The WSOP Poker Players Championship is the one they all want to win, but while many suspected it might be the chip leader heading into the final table’s time to shine, Jason Koon, the final didn’t work out like that. In the end, German high roller Christian Rudloph took the victory and $1.8 million top prize to go with the Chip Reese Trophy.
This being the pandemic-inspired GGPoker-based WSOP 2020 Online Series, there was no celebratory champagne being popped and no camera bulbs to flash that winning moment into poker history. Christian Rudloph won’t care one bit about that, however, as he came from being third in the chipcounts when play began to overhauling tough players in every spot at the final table.
Winning the $50,000-entry Poker Players Championship in Las Vegas is a feather in the cap of any player. This year the buy-in may have been halved to $25,000, but the bragging rights are just as valuable, and beating such a strong final table from 407 total entries – meaning a prizepool of just over $10 million – is a huge achievement for the German player.
By far the biggest win of Rudolph’s career did not come easy. With an average stack at the start of the final table comprising just 23 big blinds, stacks were shallow and the action in such poker-shark infested waters was predictably large. It would, however, take 20 minutes for Aliaksei Boika to bust in 9th place, the Belarussian running an all-in with ace-five into Shankar Pillai’s ace-jack, which held.
Pillai was the last person his opponents would have wanted to have chips, his natural poker aggression meaning there would be no place to hide, but the next major hand involved two of the other big names at the final table. Jaosn Koon came into play as chip leader but lost a huge pot to Chris ‘Big Huni’ Hunichen when Koon’s ace-jack couldn’t catch Hunichen’s pocket queens.
Koon survived one more step on the ladder, Lithuanian player Paulius Plausinaitis busting next, but Koon was gone in a personally disappointing 7th place for $285,808, his remaining chips making their way to the eventual winner in Christian Rudolph.
Brazilian player Brunno Botteon was eliminated next as his pocket queens were outrun by Rudolph’s turned straight and the German went on a heater, knocking out Aram Zobian in 5th place ($529,005) and Aleksejs Ponakovs in 4th place ($719,700) as he wielded the axe.
When Hunichen had the dominating ace-king against Pillai’s ace-nine, the field had been reduced to a heads-up battle, with Hunichen only marginally behind. Rudolph actually lost the lead briefly but regained it soon after to grind Hunichen down to just five big blinds. Those went into the middle with Hunichen holding king-queen, a hand that was good against Rudolph’s queen-ten. But lady luck smiled on the German as a ten on the flop ended the match in Rudolph’s favour.
While ‘Big Huni’ collected a massive score of $1.3 million for finishing as runner-up, Rudolph’s winning prize of $1.8 million was by far the biggest live result of his stellar career so far, winning the German pro his first-ever World Series of Poker bracelet in the event that all his peers will envy him winning.
WSOP Poker Players Championship Final Table Results:
|2nd||Chris Hunichen||United States||$1,332,097|
|3rd||Shankar Pillai||United States||$979,138|
|5th||Aram Zobian||United States||$529,005|
|7th||Jason Koon||United States||$285,808|