Daniel Willis Wins World Series of Poker $500 Kickoff Event

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Event #2 $500 Kickoff

Daniel Willis triumphed over a field of 3,485 entries in event no. 3 at the 2024 World Series of Poker, the $500 kickoff no-limit hold’em freezeout. The businessman and former online poker pro from Swindon, England earned $175,578 and his first gold bracelet by emerging as the last player standing.

Willis is the Founder & CEO of Amplifyd, which is described on its website as, “a premier auction house for influential artists and music brands to sell their collections, unique collectibles, and experiences.”

Alongside the prize money and the gold bracelet, Willis secured 600 Card Player Player of the Year points for his victory.

This win marked Willis’ largest live tournament score to date, far surpassing the $10,756 he earned for a seventh-place finish in a $600 buy-in event at the 2019 Venetian DeepStack Extravaganza.

The strong turnout for this freezeout event generated a prize pool of $1,442,960, which was distributed among the top 523 finishers. Notable players who made deep runs included 2013 WSOP main event champion Ryan Riess (63rd), two-time bracelet winner Marco Johnson (47th), and six-time bracelet winner Daniel Negreanu (16th).

The final day started with eight players, with Willis in the lead. David Niedringhaus (8th – $22,022) was the first to be eliminated after his A-Q lost to Steven Borella’s K-J. John Marino was next, finishing seventh ($28,501) when his pocket sevens were bested by Shawn Smith’s pocket tens.

Daniel Sherer went out in sixth place ($37,194) after his K-Q couldn’t overcome Michael Wang’s pocket tens, which improved to a full house. Yoshinori Funayama finished fifth ($48,938) after his J-8 fell to Willis’ pocket kings.

Steven Borella was eliminated in fourth place ($64,920) when his K-2 lost to Willis’ pocket aces. Shortly after, Shawn Smith’s pocket deuces couldn’t hold against Wang’s A-10, sending Smith out in third place ($86,820).

Heads-up play began with Wang holding 45,000,000 chips to Willis’ 42,300,000. Wang initially extended his lead but lost a significant pot when his top pair, top kicker lost to Willis’ turned flush. This hand shifted the momentum, giving Willis a nearly 4:1 chip lead.

The final hand saw Willis raise to 2.5X from the button with J♥9♥. Wang called with A♦5♠ and the flop came A♣J♣10♥. Wang checked his top pair, and Willis checked behind with middle pair. The 7♣ turn prompted Wang to bet two-thirds of the pot, and Willis called. The river brought the J♠, giving Willis trips. Wang checked, and Willis moved all-in. After several minutes of contemplation, Wang called with his remaining 12 big blinds, only to see Willis’ trips, securing Willis the pot and the title.

Michael Wang earned $117,046 as the runner-up, bringing his career earnings to over $6.4 million, narrowly missing his third career bracelet.

Here is a look at the payouts and POY points awarded at the final table:

Place Player Earnings POY Points
1 Daniel Willis $175,578 600
2 Michael Wang $117,046 500
3 Shawn Smith $86,820 400
4 Steven Borella $64,920 300
5 Yoshinori Funayama $48,938 250