The inaugural PokerGO NFT Invitational was won by Kristopher Dearie of Las Vegas, Nevada, who topped the 134-player field to capture the $5,000 first-place prize and the title of PokerGO NFT Invitational champion.
Building off the release of PokerGO's first-ever NFT project, holders of PokerGO Genesis NFTs were awarded a seat in the exclusive invite-only PokerGO NFT Invitational, where there was a $25,000 freeroll awaiting all participants.
The festivities began on Friday, December 2, with the PokerGO Meet and Greet. Players in attendance had the opportunity to pre-register for the PokerGO NFT Invitational and win exclusive prizes and PokerGO merchandise, including one-of-a-kind signed poker memorabilia.
More than 100 people filled the PokerGO Studio for the evening, and when the real poker action kicked off on Saturday morning, there would be a total of 134 players taking a seat in the inaugural PokerGO NFT Invitational. PokerGO Genesis NFT holders included 2013 WSOP Main Event winner Ryan Riess, WSOP bracelet winner David Williams, WPT Championship Club member Dylan Linde, Pot-Limit Omaha aficionado Joey Ingram, numerous PokerGO staff members, and a plethora of NFT holders experiencing the PokerGO Studio for the first time.
Players soaked in the ambiance that high roller players have become accustomed to in the PokerGO Studio as the final alternate wasn't seated until after the close of registration. With the money-paying top 23 fast approaching, the likes of Riess, Linde, and Robbi Jade Lew all fell to the rail before the money-bubble burst on the first hand of hand-for-hand play.
With the final 23 players in the money, a flurry of eliminations would see the final table reached, with seven players reaching the PokerGO-streamed final table. Kristopher Dearie held the chip lead with the final seven all guaranteed $1,200 in prize money.
PokerGO Sr. Communication and PR Manager Donnie Peters would be the first to fall in seventh when he shoved his pocket eights from the big blind but ran into the pocket queens of Dearie. No help fell for Peters, and after he exited in seventh, Joseph Hilleli was eliminated in sixth place when he was all-in with king-nine suited against Devon Sampson and Brenden Deics. Sampson took the lead on the turn with top pair, and when Hilleli was unable to spike a king, the final table was down to five.
Deics would be dealt a cooler in the blinds when he woke up with king-queen and shoved. Dearie looked down at ace-jack suited and called to see the board run out jack-high to thrust Dearie back into the chip lead.
Wayne Strutt would shove the button with nine-six of diamonds, but Dearie woke up with ace-ten suited in the small blind and called. Dearie flopped top pair, and when the turn and river blanked out, Strutt was eliminated in fourth place. Shortly after, Canadian Devon Sampson shoved from the small blind with ace-six and Darik Conley called in the big blind with king-four. Conley flopped top pair, and no ace came for Sampson as Conley entered heads-up play with Dearie holding nearly a three-to-one lead.
Dearie found a double with nine-eight suited against king-five suited to be back to nearly even with Conley. Dearie was then all-in with ace-nine against the ace-deuce of Conley. Conley flopped a deuce, but the board ran out a wheel to see the pot chopped up. Dearie then snuck into the lead before the final hand played out that saw Dearie shove with ace-nine and Conley call all-in with king-nine. Dearie flopped trip aces and then turned a full house to be crowned the PokerGO NFT Invitational champion and recipient of the $5,000 first-place prize.
With Dearie's win in the inaugural PokerGO NFT Invitational, he now sits with more than $11,700 in live tournament earnings. Dearie's cashes all stem from casinos in Las Vegas where he is a dealer at the newly-rebranded Horseshoe Las Vegas.