The 2023 PokerGo Tour (PGT) Championship concluded with Germany’s Daniel Smiljkovic defeating Hollywood actress Arden Cho heads-up to win the trophy and $500,000 first-place prize.
The final table began with all players in the money and Smiljkovic was in the lead with more than 40% of the chips in play. A short-stacked Darren Elias was first to go in sixth place when he was in a three-way all-in with ace-king versus ace-king versus queens. An ace hit the flop, but a queen spiked the river and Elias was gone.
Artur Martirosyan almost held the chip lead at one point during five-handed play, but he ended up being eliminated in fifth place. Martirosyan had become the short stack and got ace-king in against fives, and although an ace came on the flop, a five hit the felt on the turn, and the Russian high roller made his exit.
Reigning WSOP Main Event champion Daniel Weinman made a deep run, but he was eliminated in fourth place after he called off the rest of his stack on the river and ran into Smiljkovic’s trips.
Germany’s Leon Sturm held the lead when three-handed play began, but Cho went on a run where she made successful bluffs and correct calls and surged into the lead while her entertaining and talkative nature provided an interesting contrast with the often-reserved disposition of top pros playing for large sums of money.
After Cho took the lead, she found a river call to leave Sturm short-stacked, and Sturm was soon eliminated in third place by fellow German Smiljkovic.
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Cho held a chip lead of more than 2.5:1 when heads-up play began and had a chance to win when she got nines in against ace-king. However, Smiljkovic flopped an ace and a lengthy battle would ensue. The lead flipped back and forth before Smiljkovic doubled to get nearly even and then doubled again after flopping the nuts to hold an overwhelming lead. On the following hand, Smiljkovic got jack-five in against Cho’s ace-nine. A jack spiked the turn, and Cho was eliminated in second place, while Smiljkovic was crowned the 2023 PGT Championship winner.
1st: Daniel Smiljkovic – $500,000
2nd: Arden Cho – $200,000
3rd: Leon Sturm – $120,000
4th: Daniel Weinman – $80,000
5th: Artur Martirosyan – $60,000
6th: Darren Elias – $40,000
The PGT Championship was open to the top 40 players on the PGT leaderboard and 14 Dream Seat winners who were eligible to participate in the $1,000,000 freeroll tournament.
With a dominating 2023 PGT campaign, Isaac Haxton was crowned the 2023 PGT Player of the Year. Haxton accumulated 2,847 PGT points to finish more than 350 points ahead of Chris Brewer on the PGT leaderboard.
Haxton’s 2023 PGT success began in January when he won the PokerGO Cup $50,000 finale for $598,000. He then won Event #8: $25,000 NL Hold’em at the U.S. Poker Open for $432,000. At the 2023 World Series of Poker, Haxton topped the field in the $25,000 High Roller event to win $1,698,215.
In September, Haxton won his second career Super High Roller Bowl title for winning SHRB VIII for $2,760,000. He almost won another SHRB title this season when he finished second in the first-ever SHRB PLO for $836,000. All told, Haxton booked four wins, 14 cashes, and $7,243,295 in prize money from PGT-qualifying events in the 2023 season. For topping the leaderboard and becoming PGT Player of the Year, Haxton earned a $50,000 bonus.
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