Moldova, Poland Win First-Ever Live WSOP Bracelets in Vegas –

Moldova, Poland Win First-Ever Live WSOP Bracelets in Vegas -

Posted on: June 29, 2023, 06:56h. 

Last updated on: June 29, 2023, 06:57h.

The US may be the country with the most World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelets, but it can’t claim all of them. The list of winning countries just grew a little longer this week, adding Moldova and Poland with their first two live-poker tournament wins.

Poker players participate in a WSOP tournament
Poker players participate in a WSOP tournament. Players from Moldova and Poland have given their countries their first live WSOP tournament bracelets. (Image: Las Vegas Review-Journal)

The US tops the WSOP bracelet list with 1,453, according to The Hendon Mob, with Canada (78) and England (60) in second and third. Even Morocco and Kosovo have been on the list for a couple of years.

Thanks to strong performances that included beating several high-profile players, both Moldova and Poland now appear on the list for live tournament wins. With more poker ahead in the ongoing series, there’s still a chance for these two countries to add another.

Poland Earns WSOP Bracelet Through Horecki

The WSOP $1,500 seven card stud eight-or-better event attracted 566 entries, including tournament regulars like Brian Rast and Sergio Braga. Another long-time regular was there, as well, still looking for his first WSOP title 17 years after his first live cash.

It finally happened, and it couldn’t have been more colorful. Poland’s Marcin Horecki emerged with the bracelet after taking down four-time WSOP bracelet winner Mike “The Mouth” Matusow.

Horecki overcame considerable odds to get to the final table and, subsequently, the win. He was near the bottom of the standings when the last day of action began, but played smart to work his way through the maze.

That included surpassing Rast, a six-time WSOP bracelet winner and three-time Poker Players Championship winner, who exited in seventh place. It also meant having to face Matusow in the final heads-up battle for the victory.

As players continued to fall and the field shrunk to just two, Horecki and Matusow locked horns. Horecki started off with a massive chip lead, but Matusow, a 2023 Poker Hall of Fame finalist, repeatedly clawed his way back to life.

Eventually, the end was in sight. Matusow was on the ropes with a chip stack that was dwindling quickly. An all-in shove and an answered plea to the poker gods didn’t deliver the right cards. He had to settle for second place and $95,957.

Horecki broke his dry spell in spectacular fashion, pushing his lifetime live poker winnings to almost $1.6 million. His last first-place win was six years ago, when he won the €330 Seven Card Stud tournament in the WSOP Circuit series in Rozvadov, Czech Republic.

Poland already had a WSOP bracelet, but through an online tourney. Dominik Panka won it at the $2,100 No-Limit Hold’em – Bounty Championship online event in 2021.

Moldova In The Books

Moldova never had a WSOP bracelet winner until Pavel Plesuv, although plenty of his compatriots have tried. Dragos Trofimov is probably the most recognizable, having spent a long time close to the top of the country’s all-time moneymakers.

When Plesuv sat down for the WSOP $1,500 Millionaire Maker No-Limit Hold’em event, he probably didn’t expect to emerge as the winner. He’s Moldova’s leading poker player and had around $5 million in winnings before the game. However, he had never managed to find a WSOP bracelet event title.

After five days and a field of 10,430, that all changed. Plesuv began to realize what was in the cards when he made it to the final table, and the potential outcome became clearer on one massive hand.

In a massive coup, Plesuv scored a straight holding A-2 when the board gave him the runners he needed. He was heads-up against Andreas Kniep, who had baited him into going all-in and began to gloat.

The Germany poker pro’s reaction turned solemn as the cards were revealed, though. He realized his pocket Aces were dead and was about to leave in fourth place.

That gave Plesuv a huge boost, which he used as a springboard to keep control of the board. He eventually met France’s  Florian Ribouchon in the final heads-up battle for the title.

Only a few short hands later, Plesuv hoisted the bracelet as he celebrated with his friends and family, $1.2 million richer. Ribouchon would take $1 million for his second-place finish.

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