The first stop of the World Series of Poker at the Atlantis Spa Resort in the Bahamas – dubbed “WSOP Paradise” by its organizers – has completed its 2023 celebrations. In the $10,000 Main Event, Stanislav Zegal was able to bring his stack to the championship despite a loss to Massive Attack from fan favorite Matt Glantz. While the final table was taking place, the WSOP also announced the dates for the renewal of poker's biggest event, the World Series of Poker 2024, next summer so that players can begin their preparations.
Quick final table leads to Zegal's victory
On Thursday afternoon, the seven participants of the inaugural WSOP Paradise Championship met at Atlantis for the action event. At the top after a good run late on Wednesday evening was Daniel Neilson, whose stack at the start of the day was over 37.4 million. There was a duel between Zegal and Gabriel Schroeder for second place, while Glantz was aiming for the second-to-last spot after doubling Neilson on Wednesday. Heading into the final table, Glantz only had one advantage over Montgomery McQuade when the cards started blowing up.
McQuade, who had a huge short stack with just 4.9 million chips, had to find something quick and would make his move on the second hand of the game. Coming out of the hijack, McQuade pushed his remaining stack into the middle and only got Glantz in the big blind to move him up. McQuade was on the steal, with only K-10 off-suit for the fight, but Glantz still had to blank the cards against his pocket fours. A four on the flop eliminated most of the drama and after a blank on the river left McQuade tied, the Englishman was eliminated from the tournament in seventh place.
The next elimination was a surprise to many in the arena. After a Neilson opening, Michael Sklenicka three-betted to 3.3 million and Schroeder in the big blind saw Big Slick in his pocket. Without a moment's hesitation, Schroeder pushed out his stack of over 20 million and after a fold from Neilson (who held pocket nines), only Sklenicka made the call with his pocket queens.
The race continued, but like the hand that eliminated McQuade, the real drama was over pretty quickly. A queen on the flop gave Sklenicka a set, but a third heart on the turn opened the door for Schroeder to a flush. The river was empty, and after a chip count it turned out that Sklenicka was all in and got the double, while Schroeder was down to less than two million chips (he would leave the next hand, courtesy of Sklenicka).
The magical Glantz run ends in fourth place
Sklenicka, the new chip leader, kept the pressure on the table. He would defeat Rui Sousa in fifth place and break the 60 million mark while Glantz tried to survive. He scored a big double through Neilson when his pocket sixes converted a full house against Nielson's pocket aces, but that wouldn't be enough for Glantz to remain viable. Neilson would get some revenge by knocking out Glantz in fourth place, his AQ surpassing Glantz's KQ on a six-high board.
Now that the tournament was down to three players, it took a breathtaking turn that became the defining point of the tournament. Neilson's elimination of Glantz put him in the lead, but another push didn't work out so well for the Australian. After Zegal opened, Neilson bet three and Zegal called to see a QK-5 flop. Neilson made a continuation bet, which Zegal also called, and a nine came on the turn. Neilson decided he was done playing and moved all in, which was immediately answered with a call from Zegal. Why? Zegal had flopped two pair with his KQ while Neilson's AK was outflopped. Needing an ace to win the hand, Neilson saw a gap on the river ten when he doubled Zegal to 110 million. He would be eliminated in third place on the next hand and Sklenicka would get the remaining chips.
Heads-up action in the WSOP Paradise Main Event was brief. In the first hand, Zegal won a sizeable pot from Sklenicka, although Sklenicka was right to fold his pocket pair of sevens after Zegal flopped two pair with his K-6. In the final hand, Sklenicka tried to get something going with his 7-3 raise, but Zegal defended with not much else in his Robbi Jade Lew (J-4). That was enough on the 10-2-4 flop, on the queen turn and on the five river when Sklenicka fired an all-in bluff on the river. After much deliberation, Zegal made the right call by calling with just a small pair and the first WSOP Paradise Main Event championship was his.
1. Stanislav Zegal (Germany), $2,000,000
2. Michael Sklenicka (Czech Republic), $1,200,000
3. Daniel Neilson (Australia), $900,000
4. Matt Glantz (USA), $685,000
5. Rui Sousa (Portugal), $510,000
6. Gabriel Schroeder (Brazil), $400,000
7. Montgomery McQuade (United Kingdom), $300,000
8. Luke Graham (USA), $250,000*
(* – eliminated on Wednesday, part of the official final table)
This was the first major championship ever for Zegal, who qualified for the WSOP Paradise Main Event via online poker site GGPoker's satellite system. Zegal, who has been a recreational poker player for nearly two decades, attributed his success at WSOP Paradise to becoming more immersed in the game of poker since he began playing for a living in 2016 in the Bahamas and a memorable championship.
While the final table of the WSOP Paradise Main Event was still ongoing, the WSOP announced the dates for the return of the granddaddy of all poker tournaments next year. The 55Th The World Series of Poker takes place from May 28th to July 17th, with the $10,000 Championship event set to take place July 3-17. For the third year in a row, the tournament will be held at the Horseshoe and Paris Las Vegas.
“There's not much more that can be said about what a special year 2023 has been for the WSOP and the game of poker,” Ty Stewart, senior vice president and executive director of the World Series of Poker, said during the announcement. “But it’s time to turn the page and start the countdown to 2024. Records are there to be broken. We're busy making improvements to ensure 2024 is the biggest and best event in poker history. Mark your calendars and schedule vacation days. See you in Vegas.”