Meet the 2023 WPT Prime Championship Final Table

Meet the 2023 WPT Prime Championship Final Table

Everything about the 2023 WPT Prime Championship has been big. The 10,516 entries made the $1,100 buy-in event the single largest live WPT-branded tournament field of all time, with a prize pool of $10,196,640. The $1,386,280 first-place prize, the biggest single payout in the history of WPT Prime, will be the largest career payday for any of the six remaining players.

The tournament was so big that it even required an additional day to play down from nine to the televised final table of six. And with the elimination of former WPT Player of the Year Mukul Pahuja in seventh place, Tuesdays final table was locked in.

Calvin Anderson, a four-time WSOP bracelet winner, headlines this class of Prime, 2023, and over the course of his career he has shown a proficiency in both big field No Limit Holdem tournaments and mixed game tournaments. Hell start Tuesdays final table in second place, looking up at Los Angeles Jay Lu, who surged into the lead on Day 4.

Two other players, Bob Buckenmayer and Valeriy Pak, both have over $1 million in lifetime earnings. Pak has had success in a number of WPT-branded events in his adopted home country of Korea, while Buckenmayer boasts a pair of deep World Series of Poker Main Event runs. And while John Glendinning and Aaron Pinson are in uncharted territory in terms of payout possibilities, each has a major final table appearance to their credit (WSOP and WPT, respectively.

Everyone is guaranteed at least $290,000 for making it this far, and ahead of the televised (and live-streamed) final table, lets get to know each of the six finalists in the 2023 WPT Prime Championship.

1. Jay Lu | 123,200,000 (77 big blinds)

Age: 25 Birthplace: Massachusetts Currently Resides: Los Angeles, California Lifetime Live Tournament Earnings: $45,316 Biggest Live Cash: $30,415, 38th, 2023 WSOP $1,500 Monster Stack

JLO, as he occasionally calls himself, is the youngest player remaining in the field, and carries the least tournament experience as well. Lu got pretty active over the summer, earning his first career five-figure tournament result in the $1,500 Monster Stack at this years WSOP. Now Lu is in a position to clear one, and maybe two career milestones next Tuesday his first six-figure cash and, if he wins, the first seven-figure result of poker career.

Hey, man, Im just glad to be here, said Lu. Im playing my game, even though I play very few tournaments. This is an exciting thing to do. I think whatever got me here is gonna continue working, hopefully.

Holding the chip lead is obviously an advantageous spot to be in, but with some grizzled tournament veterans in the mix, Lu will face a stiff challenge at the WPT Prime Championship final table.

I respect my competitors, said Lu. But I also am confident in my own game, so we’ll see what happens. Ill just play my best, and if I make mistakes, shit happens.

End of Day 1 Chip Count: 799,000 (43/1,309) End of Day 2 Chip Count: 4,675,000 (25/128) End of Day 3 Chip Count: 67,900,000 (2/9)

2. Calvin Anderson | 99,500,000 (62 big blinds)

Age: 35 Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan Currently Resides: Las Vegas, Nevada Lifetime Live Tournament Earnings: $3,569,809 Biggest Live Cash: $324,597, 2nd, 2016 WSOP $1,111 Little One for One Drop Other Notable Results: 1st, 2018 WSOP $10,000 Razz Championship for $309,220; 2nd, 2023 March Wynn Millions Poker Series $2,200 No Limit Holdem for $257,600; 10th, 2023 WPT EveryOne for One Drop for $257,600; 1st, 2014 WSOP $1,500 Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo for $190,538

Calvin Anderson ended Day 1B as one of the biggest stacks in the room, and has rarely veered from a position of power since that point. The four-time WSOP bracelet winner has accumulated over $3.5 million in lifetime earnings, but no one result on his record makes up more than 10 percent of that number.

That could change in a hurry, with a career-best result guaranteed for a finish of fifth place or better.

I mean, it’s crazy, said Anderson. I mean, this is the dream – a low buy-in, massive field. I mean, I kind of specialize in these, but to actually make it this deep is never even remotely expected. It’s really fortunate. I’m excited.

In terms of big money spots, with the exception of Bob Buckenmayer, no one else at this final table has played for the kinds of stakes Anderson is used to. Hes also got another strong element to his final table approach in the WPT Prime Championship Andersons been stockpiling time bank chips.

With the time banks in play, there’s going to be a lot of high pressure spots, a lot of high equity spots that I think a lot of people aren’t familiar with, said Anderson. I have put some work in and I have every time bank left. I haven’t used one the whle tournament. So yeah, that’s an advantage.

End of Day 1 Chip Count: 978,000 (14/1,309) End of Day 2 Chip Count: 10,750,000 (1/128) End of Day 3 Chip Count: 61,200,000 (3/9)

3. Bob Buckenmayer | 76,000,000 (48 big blinds)

Age: 79 Birthplace: Portland, Oregon Currently Resides: Henderson, Nevada Lifetime Live Tournament Earnings: $1,089,268 Biggest Live Cash: $369,026, 17th, 2012 WSOP Main Event Other Notable Results: 39th, 2015 WSOP Main Event for $164,086; 3rd, 2012 $10,300 Festa Al Lago Championship for $144,443

Bob Buckenmayer has knocked on the door of life-changing payouts a few time in his poker career. He made it to Day 7 of the 2012 WSOP Main Event, before falling in 17th place. In 2015, another deep WSOP Main Event run ended in 39th place. Buckenmayer has shown off a skill set for sticking around in big fields, and this time around, with more than 10,500 entrants in the field, Buckenmayer has locked up a spot at a major final table.

