The richest, most prestigious and longest-running poker series – the World Series of Poker (WSOP) just concluded it’s biggest tournament. Georgia poker‘s own Daniel Weinman won the 2023 WSOP Main Event World Championship and the massive $12.1 million jackpot awarded to the winner.
An Atlanta native, Weinman also takes home the coveted WSOP Main Event championship bracelet after topping a record-breaking field of 10,047 entries and players that competed in the 10-day event at the Paris and Horseshoe Hotel & Casinos on the Las Vegas Strip.
“It doesn’t feel real,” Weinman told reporters after winning the championship event. “It feels so incredible,” he added as his fans in attendance celebrated the victory with him.
Weinman wins a pair of massive WSOP pots
Weinman’s win didn’t come without some extreme good fortune. Some of it came at the expense of his good friend, Josh Payne, who busted out in 14th place for $430,200.
Daniel and Josh, a Berkeley Lake native, play poker together multiple times per week in Atlanta, Weinman told Play Georgia. Atlanta has legal poker clubs around the state where players can find games.
On Day 8 of the WSOP Main Event, just ahead of the the final table, Wienman and Payne got into a massive three-way pot with all three players holding big pocket pairs.
The chips all went in before the flop. Payne had KK, a second player held QQ, and Weinman’s JJ looked dominated. When a miraculous Jack hit the turn, Weinman’s elation became Payne’s agony and elimination.
“At the time, it was just so much emotion and so much adrenaline,” Weinman said of his pocket jacks and massive pot. “I had trouble for the next hour trying to regain my composure.”
“One one hand, I’m thrilled to hit the jack on the turn,” he added, “but I know how much equity I just stole from my friend.”
Pocket aces hold up for Weinman
As the final table of nine players was whittled down to three-handed play on Day 10 of the WSOP Main Event, Weinman picked up pocket aces (AA) and had his opponent Andy Walton crushed with pocket eights (88). Walton busted when he came over the top of Weinman’s re-raise bet with a massive all-in of his own. Weinman snap called with the superior hand, and his aces held.
While the WSOP Main Event No-Limit Hold ’em score puts Weinman into poker history, he also told Play Georgia that he prefers mixed games and other variations of poker.
“I enjoy mixed games more, and my favorite tournament is the $50,000 Poker Players Championship,” he said. Weinman finished 9th in last year’s WSOP Poker Players Championship and won $155,400, and also finished 4th in a No-Limit Hold ’em event for $86,700. But during the 2022 WSOP, he also won his first gold bracelt when he captured the $1,000 Pot-Limit Omaha event last summer for $255,300.
After winning the WSOP Main Event, Weinman took his career live reported tournament earnings from $3.7 million to nearly $16 million.
Weinman’s WSOP Main Event win, by the numbers
Weinman is the first American to win the WSOP Main Event since 2018. This year’s World Series of Poker had 11 tournaments that broke entries and attendance records from the 95 live bracelet events.
The WSOP Main Event had a $10,000 buy-in and the 10,047 entries created a massive prize pool of $93.4 million and paid out 1,507 players – top 15% of the field with a minimum payout of $15,000.
“I was honestly on the fence about even coming back and playing this tournament,” Weinman added after becoming a historic poker champion. “But to win this event and see the numbers at the World Series this year has been incredible.”
Weinman started playing poker as a student at Georgia Tech. This was his 16th straight year playing in the WSOP since turning 21.
Georgia poker has a rich history
While online poker is not legal in Georgia, hundreds of players in other states qualified through online poker sites to play in the World Series of Poker. Weinman’s massive win in the WSOP Main Event will only encourage more poker players and “home game heroes” to play.
Some top professional poker players hail from Georgia, including George Holmes of Atlanta, who cashed in for $4.3 million when he finished runner-up in the 2021 World Series of Poker Main Event out of 6,650 players. Others include Billy Baxter, David Bach, Cary Katz, Josh Arieh, and former Georgia Bulldog and NFL player Richard Seymour, who all had notable tournament scores this summer.
Baxter cashed for $473,200 when he finished 2nd in the WSOP $1,000 No-Limit Hold ’em Seniors event. Bach won $14,000 from a $3,000 NL Hold ’em event and cashed for $61,000 in a WSOP mixed event last summer. Arieh won the WSOP $25,000 buy-in H.O.R.S.E event for $711,300 and a gold bracelet. Seymour placed 285th in this year’s WSOP Main Event and cashed in $50,900.
Katz had the biggest WSOP of the Georgia players behind Weinman. He finished 13th in the $50,000 No-Limit Hold ’em 8-handed High Roller for $101,000, and scored $82,700 in the $25,000 Pot-Limit Hold ’em High Roller event. Katz also cashed in $102,000 in another $50,000 No-Limit Hold ’em High Roller event and had a massive score to complete his huge summer when he finished second in the $100,000 No-Limit Hold ’em 8-handed High Roller event for a whopping $1.6 million. Arieh finished fourth in this year’s WSOP Player of the Year standings.