Joao Vieira has long been one of the most dominant players on the online high-stakes tournament scene. While he has had plenty in live events, including winning a bracelet in the 2019 World Series of Poker $5,000 six-max event, he remained best known as an internet crusher. With a huge seven-figure victory in a $50,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em high roller at the 2022 WSOP, the 32-year-old Portuguese poker pro added another marquee live victory to further establish himself as a massive threat in both the online and live realms.
“This one was a little bit more enjoyable,” Vieira told WSOP reporters when asked about how this victory compared to his first bracelet win. “The first one was more like getting the monkey off my back. I had already done a lot of stuff online, very accomplished, but I still needed the big one. So this kinda takes my name off the list of guys that didn’t have it.”
“This one is more enjoyable, not only because it’s my second one, but it’s also a big score. I’ve had a horrible summer this year in terms of results, even though I came in really prepared and I was playing pretty good. But the results were not there.”
In addition to the title and the money, Vieira also secured 1,020 Card Player Player of the Year points for the win. This was his first POY-qualified score of the year, with none of his 15 previous cashes this year resulting in a final-table appearance.
As one might expect in this high-stakes event, the 17 players that cashed were among some of the most accomplished tournament stars in the world. Among those that ran deep were 2021 WSOP main event champion Koray Aldemir (17th – $80,000), Card Player columnist and two-time World Poekr Tour main event winner Jonathan Little (16th – $80,000), Chris Hunichen (15th – $80,000), Henrik Hecklen (12th – $87,500), WPT champion Seth Davies (11th – $100,000), and current all-time money leader Justin Bonomo (10th – $100,000).
This event was scheduled to play out over the course of three days. After the field had been narrowed to eight following the elimination of bracelet winner Alexandros Theologis in ninth place ($124,974), the decision was made for the final eight to continue playing through at least 12 levels on day 2, or until a winner was decided.
Not long after that, bracelet winner and 2019 Card Player Player of the Year award winner Stephen Chidwick was eliminated in eighth place. The British poker pro shoved his last 3.5 big blinds from the cutoff with A2 and got looked up by Sean Perry, who held AK. Both players paired their ace on the flop, but Chidwick found no further help and was sent home with $158,278. This was his 19th final-table finish of the year, with four titles won and more than $5.2 million in POY-earnings accrued along the way. As a result, Chidwick has moved into the outright lead in the 2022 POY race. He also increased his lifetime earnings to more than $43.5 million.
Two-time bracelet winner Fedor Holz was the next to fall. The German poker pro ran A-Q suited into the A-K of Lander Lijo. Holz flopped a queen to take the lead, but Lijo turned the broadway straight to regain the lead. A blank on the river sent Holz home with $203,107 for his seventh-place showing. He now has more than $35.3 million in career cashes.
Lijo scored another knockout when his A-7 suited beat out the K-J of Perry in a preflop all-in confrontation. Lijo ended up playing ace high to drag the pot and narrow the field to five. Perry secured $264,034 as the sixth-place finisher.
Vieira scored his first knockout of the final table when his top pair, top kicker faded the nut flush draw of five-time bracelet winner Brian Rast. The chips went in on the K73 flop with Rast holding AJ and Viera AK. The K turn gave Vieira trips, but he still had to fade a diamond. The 5 on the end saw Rast eliminated in fifth place ($347,658). He now has nearly $22.9 million in recorded tournament earnings.
Dan Colpoys got the last of his stack in preflop with pocket sixes, only to find himself in rough shape facing the pocket eights of a surging Vieira. The larger pair held up and Colpoys was sent to the rial with a career-high payday of $463,589.
Three-handed play was a swingy affair, but eventually bracelet winner and 2011 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure main event champion Galen Hall was knocked out when he three-bet shoved from the small blind with A-2 facing a button raise from Vieira. Lijo four-bet shoved with A-J and Vieira got out of the way. Hall found no held on a king-high runout. He took home $625,941 as the third-place finisher.
Lijo took roughly a 3:2 chip lead into heads-up play against Vieira. He was able to extend that to more than 5:1 before Vieira launched his comeback. He scored an early double-up and then chipped away at Lijo’s remaining lead until things were more or less square. He then won a sizable pot without showdown to move into the lead.
After winning a big pot with trip sevens, Vieira had a 9:1 lead of his own. In the final hand he moved all-in from the button with AA and Lijo called for less than four big blinds with 85. The board ran out K109A4 to give Vieira a set of aces for the win. Lijo earned $855,631 as the runner-up, the largest score of his career.
Here is a look at the payouts and rankings points awarded at the final table:
|Place||Player||Earnings||POY Points||PGT Points|
|2||Lander Lijo Bereciartua||$855,631||850||513|
Winner photo credit: WSOP / Seth Haussler.
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