WSOP 2021: Who are the Defending Champions of the Championship Events

The $10,000 buy-in events at the World Series of Poker (WSOP) are considered Championship Events. These big buy-in tournaments attract the very best poker players in the world, which leads to the tournaments being considered more prestigious. Winning a WSOP Championship Event is no mean feat; you do not take one down through luck alone.

The first $10,000 Championship Event of the 2021 WSOP got underway yesterday with Event #9: $10,000 Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better Championship attracting 126 players. With that tournament about to shuffle up and deal, PokerNews takes a look back at the reigning Championship Event champions, and where better to start than with the 2019 $10,000 Omaha Hi-Lo.

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$10,000 Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better Championship – Frankie O’Dell

Frankie O'Dell
Frankie O’Dell

Frankie O’Dell came out on top of a 183-strong field in 2019 to win his third WSOP bracelet. It was also his third bracelet in an Omaha Hi-Lo event, with him having won a $1,500 buy-in vent in 2003 and a $2,000 buy-in event in 2007.

O’Dell defeated Owais Ahmed heads-up to secure the $443,641 top prize after contending with the likes of Robert Mizrachi, Robert Campbell, David Benyamine, and Shaun Deed at the final table.

Place Player Country Prize
1 Frankie O’Dell United States $443,641
2 Owais Ahmed United States $274,192
3 Robert Mizrachi United States $194,850
4 Nick Guagenti United States $140,522
5 Robert Campbell Australia $102,868
6 Jake Schwartz United States $76,456
7 David Benyamine France $57,709
8 Edmond Vartughian United States $44,245
9 Shaun Deeb United States $34,467

$10,000 No Limit Hold’em Main Event – Hossein Ensan

Hossein Ensan
Hossein Ensan

Of course, the biggest Championship Event of any WSOP is the Main Event. Last year’s Main Event was an online/live hybrid, but 2019 saw 8,569 players exchange $10,000 at the cage of the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino and create a monster-sized $80,548,600 prize pool.

Germany’s Hossein Ensan got his hands on the lion’s share of the pot, namely $10 million, after defeating Italian high-stakes guru Dario Sammartino heads-up; Sammartino collected $6 million for his runner-up finish.

The Main Event, however, was perhaps best remembered for Garry Gates’ impressive fourth-place finish. Gates has been part of the poker media for many years and had the entire community in his corner. Gates’ run ended in fourth, a finish worth $3 million.

Place Player Country Prize
1 Hossein Ensan Germany $10,000,000
2 Daario Sammartino Italy $6,000,000
3 Alexander Livingston Canada $4,000,000
4 Garry Gates United States $3,000,000
5 Kevin Maahs United States $2,200,000
6 Zhen Cai United States $1,850,000
7 Nick Marchington United Kingdom $1,525,000
8 Timothy Su United States $1,250,000
9 Milos Skrbic Serbia $1,000,000

$50,000 Poker Players Championship – Phil

Phil Hui


While the Main Event is the WSOP Championship Event for the people, the $50,000 Poker Players Championship is most certainly the event for the pros. It commands a buy-in of $50,000, which 74 players paid in 2019.

Main Event runner-up Dario Sammartino went deep but busted in ninths, with Phil Ivey and David Oppenheim crashing out in eighth and seventh place respectively. It was Phillip Hui who was the last man standing, and he got his hands on his second bracelet and 1,099,311 in cash, by far his largest-ever score.

Place Player Country Prize
1 Phil Hui United States $1,099,311
2 Josh Arieh United States $679,426
3 John Esposito United States $466,407
4 Bryce Yockey United States $325,989
5 Shaun Deeb United States $232,058
6 Daniel Cates United States $168,305

$10,000 Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo 8 or Better Championship – Robert Campbell

Robert Campbell
Robert Campbell

Australian Robert Campbell won the $10,000 Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo event, which helped him become the 2019 WSOP Player of the Year. Campbell overcame 150 opponents, including Mike Matusow at the final table, to win $385,763.

It was Campbell’s second bracelet of the series having won the $1,500 Limit 2-7 Lowball Triple Draw event a fortnight earlier.

