LAS VEGAS (June 29, 2018) -- Diogo Veiga has won the 54th event at the 49th Annual World Series of Poker for his first career gold bracelet and the top prize of $522,715. Event #54 was a $3,000 No-Limit Hold'em tournament with the use of big blind antes. Veiga outlasted a 1,020-player field to earn the victory. He became Portugal’s third gold bracelet winner all-time and first to win a bracelet in Las Vegas. Jonathan Aguiar and Francisco da Costa Santos both won bracelets at the 2012 World Series of Poker Europe in Cannes, France representing Portugal.
“I feel amazing. I cannot believe it yet. The adrenaline is still too high,” said Veiga about his win. “I am super happy.”
Heads up play was a battle of WSOP veteran versus WSOP rookie. Runner-up finisher Barry Hutter had 35 WSOP career cashes and nearly $1 million in WSOP tournament earnings dating back to 2010 entering this event opposed to Veiga who was making his first career cash at the World Series of Poker. Veiga did have one WSOP results on his resume prior to this event and that was a 16th place finish at the Casino Estoril stop in Estoril, Portugal on the WSOP International Circuit in 2017. Despite being new to the World Series of Poker, Veiga is far from being a rookie poker player. Veiga is fifth on the Portugal all-time money list with more than $1.4 million in tournament earnings including a €450,000 score this April in Barcelona.
Veiga had a strong and loud rail behind him for the entirety of Day 4. Cheering and chanting would echo through the Brasilia every time a pot was pushed in the direction of Veiga. When heads up play began, the rail hung the Portuguese flag over the railing in support of their fellow countrymen.
“The atmosphere was amazing. Today the Portuguese won. They are a big part of my win,” said Veiga about his rail. “The last hand is on them, the other ones are on me.”
The originally scheduled three-day tournament needed a fourth day to complete. Day 4 was an international affair with all four remaining players representing different countries – Veiga representing Portugal, runner-up finisher Hutter representing the United States of America, third place finisher Radoslav Stoyanov representing Bulgaria and fourth place finisher Jonathan Abdellatif was from Belgium.
Thirty-one players returned for Day 3 action in this event featuring the new big-blind-ante format, a recent innovation designed to speed up the pace of play at the tables. Belgium's Abdellatif started the day with a huge lead, his 2.715 million in chips nearly three times that of his closest competitor, Hutter, at 953,000.
Roughly half of Day 3's planned ten levels elapsed as the field was whittled to ten, with that unofficial final table set after two-time bracelet winner Kristen Bicknell's elimination in 11th place. The official nine-player final was set soon after when prior Circuit ring winner Ryan Hall exited in tenth; Hall and Bicknell each earned $29,284 for bubbling the final table.
Hinsdale, Illinois’ Todd Ivens stay at the official final lasted only a dozen hands. Ivens, Abdellatif, and Stoyanov saw a flop. Abdellatif was the pre-flop raiser, and he bet again, for 75,000. Ivens called while Stoyanov folded. The turn was the ; Abdellatif bet 250,000, Ivens moved all in, and Abdellatif quickly called. Ivens had for two pair, but Abdellatif showed for the set. The river bricked and Ivens was off to collect $37,660 for ninth.
Out in eighth an hour later for a $49,126 payday was Ireland's Cathal Shine. Shine shoved all in for his last 975,000 with . Hutter had in the big blind and called Shine's jam, and the board ran out to end Shine's evening.
Anna Antimony busted next, finishing in seventh for $64,991. Antimony, a native of Russia now living in Fort Lee, New Jersey, doubled up once to avoid elimination but exited several hands later, when she moved all in for her last 770,000 with . Hutter picked up this knockout as well when he called Antimony's jam with . The flop moved Antimony ahead, but the turn gave Hutter the higher pair and the river changed nothing.
David Yan's run ended just 11 hands later. New Zealand's Yan was down to about 500,000, or ten big blinds, when he moved all in from the small blind with . Abdellatif called from the big blind with , and that held up as the board ran out . Yan's sixth-place finish was worth $87,179.
Five-way play action stretched over two hours before Fargo, North Dakota's Tom McCormick busted. McCormick went out in fifth place after four-betting all in for his last 1,775,000 with . Initial raiser Abdellatif folded, while re-raiser Veiga called for a little over a million more. Veiga was behind with but hit the flop, and the turn and river completed the knockout. McCormick's near-miss extended his string of Vegas WSOP cashes without a bracelet to 74, third on the all-time list. McCormick has still enjoyed a solid summer with seven cashes to date, including $118,552 here for fourth.
Day 3 hit its conclusion and the four remaining players bagged up. The tournament would need an extra day to finish.
Day 4 began at the Brasilia Featured Twitch Stage. Hutter started as the chip leader and Abdellatif was at the bottom of the counts. Abdellatif was not able to gain any traction on Day 4 and was the first eliminated. His Day 4 11 big blind starting stack had been reduced to just nine big blinds when he moved all-in from the small blind with after being folded to. Hutter called in the big blind with . The board ran out bringing no help to either player and Hutter’s queen-high would be good enough to earn the pot. Abdellatif earned $163,404 for his third place finish. Hutter’s chip lead increased and he had about half of the chips in play entering three-handed play.
The next elimination came at the hands of Hutter in similar situation to Abdellatif’s fourth place elimination. After Veiga folded the button, Stoyanov moved all-in from the small blind for 835,000, or just under seven big blinds, . Hutter called with . The community cards brought no help to either player and Hutter’s was good enough to earn him the pot and another elimination. Stoyanov’s third place finished earned him $228,241.
Hutter entered heads-up play with a 1.5:1 chip lead and quickly extended it to a 4.5:1 chip lead. Veiga held strong though and fought back not only to even it up with Hutter, but to take the chip lead for the first time in Day 4. Veiga never relinquished the chip lead after taking it.
The hand to end of the tournament saw Veiga limp the button, followed by a shove all-in by Hutter for 3.66 million, or 18 big blinds. Veiga double checked his cards, sat back in his chair, and called 20 seconds later. Both hands were tabled and Hutter was in good shape to double up. Veiga called with and was up against Hutter’s . The flop came  vaulting Veiga into the lead. The turn was the to provide Hutter with additional outs, but the river came the , securing the pot, the victory and the bracelet for Veiga.
Event #54, Big Blind Antes $3,000 No-Limit Hold'em, attracted 1,020 entrants and created a prize pool of $2,754,000. 888 players earned a payout, with a min-cash worth $1,500.
Among those cashing in Event #54 were Kevin Song (14th, $23,103), Pierre Neuville (42nd, $10,387), Scotty Nguyen (44th, $10,387), Steve Karp (46th, $8,838), Dutch Boyd (51st, $8,838), Anthony Spinella (53rd, $8,838), and Bertrand Grospellier (65th, $6,712).
Live updates from Event #54
Final Table Payouts (POY points in parentheses):
1st: Diogo Veiga, $522,715 (1,135.00)
2nd: Barry Hutter, $323,019 (567.50)
3rd: Radoslav Stoyanov, $228,241 (510.75)
4th: Jonathan Abdellatif, $163,404 (454.00)
5th: Tom McCormick, $118,552 (425.62)
6th: David Yan, $87,179 (397.25)
7th: Anna Antimony, $64,991 (340.50)
8th: Cathal Shine, $49,126 (312.12)
9th: Todd Ivens, $37,660 (283.75)