With much of the European poker world preoccupied with the start of the 2023 World Series of Poker Europe at King’s Casino in Rozvadov, a handful of players have traveled to Las Vegas for the second edition of the PokerGO Tour PLO Series II. Two men, Bryce Yockey and Joao Simao, have won recent titles at the PokerGO Studios in Las Vegas. Overall, however, former champion Stephen Hubbard leads the way, picking up some important points in the early stages.
Yockey wins $10,000 PLO tournament, Simao wins Dealer’s Choice
After reaching the final table with a slight lead over Kyle Merron in Event #5, a $10,000 Pot Limit Omaha tournament, Bryce Yockey faced an uphill battle. The likes of Jeremy Ausmus, John Riordan, Ben Yu and Alex Foxen (along with Merron) were lined up against him around the felt. However, Yockey did not let this deter him from his pursuit of the title, even though he had to face challengers throughout the tournament.
Merron moved closer to Yockey by eliminating Foxen in seventh place and took the chip lead moments later after an altercation with Yockey. Yockey would start the road to recovery by eliminating Riordan in fourth place before play stalled with three players at the final table. While it only took a little over an hour to eliminate the first four players, Merron, Yockey and Ausmus decided to play a little longer before the next elimination.
Merron was the leader for most of the action, but Ausmus made an Icarus-like rise and fall that was particularly notable. In a blind-on-blind battle against Yockey, Ausmus managed to score two streets of action on a 10-10-2-8-4 board before Yockey let him go. This hand gave Ausmus a slight lead, but he immediately made up for it by sending Merron a pot of over three million that sent him back to the cellar.
It was Yockey who finally managed to make the final table, defeating Ausmus first after Yockey rivered a flush. That gave Yockey 7.8 million chips to Merron’s 6.45 million, and Yockey never let him sniff the lead. In the final hand, Merron would bet his chips on the turn after flopping a set of fives, only to see that Yockey had turned a Broadway straight. When the board failed to make a pair on the river, Yockey took the hand and the title for a decent win.
1. Bryce Yockey (USA), $239,400 (239 points)
2. Kyle Merron (USA), $171,000 (171)
3. Jeremy Ausmus (USA), $125,400 (125)
4. John Riordan (USA), $102,600 (103)
5. Artem Maksimov (USA), $79,800 (80)
6. Ben Yu, $68,400 (69)
7. Alex Foxen (USA), $57,000 (57)
At Event #6, the $10,000 PLO Dealer’s Choice Tournament, the challenges were different but still featured quality players. The Brazilian Joao Simao dominated the other players on the field with his 3.685 million chips. Only Bulgaria’s Veselin Karakitukov and Americans Jordan Spurlin and Alex Foxen were over a million chips, while Tyler Brown brought up the rear.
Simao went on the attack from the start in Pot Limit Omaha. He broke the four million mark in this discipline before eliminating Karakitukov in fifth place in the Big O (five starting cards instead of four). Foxen would try to get closer by eliminating Brown in fourth place, but Simao re-established his dominance by defeating Spurlin to move heads-up against Foxen.
In the battle between Simao and Foxen, the former Player of the Year took an early lead in the PLO and PLO Hi/Lo, but Simao scored a decisive double-up that almost ended the tournament. In the PLO, Simao raised and Foxen called to see a 4-3-2 rainbow flop. Foxen now took control with a tiny bet of 140,000, which Simao called and an eight came on the turn. Foxen bet the pot and Simao needed a few overtimes to weigh his options.
The option Simao chose was to “play for my stack” by putting his 3.6 million in the middle to be all-in. Foxen didn’t think about it nearly as long as Simao, but called after about thirty seconds and the cards were placed on their backs:
Simao’s two pair was ahead of Foxen’s two pair and a river nine didn’t change that. After the chips were counted, Foxen only had about half a million chips left; These would end up in Simao’s stack after he floated a Broadway straight on an 8-A-3 JQ board with a KJ-10-7 and Foxen’s revered queen-high straight (J-10-9-7 ) denied. and win the championship.
1. Joao Simao (Brazil), $182,000 (182 points)
2. Alex Foxen (USA), $123,500 (124)
3. Jordan Spurlin (USA), $84,500 (85)
4. Tyler Brown (USA), $65,000 (65)
5. Veselin Karakitukov (Bulgaria), $52,000 (52)
Stephen Hubbard is ahead in the overall championship race
After making the final table in Event #1 and winning Event #2, Stephen Hubbard is the man leading the race for overall PGT PLO Series II winner. The two finishes (the victory was Hubbard’s first ever tournament victory) allowed Hubbard to collect 262 points after six tournaments in the series. That puts him with a total of 250 points ahead of Yockey and Richard Gryko, who cashed in three events and collected 246 points.
With four tournaments remaining, including the $25,000 PLO Championship event, here are the top ten in the running for the $25,000 bonus awarded to the overall winner:
1. Stephen Hubbard, 262 points
2. Bryce Yockey, 250
3. Richard Gryko, 246
4. Eelis Parssinen, 236
5. Joao Simao, 227
6. Vasil Medarov, 200
(Draw) Adam Hendrix, 200
8. Daniel Geeng, 188
9. Alex Foxen, 181
10. Allan Le, 171
Thursday is a day off for PLO Series II. Friday will see another $10,000 PLO fight. PLO Hi/Lo takes center stage on Saturday before the $25,000 Championship event takes center stage on Sunday. It promises to be a fun weekend at the PokerGO Tour PLO Series II, which is sure to go down in the record books as one of the most popular non-Texas Hold’em series in recent memory.
(Photo courtesy of PokerGO.com)