Diego Ventura has a long list of accomplishments in his poker career, but a major series title had always eluded the Peruvian all-time money list leader. It took an extra day, but that drought finally came to an end in Event #86: $1,979 Poker Hall of Fame Bounty No-Limit Hold’em at the 2023 World Series of Poker (WSOP).
Ventura outlasted a record-breaking field of 1,417 entries at Horseshoe and Paris Las Vegas, including 15 Poker Hall of Fame members, to score the largest piece of the $2,465,590 prize pool and earn the first live WSOP bracelet for his native country of Peru.
Ventura told PokerNews that he envisioned being the first from his country to step into the winner’s circle in Las Vegas. “I think I always wanted to kind of open that door for other Peruvians to get inspired by that, and hopefully, everyone feels worthy of achieving big things in life”.
The victory over Thomas Kysar earned Ventura the $402,054 top prize along with his first piece of WSOP hardware. “Sometimes I used to doubt myself, because you know, how can I be playing for so long and I haven’t won many live tournaments,” Ventura said after his winner photos, “but then I was like God’s timing is the perfect timing”.
2023 WSOP Event #86 Final Table Results
|2||Thomas Kysar||United States||$248,502|
|4||Francis Anderson||United States||$131,324|
|6||Louie Torres||United States||$72,773|
Hall of Fame Field
The field was full of Poker Hall of Famers, with each holding a bounty on their head equalling the year that they were inducted. That list included the newest member Brian Rast, who was the first to be eliminated on Day 1.
Three Hall of Fame members made their way into the money, with Phil Hellmuth and Eli Elezra advancing to Day 2 before hitting the rail. Barbara Enright beat the bubble before exiting with a min-cash on Day 1.
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Final Table Action
The final nine returned for action on an unscheduled Day 3, with the slow pace of play from the previous night a thing of the past. Jimmy Setna was the first to hit the rail after running into aces. Israel’s Leonid Yanovski finished eighth after moving in against 2014 Main Event winner Martin Jacobson, though those chips didn’t last long as Jacobson would fall next when his pocket kings were cracked.
A similar fate awaited Louie Torres, who also his kings come second best to finish in sixth. Ventura and Kysar then took turns eliminating the next three players, with Jose Nadal calling for his tournament life in the big blind before Francis Anderson ran into pocket jacks. Jason James followed by raising into pocket queens to finish in third place.
Kyser took a sizeable chip lead into heads-up play, with both players trading the advantage several times. A break in the action let Ventura shift his focus, taking the lead for good and turning up the pressure. “After the last break I felt like I had a better idea of his strategy,” said Ventura, who let the emotion pour out after winning the final hand.
The Peruvian reflected on the moment after getting his hands on the bracelet. “I was actually getting emotional way before, like when I got to the final table I already wanted to cry. I was like, wait it’s not the moment yet, so I was trying to calm myself down. So when the moment arrived I was like so calm that I couldn’t let my emotions out until, I just started to look back at my life and in that moment I got emotional.”