Buckenmayers run towards a solid final table stack in the WPT Prime Championship started late on Day 3, when he picked up pocket kings against Steven Jones pocket 10s. From there, his stack just continued to grow, and his persistence on picking the right spots paid off in a big way.

When I finished 39th in the WSOP, I think at one point, I got down to three big blinds, said Buckenmayer. I pride myself on my shortstack play. I’m very, very comfortable with anywhere from like eight big blinds forward. I know a lot of players really feel a sense of urgency when they get down to a certain low stack, but I’m proud of my mental game because I have worked that urgency out of my thought process.

I know what I need to do in every spot, and I just do it.

End of Day 1 Chip Count: 367,000 (442/1,309) End of Day 2 Chip Count: 1,725,000 (99/128) End of Day 3 Chip Count: 46,600,000 (5/9)

4. Jon Glendinning | 44,400,000 (28 big blinds)

Age: 36 Birthplace: Connecticut Currently Resides: Boulder, Colorado Lifetime Live Tournament Earnings: $192,706 Biggest Live Cash: $24,627, 6th, 2021 MSPT Blackhawk Main Event Other Notable Results: 7th, 2023 WSOP $1,500 No Limit Deuce to Seven for $16,562

Jon Glendinning was on the precipice of a disaster late on Day 3 of the WPT Prime Championship. In a brutal cooler setup, Glendinning flopped top pair with ace-queen, against a flopped set of fours from Steven Jones on a very dry board. But the runout flipped everything on its head, giving Glendinning a straight by the river, and from that point on Glendinning surged into the top stack by the end of Day 3.

His stack was cut down over the course of an abbreviated Day 4, but Glendinning has plenty of space for a comeback if things go his way next Tuesday.

It’s pretty surreal, said Glendinning. It’s like winning three tournaments in a row just to be here. It’s amazing to play with so many great players throughout this thing and still be in.

End of Day 1 Chip Count: 203,000 (846/1,309) End of Day 2 Chip Count: 4,825,000 (23/128) End of Day 3 Chip Count: 72,600,000 (1/9)

5. Valeriy Pak | 39,700,000(25 big blinds)

Age: 37 Birthplace: Uzbekistan Currently Resides: Korea Lifetime Live Tournament Earnings: $1,044,044 Biggest Live Cash: 1st, 2023 EPT Cyprus $2,200 Eureka High Roller for $338,460 Other Notable Results: 2nd, 2023 WPT Korea Main Event for $197,751; 1st, 2018 WPT Deepstacks Korea Main Event for $56,893

In terms of results in 2023, nobodys resume comes close to Veleriy Paks. He won an EPT Cyprus Eureka High Roller back in October, and posted a pair of top-3 results at WPT Korea back in July. Add in a WPTDeepstacks Korea victory in 2018, and Pak appears to be primed to make a run at the WPT Prime Championship.

Like Anderson and Buckenmayer, Pak has accumulated over $1 million in lifetime earnings. Like everyone other than Anderson, Pak can eclipse the entirety of his lifetime total with a win in the WPT Prime Championship.

End of Day 1 Chip Count: 576,000 (155/1,309) End of Day 2 Chip Count: 10,150,000 (2/128) End of Day 3 Chip Count: 60,200,000 (4/9)

6. Aaron Pinson | 38,600,000 (24 big blinds)

Age: 39 Birthplace: Baltimore, Maryland Currently Resides: Baltimore, Maryland Lifetime Live Tournament Earnings: $756,507 Biggest Live Cash: $91,230, 5th, 2018 WPT Maryland at Live! Casino for $91,230 Other Notable Results: 2nd, 2021 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open $1,100 No Limit Holdem for $81,220; 6th, 2019 WSOP $1,500 Super Turbo Bounty for $46,951

Aaron Pinson started Day 4 in sixth place, and ended it in exactly the same position. He lost a few chips, but Pinsons position is the envy of all but five other entrants in the WPT Prime Championship.

Pinson has made both a WSOP and a WPT Main Tour final table in his career, but this is far and away the most money hes ever played for at a final table.

Im kind of thoughtless right now, said Pinson. It’s a lot of money. I’m trying not to really even grasp it, to be honest, until it’s over.

Pinsons solution, or at least part of his plan, is to jump into the $10,400 WPT World Championship at make a run in that tournament as well. That way, the moment cant get too big for him.

I better stay in that tournament, said Pinson, So I don’t get to overthink. I’ll be in that tournament, hopefully until then, and make everybody have to wait till the evening when I make Day 5 of the WPT World Championship. And that’ll be that.

End of Day 1 Chip Count: 126,000 (1,120/1,309) End of Day 2 Chip Count: 7,050,000 (9/128) End of Day 3 Chip Count: 45,900,000 (6/9)

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