Online poker grinder collects $203,113 top prize in Event #57

Pot-Limit Omaha specialist dominates final table and wins well-deserved victory

Canadian Timothy Vukson finishes as runner up

Marco Johnson misses third WSOP win, finishes 3rd

Tony Cousineau cashes again – his 74th in-the-money finish without a gold bracelet


Name:  David Nowakowski
Birthplace:  Voorhees, NJ
Age:  28
Current Residence:   Voorhees, NJ / Panama City, Panama
Marital Status:  Single
Children:  None
Profession:  Professional Poker Player (online)
Number of WSOP Cashes:  3
Number of WSOP Final Table Appearances:  1
Number of WSOP Gold Bracelet Victories (with this tournament):  1
Best Previous WSOP Finish:  10th (2016)
Total WSOP Earnings:  $229,927
Personal Facts:  Was an elite online player who acquired “Super Nova” status


Winner’s Quote:

“I played for five years at the WSOP, but then decided to take two years off just to play online poker down in Panama.  I guess I picked the right time to come back.”


David Nowakowski is the newest member of poker’s gold bracelet club.

The 28-year-old poker grinder originally from Voorhees, NJ won the $1,500 buy-in Pot-Limit Omaha High-Low Split tournament, which was played over three days and nights at the Rio in Las Vegas. 

Nowakowski collected $203,113 in prize money, making this the biggest live win of his career.  However, the online player who has spent considerable time out of the United States to pursue his profession has made considerable profits and even acquired “Super Nova” status at one of the world’s largest online sites.

"I played rush Omaha online, but haven’t played a lot of PLO High-Low recently,” Nowakowski said.  “I definitely wanted to win this.  It’s a dream come true.  It’s still all a bit surreal to me.”
Nowakowski won his victory by coming out on top at a final table which included a mix of pros and semi-pros who were less accustomed to the pressures of playing for a WSOP title.  The moment of triumph came when Nowakowski was up against two tough adversaries – Timothy Vukson and Marco Johnson – who finished in second and third place respectively.  In fact, Nowakowski wiped out his last two challengers in just 15-minutes time, despite plenty of chips in play.  By that time the blinds had escalated to the point where a few hands could determine the final outcome, which is exactly what happened.

Nowakowski has been living in Panama lately, where he’s spent much of his time playing online poker.  However, Nowakowski has recently moved back to his native New Jersey.  He plans to return to college in the fall and study accounting. 

Despite the victory, Nowakowski knows the life of a professional poker player isn’t always easy.  He’s worked hard at his craft, but also realizes there are other things he wants to do with his life.  He dropped out of college seven years ago when the games were lucrative, but also admits he’s gotten burned out somewhat by playing so much.

“I just decided to move back to the U.S. recently,” Nowakowski said.  “I plan on returning back to school and finishing up my degree in the fall, so this win definitely helps.”

As for the future, Nowakowski was candid in his admission that poker might not figure in his future plans. 
“I don’t really like poker all that much,” he said while semi-jokingly.

This tourney attracted 732 entrants which created a prize pool totaling $988,200.  The top 110 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:  Timothy Yukson, from Ottawa, ON (Canada) made quite a showing in his first WSOP final table appearance.  After cashing deep in last year’s Colossus (30th place out of 22K entrants), he outmaneuvered another big field and took the runner up spot.  Yukson collected $125,507.

Third Place:  Marco Johnson, from Walnut Creek, CA was aiming for his second win at the ’16 series and third win overall, after winning his first WSOP title back in 2013.  Johnson, winner of the $3K HORSE tourney (Event #18) made another deep run and ended up in third place.  Johnson earned a well-deserved $87,192.

Fourth Place:  James Alexander, from San Antonio, TX came in fourth.  He’s now cashed six time at this year’s series, including three in-the-money finishes in the top-11.  Alexander, surely someone to watch in future events, received $61,519.

Fifth Place:  Kenneth Po, from Seven Hills, OH enjoyed his highest WSOP finish ever after coming in fifth place.  Po collected $44,094.  This was his fourth time in-the-money at the series.

Sixth Place:  Colin Gelker, an accountant from Bellingham, WA came in sixth place.  This was his second time to cash in a WSOP event.  He collected $32,114.

Seventh Place:  Stephen Johnson, from Eugene, OR cashed for the third time at the series with this deep run, which paid $23,772.

Eighth Place:   Martin Staszko, from Trinec, Czech Republic came in eighth place.  He is best known for finishing as runner up in the 2011 WSOP Main Event Championship.  Staszko now has 23 cashes at the series.  He added $17,890 to his career earnings, which now totals more than $5.5 million.

Ninth Place:  Matt Lefkowitz, from Carmel Valley, CA rounded out the final table as the ninth-place finisher.  He raked in $13,691 for what was his 31st time to finish in-the-money at the WSOP.  Lefkowitz now has seven final table appearance, but is still without a gold bracelet, despite nearly $600,000 in career earnings.

This was the 57th official event on this year’s schedule.  This leaves 12 gold bracelet events still to go at the 2016 WSOP.


Phil Laak, a gold bracelet winner (2010), finished in 39th place. 

Cliff Josephy, a two-time gold bracelet winner (2005, 2013), cashed in 42nd place.

Tony “TopCat” Cousineau cashed in 53rd place.  He now has 74 in-the-money finishes at the WSOP dating back to 1999.  That’s the most cashes by any player yet to win a gold bracelet.

Scott Clements, a two-time gold bracelet winner (2006, 2007), finished in 57th place.  This was his 50th time to cash at the series.

Allan Le, only days removed from his first WSOP gold bracelet victory in Event #53, cashed again, this time in 58th place.

David “ODB” Baker, a gold bracelet winner (2012), took 60th place, which was his 54th career cash at the series.

Other notables who cashed in this tournament included – Andre Akkari, Mike Matusow, Erik Seidel, David Sklansky, and Humberto Brenes.


The ages of participants ranged from 21 to 82.  The eldest player in the field was George Hardie.  The average age of participants was 41.

The breakdown of player nationalities for this event was 562 Americans and 170 players from elsewhere.  The top five nations represented were the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Russia, and France.

The breakdown of participants by gender was 96.1 percent males and 3.9 percent females.



For this event’s official final results (listing all players who finished in-the-money), please visit:

For David Nowakowski’s official player profile page, please visit:

For the live reporting logs for this event, please visit:

To access licensed images from this all other 2016 WSOP gold bracelet events, please visit: