The 2023 World Poker Tour World Championship at Wynn Las Vegas drew a record field of 3,835 entries. The huge turnout for the $10,4000 no-limit hold’em was the largest in WPT main tour history but still was not quite enough to meet the lofty $40 million guarantee. The massive prize pool resulted in seven-figure paydays for the top six finishers, with the largest chunk going to eventual champion Daniel Sepiol. The poker pro based out of Indiana took home $5,282,954 and his first WPT title for the win.
This was Sepiol’s 200th recorded tournament cash, and by far his largest. To put in perspective how big this final table was for the 29-year-old, the pay jump from sixth to fifth place in this event ($376,100) was larger than his previous top score of $204,735 he earned for taking down a $2,700 buy-in event at this year’s Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open. The 2021 Mid-States Poker Tour Riverside champion now has nearly $6.9 million in recorded tournament scores to his name.
Sepiol was awarded 3,300 Card Player Player of the Year points for taking down this event. This was his third title and tenth final-table finish of the year. With 5,135 total points, he has shot up the standings and into 20th place on the 2023 POY leaderboard presented by Global Poker.
Sepiol came into the stacked final table as the second-shortest stack but managed to fight his way up the chip counts and overtake the lead in time for a massive preflop race for more than 80 percent of the chips in play. Sepiol’s pocket jacks held up against the A-K of Andrew Licthenberger to give Sepiol more than a 4:1 chip lead going into heads-up play.
“The big turning point was the big flip versus [Lichtenberger], jacks versus ace-king,” Sepiol told WPT reporters after coming out on top. “Just get luckier than everyone else. That was my strategy, yeah. Try and pick my spots and get lucky.”
This event ran from Dec. 12-21, with four starting flights and six more days of combined-field action. Plenty of big names earned a piece of the $40,000,000 prize pool, including Alex Foxen (39th), Roberto Romanello (38th), Kristen Foxen (33rd), James Chen (30th), and Ren Lin (20th).
The final table began with Lichtenberger well out in front and Sepiol in fifth chip position. The stacked affair included several of the top players in the game, with more than $65 million in combined earnings between the final six. One of the most exciting hands from the first few hours of play also featured Sepiol and Lichtenberger. Sepiol ran a multi-street bluff, eventually drawing the fold with a river shove. Check out a replay of that wild hand below via a social media post from the WPT:
The first knockout at the final table saw European Poker Tour champion and two-time bracelet winner Artur Martirosian run his pocket fives into the pocket sevens of Sepiol. The larger pair held up and the Russian poker pro settled for $1,207,000 as the sixth-place finisher. This was the third-largest score of his career. It increased his lifetime earnings to more than $15.2 million. He was also awarded 1,100 POY points for his efforts. This was his 16th final-table finish of the year, with two POY-qualified titles won along the way. His 6,582 total points are good for tenth in the overall standings.
Sepiol climbed to second in chips after scoring that knockout and soon overtook the lead by winning a healthy pot with a turned straight against the two pair of bracelet winner Ben Heath. The British poker pro ended up finishing fifth for $1,583,100. His final hand saw him commit his stack preflop with Q-J. He was unable to overcome the A-7 suited of three-time bracelet winner Georgios Sotiropoulos and was sent to the rail with the third-largest payday of his career. Heath now has more than $21.5 million in recorded earnings. This was his ninth final-table finish of the year. With 4,923 total POY points, he climbed to 22nd place in the rankings.
Two-time bracelet winner and 2014 WPT L.A. Poker Classic main event champion Chris Moorman was the next to be knocked out. In a battle of the blinds, Sotiropoulos raised enough from the small blind to put Moorman at risk. He called from the big blind with QHeart Suit and was up against KClub SuitQDiamond Suit. The ADiamond SuitAClub Suit10Spade Suit9Spade Suit7Heart Suit runout kept Sotiropoulos’ hand ahead and Moorman was eliminated in fourth place ($2,095,300). This was the largest score ever for the 38-year-old British professional. He now has more than $9.7 million in recorded scores after this strong showing.
LThree-handed play lasted just 20 deals. The 102nd hand of the final day was the previously discussed monster coin flip between Sepiol and Lichtenerger. With blinds of 1,300,000-2,500,000 and an ante of 2,500,000, Lichtenberger limped in from the small blind with AClub SuitKDiamond Suit. Sepiol raised to 8,500,000 from the big blind with JHeart SuitJDiamond Suit. Lichtenberger then three-bet to 32,500,000. Sepiol went into the tank for a bit before moving all-in for 165,700,000. Lictenberger called off his 142,300,000 stack to set up the classic race. The board ran out QSpade Suit9Spade Suit7Club Suit2Heart Suit10Heart Suit and Sepiol’s pocket jacks held-up to earn him the pot and the knockout.
Lichtenberger was awarded $2,798,700 as the third-place finisher. This was the largest cash yet for the 36-year-old bracelet winner based out of Las Vegas. The score increased his career earnings to more than $20.6 million.
Heads-up play began with Sepiol holding 310,500,000 to Sotiropoulos’ 72,600,000. The final two took a quick break before the money presentation. They went on to battle for 27 hands. Sepiol was able to extend his lead to start, but a pair of double-ups for Sotiropoulos saw the Greek player close the gap. On a break in play, the two came to a deal that locked up $4,682,954 for Sepiol (who held 267,200,000 to Sotiropoulos’ 115,900,000). Sotiropoulos was guaranteed $4,167,246. That left the title and $600,000 in remaining prize money to play for.
Soon after play resumed, Sotiropoulos rivered trip jacks to best the flopped pair of queens of Sepiol. His value bet on the end was called and Sotiropoulos took down the healthy pot to move into the lead.
The penultimate hand of the tournament began with Sepiol min-raising to 6,000,000 on the button with JClub Suit2Diamond Suit. Sotiropoulos called from the big blind with QClub SuitJSpade Suit and the flop came down JDiamond Suit9Club Suit2Spade Suit. Sotiropoulos checked his top pair and Sepiol fired 5,000,000 with jacks and deuces. Sotiropoulos check-raised to 18,500,000 and Sepiol called. The 10Diamond Suit turn saw Sotiropoulos check-call a 35,000,000 bet from Sepiol. The 7Spade Suit completed the board and Sotiropoulos moved all-in. Sepiol called for 97,200,000 and showed his winning two pair.
Sotiropoulos was left with just 22 big blinds after the hand. He raised to 7,000,000 on the next deal with KHeart SuitQClub Suit and Sepiol three-bet shoved holding KClub Suit3Heart Suit. Sotiropoulos made the call and the board came down JDiamond Suit8Club Suit4Heart Suit3Diamond Suit2Diamond Suit to give Sepiol a pair of threes for the win.
Sotiropoulos took home the $4,167,246 he negotiated for as the runner-up. This was his first seven-figure payday. It grew his lifetime earnings to more than $8.4 million.
Here is a look at the payouts and POY points awarded at the final table: