Jason DeWitt is the newest member of poker’s multi-gold bracelet club.
The professional poker player from San Diego, CA won the $1,500 buy-in “Millionaire Maker” No-Limit Hold’em tournament, which was played over five days and nights and just concluded on the ESPN main stage at the Rio in Las Vegas.
DeWitt collected more than the tourney’s namesake in total prize money, $1,065,403, making this the biggest win of his career. This marked his second WSOP victory, following a win at the 2010 WSOP where he won the $5,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold'em title. He won $818,959 in that tourney, proving that when he wins a WSOP tournament, he sure makes it count, financially speaking.
“It’s hard to get through these big fields,” DeWitt acknowledged. “I usually play just No-Limit and Pot-Limit and they draw the biggest fields. So, it’s not surprising that it would take so long to get back here again. I mean, these fields are so big. To win a tournament with a 7,000-player field is just insane. It’s just incredible.
The most recent Millionaire Maker tourney attracted 7,190 entrants. That made this tournament the 8th largest of all time. Already, the 2016 WSOP has produced two of the biggest tournaments in poker history -- including Colossus II and now the latest “Millionaire Maker” extravaganza.
DeWitt absolutely dominated the final day’s action like no other player in any event played thus far.
“It helped that I got lots of good cards,” the low-key poker player said nonchalantly. “When I’m dealt good cards, it’s easy to be the aggressor. I also didn’t make any big mistakes. But it’s easier when you keep getting dealt good cards.”
That said, DeWitt seemed to win almost half the pots at the final table that were in any way contested. He would raise and re-raise, occasionally stealing, no doubt, while constantly putting his opponents on the defensive.
DeWitt won his victory by defeating a final table which included mostly first-time players new to the excitement and pressure of the WSOP and high-stakes action. However, there were two former gold bracelet winners – including Jason DeWitt and Arkadiy Tsinis. Four countries were represented in the finale, including the United States, Great Britain, Russia, and Italy.
“I really think this is a validation to win a second gold bracelet,” DeWitt said. “I feel that everybody has one bracelet with so many events on the schedule. If you play the whole WSOP, and most pros do that, most of them have (at least) one now….so this definitely is validation because it’s so hard to do.”
The final moment of triumph came when DeWitt, holding a 3 to 1 chip lead, scooped the final pot of the tournament, holding king-high against Garrett Greer, from Newport Beach, CA who finished as the runner up. However, there was little reason for disappointment for the “loser.” Even the second-place finisher earned $1 million in what turned out to be a most unusual prize money structure. The top two finishers were guaranteed a seven-figure payout, followed by “only” a half-million for third place.
The third-place finisher proved to be just as compelling a story and was one of several feel-good performances of the 2016 WSOP, so far. A kindergarten teacher from Washington State managed to outlast more than 7,000 players in her very first WSOP tournament. He eyes and cheers of the poker world focused on Meredith as she outlasted several far more accomplished players, pros and amateurs alike, one by one. However, Meredith couldn’t quite fit her dreams into the Cinderella story. Still, she enjoyed a poker dream come true and walked away with an astounding victory in so many ways.
As for DeWitt, he had an entirely different take on the odd prize money structure and what finishing in the first three spots meant.
“I had already won a gold bracelet, so I was relaxed as I could be,” DeWitt said. “The difference between first and second was only $65,000 so I could play aggressively. I’m just glad I didn’t finish third. The payout was (only $500,000). I just didn’t want to be short at three-handed. It would have been painful to get third when first and second were at least $1 million.”
This popular tourney which is becoming an annual tradition on the WSOP schedule attracted 7,190 entrants which created a prize pool totaling $9,706,500. The top 1,079 players collected prize money.
Aside from the winner, here’s a brief synopsis of the other top finishers who made the final table:
Second Place: Garrett Greer, from Newport Beach, CA finished as the runner up. He out up a good fight and posed a serious challenge to DeWitt, but couldn’t usurp the chip lead at any point when things mattered most. Greer was caught in an unusual situation where he was playing for what amounted to nearly the same prize money as the eventual winner, and once play became heads up, Greer became overly aggressive. He lost two thirds of his stack on one hand, and then on the following hand pushed with Q-7, which failed to connect. Still, the former UCLA student cashed for a whopping $1,000,000. This now gives him seven WSOP cashes and nearly $1.3 million in earnings.
Third Place: Lisa Meredith was the sentimental favorite to win this tournament. The kindergarten teacher from Vancouver, WA scrapped together the buy-in along with her husband and together they enjoyed the ride of their lives. Meredith had never played in any WSOP previously, but she performed like a seasoned veteran in this tournament, making an unbelievable run and earning $500,000 in prize money. Meredith played tight and tough at the final table and pushed her edges to the limit, winning praise from just about everyone in the poker world for such a remarkable performance. Not many poker players can claim they play in one poker tournament and won half a million dollars. Now, Meredith can.
Fourth Place: Francis Rusnak, a former newspaper writer for the Chicago Sun-Times finished as the fourth-place finisher. He posted his 24th series cash in this event, which paid $366,787. This marked his fifth final table appearance. He also finished in the top 100 of the 2009 WSOP Main Event Championship.
Fifth Place: Luke Anthony, from the UK, enjoyed his second cash at the WSOP, which was quite a step up from finished in 543rd place in the Colossus II, for which he earned $3,246. This time, he picked up $276,632 in prize money. Obviously, Anthony has a penchant for running deep in tournaments with big fields.
Sixth Place: Arkadiy Tsinis, a Ukrainian-born poker player from Miami, FL ended up as the sixth-place finisher. He inched closer to the $1 million mark in career WSOP earnings by collecting $210,112 in prize money for this finish. Tsinis was one of two gold bracelet winners to make the finale, along with the winner Dewitt. Tsinis won his WSOP title at the 2011 WSOP for winning one of the $1,500 tourneys with a large field. He also owns a WSOP Circuit gold ring, and has six-figures in cashes alone on the national Circuit.
Seventh Place: Mikhail Semin, from Moscow Russia went out in seventh place. He works at a television anchor and sports commentator. Semin now has 12 cashes at the WSOP. This was his second final table of the 2016 series, after finishing fifth in the $10K buy-in Dealers Choice tournament. Semin enjoyed his best payout so far at the WSOP, by earning $160,725 for this impressive finish.
Eighth Place: Alessaio Dicesare, from Rome, Italy hoped to become the first Italian gold bracelet since Max Pescatori from last year, but fell short of victory. He led the way as chip leader for a time, then took a few blows and went out in eighth place, which paid $123,828. This was only the second in-the-money for Dicesare at the WSOP.
Ninth Place: Stanley Lee, from West Hartford, CT was the first player eliminated off the final table. He cashed for the fourth time in a WSOP event, which paid out $96,091.