In an extraordinary display of skill, Jason Simon emerged victorious on June 12 at the Gladiators of Poker tournament, part of the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, Nevada. Facing an enormous field of competitors, Simon conquered the event and secured the coveted first-place prize, amounting to an impressive $499,852, as well as his inaugural gold bracelet. With a staggering turnout of 23,088 entries, this no-limit hold’em tournament boasted the second-largest attendance in the history of live poker tournaments, surpassed only by the WSOP Big 50 event of 2019, which had 28,731 entries.
Nicknamed “The Chiseler,” Simon’s performance aptly demonstrated his prowess among such a record-breaking assembly. This triumph marked the pinnacle of his career, propelling his tournament earnings close to $800,000. Notably, this victory constitutes his ninth win, augmenting his collection of accolades that includes a gold ring earned at a WSOP Circuit event in 2020 at Ameristar St. Charles near St. Louis.
Addressing reporters after his triumph, Simon expressed his elation, remarking, “It was awesome to have your friends here with you, cheering for you during all-ins; it definitely makes a difference.” He went on to emphasize the significance of preserving one’s tournament life, stating, “Your tournament life is incredibly valuable; you have to stay in the game at all costs.” Even when his chip stack dwindled to 14 million, Simon maintained his composure and rallied by securing a double up, ultimately reclaiming the lead. Reflecting on his future plans, he concluded, “I primarily engage in mixed games, reserving no-limit hold’em exclusively for tournaments, but perhaps I’ll participate in more tournaments following this experience.”
The tournament consisted of four starting flights, culminating in a prize pool totaling $5,679,648. Impressively, the top 3,173 players all secured a minimum prize of $480. As the competition progressed to Day 2, 827 players returned, but by the end of the night, only 14 contenders remained. Among the notable players who made deep runs on the penultimate day were Casey Carroll (29th), TK Miles (39th), Melanie Weisner (62nd), DJ Buckley (68th), and Daniel Negreanu (72nd).
The final 14 players required two hours of play to narrow down to the final table on the last day. At that point, Simon found himself in the middle of the chip-stack rankings. He swiftly gained momentum by eliminating Johnson Chatterley in seventh place, solidifying his position in the competition. Simon continued his ascent by ousting Kfir Nahum in fifth place, thereby securing the third-highest chip count among the remaining four players.
Determined to claim the title, Simon accelerated his progress by eliminating Wade Wallace in fourth place and Wesley Cannon in third place, ultimately entering the heads-up final with a significant chip advantage of nearly 4:1. The final showdown proved to be brief, as a single all-in hand determined the champion. Simon applied pressure by going all in, and Eric Trexler called with J♥10♥, putting his remaining chips at stake. Holding K♠8♣, Simon maintained the lead, and the board, revealed as 5♠4♣3♥6♦3♣, solidified his victory. Trexler, eliminated in second place, secured a substantial reward of $301,097, a testament to his endurance amidst a formidable field of over 23,000 opponents.
Here is a look at the payouts and rankings points awarded at the final table: