More than a dozen events into the 2022 World Series of Poker (WSOP), it is time to look at the PokerNews WSOP Player of the Week.
This week, the Player of the Week distinction goes to none other than high stakes pro Dan Smith, who won his maiden WSOP bracelet and $509,717 in Event #6: $25,000 Heads-Up No-Limit Hold’em Championship on Sunday, June 5 to have his name scrubbed from the list of “Best Poker Players Without a Bracelet.”
After taking home his first piece of WSOP hardware, Smith made a deep run later in the week in Event #12: $50,000 High Roller that ultimately saw him finishing in 10th place for $100,000.
Monkey Off His Back
Smith, who now has $38.8 million in Hendon Mob-reported tournament earnings and whose first WSOP cash dates back to 2010, secured his first career bracelet after winning six heads-up battles against some of the best players in the world.
He first squared off against fellow high stakes circuit regular Jake Daniels before battling Laszlo Bujtas, who sits first on Hungary’s all-time money list. After that, Smith had to get through two crushers in Alex Foxen and Jonathan Jaffe before being matched up against 2019 WSOP Main Event runner-up Dario Sammartino, Italy’s all-time earnings leader.
In the final heads-up confrontation of the tournament, Smith faced off against Germany’s Christoph Vogelsang and came out on top to win his first WSOP bracelet after over a decade of grinding.
“I think it is wonderful to get the monkey off my back,” Smith told PokerNews in an interview on Tuesday, June 7.
While some players find it in vogue to insist that they aren’t in it for the glory, Smith, who spoke with PokerNews during the Day 2 dinner break of the $50,000 High Roller event, admitted that he’s long been vying to win WSOP gold.
“I’ve always entered a few extra events just hoping to bang off a bracelet. And it’s kind of cool that I no longer have to worry about that.”
“I’ve never gone super crazy about it like some of these guys like (Shaun) Deeb or (Daniel) Negreanu, but I’ve always entered a few extra events just hoping to bang off a bracelet,” he said. “And it’s kind of cool that I no longer have to worry about that.”
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Deep Run in $50K High Roller
Winning a bracelet this week wasn’t enough to satisfy Smith and he took his shot in the $50,000 Event, which, like the $25,000 Heads-Up event, attracted many of poker’s best and most decorated.
After an unsuccessful first bullet, Smith bought in a second time and was able to run up his stack to end Day 1 as chip leader, ahead of the likes of David Peters, Mikita Badziakouski, Chance Kornuth and Erik Seidel.
What in particular has gotten Smith off to such a hot start this summer?
“It’s not an exciting answer, but the sample size of a handful of tournaments is just pretty irrelevant,” Smith said. “I think my heads-up game is pretty decent, but even the best player in the field maybe is going to win one out of 30 times. So to win the tournament is just (an) unbelievable fortune.”
Humble about his recent success, the high stakes pro added that there aren’t “necessarily any magical crushing things going down, but it’s just the way poker goes sometimes.”
“But hopefully I can continue to have some good fortune,” Smith said during the Day 2 dinner break.
The recent bracelet winner’s deep run in the $50,000 High Roller was cut short toward the end of Day 2 when he ran ace-eight into the pocket kings Punnat Punsri, failing to improve and falling in 10th place for $100,000.
Jake Schindler ended up winning the High Roller event the next day for $1.3 million and his first WSOP bracelet. It has also been a fantastic week for the Pennsylvania pro, who earlier finished runner-up in Event #8: $25,000 High Roller for $874,915.
Unfortunately, Schindler’s early success this summer has been largely overshadowed by cheating allegations levied against him by fellow high stakes pros earlier this year. Schindler has yet to comment publicly on the cheating allegations and declined an interview with PokerNews after his bracelet win.
Alex Livingston: Canada’s Alex Livingston, best known for a third-place in the 2019 WSOP Main Event, has had a strong start to the 2022 WSOP that saw him winning his maiden bracelet and $103,282 in Event #9: $1,500 Seven Card Stud.
Livingston is currently chip leading with three tables remaining in Event #15: $10,000 Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better Championship, which will award $440,757 to the eventual champion.
Norbert Szecsi: Hungary’s Norbert Szecsi won his third bracelet earlier this week when he got through a field of 218 runners in 2022 WSOP [Online] $5,300 No-Limit Hold’em High Roller Freezeout to win $288,850. Szecsi defeated a powerhouse final table that included Phil Galfond, Tony Dunst, Adam Hendrix and 2012 WSOP Main Event champion Greg Merson.