Leave it to a guy writing a novel to script a fairy tale ending for himself in one of the biggest events in poker history.
 
Upstate New York native Jonathan Dimmig bested a record field size of 7,977 players in the second annual World Series of Poker Millionaire Maker event to collect a seven-figure payday amounting to $1,319,587 as well as a gold bracelet.  Prior to the win, Dimmig's biggest poker payday?  A WSOP Circuit cash worth just north of $11,000--less than 1/100th of the money he'll be taking back to Buffalo, New York.  In fact, he had never previously cashed here at the WSOP in Las Vegas before, making this quite a dramatic debut to make the money.
 
"My goal on the first day was just to make it through the day, " Dimmig said afterward.  "I'd played the Main Event here all the last three years and never even cashed in that.  So coming in, my goal was really to just get the money off my back and just cash -- that's really all I wanted to do."
 
Certainly, Dimmig did far more than just cash.  At a final table where it appeared to be anyone's game, the chip lead changed hands five times.  Dimmig prevailed as the unforeseen new champion, besting Jeff Coburn in a relatively short heads-up battle that capped off a nearly 12-hour final table.  It was actually local player Stephen Graner who started the day with the substantial chip lead, but he exited relatively early in sixth place.  Then, the elder statesman at the table, James Duke, held the big stack for a while, but exited in third place, leaving Dimmig and Coburn to play heads-up for the bracelet.
 
"It's not my style to sit back and wait and let others bust out so I can move a notch up the pay ladder," Dimmig explained.  "I noticed some of the guys were just trying to get up the money ladder, and I don't think like that.  This is a life-changing event.  I don't want to look back in 30 years and say 'what if?'  This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and you got to go for it."

Dimmig, who is a lifelong hockey player and aspiring novelist, is now poker's newest star and millionaire, collecting the first seven-figure payday of the summer.  He was also pleased to make his family and friends back in Buffalo proud.
 
"I played hockey all my life and, as everyone knows, I'm from Buffalo," Dimmig said.  "The Sabres have never won a championship, the Bills have never won a championship, so I'm proud to bring a little piece of championship-ness to the city, because where I'm from is really a great city."

This year’s Millionaire Maker was the second-largest tournament in poker history with 7,977 entries, trailing only the 2006 WSOP Main Event, which drew 8,773 players over four starting days. This year’s Millionaire Maker managed to get almost 8,000 entries in over the course of two starting flights on a single day.  This tournament allowed for a single re-entry option if players busted the 11am flight and wished to enter the 5pm flight.  There were 1,751 players who elected to re-enter, meaning there were 6,226 individual participants in the event.

With such a gigantic field, there was also a gigantic prize pool of $10,768,950. Like last year, the natural payouts for the event resulted in a first place payday well above the guaranteed $1 million.  In 2012, Benny Chen earned $1,119,104 for his win in the first-ever Millionaire Maker, while this year’s champ pocketed over $200,000 more.  The top 12 finishers in this event each collected six-figures, while the top 99 places all collected at least $10,000.

Even in this massive field, there were some big names on the list of 819 people who made the money. Notables who cashed include Jake Cody (770th), Steve Gee (754th), Layne Flack (720th), Matt Glantz (525th), Andy Bloch (432nd), Shawn Buchanan (390th), Poker Hall of famer Mike Sexton (357th), Humbert Brenes (315th), Tony Gregg (227th), Dan O’Brien (183rd), Greg Mueller (138th), Athanasios Polychronopoulos (102nd), Matt Salsberg (81st), Dwyte Pilgrim (73rd), and Curt Kohlberg (29th).

Here are the final table results from the Millionaire Maker event:

1st: Jonathan Dimmig - $1,319,587
2nd: Jeff Coburn - $815,963
3rd: James Duke - $614,368
4th: Andrew Teng - $465,972
5th: Bradley Anderson - $355,913
6th: Stephen Graner - $273,854
7th: Jason Johnson - $211,394
8th: Andrew Dick - $164,118
9th: Maurice Hawkins - $128,150