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2023 54th Annual World Series of Poker The Official WSOP Live Updates

Tuesday, May 30, 2023 to Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Event #1: $500 Casino Employees No-Limit Hold'em

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  • Buy-in: $500
  • Prizepool: $426,300
  • Entries: 1,015
  • Remaining: 0


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Thursday, June 1, 2023 12:54 AM Local Time
Peter Thai Wins Casino Employees Event #1 ($75,535)

Peter Thai

The first tournament of the 2023 World Series of Poker has come to an end and the first gold bracelet of the series was held up high today by Peter Thai. Thai stood tall at the end of Event #1: $500 Casino Employees Event No-Limit Hold'em after he defeated James Urbanic ($46,690) in heads-up play.

A total of 1,015 entries turned out and generated a prize pool of $426,300.

Paul Blanchette finished in third, while Bruce Jiang was fourth and Day 1 chip leader Benson Tam bowed out in fifth place after a double elimination that propelled Thai to the top of the chip counts.

This was the third largest Casino Employees Event in the history of the WSOP and an excellent indicator that this summer will be one of the biggest yet.

Event #1: $500 Casino Employees Final Table Results

1Peter ThaiUnited States$75,535
2James UrbanicUnited States$46,690
3Paul BlanchetteUnited States$33,051
4Bruce JiangUnited States$23,738
5Benson TamUnited States$17,303
6Sean BalfourCanada$12,802
7Keith McCormackUnited States$9,617
8Joe PavanUnited States$7,337
9Lisa EcksteinUnited States$5,686

Winner's Reaction

"I never expected to win," Thai said in his post-win interview with PokerNews. "I came here just wanting to have fun and one thing led to another. It was an unforgettable experience.

Thai's path wasn't easy. He entered the table among the chip leaders, but he found a lot of adversity on his way to his gold bracelet.

"I went through a tough final table. I doubled up several people, and it was kind of ridiculous."

Home is in California, where Thai is a table games dealer at Parkwest Casino 580 in Livermore.

"I'm an avid poker player. I don't play that often, but I still know how to play. I play more cash games than tournaments. I have a lot of tournament experience, mostly from playing a lot of online sit and gos from my college days."

Thai is headed back to California after the big win, but he plans to return later in the WSOP to play more events.

"Overall, the experience is unbelievable and I can't wait to share this with everyone back home."

Jesse Fullen
PokerNews' Jesse Fullen

Day 2 Highlights

Other notables who made Day 2 of this event included PokerNews' own Chad Holloway and Jesse Fullen, who both fell short of the final two tables but logged their first cash in the series, nonetheless.

Thai started Day 2 with 391,000 chips, enough for 19th place, but he battled his way through the field and got his hands on all 23,000,000 chips in play. His reward for achieving that goal? A coveted gold WSOP bracelet and the top prize of $75,535.

Lisa Eckstein was the first casualty of the final table, bowing out in ninth place after Tam put her at risk with his queen-jack and caught up to her pocket tens. Joe Pavan hit the rail next after he got it in with pocket sixes and lost when Jiang rivered a set of fours.

Seven-handed play went on for some time as the action tightened up, but eventually, it was Keith McCormack who was out in seventh when his ace-queen couldn't beat Jiang's pocket fives. Sean Balfour was next in sixth after Blanchette beat his ace-six with pocket tens.

The slow pace of the final table evaporated quickly in the endgame with the double-knockout of Tam and Jiang. Tam shoved with a suited jack-nine, but Jiang had pocket queens, and Thai had pocket kings. Thai held on to knock both players out and send the tournament to three-handed play.

Blanchette was out quickly in third when his suited eight-nine couldn't beat Thai's flopped pair of kings. Urbanic was the last obstacle for Thai, and the big moment came when Thai held on with king-ten to beat a short-stacked shove with queen-seven.

That wraps up coverage of the opening event of the 2023 WSOP, but be sure to keep it tuned to PokerNews for live updates from the floor of your favorite events throughout the summer.

Wednesday, May 31, 2023 11:47 PM Local Time
Peter Thai Wins Event #1: $500 Casino Employees Event ($75,535)

Peter Thai

Keep an eye out for a full tournament recap coming shortly. Congratulations to the first bracelet of 2023, Peter Thai.

Wednesday, May 31, 2023 11:41 PM Local Time
James Urbanic Eliminated in 2nd Place ($46,690)

James Urbanic

James Urbanic went all-in with the few chips he had left and Peter Thai quickly called.

James Urbanic:   
Peter Thai:   

Urbanic's rail cheered, rooting for him to hit the cards he needed. It would be an uphill battle, as the flop came    . The turn was the  , giving Urbanic two outs to pull ahead. The   fell on the river, officially making it Urbanic's last pot in the 2023 WSOP $500 Employees Event #1.

Both players congratulated each other and admitted it was an experience of a lifetime.

