Records were set at the 2023 World Series of Poker (WSOP), and not just when it came to attendance. Mike Holtz, aka “BrockLesnar,” set a single-series cashes record with 25, while Ian Matakis held on to win Player of the Year.
Allen Kessler caused a bit of a stink about both players’ accomplishments on Twitter as he disagrees that online bracelet cashes should count in the POY race. But the rules are the rules and it isn’t the “Chainsaw” who is tasked with determine the scoring system.
Matakis a Surprising Winner
Matakis was an accomplished poker player prior to the start of the 2023 WSOP, but he wasn’t on anyone’s radar for Player of the Year entering the series. The Minnesota native put on an impressive performance this summer and held on to beat out the likes of Shaun Deeb, Chris Brewer, and Josh Arieh.
With one bracelet and 22 total cashes — nine of which were online — Matakis had a summer to remember. His biggest score of them all was for $205,696 when he took third place in a $3,000 pot-limit Omaha event. He finished in the top 10 six times, including his first career bracelet in Online Event #2: $500 No-Limit Hold’em Bankroll Builder.
Matakis, who finished with 5,203 points, made it difficult for anyone else to beat him in the Player of the Year race with that late third place finish. Deeb and Brewer were his closest competitors, finishing with 4,276 and 4,127 points, respectively. Arieh, who won multiple bracelets for the second time in three years, finished in fourth place with 3,865 points. Jesse Lonis rounded out the top five at 3,865.
Phil Hellmuth fell short of Player of the Year, but he did have another successful World Series of Poker, which included his record-extending 17th bracelet. The “Poker Brat” racked up 3,072 points, good for ninth place. Daniel Negreanu, on the other hand, a perennial POY contender, had a second straight rough summer and only finished in 18th place with 2,834 points and was never in contention.
2023 WSOP Player of the Year Final Standings
There’s a New Record Holder
Holtz didn’t factor much in the Player of the Year race (14th place), but he set the single-series record with 25 bracelet event cashes. Deeb was just one off the mark at 24, while Scott Bohlman and Ben Yu were tied with 23.
One of the top grinders on WSOP.com under screen name “BrockLesnar,” Holtz didn’t only have success this summer online. Of those 25 cashes, 13 were live, including a seventh place finish out of 2,759 in Event #31: $600 Mixed No-Limit Hold’em; Pot-Limit Omaha Deepstack for $30,081.
“I knew early on that I had accumulated a larger than average amount of cashes and was curious where I stood,” Holtz said of setting the record. “When I looked online I realized I had 10 and was leading by two. I checked how many the previous years had accumulated and realized the most ever according to WSOP were Chris Ferguson and Daniel Negreanu with 23 cashes. I realized I was on pace to surpass this and from then on in the series was a sub conscious goal of mine. It’s certainly something that I am incredibly proud of and will remember forever.”
Holz didn’t win the live WSOP Player of the Year race, but he’s on pace to capture the 2023 WSOP.com Player of the Year race, which wraps up at the end of the calendar year.