BIG NAMES, BIG PLAYS
WSOP underway with some famous names chalking up wins
By Sean Chaffin
Las Vegas is the center of the poker world throughout the summer with the World Series of Poker running May 30-July 18, with 95 tournaments at the Horseshoe and Paris casinos. With the bracelet chasing now underway, players from around the world have made their way to Sin City in hopes of grabbing their own glory.
As the action played out in May and June, a few big names were already making some waves in the series. That has included three former WSOP players of the year, a well-regarded pro and commentator, one player who has already bagged two bracelets in both the high and low buy-in versions of the same tournament, and several other interesting players. Here’s a look at some of those who have taken the winner’s circle in the series’ ﬁrst half.
Chad Eveslage – Dealer’s Choice Domination
Winning two bracelets in one series is diﬃcult enough, but Eveslage has a real knack for the Dealer’s Choice events and cashed in on both of them. He won the $1,500 version ﬁrst for $131,879 and then chalked up another victory in the $10,000 version just a few days later for $311,428. Eveslage now has three bracelets after winning the $25,000 High Roller last year for $1.4 million.
If that weren’t enough, Eveslage ﬁnished 2022 as the World Poker Tour Player of the Year after winning two titles. He now has a shot at the WSOP player of the year title as well if he can keep this big run going. A big fan not just of the mixed game play in the Dealer’s Choice events, Eveslage also enjoys the vibes at the table.
“The mixed atmosphere is much, much more laid back,” he told WSOP.com after the ﬁrst win. “We were joking around heads up.”
Ben Lamb – Once Again Finding Gold
After reaching the ﬁnal table in the Main Event and winning a bracelet in 2011, Lamb earned WSOP player of the year honors. After numerous close calls since then, including a runner-up ﬁnish and a third place in 2022, Lamb added bracelet No. 2 this year. He took down the $10,000 Omaha Hi- Lo Championship for $492,795. The native Oklahoman now has more than $9 million in WSOP winnings as well as numerous other wins and big ﬁnishes in other events.
Isaac Haxton – The Massive Year Continues
This high-stakes grinder found another huge win again at the WSOP, cashing in on the $25,000 High Roller for a $1.7 million payday. Haxton was already coming oﬀ win and runner-up ﬁnishes at the European Poker Tour Monte Carlo in May for a total of more than $560,000. He also won two high-roller events at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in the Bahamas in February for more than $2.6 million, and alsob won an event in the U.S. Poker Open. Despite having almost $35 million in live tournament winnings, this was the ﬁrst bracelet win of his career.
“I’ve ﬁnished second and third many times for my biggest cashes, so it’s nice to ﬁnally win,” he said. “A 300-player ﬁeld for a $25K [tournament]? Yeah I guess it’s got to be up there with one of my biggest accomplishments.”
Josh Arieh – Back in Business
After a banner series in 2021 that saw Arieah earn WSOP player of the year honors with two wins, Arieh was back to his winning ways. He took down the $10,000 Limit Hold’em Championship for $316,226, and now has ﬁve WSOP bracelets and almost $11 million in live tournament winnings. This also marked the second Limit Hold’em bracelet of his career. The ﬁrst was also his ﬁrst WSOP cash in 1999, for $202,800. While he didn’t ﬁnd a win last year, Arieh had some nice results as well, including two third-place ﬁnishes for $1.3 million.
Nick Schulman – Winning On and Oﬀ the Mic
When not taking down major tournaments, Nick Schulman can be found in the broadcast booth for PokerGO as one of the best commentators in the game. He brings a quick wit and deep analysis to a broadcast, and that well-honed analysis certainly seems to carry over to the table as well. He scored a win in the $1,500 Seven Card Stud for $110,800. This marked the fourth bracelet of his career, tying him with players like Joe Cada, Adrian Mateos, Scott Seiver, Ben Yu, Anthony Zinno, Huck Seed, Michael Addamo, Mike Matusow and other greats.
Shaun Deeb – Battle Tested for Sixth Win
Yet another former WSOP player of the year running well this year, Deeb scored the win in a $1,500 Eight Game Mix event for $198,854. This marked the sixth bracelet of his career, tying him with players like Daniel Negreanu, Chris Ferguson, T.J. Cloutier, Brian Hastings, Layne Flack, Michael Mizrachi and others. The win came after Deeb won the WSOP Circuit Main Event at Turning Stone Casino in March for $275,916. He now has more than$12 million in live tournament winnings. The latest bracelet win came after Deeb joked with Josh Arieh just a few days earlier that he’d win bracelet No. 6 before him or retire. He didn’t have to wait long.
“Battling with your friends is so much fun,” he said. “The camaraderie—Josh and I are family men the rest of the year. So we come out here, we have fun, we bullshit, we see each other, we’re talking trash all the time in our group chat. When he won ﬁve, it deﬁnitely lit a ﬁre.”
Chris Brewer – Mega Payout for Bracelet No. 1
A quarter-million dollar buy-in is an event most people would never think of entering, but Chris Brewer was one of the 69 players willing to pony up that kind of cash for the $250,000 Super High Roller. That ﬁeld produced an enormous prize pool of $17.2 million. When the dust settled, Brewer grabbed his ﬁrst bracelet and herculean payout of $5.3 million.
“This win meant a lot to me, I was surprised how much,” Brewer noted on Twitter after the win. “I am still processing it all. At the end of the day most of the result is variance and me getting good cards, but I would be lying to say that I was not proud of my execution yesterday.”
Brewer should also be proud of the run he’s had throughout 2023. His record includes a win and runner-up ﬁnish in the Triton Poker Super High Roller Cyprus series in May for a total of more than $500,000. At the European Poker Tour Paris series in February, Brewer also grabbed two wins in €50,000 and €25,000 buy-in high roller events for $1.4 million.
David “ODB” Baker – On a Razz Roll
Razz oﬀers players a chance to show their lowball prowess and Baker proved to be up for the task. This is the third bracelet for this high-stakes regular who has a WPT title as well. Razz has been a particularly nice game for Baker, who now has ﬁnishes of ﬁrst, second, third and ﬁfth in this format at the WSOP. In the latest win, he came back from a short stack at the ﬁnal table for the victory. In a career dating back to 2004, Baker now has almost $7 million in live tournament winnings.
Sean Chaﬃn is a freelance writer and senior writer for Casino Player and Strictly Slots magazines. Follow him on Twitter @PokerTraditions or email him at seanchaﬃn@sbcglobal.net for story assignments.