Peter Thai23,000,0002,500,000
James Urbanic0-2,500,000
Wednesday, May 31, 2023 11:28 PM Local Time
Paul Blanchette Eliminated in 3rd Place ($33,051)

Paul Blanchette

Peter Thai went all-in from the small blind and Paul Blanchette put his remaining chips in to call, cards were quickly on their backs.

Paul Blanchette:   
Peter Thai:   

After a whirlwind of bust-outs, Peter Thai had 80% of the chips in play. A King in the window and four bricks left Paul Blanchette eliminated in third place for $33,051. Blanchette remained jovial, as he had the time of his life and was thrilled to have made the podium considering how long play lasted seven-handed.

Peter Thai20,500,0003,700,000
Paul Blanchette0-4,300,000
Wednesday, May 31, 2023 11:01 PM Local Time
Benson Tam Eliminated in 5th Place ($17,303); Bruce Jiang Eliminated in 4th Place ($23,738)

Bruce Jiang

Benson Tam shoved 975,000 under the gun before Bruce Jiang to his immediate left shoved all in for 4,925,000. Urbanic asked for a count before deciding on a fold and Peter Thai snap-called behind putting both Tam and Jiang at risk.

Benson Tam:   
Bruce Jiang:   
Peter Thai:   

The board ran out       giving Thai a massive double knockout with Benson Tam finishing 5th for $17,303 and Bruce Jiang bowing out in 4th for $23,738, making Thai the massive chip leader going into three-handed play.

Peter Thai16,800,0007,000,000
Bruce Jiang0-6,200,000
Benson Tam0-4,500,000
Wednesday, May 31, 2023 10:50 PM Local Time
Sean Balfour Eliminated in 6th Place ($12,802)

Sean Balfour

Sean Balfour was all in preflop against Paul Blanchette. Balfour had been short the entirety of the final table and was at risk.

Sean Balfour:   
Paul Blanchette:   

The board ran out       and Blanchette added to his stack. Balfour was eliminated in 6th place and cashed for $12,802.

Paul Blanchette4,300,0002,100,000
Sean Balfour0-1,600,000
Wednesday, May 31, 2023 10:49 PM Local Time
Level 33 started
Level: 33
Blinds: 150,000/300,000
Ante: 300,000
Wednesday, May 31, 2023 10:32 PM Local Time
Players Are on a Break

The final six players are on a short 15-minute break.

Wednesday, May 31, 2023 10:27 PM Local Time
Keith McCormack Eliminated in 7th Place ($9,617)

Keith Mccormack

Action folded to Keith McCormack in the cutoff who shove for around 2,000,000. Bruce Jiang called from the button and Paul Blanchette quickly called off his remaining stack from the small blind, creating a three-way all in with two players at risk.

Paul Blanchette:   
Keith McCormack:   
Bruce Jiang:   

The board ran out       giving Blanchette two pair good for more than a triple up while Jiang's fives held for the side pot, eliminating Keith McCormack in 7th place for $9,617.

Bruce Jiang6,200,0002,360,000
Paul Blanchette2,200,000-600,000
Keith McCormack0-1,400,000
Wednesday, May 31, 2023 10:23 PM Local Time
PokerNews Staff 2023 WSOP Predictions – Will Ivey Play? Hellmuth vs. Negreanu?
Ivey, Hellmuth, and Negreanu
Ivey, Hellmuth, and Negreanu

Last year marked 11 years since PokerNews started publishing predictions ahead of the World Series of Poker (WSOP), and with three days to go they're back again ahead of the 2023 WSOP.

With the WSOP moving to its new home on the Las Vegas Strip at the Horseshoe and Paris, we asked nine members of the PokerNews team for their thoughts and predictions.

This year we spoke to Global Live Events Manager Shirley Ang, US Executive Editor and former WSOP bracelet winner Chad Holloway, Live Reporting Executive Matt Hansen, staff editors Matthew Pitt, Jon Sofen, Calum Grant and Connor Richards, and Community Manager Jesse Fullen.

Click Here for a Full List of PokerNews WSOP Predictions!

Wednesday, May 31, 2023 10:20 PM Local Time
Urbanic Falls to His Knees in Frustration

On a flop reading    , James Urbanic shoved on Peter Thai, putting him at risk. Thai tried to get a read on Urbanic and was unable to coax any words from him. Thai made the call after spending some time trying to put Urbanic on a hand.


Urbanic let his rail know he was a favorite and they erupted with cheers. The turn was the   and it seemed Urbanic would be eliminating a player and moving comfortably into the chiplead until the   slammed the river, causing Thai to erupt in celebration as he did a lap around the table. Meantime, Urbanic collapsed to his knees, holding his head.

After a moment Urbanic regained composure, paid the pot what it was due, and congratulated his opponent on a nice hand. This is the second time this final table that Urbanic got two-out on the river when he had a player at risk. Applauses from Urbanic's rail urged him to rally, as the dream of winning gold is still alive.

Thai now has a commanding chip lead.

