The 2021 U.S. Poker Open came to a conclusion with the completion of its 12th and final event, a $50,000 buy-in no-limit hold ’em high roller tournament. A turnout of 42 entries saw a $2,100,000 prize pool created, with $756,000 going to the eventual champion. In the end, Sean Winter was the player to capture the final title of the series after he overcame a stacked final table that included several of the other top tournament players in the world.
This was Winter’s second USPO title in his career, having won the $10,000 short deck event in 2019. He earned 454 rankings points for his victory in this event, which when combined with his one prior cash of the series in a $10,000 no-limit hold’em event, was enough to see Winter finish in second place in the USPO points race.
Winters also earned 454 points towards the inaugural PokerGO Tour standings. With 1,150 total points, two titles, 11 cashes, and more than $1.7 million in earnings qualified for that tour, he has climbed into third place on that leaderboard.
The three-quarters of a million dollars Winters took home as the champion in this event increased his career tournament earnings to more than $17 million. This was the fourth-largest payday of his career, but the most he has ever won as a champion of an event. His three larger scores all came in runner-up showings in high roller events.
Winter entered the final day of this event as the chip leader with six players remaining. Bill Klein was second in chips to start the day, but wound up being the first to be eliminated when his pocket sevens ran into the flopped fives full of queens held by Winter. Klein got all-in on the turn and was in need of a seven or a queen on the end to survive. No help came and he was knocked out in sixth place ($105,000).
Sam Soverel came into the day as the only player with a chance to surpass USPO points race leader David Peters for the series title. Soverel was the shortest stack to start the day, but could secure the USPO victory if he were to finish in first place in this event. Soverel was able to outlast Klein with his short stack, but eventually got all-in with A3 against the Q8 of Stephen Chidwick for his last 5.5 big blinds. Chidwick flopped a queen and held from there to send Soverel home with $168,000. With that elimination, Peters officially locked up the USPO championship, securing $50,000 in added prize money and the Golden Eagle Trophy. Soverel ultimately finished seventh in the final USPO points race.
Card Player columnist and two-time World Poker Tour main event winner Jonathan Little was the next to fall. He defended his big blind from a button raise by Stephen Chidwick with 108 and hit top pair on a 863 flop. Little check-raised all-in over the top of Chidwick’s 500,000 continuation bet, only to receive a call from Chidwick, who held K8 for the same pair with a superior kicker. Little picked up a gutshot straight draw on the turn for more outs, but missed on the river and was eliminated in fourth place $231,000. The score increased his career earnings to $7,261,497.
Three-handed play featured two players among the top ten on poker’s all-time money list in Stephen Chidwick (7th – $35,698,082) and Jason Koon (9th – $32,462,634). Chidwick began with the chip lead, which he extended even further in the early going before Winter managed to win a preflop race to double up and close the gap somewhat. Winter then surged into the lead when he picked up pocket kings against the AQ of Koon. All of the chips went in preflop and Winter’s pocket pair held up. Koon cashed for $336,000 for his latest deep run in a high-stakes event.
With that Winter took roughly a 3:2 chip lead into the heads-up showdown against Chidwick. By the time the final hand of the series was dealt, Winter’s lead had slipped to just five or so big blinds. Chidwick raised to 2.5 big blinds from the button with Q4 and Winter called from the big blind with 106. The flop came down J62 and Winter checked. Chidwick bet 375,000 into the pot of 480,000 and Winter called. The turn was the Q, giving Chidwick top pair. Winter checked yet again and Chidwick fired another 900,000. Winter called and the river brought the 10. Winter checked a third time and Chidwick moved all-in for around 2.5 million. Winter quickly called to secure the pot and the title. Chidwick took home $504,000 as the runner-up, which was his 13th career cash for more than half of a million dollars or more.
In addition to the title and the money, Winter was also awarded 510 Card Player Player of the Year points as the champion. This was his second title and eighth final-table finish of the year, with $1,588,090 in POY-qualified earnings. As a result of this title run Winter now sits in 11th place in the 2021 POY race standings sponsored by Global Poker.
Here is a look at the payouts and rankings points awarded at the final table:
|Place||Player||Payout||POY Points||PokerGO Tour Points|
Here is a look at the top ten in the final USPO points standings:
Winner photo credit: PokerGO.