Latvian Aleksejs Ponakovs has won his second World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet by defeating 10-time WSOP bracelet winner and 2017 Poker Hall of Fame inductee Phil Ivey in heads-up play.
Ponakovs won his first WSOP bracelet in 2021 when he won the $7,777 No-Limit Hold’em Lucky 7’s High Roller on WSOP.com for $432,491. Ponakovs is Latvia’s only WSOP bracelet winner, and after securing $1,897,363 in prize money for winning Event #42: $100,000 No-Limit Hold’em High Roller, he now moves into top spot on Latvia’s All-Time Money List with nearly $3.3 million in lifetime tournament earnings.
“I never had victory in live tournaments,” Ponakovs said about winning his second WSOP bracelet. “Finally I did it. Nothing could be better at the moment.”
The second $100,000 buy-in for the 2022 WSOP attracted a total of 62 entrants and created a prize pool of $5,998,500. An audible to the schedule was called early on in Monday’s action with the pace of play ensuring a speedy arrival to the final table. Eric Worre, Nick Petrangelo, Masashi Oya, Mikita Badziakouski, and Talal Shakerchi were all eliminated prior to the final five that would relocate to the WSOP main stage to conclude the final table on PokerGO.
Ponakovs entered the final five as the chip leader ahead of Ivey, while Ben Heath, Greg Jensen, and Michael Moncek were grouped together. Jensen immediately moved up the counts once play resumed as he dragged pots off every player. After winning his first WSOP bracelet last week, Moncek would be eliminated in fifth place when he shoved ace-four suited but was unable to improve against the pocket tens of Heath. Jensen’s final table luck started spiraling in a downwards direction before he fell in fourth when he four-bet shoved ace-jack and Heath called with pocket queens. No help fell for Jensen, and the tournament was reduced to three players with Ponakovs in the lead.
It was now Ivey’s turn to double as he called a three-bet with king-nine suited and flopped a flush draw against Heath’s aces. The rest of Ivey’s chips went in on the flop, and when a third club fell on the turn, he doubled into the chip lead. Heath exited in third place when he was all-in with ace-eight against the queen-jack of Ivey. Ivey turned top pair, and Heath’s elimination would see Ponakovs enter heads-up play with Ivey holding a slight lead. Ivey took a two-to-one advantage when his top pair held against Ponakovs ace-high, but Ponakovs regained the lead when his top pair improved to trips against Ivey’s flush draw.
The final hand would see Ivey all-in on the turn with a straight draw against the second pair of Ponakovs. Ivey needed one of eight outs to a straight to survive, and when he only improved to a pair, his quest for his 11th WSOP bracelet would have to wait for another day.
“I definitely had the best support here,” Ponakovs said about his strong rail. “It’s definitely amazing and I’m going to celebrate with them for sure.”
Ponakovs was facing one of the most feared poker players in the world in Phil Ivey, but he remainined composed throughout the final table as he navigated to a victory.
“Not really,” Ponakovs said regarding if he was afraid of playing Ivey. “I’m battling the best players all over the world, all the time. It’s another legend, but still beatable.”
Ponakovs is now a two-time WSOP bracelet winner and adds nearly $1.9 million to his bankroll after topping Ivey to win the $100,000 No-Limit Hold’em High Roller.
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