Peter Thai9,800,0004,100,000
James Urbanic2,500,000-4,900,000
Wednesday, May 31, 2023 10:19 PM Local Time
Jiang Doubles Through Thai Again as Seven Still Remain

Peter Thai opened to 600,000 from the cutoff before seeing Bruce Jiang shove his remaining 1,670,000 into the pot from the big blind. Thai decided his price was good enough to try and knockout Jiang again as he slid the call forward and cards were turned on their backs.

Bruce Jiang:   
Peter Thai:   

The board ran out       and Thai failed to bust Jiang again as seven still remain.

Peter Thai5,700,0000
Bruce Jiang3,840,0001,840,000
Wednesday, May 31, 2023 10:06 PM Local Time
Seven Handed Play Continues - Updated Chip Counts
James Urbanic7,400,000-300,000
Peter Thai5,700,0001,700,000
Benson Tam4,500,0002,500,000
Paul Blanchette2,800,000900,000
Bruce Jiang2,000,000-2,300,000
Sean Balfour1,600,000-900,000
Keith McCormack1,400,000-1,900,000
Wednesday, May 31, 2023 9:50 PM Local Time
Level 32 started
Level: 32
Blinds: 125,000/250,000
Ante: 250,000
Wednesday, May 31, 2023 9:47 PM Local Time
Urbanic Fades the World for a Full Double

James Urbanic opened to 400,000 from under the gun and Bruce Jiang called from the big blind to see a flop of    .

Jiang checked the action to Urbanic who bet out 375,000. Jiang counted out raising chips and slid out a check-raise worth 1,100,000 into the pot, putting Urbanic to a decision. After a brief moment, Urbanic announced all in for 3,485,000 total and Jiang thought about it while counting out calling chips before eventually making the call and putting Urbanic at risk.

James Urbanic:   
Bruce Jiang:   

The turn came the   giving a set to Urbanic but providing a lot of additional outs to Jiang. The   river was safe for Urbanic who doubled up back into the chip lead.

James Urbanic7,700,000700,000
Bruce Jiang4,300,000-2,500,000
Wednesday, May 31, 2023 9:35 PM Local Time
Jiang Has It All The Way

Benson Tam raised in middle position and Bruce Jiang made the call. Both players saw the flop of    . Tam bet again. Jiang just called and the   landed on the turn. Benson bet 1,075,000 on the turn and this time Jiang went all-in for his remaining chips. Benson unenthusiastically made the call.

Bruce Jiang:   
Benson Tam:   

Tam needed to catch a seven or a five that wasn't a spade to pull ahead but the river was a brick and a massive pot was pushed to Jiang, who earlier this final table only had 375,000 left in chips.

Bruce Jiang6,800,0003,050,000
Benson Tam2,000,000-2,700,000
Wednesday, May 31, 2023 9:12 PM Local Time
Joe Pavan Eliminated in 8th Place ($7,337)

Joe Pavan

Bruce Jiang opened to 450,000 from middle position before action folded to Joe Pavan in the small blind who slid his remaining stack of 960,000 into the middle. Jiang called and both players turned their cards on their backs.

Joe Pavan:   
Bruce Jiang:   

The     flop kept Pavan firmly in the lead as did the   turn. As a sizable dog, Jiang needed to find another set on the river to whittle the final table down to seven and he did exactly that, spiking the   and making a set on the river for the second time at tonight's final table.

The table let out a collective gasp as Pavan was eliminated in 8th place for $7,337.

Bruce Jiang3,750,000350,000
Joe Pavan0-1,800,000
Wednesday, May 31, 2023 9:10 PM Local Time
Level 31 started
Level: 31
Blinds: 100,000/200,000
Ante: 200,000
Wednesday, May 31, 2023 9:00 PM Local Time
Jiang Loosens Up The Table

Short-stacked Bruce Jiang went all-in from late position for 720,000. It folded to Peter Thai in the big blind and after looking at the dead money in the middle for a while he asked, "Do I have to double you again?", and made the call.

Bruce Jiang:   
Peter Thai:   

Thai was happy to have two live cards, but ultimately whiffed the board as it ran out      .

As Jiang finished neatly stacking his chips, he took the moment to introduce himself to the table as a dealer at the Aria. The table then went around and said not only the career that brought them here but also where they travelled from. Unsurprisingly, there were several dealers and representatives from all over the world.

James Urbanic chimed in, "I'm still going to try to take your chips!" to which the table laughed and agreed.

Only a few hands later, Jiang went all-in in a three-way pot and show    as a bluff.

Peter Thai4,000,000-1,400,000
Bruce Jiang3,400,0002,330,000
Wednesday, May 31, 2023 8:40 PM Local Time
Jiang Catches Runners to Double

Bruce Jiang

Action folded to Bruce Jiang in the cutoff who slid his last 375,000 into the middle. Peter Thai called in the small blind.

Bruce Jiang:   
Peter Thai:   

The flop came    , giving Thai top pair and putting one foot out the door for Jiang. The   turn gave Jiang an open-ended straight draw and the   river completed the runner-runner nut straight for Jiang who survives another all in to double to 1,070,000.

Peter Thai5,400,00025,000
Bruce Jiang1,070,000570,000