The Week That Was In Poker, December 5 To December 11, 2021

Weekly Poker Update Dec 13, 2021 with WSOP Europe Logo on Right

When the World Series of Poker’s American edition wrapped up a few weeks ago, enthusiasts of the game of poker might have taken a deep breath to relax for a bit. But the action hadn’t really stopped at that point. It just changed location, as the World Series of Poker Europe then stepped up into the void with its own series of events.

Like the American edition, the European version of the WSOP had largely been sidelined, at least in terms of a live event, in 2020. As was the case on this side of the pond, the WSOP staged an online event in the summer for international players. There was then a combination online/live version of the Main Event held at the end of the year.

But this year, it was back to the felt, with the action going down at the King’s Resort in Rozvadov, Czech Republic for the past few weeks. As we saw with the American version, the enthusiasm among players for the return to live play was palpable. And the whole thing wrapped up this week with the Main Event.

Main Event Excitement

Coming into this year, the previous high for most entries in the European version of the WSOP Main Event came ten years ago. 593 people entered that year. But this year, the number of entrants for the Main Event went rocketing past that to set a new mark of 688, nearly 100 runners more than the previous standard.

That’s no small thing, in part because you have to make a substantial financial commitment to play in the Main Event. Each player wanting to participate had to pony up €10,350 for the Hold’em event. It put the total prize pool at a whopping €6.536 million, which, translated to US currency, comes to over $7.3 million.

Considering the guarantee for the event was €5 million, you can see that event organizers had to be pleased. The increased popularity of the event meant increased payback for the players that did the best in the tournament, which began on December 3 and wrapped up after five days of action this past Tuesday. As for the winner, they were looking at a payoff of over €1.2 million.

The Battle For The Title

Coming into the final day of play, there were only seven players remaining at the final table. And things looked pretty good for Joseph Gulas Jr., a 24-year-old playing in his home country. Gulas came into the day with a solid chip lead, but that didn’t last too long once the rollercoaster play began on the final day.

Johan Guilbert

Johan Guilbert, perhaps the most accomplished player out of the top seven, quickly starting making short work of the final players remaining. He knocked the tournament’s fifth and third-place finishers en route to making the final two. Guilbert also won several big pots along the way to bolster his chip position.

Gulas also stuck around near the top of the leaderboard with a couple knockouts. But Guilbert took a big hand off him that seemed to change the momentum of the entire match. When Guilbert sent Alexander Tkatschew to the rails in third place, he held a pretty sizable (over 2 to 1) advantage on the previous leader.

Heads Up Play

To Gulas credit, he didn’t flinch at being suddenly behind the eight ball. He just waited for his chance to score the kind of pot that would turn things around. That finally occurred when he managed a two pair hand on the flop, with Guilbert betting until the turn with top pair before deciding to pack the hand in.

Even though Guilbert didn’t go all-in on that crucial hand, it did enough damage that he fell behind by about two to one at that point. That lead soon ballooned the point where Guilbert was barely hanging on by a thread. The final hand was decided, fittingly, with the river card, as Gulas made a pair of eights in the nick of time to knock off the deuces that Guilbert had been dealt and had held up till then.

With that, Gulas took home his first ever World Series of Poker bracelet in the biggest event of them all on the continent. It concluded WSOP play for 2021, which couldn’t be considered anything but a ringing success. It should be fascinating to see what happens next year when the action revs up once again.

High Stakes Poker Lineup News

Good news for fans of High Stakes Poker, the venerable franchise featuring some of the best players in the world battling it out in cash game-style formats that made a streaming return last year. The ninth season of the show has already begun taping, and it looks as if the talent appearing just might be the best yet.

Daniel Negreanu at a Poker Table

Thanks to a tweeted picture by , fans were able to see a typical lineup for a sample show. In the picture, Negreanu was flanked by Tom Dwan, Phil Ivey, and Jennifer Tilly, among others. Other social media posts have hinted at appearances by Bryn Kenney and Doyle Brunson.

Longtime High Stakes Poker hosts AJ Benza and Gabe Kaplan will be back in the fold. Negreanu also noted in a response on Twitter that the action will be edited down to the best hands, as was the case with the classic High Stakes Poker show, as opposed to just a long live stream. Be on the lookout for more news on this once the new season gets an official start date.

Bonomo Keeps Rolling

Last week in this column, we mentioned how Justin Bonomo had regained the lead from Bryn Kenney in terms of poker’s all-time tournament money earner. He did so with a victory in one of the first tourneys in the Five Diamond World Poker Classic. Well, Bonomo was at it again this week and adding to his lead.

In the fifth event of the Five Diamond, Bonomo ponied up $10,500 for a buyin with 31 other players. And he once again came out on top, winning $128,000 for his trouble. He finished off the action by eliminating Dan Shak for the title.

When he took over the lead last week from Kenney, the margin was still on the thin side. But this big score could give him a little bit of breathing room. And it could mean that Bonomo will be able to hold on the honor of poker’s richest tournament player for a longer stretch than might have been expected.

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