Daniel Weinman wins record-breaking 2023 WSOP Main Event

18 July 2023

Daniel Weinman won the 2023 WSOP Main Event.

Daniel Weinman won the 2023 WSOP Main Event. (photo by WSOP)

After a much shorter than anticipated final day of the $10,000 WSOP Main Event World Championship at the 2023 World Series of Poker (WSOP), Georgia's Daniel Weinman walked away $12,100,000 richer after claiming the title of World poker champion.

The 35-year-old's victory in the record-breaking Main Event, which drew 10,043 players for a prize pool of $93,399,900, was nothing short of spectacular as he was two cards away from falling on Day 8 before hitting a two-outer in what will go down as one of the most pivotal suck-outs in poker history.

After 16 years of grinding the World Series and only cashing the Main Event once, Weinman had little hope of winning when he registered for the $10,000 buy-in Poker Championship after taking a break midway through the series.

"I was honestly on the fence about even coming back and playing this tournament," said Weinman to PokerNews and other media after the victory.

It took just 164 hands at the final table for Weinman to secure the victory, making for the shortest Main Event final table in recent memory. Day 10 was the quickest so far, clocking at under three hours after the elimination of Adam Walton in third place for $4,000,000 and a brief heads-up battle between Weinman and Steven Jones, a real estate investor from Arizona whose poker hobby now brings him $6,500,000.

Weinman, who was supported by an all-star rail that included a trio of six-time bracelet winners in Shaun Deeb, Josh Arieh and Jason Mercier, had the biggest grin in the entire Horseshoe Event Center as he reflected on winning the biggest WSOP Main Event in history, which beat out the record set in 2006 when Jamie Gold won $12,000,000.

"I've always kind of felt that poker was kind of going in a dying direction, but to see the numbers at the World Series this year has been incredible," said Weinman. "And to win this Main Event, it doesn't feel real. I mean, (there's) so much luck in a poker tournament. I thought I played very well, but so many hands that (I got) incredibly lucky for the situations to arise."

As the only bracelet winner among the three players who returned for Day 10, Weinman, who last year took down Event #30: $1,000 Pot-Limit Omaha 8-handed to win $255,359 and his maiden piece of WSOP gold, was confident heading into the final day that he could win it all.

Weinman earned that confidence after surviving a final table that included accomplished pros like Britain's Toby Lewis (7th - $1,425,000) and Germany's Jan-Peter Jachtmann (4th - $3,000,000), the only other bracelet winner among the final nine.

"Final tables can go so many different ways," said Weinman. "You need some cards to get chips, there were a lot of good players left with a lot more tournament experience than me. But when we got down to three, I did feel like I was the best player of the three. And a couple good hands at the right time; it all came together."

Though Weinman was already an accomplished player with several million in Hendon Mob earnings, he had never found success in poker's most prestigious event.

"Every year before this, I've been here from Event #1 to the last event," said Weinman. "And by the time the Main Event comes around, I'm burnt out ... I've said to many people, I don't like this tournament. The structure is too good, I'm kind of over it for the summer."

After 15 years of grinding a full schedule, Weinman chose to go home to Georgia to be with his girlfriend.

"I told my girlfriend Sarah how I was feeling and she said, 'Come home.' So, I did."

When he did return to Las Vegas and found himself deep in the tournament that had never shown him love, he had the support of a distinguished rail that made for a combined 18 bracelets (that number increased to 35 with a brief Phil Hellmuth cameo).

"I've been friends with these guys for so long," said Weinman. "Shaun and I met at a final table 11 years ago (and we've been) friendly ever since. Just two guys that like to have a lot of fun at the table. We played a lot of open-face Chinese together. That kind of brought Jason Mercier into the picture."

"Josh Arieh and I have been friends for 15 years, maybe even more, and playing poker in Atlanta. And just having some of the best in the world be on my side and have my back and tell me that I belong in this class of player, it's just incredible."

Speaking to a crowd of poker media after conquering the Main Event that had evaded him for more than a decade, Weinman, who turned to poker after graduating from Georgia Institute of Technology, couldn't help but feel like all his hard work had finally paid off.

"The Boom happened and I kind of had think inkling that I would play poker and give it a shot for a few years,” said Weinman. “And here we are 16 years later ... You just kind of feel like, maybe it's my time."

