Aliaksandr Shylko wins PokerStars Players Championship

Aliaksandr Shylko
Terrance Reid
Posted on: February 03, 2023 11:06 PST

The $25,000 PokerStars Players Championship has come to a close here at the Baha Mar Resort, a paradisaic Bahamian venue. The five-day, marquee event saw 1,014 runners take their shot at PSPC tournament glory.

At the end of it all, it was Aliaksandr Shylko who outlasted the entire field, hoisted the stunning trophy, and claimed the massive $3,021,838* first-place prize.

Shylko was all in and at risk as a big underdog, holding ace-ten against the chip leader Philipe Pizzari's ace-king. He drilled a gutshot straight on the river to not only stay alive but take the chip lead. That pot held one-third of the chips in play, and Shylko used those chips to battle his way to the top.

Final Day Results

Place Player Country Prize USD
1 Aliaksandr Shylko Belarus $3,021,838*
2 Max Menzel Germany $2,859,990*
3 Philipe Pizzari Brazil $2,524,871*
4 Nacho Barbero Argentina $1,551,300
5 Pedro Marques Portugal $1,251,500
6 Niclas Thumm Germany $1,001,200

We knew the start of the day would be exciting, but the first orbit was chaotic in a way we couldn't have imagined. An early and unexpected change in the chip lead came as a result of a blunder from Barbero.

Want to see every minute of our tournament coverage?

Go straight to PokerOrg Instant Live from the PSPC coverage

The early blunder

Aliaksandr Shylko opened with pocket jacks from under the gun. While he did so, Barbero was chatting with and riling up the rail. When he regained focus, he found himself in the small blind. Holding nine-three suited, he looked at the small stack to his left and slid in just over 5,000,000, about 20 big blinds at the time. The big blind folded. Barbero went to fold himself, but Shylko announced his involvement. "No, I opened," he said. You could see the visible shock on Barbero at the realization.


Shylko also seemed to have a full grasp of the situation. He didn't take long before moving in his stack of about 11 million. Barbero had no choice but to fold. He shipped more than 5 million to Shylko along with the chip lead. By the end of the first level of the day, Barbero had gone from chip leader to third place in the counts. He recovered over the next few levels, but then eventually his roller-coaster day was over when he was eliminated in 4th place.

Deal time

When the event reached three players, talks of an ICM chop began. Within about 15 minutes of crunching the numbers, the three remaining players reached a deal. The prize pool was redistributed, although the players set aside $300,000 to play for once they had locked up their paydays. Second place would receive an additional $100,000 and first place an additional $200,000 and the trophy.

Deal Neil Stoddart

Often after a deal is made, play loosens up considerably. In this case, there wasn't a big change in play styles. However, blinds were ever-increasing and stacks were shallowing. After just about an hour of post-deal play, two quick eliminations came in succession.

Closing it out

A key moment that led to Shylko's victory was a massive cooler during three-handed play. He picked up pocket aces against the pocket queens of Max Menzel. They understandably got all the chips in the middle, and Shylko's aces held. That gave him more than 60 percent of the chips in play, and he rode that pot to the championship.

Philipe Pizzari was next to hit the rail in third place. With Shylko holding the majority of the chips, Pizzari had about seven big blinds and Menzel had about twelve. Pizzari found a suited jack-seven on the button and moved all in. Menzel woke up with king-queen suited and called. Pizzari flopped a flush draw but couldn't get there and left the greatest financial beneficiary on the chop, picking up an extra $600,000 or so.

Philipe Pizzari NEIL STODDART

It was then heads-up between Shylko and Menzel. Shylko had 52 big blinds to Menzel's 21 big blinds. Once more, as in 2019, a Platinum Pass winner would be battling for the championship as one of the final two. Menzel had a big chip deficit to overcome, though.

Heads-up play didn't last long.

Max Menzel Aliaksandr Shylko NEIL STODDART

Shylko made a full house against Menzel's open-ended straight draw. With Menzel betting his draw, Shylko played his full house as a call, which worked out perfectly. Menzel drilled his no-good straight on the river, all but sealing his fate. Both players put their chips in with confidence. Shylko's full house ended the Platinum Pass qualifier's run in 2nd place.

A huge congratulations to Aliaksandr Shylko on his impressive victory. It was a pleasure watching him play all week long. He treated those around him with respect and professionalism and played like a champion all week long. The trophy, money, and prestige that he earned this week were well deserved.

Aliaksandr Shylko NEIL STODDART

Our whole team has enjoyed bringing you close to the action here in The Bahamas. The PokerStars Players Championship is truly one of the most special tournaments of the year. We consider ourselves lucky to be here and report on all of the action.

Thanks for coming along for the ride and experiencing the tournament with us. We have big plans for this year and look forward to bringing you even more tournament action. Until then, see you soon, poker fans.

2023 PSPC Winners and Prizes

See how much money everyone won