The release of the annual WSOP schedule is always eagerly anticipated by poker players and fans alike. This year, the excitement ran higher than usual thanks to the COVID pandemic washing out the 2020 WSOP. Another twist was the series’ move to its new fall time slot.
Halloween is a big deal in Las Vegas, and the series bracketing the holiday led to at least one prop bet that the Monster Stack would be scheduled for October 31st. The opportunity for “shuffle up and deal” preceded by Bobby Pickett belting out “Monster Mash” seemed too good to pass up.
WSOP took a different view, and decided instead to start the Super Seniors on Halloween. This bold decision raises the very real possibility that an elderly contestant may stumble across a succubus in the Rio hallways, with potentially tragic results.
Truly a world series
The depressed numbers for many of the early events at this year’s series have been attributed at least in part to the difficulties of international travel. It was therefore encouraging to see players from multiple countries making the final ten of the Monster Stack.
The Americans were joined by Rafael Reis (Brazil), Christopher Andler (Sweden), Mordechai Hazan (Israel), Johan Schumacher (Belgium), and Jaesh Balachandran (Singapore). This United Nations of poker, along with the U.S. easing of travel restrictions from abroad, has intensified the buzz that this year’s Main Event might top the all-time attendance record.
Clash of two Titans
The final table began with Ryan Leng holding the chip lead. Mike Noori spent much of the day nursing a relatively short stack, but that was all he needed to outlast the rest of the field and meet Leng for the heads-up tussle.
With over three million in live earnings between them, and countless online accolades, this was a match between two poker monsters. Leng began the encounter with the chip advantage, but Athena was looking kindly on Noori. Completing a straight over Leng’s two pair vaulted Noori into the chip lead. He closed out the tournament when his QQ faded Leng’s turned flush draw.
The gold bracelet that accompanies the Monster Stack title is Noori’s first.
Final table pay-outs
- Michael Noori: $610,437
- Ryan Leng: $377,220
- Rafael Reis: $288,101
- Christopher Andler: $$221,289
- Charlie Dawson: $170,943
- Mordechai Hazan: $132,812
- Daniel Fortier: $103,784
- Johan Schumacher: $81,573
- Anthony Ortega: $64,490
- Jaesh Balachandran: $51,286
Featured image source: PokerGO/Antonio Abrego