,000 bonus for now.
The crucial all-in showdowns thereafter were filled with a roller coaster of emotions. Lampropoulos scored a crucial double through Moncek when his open-ended straight and flush draw hit on the turn. He then knocked out Dzivielevski in remarkable fashion, spiking a fortunate river suckout against the Brazilian.
Derwiche claimed the stack of Wantman and Shak came out on top of a spectacular three-way all-in against Moncek and Lampropoulos when his kings rivered a full house. Schulman fell to Brown, who then lost most of his chips with a gutsy bluff and became the next casualty.
That ensured a maiden WSOP gold bracelet winner and it would be Lampropoulos who earned the cherry on top. Derwiche's demise was also in stunning fashion when a flopped wheel was beaten by running hearts. Heads-up play took a mere eight minutes, as another setup hand ended the tournament just before midnight.
With five gold bracelets now crowned, all eyes are set on Event #10: $5,000 Main Event Championship with the first starting day scheduled for Saturday, December 9, 2023. The flagship tournament comes with a $15 million guarantee and the PokerNews live reporting team will provide updates from start to finish.
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