The names etched on the Chip Reese Memorial Trophy are legends of the game. Scotty Nguyen, David Bach, Michael Mizrachi, Brian Rast, Mizrachi and Rast again, Matthew Ashton and Mike Gorodinsky have all concurred poker’s most prestigious and all-encompassing event. Now, after taking down the $50,000 Poker Players Championship for his first-career WSOP bracelet, Britain’s Elior Sion has carved his own name into the Chip Reese Memorial Trophy and into poker’s history books.
At a final table that began with poker’s biggest name, Daniel Negreanu, at the top of the charts and had two of the high-stakes world’s best, Isaac Haxton and Paul Volpe, sprinkled throughout the six-handed lineup, it was eventually a battle of two young online masterminds heads up for the Poker Players Championship. Five hours of one-on-one play saw the chip lead swing from Johannes Becker, to Elior Sion, back to Becker, back to Sion and so forth, before Sion finally dispatched his German counterpart.
“It feels amazing, you’re playing against some of the best players in the world.” Sion said after a grueling heads up battle to claim the PPC title. “A tournament like this, it’s like a long journey. You got to take it one step at a time. There were a few blips along the way but as long as you still have chips, anything can happen.”
At the final table, there weren’t many of those blips for Sion. His competitors were not as fortunate, as chip leader Daniel Negreanu fell in 5th place and Isaac Haxton had to settle for the bronze medal. For Sion, Kid Poker’s elimination opened the door for him to make a run at the title.
“The person I feared the most was Daniel Negreanu,” Sion said, “Just watching him play, he really kept with the game. He knows what is going on, almost always. He was my biggest threat but to see him not get any cards at the final table and just really, he didn’t have a chance to win, that kind of opened the gates and let me do my thing.”
Sion certainly did do his thing last night, breaking through in the only event he will likely play at the World Series of Poker each year. Sion does not regularly play tournaments and has even scaled back his online play over the last few years. The Poker Players Championship is the exception though.
“This is the only tournament I really want to play, 8-Game is one of my strongest games, so I wouldn’t have missed this.” Sior said, before talking about how grueling the Poker Players Championship is.
“It is the physical and mental aspect, playing every day, you accumulate that, for five days in a row.” Sior said, adding, “It’s been a long few days but this is the best possible outcome.”
That outcome netted Sion a nearly $1,400,000 score and after the victory, the 26-year-old admitted that poker is not a long-term goal for him moving forward.
“For me, it is a means to an end.” Sion said, before talking about the desire to start his own business and get into multiple business ventures. He did reference the prestige of winning the Poker Players Championship, although he is likely a few days away from actually feeling that victory. “I don’t think it has quite hit me yet, I never really expected to win, I was just trying to keep going, one step further and then here I am, I’m a bit in shock.”
Considering his competition at the Poker Players Championship final table, some casual poker fans may also be in shock that a relative unknown, on the live tournament circuit at least, could take down one of poker’s most prestigious events. Now though, Elior Sion’s name is etched next to the legends of the game that have taken down the $50,000 Poker Players Championship before him and no matter where his career takes him, Sion’s own legend is likely just getting started.