Michael Jukich literally jumped for joy after winning the 2022 World Series of Poker $1,500 no-limit hold’em ‘Monster Stack’ event for $966,577 and his first gold bracelet. The ‘Jukich jump’ saw the 38-year-old Lynchburg, Virginia resident leap onto the top of the final table after topping the field of 6,501 entries to secure nearly a million dollars.
Just minutes before securing the title, Jukich was all-in and well behind after his heads-up opponent Mateusz Moolhuizen had turned a full house against his flopped top pair. Moolhuizen bet his three deuces and Jukich shoved with kings and deuces and a queen kicker. Moolhuizen called to leave Jukich in need of a king on the river, making him roughly a 19:1 underdog. The KHeart Suit rolled off the deck, though, giving him a higher full house and a commanding lead.
“I mean, it was a big set-up on the turn deuce. I thought for a while about just calling but decided to just stick it in. It happened so quick, I heard his rail saying it’s over, it’s over, and I was like, it’s not really over yet. The king hit from outer space, I don’t even know how to describe that,” Jukich told WSOP reporters afterward.
From there he was able to close things out to earn the largest score of his tournament career, blowing away the $165,438 he secured as the champion of the 2018 WSOP Circuit Baltimore main event. He now has more than $1.5 million in lifetime earnings.
Jukich also scored 1,320 Card Player Player of the Year points as the champion of this event. This was his first POY-qualified run of the year, but it alone was enough to put him just outside the top 100 in the 2022 POY race standings, which are sponsored by Global Poker.
This tournament kicked off on June 10 with the first of two starting flights. It then took two full days of action to narrow the sea of players down to the last 39 contenders. Plenty of big names made deep runs in this event, including World Poker Tour champion Matthew Wantman (55th – $17,323), bracelet winner Max Steinberg (36th – $25,369), Adam Hendrix (34th – $31,033), and two-time bracelet winner Calvin Anderson (35th – $31,033).
The final day began with 39 left and Yoshiya Agata in the lead. Jukich was closer to the bottom of the leaderboard than the top to start the day, but he managed to climb into second chip position by the time the final table was set.
Ricardo Caridade was the first to fall at the official final table of nine. He got all-in with A-Q suited, but was trailing the A-K of bracelet winner Anthony Spinella. The flop brought top two pair for Spinella, who improved to kings full on the river to take down the pot and send Caridade home in ninth place ($94,439). This was his second big final table of the year, having placed fourth in a European Poker Tour Prague high roller for $225,499.
Short stack Jessica Teusl got her last few big blinds in with A-5 and found herself at risk facing the pocket sixes of Jukich. Neither player received any help from the board and Teusl was knocked out in eighth place ($120,455). This was the largest score of the Austrian’s career, and it came just days after her boyfriend Stefan Lehner won his first bracelet in the $3,000 no-limit hold’em event.
Yoshiya Agata’s run concluded when his K-J was unable to outrun the A-8 of Jukich, which improved to eighths full of aces by the turn. This was the first six-figure live score of the Japanese player’s career. Jukich moved into the lead after raking in the pot.
David Zarrin lost a huge chunk of his stack when Joao Simao’s K-Q drew out on his A-Q with all of the chips in the middle preflop. Simao finished the job when his Q-5 suited beat out the K-4 of Zarrin not long after, with a rivered pair of queens for Simao knocking Zarrin out in sith place ($199,995).
Spinella spent some time atop the chip counts at the final table, but had fallen to the bottom of the leaderboard by the time five-handed play began. He got the last of his chips in racing with J-10 up against the pocket eights of Francis Anderson. A set on the flop gave Anderson a big lead in the hand, which he maintained through the river. Spinella earned $260,315 for his fifth-place showing, increasing his lifetime earnings to more than $4.3 million in the process.
A preflop cooler soon spelled the end of Simao. He four-bet all-in with pocket tens facing a three-bet from Moolhuizen, who quickly called with pocket aces. Moolhuizen flopped top set. After a blank on the turn, Simao was left drawing dead. The Brazilian bracelet winner was awarded $341,095 as the fourth-place finisher, joining Spinella with more than $4.3 million in career cashes.
The next big knockout was the result of a classic preflop race. Anderson called all-in with AHeart SuitKClub Suit facing a four-bet shove from Moolhuizen, who held JSpade SuitJDiamond Suit. The board changed nothing and Anderson was knocked out in third place ($449,912). The New York resident now has more than $1.6 million in earnings to his name, with this surpassing his $149,605 payday as the fourth-place finisher in the 2019 WSOP marathon event to become his new top score.
Moolhuizen took more than a 2:1 chip lead into heads-up play with Jukich after winning that hand. Jukich was able to close the gap a bit before winning the huge hand mentioned earlier with the king on the river giving him a better full house. That saw him take more than a 5:1 lead of his own.
In the final hand of the tournament, which was on the very next deal, Moolhuizen limped in from the button with KClub SuitQClub Suit and Jukich shoved holding AHeart Suit8Club Suit. The board ran out JSpade Suit10Heart Suit5Spade Suit3Diamond Suit5Club Suit and Jukich’s ace high was enough to lock up the pot and the title, prompting the ‘Jukich jump’. Moolhuizen earned a career-best $597,362 as the runner-up. His prior top score had been a $163,075 payday as the winner of the 2011 Unibet Open Malta main event.
Here is a look at the payouts and rankings points awarded at the final table:
Photo credits: PokerGO / Enrique Malfavon.