Place Player Country Prize
1 Robert Campbell Australia $385,763
2 Yueqi Zhu United States $238,420
3 Mike Wattel United States $164,647
4 Mike Matusow United States $116,255
5 Ryan Hughes United States $83,971
6 Qinghai Pan United States $62,079
7 Andrey Zhigalov Russia $46,999

$10,000 Seven Card Stud Championship – John Hennigan

John Hennigan
John Hennigan

John “World” Hennigan has an almost supernatural ability to win big buy-in events. He is the reigning $10,000 Seven Card Stud Championship champion after he took it down in 2019 for $245,451. Hennigan defeated Daniel Negreanu heads-up in that tournament as he won his sixth WSOP bracelet.

Three of Hennigan’s other bracelets have come in Championship events. He won the $50,000 Poker Players Championship (2014), the $10,000 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball (2016), and the $10,000 H.OR.S.E (2018). Do not bet against Hennigan winning another $10,000+ event in 2021.

Place Player Country Prize
1 John Hennigan United States $245,451
2 Daniel Negreanu Canada $151,700
3 David “ODB” Baker United States $104,416
4 Michael Semenov Russia $73,810
5 David Singer United States $53,621
6 Chris Tryba United States $40,066
7 Frank Kassela United States $30,817
8 Frankie O’Dell United States $30,817

$10,000 Razz Championship – Scott Seiver

Scott Seiver
Scott Seiver

Scott Seiver has two WSOP Championship event titles to his name. Seiver won the $10,000 Limit Hold’em Championship in 2018 and followed that up with the $10,000 Razz bracelet in 2019.

Seiver came out on top of a tough final table in the $10,000 Razz in 2019, a table that housed such luminaries as David Bach, Andre Akkari, Daniel Negreanu, and Chris “Jesus” Ferguson.

Place Player Country Prize
1 Scott Seiver United States $301,421
2 Andrey Zhigalov Russia $186,293
3 Chris Ferguson United States $131,194
4 Daniel Zack United States $94,305
5 Daniel Negreanu Canada $69,223
6 Andrew Akkari Brazil $51,911
7 David Bach United States $39,788

$10,000 Pot Limit Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better Championship – Nick Schulman

Nick Schulman
Nick Schulman

The 2019 edition of the $10,000 Pot Limit Omaha Hi-Lo event attracted 193 players, including Nick Schulman. It was Schulman who accumulated all the chips in play and who scooped the $463,670 top prize.

Schulman found himself three-handed against former WSOP Main Event champion Joe Hachem and Brian Hastings. Neither posed a threat as Schulman came out on top to win his third bracelet; his other two both came in the$10,000 NL 2-7 Lowball Championship events.

Place Player Country Prize
1 Nick Schulman United States $463,670
2 Brian Hastings United States $286,570
3 Joe Hachem Australia $201,041
4 Denis Strebkov Russia $143,700
5 Christopher Vitch United States $104,688
6 Corey Hochman United States $77,763
7 Michael McKenna United States $58,918
8 Bryce Yockey United States $45,551

$10,000 No Limit Hold’em 6-Handed Championship – Anuj Agarwal

Anuj Agarwal
Anuj Agarwal

Anuj Agarwal had cashed a couple of times in WSOP events before 2019 but those results, with all due respect, were not anything to write home about. That changed when Agarwal bought into the $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em Championship 6-Handed event alongside 271 others. Three days after parting company with a five-figure buy-in Agarwal beat Australia’s Kahle Burns heads-up to become a WSOP champion.

The victory came with $630,747 and, of course, a coveted WSOP bracelet.

Place Player Country Prize
1 Anuj Agarwal United States $630,747
2 Kahle Burns Australia $389,832
3 Gal Yifrach United States $257,533
4 Leonard Maue Germany $174,252
5 Dong Chen China $120,828
6 Ben Heath United Kingdom $85,915

$10,000 No Limit 2-7 Lowball Draw Championship – Jim Bechtel

Jim Bechtel
Jim Bechtel

Jim Bechtel finished fourth in the 2006 $50,000 HO.R.S.E. event for $549,120 and then we hardly saw him until the 2019 WSOP. Bechtel appeared in the $10,000 No Limit 2-7 Lowball Championship where he muscled his way through the 91-strong field to emerge victoriously to secure the $253,817 top prize.

Bechtel had to contend with Galen Hall, Paul Volpe, Jean-Robert Bellande, Prahlad Friedman, and Darren Elias at the final table, but still managed to get the job done.

