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2015 46th Annual World Series of Poker

Thursday, June 16, 2016 to Saturday, June 18, 2016

Event #25: $2,500 No-Limit Hold'em

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  • Buy-in: $2,500
  • Prizepool: $2,377,375
  • Entries: 1,045
  • Remaining: 0
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06/20/16 01:56:30 AM PDT


Michael Gagliano is the newest member of poker’s gold bracelet club.

The 31-year-old poker pro from Rockaway, NJ won the $2,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament, which was played over three days and nights and just concluded on the ESPN main stage at the Rio in Las Vegas.  For this most impressive come-from-behind victory. Gagliano collected $448,463 in prize money, making this the biggest live win of his career.

“I’ve never won a live tournament before, at least nothing on this scale before,” Gagliano said afterward.  “I came close a few times and definitely wanted to get a win, so it’s nice to get that over and done with.”

Gagliano is a poker professional who plays full-time in New Jersey.  That state legalized the Internet version of the game about three years ago.    He is a sponsored team pro with the Borgata website.  He estimates that he puts in about 50 hours per week playing, on average.

Prior to playing poker, Gagliano was a college student and then a teacher.  He graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in geology.  Then, he spent two years in the public school system before taking up poker full time for most of his income.  Gagliano started playing the game about ten years ago, while a senior in college.

Gagliano is also in demand as a poker instructor.  A few years ago, he became the owner and instructor of a poker training site called  No doubt, he’ll likely pick up a few additional students and clients after this victory.

The poker pro and teacher won his victory by coming out on top at a final table which included a mix of pros and amateurs, alike.  Perhaps the two biggest names in the finale were Shankar Pillai, a former gold bracelet winner and Darryll Fish, the local Las Vegas poker pro and tournament regular.

The starting chip counts and seat assignments were as follows:

1. Daniel Cooke -- 1,425,000 (47 bb)
2. Niall Farrell -- 750,000 (25 bb)
3. Michael Gagliano -- 1,000,000 (33 bb)
4. Zu Zhou -- 2,400,000 (80 bb)
5. Darryll Fish -- 1,860,000 (62 bb)
6. Michael Laake -- 2,160,000  (72 bb)
7. Remi Castaignon -- 600,000 (20 bb)
8. Shankar Pillai -- 1,750,000 (58 bb)
9. Gavin O'Rourke -- 875.000 (29 bb)

Gagliano ranked seventh in chips when the 8-hour finale began.  He made a remarkable move up the money ladder.  The final moment of triumph or disappointment, depending on perspective, came when Gagliano scooped the final pot of the tournament, holding A-9, which made a pair of nines against Daniel Cook who finished as the runner up.  Cook, 53, who works in sales and resides in Parker, TX earned $277,128 as a consolation prize.

Ironically, two years ago in this same event, Gagliano came in seventh, which was his only other WSOP final table appearance.

This tourney attracted 1,045 entrants which created a prize pool in excess of $2.5 million.  The top 157 finishers collected prize money.

Aside from the winner, here’s a brief report of the other top finishers who made the final table:

Second Place:  Daniel Cooke, originally from Hartford, CT and now residing in Parker, TX came in second.  He fought back from a deep deficit and made things interesting, before losing on the final hand with K-Q versus A-9.  Cooke cashed for $277,128 in what was only the second time he’s finished in-the-money in a series event.  He also cashed in last year’s “Millionaire Maker.”

Third Place:  Shankar Pillai,, from Commack, NY rode a roller coaster at the final table, before busting out in third place.  He was aiming for what could have been a second gold bracelet victory, nine years after winning a WSOP event back in 2007.  Pillai received $196,119 as his payout.

Fourth Place:  Remy Castaignon, from Sait Aunix-Langros, France made quite an impact in what was his first time ever to cash in a WSOP tournament.  Castaignon was ranked second in chips for a while but then took a tough beat in the end and came in fourth place in his series debut.  However, he has previously won a European Poker Tour event.  Castaignon collected $140,596. 

Fifth Place:  Zu Zhou, cashed for the fourth time as the WSOP and posted his first six-figure payout by coming in fifth place.  He collected $102,120 in prize money.

Sixth Place:  Niall Farrell, from Lugar Agrshin, UK finished in sixth place.  This marked his 25th time to cash at the WSOP.  Farrell came close to winning a gold bracelet three years ago, coming in second in a $3K NLHE event.  This was his second occasion to go deep and make a final table.  His payout was $75,164.

Seventh Place:  Michael Laake, from Punta Gorda, FL is a former poker dealer who now plays full time.  He’s cashed several times at the WSOP and on the WSOP circuit.  This was his highest finish at the annual summer classic, which paid $56,073.

Eighth Place:  Darryll Fish, from Las Vegas, NV is one of the better-known poker pros acknowledged as one of the best player yet to win a gold bracelet.  He has now cashed 30 times in WSOP events.  Fish now has two eighth-place finishes at this year’s series, after coming the same position in the $565 buy-in PLO event, which drew 2,483 players.  Fish crossed the $600,000 mark in WSOP earnings by adding $42,405 to his poker bankroll.

