Once a fixture in just about every event of the World Series of Poker, Chris Klodnicki’s time at the WSOP has been quite infrequent in recent years. With a young family at home in Southern California, Klodnicki spends most of his time with them, playing the occasional tournament in the area and playing online a bit. He made the trip out to Las Vegas to compete in Event #35: $10,000 Secret Bounty at the 2023 WSOP, an event he finds very similar to many of the bounty tournaments he plays online, and came out on top for a score of $733,317 and his second gold bracelet.
“I've been playing a ton of online, no-limit hold’em,” Klodnick said. “I felt really good. They have the bounty events online, too. So, I felt very comfortable in this format. It was nice to get back to live poker. I just feel like I've always felt comfortable playing live, maybe more so than like a lot of the online players. But, you know, I guess I worked on my fundamentals a little bit more by playing online.”
The $733,317 score that Klodnicki earned for this victory became the fourth-largest live tournament score he’s had to date. His previous best remains a $2,985,495 score for placing second to Anthony Gregg in the 2013 WSOP $111,111 One Drop High Roller.
Klodnicki entered the final table of eight as the chip leader, and Jeremy Ausmus was very close on his heels. Klodnicki took a hit early when he ran pocket kings into the pocket aces of Tracy Nguyen, but he was able to find a double up himself when his pocket tens held against Angel Guillen’s ace-ten. After Guillen went out sixth, Klodnicki doubled through Ausmus then took out Nguyen in fifth place and Ausmus in fourth place. That gave Klodnicki quite a large chip lead entering three-handed play, af the lead grew when he busted Barak Wisbrod in third place.
Heads up with about a 10-to-1 lead over Aram Oganyan, Klodnicki was able to get the job done. Oganyan did manage to find one double up, but then it was Klodnicki’s pocket aces that dealt the final blow. Oganyan had moved all in from the button with nine-eight and Klodnicki called with aces. The flop was queen-ten-ten and the turn was a jack, giving Oganyan a straight, but an ace hit on the river to give Klodnicki a winning full house.
“It was very shallow, you know, it was very gambly, so there wasn't a ton of actual poker being played, which is kind of a bit unfortunate for an event of this size,” Klodnicki said of the final table and how action-packed it was. “But whatever, I'm happy I won. I was down like super short. I think it was in last place with eight people left and I just hung around obviously ran good in in the spots I needed to. Just happy to be here right now.”
After winning his first WSOP gold bracelet in 2017, Klodnicki is now a two-time winner. He also picked up 733 points for the PGT leaderboard and moved into 14th overall. Isaac Haxton remains on top of the leaderboard.