Day 10 was shaping up to be a long one as the three remaining players returned with an average of a hundred big blinds. Despite the deep stacks, the trio wasted no time exchanging chips. In one of the first hands of the day, Jones opened with ace-queen before calling a three-bet from Walton with ace-king. Walton continued on the jack-high flop and Jones opted to raise before a three-bet jam brought a snap-fold from the real estate investor.

It wouldn't be the last time Walton found himself all-in in the first hour of Day 10. In just the second hand after returning from break, Walton flatted in the small blind with eights before facing a squeeze from Weinman. After a fold from Jones, Walton opted to back-jam his stack of more than 80 big blinds, only to be met by a snap from a lucky opponent holding two red aces, the same color as the sea of "A&W" shirts that made up Walton's rail.

Despite flopping a few backdoor draws and turning a gutter, the Las Vegas-based pro and Day 8 chip leader couldn't improve to fall in third for $4,000,000 after a tumultuous final two days of play.

"I had folded a lot of buttons early on so I think they may have thought I was playing a little bit tighter," said Weinman about the pivotal hand. "It was the first hand I had really put a lot of chips in the pot and came in with the squeeze after the Steven open and the Adam flat. And I know that Adam likes to flat some big hands, so I ended up sizing up a little bit, kind of with the hopes that he would try to take advantage of all the dead money in there. And I don't know if it was me inducing him or him just deciding that it was too good of a hand to not go with, but it all ended up working out so well."

Weinman notably got to the final table by cracking the kings of fellow Georgian Joshua Payne and queens of Jose Aguilera in what he called "such a bittersweet hand because it was both the hand that propelled me to win this tournament, but also had to knock out and put a bad beat on a good friend from back home."

"And I could just see how much it hurt him,” said Weinman. “In the moment, so much excitement for me, but watching it back and just seeing the pain on his face ... it hurt me; not as much as it hurt him, but it was tough."

After an intermission where several briefcases filled with $50,000 bricks of cash, escorted in by a Hitman lookalike wielding a shotgun, were ungraciously dumped on the feature table before being stacked into a neat pyramid valued at $12,100,000, heads-up play commenced with Weinman having a formidable chip lead with over 200 big blinds still in play.

The remaining two players played a bit of small ball over the next level before a deep-stacked collision. In a single-raised pot, Jones, who sported a Chip Leader Coaching patch and was supported by Alex Foxen on the rail, continued on the jack-high flop before calling a check-raise from Weinman. Weinman continued on the turn, and Jones went in the tank for over four minutes before shipping it to put Weinman to the test. Weinman called before revealing king-jack to be a massive favorite against the inferior jack-eight of his opponent.

"When he went in the tank for what seemed like ten minutes, it felt like genuine uncertainty at this point," said Weinman. "I didn't think he was trapping with a set or some kind of turned Wheel, it really did feel like he had some middling pair or a weak jack and just couldn't decide 'Is this the time to go?' So, it seems kind of weird to play this final hand for a 120 big blind pot with just one pair, but I just kind of made my decision that when he took that long and jammed, that's about where he was at."

With a swarm of black shirts branded with wine glass emojis cheering him on, Weinman braced intensely as he awaited the consequential river card. An ace bricked off, and Weinman's rail erupted as their guy earned a meaningful place in poker history.

Weinman didn't have a climactic answer when asked what he plans to do with his historic winnings.

"I have no clue,” said Weinman. “Probably invest it. Probably not the best answer everybody wants to hear, but I'm fairly cautious with it away from the table. Even though I like to gamble pretty hard."

Weinman wasn't just supported by a group of former and future Poker Hall of Famers. After the historic victory, now 2023 Main Event champion posed with his parents and girlfriend with no signs of his contagious smile going away any time soon.

Final table results:
PLACE PLAYER COUNTRY PRIZE (IN USD)
1 Daniel Weinman United States $12,100,000
2 Steven Jones United States $6,500,000
3 Adam Walton United States $4,000,000
4 Jan-Peter Jachtmann Germany $3,000,000
5 Ruslan Prydryk Ukraine $2,400,000
6 Dean Hutchison Scotland $1,850,000
7 Toby Lewis England $1,425,000
8 Juan Maceiras Spain $1,125,000
9 Daniel Holzner Italy $900,000

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(Article courtesy of World Series of Poker)
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