Place Player Country Prize
1 Jim Bechtel United States $253,817
2 Vince Musso United States $156,872
3 Darren Elias United States $109,738
4 Prahlad Friedman United States $78,157
5 Jean-Robert Bellande United States $56,693
6 Pedro Bromfman United States $41,897
7 Paul Volpe United States $31,556
8 Galen Hall United States $24,232

$10,000 Limit Hold’em Championship – Juha Helppi

Juha Helppi
Juha Helppi

Finland’s Juha Helppi came close to winning a WSOP Championship event in 2015 but fell in fifth place in the $25,000 Pot Limit Omaha High Roller. Helppi isn’t known for his fixed limit prowess, but you would never have known because he won the 2019 $10,000 Limit Hold’em Championship.

Helppi went on to win another championship event in 2020. The Finn triumphed in the $5,000 Pot Limit Omaha Championship online at GGPoker for an additional $290,286.

Place Player Country Prize
1 Juha Helppi Finland $306,622
2 Mike Lancaster Canada $189,505
3 Tam Hang United States $133,718
4 Anthony Marsico United States $96,272
5 Kevin Song United States $70,750
6 Josh Arieh United States $53,095
7 Kyle Ray United States $40,709
8 Qinghai Pan United States $31,902
9 Robert Como United States $25,566

$10,000 Limit 2-7 Lowball Triple Draw Championship – Luke Schwartz

Luke Schwartz
Luke Schwartz

The United Kingdom’s Luke Schwartz is known for his table trash talk more than he is his poker ability, and he likes it that way because his brash attitude masks a talented poker player.

Schwartz finished fourth in the 2012 edition of the $50,000 Poker Players Championship. He made amends for not winning that particular tournament by taking down the $10,000 Limit 2-7 Lowball Triple Draw Championship in 2019.

This was Schwartz’s first bracelet win. He had to defeat George Wolff heads-up to get his hands on it, but it was never in doubt in Schwartz’s mind.

Place Player Country Prize
1 Luke Schwartz United Kingdom $273,336
2 George Wolff United States $168,936
3 Johannes BeckerGermany $116,236  
4 Mark Gregorich United States $81,635
5 Yueqi Zhu United States $58,547
6 Calvin Anderson United States $42,898

$10,000 Heads Up No Limit Hold’em Championship – Sean Swingruber

Sean Swingruber
Sean Swingruber

Sean Swingruber had never cashed in a live WSOP event before he headed to Las Vegas in 2019. Swingruber is usually found playing low-to-mid-stakes tournaments, so it was a surprise to see him buy into the $10,000 No Limit Hold’em Heads-Up event. He went on to defeat Ben Yu in the final round, and walked away with $186,356 and a piece of poker’s most sought after jewelry.

Place Player Country Prize
1 Sean Swingruber United States $186,356
2 Ben Yu United States $115,174
3 Lance Garcia United States $73,333
4 Keith Lehr United States $73,333

$10,000 H.O.R.S.E. Championship – Greg Mueller

Greg Mueller
Greg Mueller

Canada’s Greg Mueller won two WSOP bracelets in 2009, including the $10,000 Limit Hold’em Championship. He waited another decade before banking his third bracelet, but it was worth the wait.

Mueller showcased his mixed game skills in the 2019 $10,000 H.O.R.S.E. Championship, and bulldozed his way to victory, leaving the likes pf Phil Galfond, Scott Clements, Dario Sammartino, and runner-up Daniel Ospina in his wake.

Place Player Country Prize
1 Greg Mueller Canada $425,347
2 Daniel Ospina Colombia $262,882
3 Dario Sammartino Italy $184,854
4 Scott Clements United States $132,288
5 Craig Chait United States $93,678
6 Michael Semenov Russia $71,505
7 Matthew Gonzales United States $54,043
8 Phil Galfond United States $41,625

$10,000 Dealers Choice 6-Handed Championship – Adam Friedman

Champion Adam Friedman
Adam Friedman

Ohio’s Adam Friedman has a trio of WSOP bracelets to his name, two coming from Championship events. Friedman won the $10,000 Dealers Choice in 2018 and followed that up with a victory in the same event in 2019!

There is a $10,000 Dealer’s Choice on October 18, 2021. Friedman couldn’t go back-to-back-to-back, could he?

Place Player Country Prize
1 Adam Friedman United States $312,417
2 Shaun Deeb United States $193,090
3 Matt Glantz United States $139,126
4 David Moskowitz United States $100,440
5 Michael McKenna United States $72,653
6 Nick Schulman United States $52,656

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