Stories of the WSOP: Military Parades, Proposals, and Records Fall
The World Series of Poker (WSOP) never fails to provide drama, entertainment, and intriguing stories. This year’s summer showdown hasn’t bucked that trend. A lot has happened in the last few weeks and we’ve not even got to the WSOP Main Event yet.
We recently gave you a rundown of the top WSOP vlogs, and each one provided a different perspective on the Series. This week we’re bringing you more stories from the Las Vegas strip, including national firsts and marriage proposals. It has been another year of excitement and the latest shenanigans show why the WSOP is poker’s premier tournament series.
WSOP Salutes America’s Veterans
Poker by its very nature, is a sport where being selfish is a skill. However, when poker players aren’t trying to take someone else’s money, they’re extremely generous. The WSOP has a long history of hosting charity events and, this year, players saluted America’s veterans.
The $500 Salute to Warriors charity event raised money for the United Service Organizations and other veteran organizations. Last year’s event attracted 3,209 entrants. This year’s event set a new record with 4,303 entrants and things got underway in the most patriotic way possible. Along with a military parade and the American national anthem, Wayne Newton got the action underway (see video above).
Records Continue to Fall
Multiple records have fallen during the 2023 WSOP and, on Sunday, another one fell. This time, it was the Millionaire Maker. The $1,500 event has been a hit ever since it was introduced in 2013 and, this year, the number of entries broke the 10,000 mark for the first time.
When the registration desks finally closed, the number of entries hit 10,416. That makes it the largest WSOP Millionaire Maker in history. It also makes it the biggest $1,500 live poker tournament ever held. If those accolades aren’t enough, the $14 million prize pool meant the winner and runner-up both banked over $1 million each.
Garza Gets a Bracelet and His Girlfriend Gets a Ring
Winning a bracelet is right up there as the ultimate achievement in a poker player’s life. That’s undoubtedly true for Louis Garza. He had two live tournament wins and just over $2.2 million in career earnings before this year’s WSOP.
That’s a pretty impressive résumé, but it got even better last Saturday after he added his first WSOP title, $1.3 million, and a wife to his record. The American overcame 730 entrants in the $10,000 Pot Limit Omaha Championship and promptly proposed to his girlfriend. She said yes, which meant she got a ring and Garza got a bracelet.
One for the Old School
The $1,000 WSOP Seniors event continues to go from strength to strength. Last Wednesday saw those age 50+ take the felt in their droves. A total of 8,180 entries pushed the prize pool over $7.2 million. In the mix during the June 26 final table were long-time pros, Dan Heimiller and Poker Hall of Famer Billy Baxter.
However, when the chips had fallen, Canada’s Lonnie Hallett emerged victorious. He went on a rush during the final stages. That gave him a 10:1 chip lead over Baxter heads-up. Despite being outgunned in terms of experience, Hallett used his stack to bully Baxter into submission. The 54-year-old eventually closed out the event in style to win his first WSOP bracelet and $765,731.
Poland Finally Gets One
The WSOP is all about breaking records and setting new standards, which is why Marcin Horecki’s victory in the $1,500 Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo 8 or Better event is notable. Horecki played professionally up until five years ago when he decided to focus on other ventures. Before retiring, he was a familiar face on the European poker circuit, winning several EPT side events.
Horecki returned to the felt this summer because, in his words, poker, is “fun.” That turned out to be a shrewd move. Horecki topped a field of 566 entrants, including runner-up Mike Matusow, in the Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo 8 or Better event to win his first bracelet. Not only was it Horecki’s first WSOP title, it was the first time a Polish poker player has won a bracelet.
Much More to Come
A lot has happened at the 2023 World Series of Poker, but there’s more to come. Indeed, with the WSOP Main Event set to start on July 3 and other popular tournaments still left to play, you can expect more great stories from the Las Vegas strip before the dust settles and chips stop riffling.
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