Barcelona's Soriano tops 3,759-entry field for WSOP-best $371,203 cash

25 June 2019 (Las Vegas) – Spain's Santiago Soriano has taken down Event #53 of the 2019 World Series of Poker, $800 No-Limit Hold'em Deepstack 8-Handed.

The 31-year-old Soriano, a poker pro currently living in the United Kingdom, wrapped up his first bracelet victory and a $371,203 payout – over seven times his previous lietime WSOP winnings – by cracking the pocket aces of prior bracelet winner Amir Levahot in the event's final hand.

The big win in this deepstack event, which drew 3,759 entries, moved Soriano's lifetime WSOP winnings to more than $427,000.

Israel-born and current Florida resident Amir Levahot was denied his own second bracelet win by Santiago. Levahot, famous in poker circles for his third-place, $3.73 million run in the 2013 WSOP Main Event, still collected a solid $229,410, second-place cash.

Canada's Ben Underwood finished third in this event to collect $168,960. In one of the signature achievements to date in this summer's WSOP, it's the third final table Underwood has reached in a Deepstack bracelet event, joining his fourth-place finish in Event #9 and fifth-place finish in Event #37. In chronological order, these events have drawn 6,150, 2,808, and 3,759 entrants, respectively, underscoring Underwood's achievements.

Ohio's Nick Blackburn made a deep run, finishing fourth for $125,432. Fifth position went to Vila Velma, Brazil's Joao Barossovalli, who pocketed $93,866.

Soriano was able to play from the front for most of the day's action. He began Day 3 with the lead among the final ten players, then extended that lead further when play was paused with five remaining to allow the conclusion to be live-streamed. Still, the win didn't come easy, as Underwood and Levahot took turns in the lead before Soriano's closing rush.

Soriano tried to apply pressure on the most vulnerable stacks early on, though that didn't necessarily mean the shortest stacks. With the pay bumps increasing, Soriano instead attacked the stacks of players who were most likely to accept backing up the pay ladder as others bust. That let him pad his lead while others faltered.

It didn't hurt that he ran well, either. “I flopped a straight to bust one guy, and it all went really, really well; I never lost an all-in.” And, in the event's final hand, that held true in a major way.

Cracked aces are a poker mainstay, but it's a relative rarity to see an event end in such a matter. Soriano had taken a narrow lead on Levahot in their heads-up duel, and the last hand began with Soriano raising to five million from the button, and Levahot calling. The flop was    ; Levahot checked, Soriano bet seven million, Levahot check-raised to 17 million, Soriano moved all in, and Levahot called.

Soriano had    for top pair, but Levahot had slow-played his    and appeared set to claim nearly all of Soriano's chips – until the   arrived on the turn to a round of “Ooooooh”'s from the rail. A   river finished up the hand and sealed Soriano's bracelet win.

“It was surprising he had that big of a hand,” said Soriano. “I flopped top pair, and heads-up, top pair is very, very good. Then I bet pretty big and he raises, and I bet all-in and he has the aces. It was unfortunate for him that the ten was in there on the turn, but it was really amazing.

Soriano is a 31-year-old poker pro who plays both live and online, and he's relocated from his native Barcelona to live in Manchester, England, to be able to play on major global online sites. He's also made several trips to Las Vegas and the WSOP in recent years, though he'd only cashed once this year at the Rio, and that came back in late May.

As for the big payday, well, that's just going to fund the growing poker bankroll. And he'll be here for the rest of the series, including next month's Main Event. He might “chill and take some vacation” after that, but playing more events is in the cards as well.

Event #53's Day 3 finale began with ten players still in the chase, led by Spain's Soriano with a 23.8 million chip stack. A flurry of eliminations marked the first hour of play, with Brazil's Gustavo Hess (tenth, $31,933) and Los Angeles's Jeff Tahler (ninth, $31,933) busting to set this event's eight-player final.

Israel's Ori Hasson soon busted as well, earning $41,300 for his eighth-place run. Hasson and Brazil's Barossovalli engaged in a pre-flop raising war that left Hasson all in and Barossovalli nearly so, but Barossovalli's    led Hasson's    and nothing changed on a         runout.

Daniele D'Angelo, of Memmingen, Germany, busted soon after Hasson to end up with a 53,858 seventh-place payday. D'Angelo and Soriano got the chips in before the flop, and Soriano picked up this knockout after his    held up against D'Angelo's    on an         board.

Canada's Samuel Gagnon departed to a sixth-place payout ($70,813) not much later. Soriano picked up this knockout as well, cracking Gagnon's    with    in what would foreshadow the event's final hand. Here, the     flop all but locked the hand for Soriano, and a     completion sealed it.

Barossovalli busted in fifth for $93,866 not long after the live-streamed evening session began. Barossovalli opened for half his stack, then was priced into calling off his remaning chips after a Levahot re-raise. Levahot'    led Barossovalli's   , and Levahot's jacks held up as the board brought        .

Four-way action stretched for some time as Underwood moved into the lead, and then he eliminated Ohio's Nick Blackburn to trim the final to three. Blackburn tried to check-raise steal a pot in which he'd caught bottom pair with his    on a     flop, but Underwood had    and quickly called. An   turn and   river brought an official end to Blackburn's run, which was worth $125,432.

Despite leading at this juncture, Underwood busted next. Levahot doubled through first to put a dent in Underwood's stack, and then he and Soriano took down several other small and mid-sized pots that pushed Underwood down to third. Underwood busted as the favorite, though, when he called a small-blind shove from Soriano. Underwood's    led Soriano's   , but Soriano paired on the     flop and Underwood couldn't complete his flush or find a higher pair. Instead, a   turn and   river sent him to the cashier for another big payday, while setting the stage for the event-ending collision between Soriano and Levahot.

Event #53, $10,000 Pot-Limit Omaha 8-Handed, drew 3,759 entries and offered a $2,676,408 prize pool. 564 players cashed, with a min-cash worth $1,187.

Among those also making the money in Event #53 were Caufman Talley (11th, $24,897), Damian Salas (13th, $19,576), Filippos Stavrakis (18th, $12,415), Matthew Zarcadoolas (20th, $10,215), Denis Timofeev (25th, $10,015), Robert Cheung (65th, $3,904), Phil Hellmuth (67th, $3,904), and Dutch Boyd (77th, $3,322).

Click here for Full Results.
Click here for live updates from Event #53.

Final-Table Payouts:

1st: Santiago Soriano, $371,203
2nd: Amir Levahot, $229,410
3rd: Ben Underwood, $168,960
4th: Nick Blackburn, $125,432
5th: Joao Barossovalli, $93,866
6th: Samuel Gagnon, $70,813
7th: Daniele D'Angelo, $53,858
8th: Ori Hasson, $41,300