Ninth Place:  Gavin O’Rourke, from Portlaoise, Ireland now has ten WSOP cashes, all accumulated since his debut in-the-money finish two years ago.  This was his second time to make a final table, after coming in fifth in an event in 2014.  Ninth place paid $32,514.

This was the 25th official event on this year’s schedule.  This leaves 44 gold bracelet events still to be played.

06/19/16 01:45:28 AM PDT

Michael Gagliano - Winner Event #25 - $448,463

Michael Gagliano raises to 320,000 and Daniel Cooke moves all in for 3,715,000; Gagliano calls.


The     flop gives Gagliano top pair and keeps him in front. The   on the turn leaves Cooke needing a king or queen on the river in order to stay alive.

The river instead is the   and Gagliano wins the pot and the tournament. Gagliano final tabled this same tournament in 2012, taking seventh place, but would not be defied the bracelet the second time around. He collect the hardware, the title, and a payday of $448,463, while Cooke finishes as the runner-up, collecting $277,128 for his efforts.

Runner-up Daniel Cooke $277,128

06/19/16 01:35:59 AM PDT
Daniel Cooke raises to 325,000. Michael Gagliano makes it 900,000 and Cooke folds.
06/19/16 01:35:17 AM PDT

Michael Gagliano calls and Daniel Cooke folds.

Flop comes     and Cooke checks. Gagliano bets 150,000 and Cooke folds.

06/19/16 01:34:10 AM PDT
Daniel Cooke raises to 400,000 and Michael Gagliano folds.
06/19/16 01:33:45 AM PDT

Michael Gagliano raises to 320,000 on the button, and Daniel Cooke calls.

The flop is    . Cooke checks, and Gagliano bets 310,000. Cooke instantly check-raises to 900,000. Gagliano calls.

The turn is the  . Cooke checks. Gagliano bets 600,000. Cooke folds.

Michael Gagliano - 9,000,000 (56 bb)
Daniel Cooke - 4,000,000 (25 bb)

06/19/16 01:31:37 AM PDT
Michael Gagliano gets a walk.
06/19/16 01:31:18 AM PDT

Michael Gagliano raises to 320,000 on the button, and Daniel Cooke calls.

The flop is    . Both players check.

The turn is the  . Cooke bets 400,000 and Gagliano folds.

06/19/16 01:29:14 AM PDT

Daniel Cooke limps in, and Michael Gagliano checks his option in the big blind.

The flop is    . Both players check to the turn.

The turn is the  . Both players check again.

The river is the  . Gagliano checks, and Cooke bets 300,000. Gagliano folds.

06/19/16 01:29:07 AM PDT

Michael Gagliano makes it 320,000 and Daniel Cooke moves all in. Gagliano folds.

Daniel Cooke - 4,800,000 (30 bb)
Michael Gagliano - 8,200,000 (51 bb)

06/19/16 01:28:21 AM PDT
Daniel Cooke calls from the small blind and Michael Gagliano makes it 460,000. Cooke moves all in and Gagliano folds.
06/19/16 01:26:40 AM PDT

Michael Gagliano calls from the small blind and Daniel Cooke checks.

Both players check a flop of    .

The turn is the   and again both players check.

The river is the   and Cooke checks. Gagliano bets 300,000 and Cooke folds.

06/19/16 01:23:47 AM PDT
Michael Gagliano gets a walk.
06/19/16 01:22:52 AM PDT

Michael Gagliano calls from the small blind and Daniel Cooke checks.

Both players check a flop of    .

The turn is the  . Cooke bets 300,000 and Gagliano calls.

Both players check the   on the river. Cooke shows    to win the pot with a pair of sevens.

06/19/16 01:21:45 AM PDT

Daniel Cooke raises to 380,000 from the button and Michael Gagliano calls from the blinds. 

The flop comes     and Gagliano checks. Cooke bets 800,000 and Gagliano calls.

The turn brings the   and both players check. 

The   drops on the river and Gagliano reaches for his chips and slides out 1,700,000. Cooke folds instantly and Gagliano takes the pot.

06/19/16 01:19:58 AM PDT
Michael Gagliano raises to 320,000 from the button, Daniel Cooke folds, and Gagliano takes the pot.
06/19/16 01:19:22 AM PDT

Daniel Cooke

Daniel Cooke moves all in for 2,610,000 from the button and Michael Gagliano calls. 


Cooke is at risk again until the board runs out       giving him a flush on the turn and the winning hand. 

Daniel Cook - 5,620,000 (35 bb)
Michael Gagliano - 8,000,000 (50 bb)

06/19/16 01:17:28 AM PDT

Michael Gagliano raises to 320,000 from the button and Daniel Cooke calls. 

The flop comes     and Cooke announces all in totalling 2,100,000. Gagliano folds. 

06/19/16 01:16:18 AM PDT
Daniel Cooke folds from the button giving Michael Gagliano the pot. 
06/19/16 01:15:37 AM PDT

Michael Gagliano moves all in from the button and Daniel Cooke calls for his tournament life. 


The board runs out      , improving Cooke to a flush as he takes down the pot. 

Daniel Cooke - 2,420,000 (15 bb)
Michael Gagliano - 10,640,000 (66 bb)