Spanish poker pro collects $447,739 top prize in Event #23

Another big turnout at the 2016 WSOP as 1,419 pack latest competition

Bulgarian Viliyan Petleshkov finishes as runner up

Final table features five former WSOP gold bracelet winners, produces first-time champ



Name:  Cesar Garcia
Birthplace:  Canary Islands (Spanish Territory)
Age:  27
Current Residence:   Cardiff, Wales (UK)
Marital Status:  Single
Children:  None
Profession:  Poker Player
Number of WSOP Cashes:  4
Number of WSOP Final Table Appearances:  1
Number of WSOP Gold Bracelet Victories (with this tournament):  1
Best Previous WSOP Finish:  79th (2012)
Total WSOP Earnings:  $461,593
Personal Facts:  After college, moved to Wales to play poker online for a living

Winner Quote:

“For me, this is a dream.  It’s the most important thing you can do in the poker world.  I am really proud.  I love the series – the place, the people.  I am really happy to win.  It is like a dream come true for me.”

Cesar Garcia is the newest member of poker’s gold bracelet club.

The proud Spaniard originally from the Canary Islands won the $2,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament, which was played over four days and three nights and just concluded at the Rio in Las Vegas. 

Garcia, who was cheered on by an enthusiastic gallery of supporters, collected $447,739 in prize money, making this the biggest win of his career.

Garcia won his victory by coming out on top at a stacked final table which included five (out of nine) gold bracelet winners.  He had the chip lead when Day Three began and held the advantage most of the way.  When the last table was seated, the starting chip counts for the final ten were as follows:

1. Craig McCorkell -- 2,300,000
2. Thiago Nishijima -- 850,000
3. Kamel Mokhammad -- 560,000
4. Viliyan Petleshkov -- 1,100,000
5. Adrian Buckley -- 2,100,000
6. Cesar Garcia -- 3,000,000
7. Sam Chartier -- 600,000
8. Yuriy Boyko -- 1,350,000
9. Anthony Spinella -- 1,300,000
10. Craig Varnell -- 800,000

After several hours of play one of the biggest hands of the tournament took place when two players were eliminated in 3rd and 4th place on the same hand.  Viliyan Petleskov seized the chip lead when he topped Boyko’s pockets tens and Buckley’s king-queen with an ace-jack that flopped an ace.  That proved to be a decisive hand, although Garcia ultimately ended up as the victor.

The finale went into overtime, since the action couldn’t be completed within the three-day schedule.  When heads-up play began, Petleshkov held a slight chip lead over Garcia.  The two players battled back and forth until Garcia won the final hand while holding a 2 to 1 chip advantage.

As the runner up, Viliyan Petleshkov from Bulgaria collected a big payout.  He pocketed $276,660 in prize money.

As for the victor, Garcia is 27 years old.  He was born in the Canary Islands, which are located in the Atlantic Ocean.  They are under the protection of Spain, which is where Garcia’s family originated.  After growing up on the islands, Garcia attended a prestigious university in Madrid – which was the law school at Carlos III.  After graduation, he decided to move to Cardiff, Wales where he currently resides.  Garcia has been playing online poker for the last few years.  This was his second time to play at the WSOP.  Four years ago, he min-cashed a few times, but had never come close to a victory of this magnitude.

This tourney attracted yet another big field.  The number of entrants was 1,419 which created a prize pool totaling $2,554,000.  The top 213 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:  Viliyan Petleshkov, from Sofia, Bulgaria finished as the runner up.  This marked his fifth time to cash at the series in the last two years, and was also his second final table appearance.  Petleshkov received $276,660.

Third Place:  Yuriy Boyko, from Ireland finished as the third-place finisher.  He made the most of his first-ever WSOP in-the-money finish.  Boyko collected $198,185 in his first time to cash here at the Las Vegas summer classic.

Fourth Place:  Adrian Buckley, from Westminster, CO won his gold bracelet in last year’s “Millionaire Maker,” for which he won nearly $1.3 million.  He’s since cashed five more times, all this year at the series, including this fourth-place showing.  Buckley, added another $143,598 to his poker bankroll.

Fifth Place:  Kamel Mokhammad, from Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine ended up as the fifth-place finisher.  He busted out late on Day Three.  This marked only his second WSOP cash, both taking place this year.  Mokhammad earned $105,253 in prize money.

Sixth Place:  Craig McCorkell, from West Sussex, UK is a gold bracelet winner (2011 $3K buy-in NLHE Shootout) who was hoping for a second victory.  He fell short and had to settle for his 21st series cash, which paid $78,053.  McCorkell has now topped $1.1 million in WSOP earnings.  His first cash was back in 2010.

Seventh Place:  Craig Varnell, from Ft. Collins, CO is a former WSOP Circuit gold ring winner.  He cashed for the 12th time at the series with this second final table appearance.  Varnell pocketed $58,569.

Eighth Place:  Thiago Nishijima, from Sao Paulo, Brazil won a gold bracelet last year ($3K buy-in NLHE).  The former banker, now poker pro, posted his fourth final table appearance and 19th cash at the series.  With the $44,478 he earned for this deep run, Nishijima now has more than $1.1 million in career earnings, starting in 2009.

Ninth Place:  Anthony Spinella, from Las Vegas, NV is a gold bracelet winner.  He won the debut of the online poker WSOP gold bracelet event, held last year.  Spinella made his third final table at the series, and posted his 24th career cash, earning $34,188 in prize money for this nice run. 

This was the 23rd event on this year’s schedule.  This leaves 45 gold bracelet events still to go.


Matt Stout, a popular poker player and charity event organizer, cashed for the 40th time at the WSOP.  However, he has yet to win a gold bracelet.

Jeff Madsen, a four-time gold bracelet winner and former WSOP “Player of the Year,” finished in 29th place.

Blair Rodman, a gold bracelet winner and professional sports bettor, finished in 37th place.

Dutch Boyd, a three-time gold bracelet winner, finished in 45th place.

Other notables who cashed beyond the top 50 included – Aaron Steury, Ryan Welch, Andre Akkari, Richard Lee, and Ari Engel.


The ages of participants ranged from 21 to 79.  The average age of players was 38.  The eldest player in the field was Thomas Sheets.

The breakdown of player nationalities for this event was 1,037 Americans and 382 players from elsewhere.  The top five nations represented was the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Germany, and Russia.

The breakdown of participants by gender was 96.9 percent males and 3.1 percent females.



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

For Cesar Garcia’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: