The third season of the PokerGO Tour has come to a close, with a remarkable total prize money of over $352.4 million distributed among 132 events. The 2023 season wrapped up with the second-annual PGT Championship freeroll, featuring the top 40 PGT point earners throughout the season along with 14 Dream Seat winners. The prestigious event showcased a $1,000,000 prize pool, doubling last year’s $500,000 winner-take-all debut.
The coveted top prize of $500,000 was clinched by German poker professional Daniel Smiljkovic, marking his fourth-largest recorded score as a bracelet winner from Filderstadt. Following this triumph, his career cashes now exceed $6 million.
Daniel Smiljkovic faced a formidable challenge from actress Arden Cho, who entered the day with the shortest stack but appeared poised to seize the title at one point during the final day. Despite this, Smilkovic managed to reverse the situation, overcoming a significant chip deficit in the heads-up play to clinch the title.
In 2023, Daniel Smiljkovic experienced his most successful year on the live poker scene. His three largest scores, including a third-place finish in a $100,000 buy-in Triton Poker event in Vietnam for $1,450,000 and a third-place showing in the massive $25,000 GGMillion$ high roller at the World Series of Poker Paradise festival for nearly $1.2 million, all occurred during this year. With seven PGT cashes totaling more than $2.6 million, Daniel Smiljkovic finished the season in 16th place. His participation in this freeroll event was secured with three cashes during the PGT Last Chance festival.
The two-day PGT Championship unfolded at the PokerGO Studio within the ARIA Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, featuring a $1,000,000 prize pool distributed among the top six finishers. Day 1 witnessed the 54-player field narrowing down to the money.
As expected, numerous prominent figures in the poker world were eliminated along the way, including 17-time bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth, 10-time bracelet winner Erik Seidel, six-time bracelet winner Daniel Negreanu, four-time bracelet winner Nick Schulman, and many others.
Final Table Action
As the final table commenced, Darren Elias, widely recognized as the G.O.A.T. (Greatest of All Time) of the World Poker Tour (WPT), found himself with the smallest stack by a considerable margin. Despite his efforts, Elias was unable to amass a substantial stack and contend for the title. Nonetheless, he exited the tournament securing a $40,000 cash prize for a respectable sixth place finish.
In contrast, Cho, an accomplished actress and model, began Day 2 with the second shortest stack. Unlike Elias, she demonstrated a dominating performance at the final table, rapidly accumulating chips. Before long, she not only became the chip leader but also established a significant advantage over her opponents.
Artur Martirosyan, boasting over $14 million in cashes according to The Hendon Mob, became the second player to exit the stage when he lost a race to Leon Sturm. The Russian poker star received a $60,000 payout for his fifth-place finish.
Daniel Weinman, initially second in chips at the start of the day, saw his stack diminish to Leon Sturm when he called off with a small pair against trips. The 2023 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event champion bowed out in fourth place, earning $80,000. Sturm, seizing the chip lead, began to assert dominance in the match.
Cho then took command of the final table, securing the chip lead after a series of successful pot wins. At a certain point during three-handed play, she held approximately 70% of all the chips. Sturm, who briefly held the chip lead, saw his stack dwindle to around 10 big blinds. In a crucial hand, Sturm went all in with 10 ♦ 2 ♦ against Smiljkovic’s J ♥ 9 ♥. The jack-high hand held up, leading to Sturm’s exit in third place with a $120,000 prize. This set the stage for a heads-up battle between Smiljkovic and Cho for the ultimate glory.
PGT Championship Final Table Results