Ezequiel “EZ” Waigel Wins Card Player Poker Tour Venetian Main Event

Ezequiel ‘EZ’ Waigel dominated the 975-entry field in the $2,500 Card Player Poker Tour Venetian main event en route to the $417,004 first-place money, which was the biggest cash of his poker career.

The Argentinian bagged one of the biggest stacks on Day 1A of the event and never seemed to be short on chips throughout the three-day event. At the conclusion of Day 2, Waigel bagged up the third biggest chip stack of the final 15 players, and when those 15 were whittled down to the final table, Waigel had amassed the chip lead.

From there, it was smooth sailing as he nearly went wire-to-wire with the chip lead and was never worse than second in chips for a brief period when eventual fifth-place finisher Donovan Dean briefly amassed the largest stack. At one point during six-handed play, Waigel held roughly half of the chips in play. It seemed like a forgone conclusion that Waigel would take home the trophy, a feeling that Waigel himself acknowledged himself.

“You never know your destiny,” said Waigel after the victory. “I was supposed to get seat 3 yesterday during the [final three table] redraw, but they gave me seat 6 instead. That ended up being a good seat.”

Waigel defeated Kevin O’Donnell heads-up, but Waigel started their battle with a 7-to-1 chip advantage and the Arizona native was never able to get any momentum moving in his direction in their short-lived match. O’Donnell picked up $287,247 for his runner-up finish.

O’Donnell is an established high-stakes regular that vaulted his career tournament earnings over the $2 million mark with his second-place score.

Aside from O’Donnell, Waigel navigated through a final table that featured some elite poker talent. World Series of Poker bracelet winner and World Poker Tour champion Keven Stammen finished sixth and Fabian Gumz, a German player with seven figures worth of career earnings, finished third. Waigel also eliminated recently crowned WSOP Online bracelet winner Justin Saliba a few spots before the final table in 13th.

Other notable pros to finish in the money included Shankar Pillai (99th – $5,324), Kyle Cartwright ($5,324), Matas Cimbolas (92nd – $5,324), Sohale Khalili (84th – $5,545), 2016 WSOP main event fifth-place finisher Vojtech Ruzicka (75th – $5,767), Elio Fox (73rd – $5,767), Aaron Massey (70th – $5,989), triple crown winner Adrian Mateos (49th – $7,098), 2014 WSOP main event champion Martin Jacobson (46th – $7,098), WSOP bracelet winner Alan Percal ($7,985), Joe Serock (41st – $7,985), and John Phan (24th – $12,200).

Waigel is a South American but is no stranger to Las Vegas. He frequently makes the trek north of the equator to Las Vegas to take part in the WSOP and other tournaments around the city, but since this year’s series is taking place in the fall instead of the summer, Waigel is enjoying Sin City just a little bit more.

“This is a great time of the year to be here, and I’m having a lot of fun,” he said.

Final Table Results:

Place Player Earnings POY Points
1 Ezequiel Waigel $417,004 1,368
2 Kevin O’Donnell $287,247 1,140
3 Fabian Gumz $210,722 912
4 Tibor Nagygyoery $157,487 684
5 Donovan Dean $117,561 570
6 Keven Stammen $88,725 456
7 Alexander Villa $66,544 342
8 Michael Rossitto $48,799 228
9 Marco Bognanni $36,821 114