Dan Smith can finally cross his name off the list of the ‘best without a bracelet.’
Coming into the 2022 World Series of Poker Smith was the highest-earning tournament player on earth without a victory at the series. While he had accumulated more than $38.5 million in career scores, including over $10 million in bracelet events, the bracelet eluded him over a decade-plus of competition at the WSOP. The 33-year-old American poker pro got the monkey off his back in style, taking down the $25,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em heads-up championship event to secure his long-awaited first bracelet and the top prize of $509,717.
“It was always something I was thinking about, but I wouldn’t say the feeling is relief,” when asked if about how it felt to finally grasp the gold. “I’m happy to win, but I wasn’t overly stressed about it not happening yet.”
“I’ve had great World Series results, said Smith when asked if he felt that he had been a little unlucky at the WSOP to have not taken down an event prior to this. “Just because I happened to mostly get third place, if that’s the way my career or life has been unlucky, that’s incredibly fortunate. I think my results have been great without the ‘W’, but this helps.”
Smith was emotional after winning his sixth heads-up battle in a three-day span, with Jake Daniels, Laszlo Bujtas, Alex Foxen, Jonathan Jaffe, Dario Sammartino, and Christoph Vogelsang as his opponents.
“I’m not typically a very sentimental person,” he said while taking it all in. “I remember before the One Drop final table, everyone was like, ‘how important is it for you to be playing for this bracelet?’ and I was, ‘I’m focused on the $10 million today.’ Today it really was about the bracelet.”
Smith’s poker resume is one of the best in the game, with a bracelet win, a World Poker Tour title, numerous high roller victories, and an eighth-place ranking on poker’s all-time money list. Even with all of those accolades, one of his proudest achievements is the Double Up Drive charity initiative that has been running since 2014.
“I’m very proud of what I’ve accomplished in poker, and I think this is an important checkbox on my legacy and as one of the all-timers. I’m even more proud of what the whole poker community and I have come together to do with Double Up Drive. We’ve raised $25 million for good causes. While I love poker and am proud of it, thousands of people that would have died are now alive because of that.”
The Road To Gold
This event had a capped field of 64, which was met to build a prize pool of $1,512,000. The top eight finishers made the money, which meant that players had to win three consecutive one-on-one matches to see a return on their $25,000 buy-in.
The final four was set at the end of day 2, with Sean Winter, Jonathan Jaffe, Dylan Destefano, and recent WPT Choctaw main event winner Chance Kornuth all being knocked out in the round of eight. They each earned $75,045 for their deep runs.
The final day saw Smith face off against 2019 WSOP main event runner-up finisher Dario Sammartino. Italy’s tournament earnings leader got out the to the lead in the early going, but the tables turned when his pocket fives lost to Smith’s pocket eighths in a preflop all-in showdown. Smith was able to then extend his lead, finally closing out the match when his A-4 came from behind to beat Sammartino’s A-6 with all of the chips in preflop. Sammartino earned $193,537 for his semi-final showing.
2021 WSOP $100,000 buy-in event runner-up Kevin Rabichow earned the same amount when he was eliminated by German high-stakes pro Christoph Vogelsang.
This set up the final match between Smith and Vogelsang, who has nearly $28 million in career earnings to his name, including a $6 million win in the 2017 Super High Roller Bowl. Vogelsang received some criticism on social media for what some viewers of this event’s streaming coverage on PokerGO considered excessive tanking. Smith was quick to compliment his final opponent after the match, though.
“People love to give Christoph a hard time, but he’s a hell of a player,” said Smith. “He’s tanking because he’s really considering every spot. I didn’t steal a pot easily, every pot was a fight.”
Vogelsang held the lead early, but fell behind when Smith won a crucial pot with two pair. The tides turned yet again when Smith ran a multi-street bluff with bottom pair that was looked up by Vogelsang’s turned flush. Vogelsang began to pull away, but Smith surged back ahead when his pocket sixes won a preflop all-in against A-5.
Not long after that, Smith limped in from the button with A4 and Vogelsang raised to 550,000 from the big blind with A10. Smith responded by moving all-in. Vogelsang called for 4,130,000 total and was the favourite to win the hand and double up. The 842 flop gave Smith the lead. The 7 on the turn left him just one card aware from securing the title. The 3 on the river locked up the pot for Smith and sent Vogelsang to the rail with $315,029 for his runner-up finish. As a result, climbed into 18th place on poker’s all-time money list thanks to his strong showing in this event.
Smith earned 504 Card Player Player of the Year points for the win. This was his fifth POY-qualified score of the year. With $771,417 in year-to-date earnings and 1,032 points, he is now just outside the top 150 in the 2022 POY race, which is sponsored by Global Poker. He also secured 306 PokerGO Tour points, and is just outside the top 50 on that leaderboard.
Here is a look at the payouts and rankings points awarded to the top eight:
|Finish||Player||Earnings (USD)||POY Points||PGT Points|
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