Daniel Lazrus had just over $28,000 in recorded cashes to his name prior to 2021 in live events and online tournaments with full real-name results. The 31-year-old from Long Beach, New York made his breakout win in the public eye by taking down the $3,200 buy-in World Series of Poker Online no-limit hold’em high roller event for $205,347 and his first gold bracelet in late July. Just shy of three months later he backed that victory up in a big way, defeating a field of 5,326 entries to emerge victorious in the 2021 WSOP $1,500 buy-in no-limit hold’em ‘Millionaire Maker’ event. As the tournament’s name suggests, Lazrus earned $1,000,000 to go along with his second gold bracelet.
“This one feels much more special. It feels more legitimized than online did,” said Lazrus when asked about which of his two bracelet victories meant the most to him. “This makes me happy with the decision I’m making to put a lot of time into playing poker.”
“I only started playing like four and a half years ago, at first just recreationally. I started winning and met the right guy who put me in touch with the other right guys,” said Lazrus, motioning at a group of supporters on his rail that included current Card Player Player of the Year race leader Ali Imsirovic. “Two years ago I started raising stakes and studying very aggressively.”
Lazrus is still involved with his real estate business in New York, but poker has grown to be nearly a full-time commitment for him. That commitment paid off in this event, to the tune of a seven-figure payday. In addition to the title and the money, he was also awarded 1,320 POY points for the win. This was his first POY-qualified score of the year, but it alone was enough to catapult him into 104th place in the 2021 POY race, which is sponsored by Global Poker.
This tournament began with the first of two starting flights on Friday, Oct. 8. The field was narrowed to just five players on Tuesday, Oct. 12, with Lazrus atop the leaderboard. Lazrus entered the final day with 100 big blinds, nearly twice as many as the second-largest stack which belonged to Ignacio Moron. Four-time bracelet winner Michael Gathy was in the middle of the pack.
Short stack Darryl Ronconi found an early double up to pick himself off the mat. Not long after that, Moron slid down the leaderboard thanks to a bluff that was sniffed out by Gathy. Moron’s run in this event came to an end when his shove with A-9 was called by the pocket kings of Lazrus. Moron failed to improve and was eliminated in fifth place ($222,430).
Gathy lost a big pot with pocket jacks against the K-Q suited of Ronconi to fall to the bottom of the leaderboard. The last of his stack went in preflop with A7. Ronconi called with KQ and the board came down J96102 to give Ronconi a king-high straight for the win. Gathy fell just a few spots short of his fifth no-limit hold’em bracelet. The Belgian earned $288,715 for his fourth-place showing in this event, increasing his career total to more than $3.2 million.
Jeffrey Gencarelli was the next to hit the rail. His final hand began with him raising to 3 million from the small blind with A5. Lazrus called from the big blind with Q7 and the flop came down QJ4. Gencarelli bet 4 millon and Lazrus called with top pair. The turn brought the 10 and Gencarelli moved all-in for around 16 million. Lazrus made the call and held up through the 9 river, sending Gencarelli home with $377,125.
With that, Lazrus took more than a 3:1 chip lead into heads-up play with Ronconi. The two played several big pots early on, with one resulting in a chop and another a double for Ronconi. In the final hand, Ronconi raised to 2.5 million on the button with 107 and Lazrus three-bet to 8.5 million from the big blind with AJ. Ronconi moved all-in for nearly 43 million and Lazrus made the call. The board came down 998K4 and Lazrus’ hand held up to secure the pot and the title. Ronconi was awarded $500,125 as the runner-up finisher.
Here is a look at the payouts and POY points awarded at the final table: