Bulgaria reigns supreme as Valentino Konakchiev wins Event #19: $2,500 No-Limit Hold'em Freezeout at the 2023 World Series of Poker (WSOP). Konakchiev tops the 1,139-entrant field to win $435,924 in prize money, his first WSOP bracelet, and the 11th for his home country of Bulgaria.
Heading into the final day of Event #19, just 11 players remained. Byung Eun Shin began slipping down the chip counts after he ran into Alexandre Reard's set, and Timothy Miles pocket kings before eventually falling in 11th place. The final ten players combined to one table, and after running his jacks into pocket queens, Miles would see himself looking at pocket queens once again before falling in 10th place.
Overnight chip leader Qiang Xu fell in ninth place when he made a move with a straight draw, but Andres Korn held pocket queens and saw a safe turn and river. Adam Swan would follow next after three-bet shoving a suited ace and running into Reard's pocket aces. Scotland's Niall Farrell would be eliminated in seventh place to leave the final six set to play on the PokerGO Main Stage with the livestream on PokerGO.com.
Following a shortened dinner break, Girish Reknar held the chip lead at under the bright lights of the feature table ahead of Korn. Korn and Reard would each hold the chip lead over the first few hours of the PokerGO-streamed final table, and when Ankit Ahuja fell in sixth, Reard held a big lead over the final five. Korn pushed back into the lead, and when he eliminated Reknar when his pocket sevens held against pocket fours, the Argentinian sat with nearly half the chips in play.
Ruben Costa would be eliminated in fourth place by Reard to leave a fairly even three-handed battle. Aggression from Konakchiev pushed him into the lead before a big preflop clash saw him table his ace-three to be trailing Reard's ace-six. Konakchiev took the lead on the flop with a three, but Reard turned a flush draw. The river bricked out and the Frenchman was eliminated in third place to leave Konakchiev holding nearly a two-to-one chip advantage over Korn.
Immediately out of the gate, it would be Korn surging ahead when he pushed Konakchiev off the best hand on the river following an all-in shove. Korn continued to surge ahead and increased his advantage to greater than a four-to-one lead before the Bulgarian doubled through with pocket sixes holding against the ace-seven of Korn. Konakchiev would score a massive double when he called all-in on the turn with top pair to be against Korn's two over cards. The river bricked out, and Korn was left with nine big blinds. The final hand would see Korn shove with king-three and Konakchiev quickly called with king-nine. The board ran out safe, and the Bulgarian claimed the victory and the $435,924 first-place prize for his first WSOP bracelet.