It wasn’t easy for Kenneth O’Donnell, but he managed to grind it out over the course of two days and was crowned a champion for his efforts at the 2023 World Series of Poker at the Horseshoe and Paris Las Vegas.
O’Donnell out maneuvered Jefferson Guerrero in a quick heads-up battle on Day 2 to take down Event #11: $600 No-Limit Hold’em Deepstack. In fact, the heads-up showdown went just three hands before O’Donnell emerged as the winner.
O'Donnell garnered a $351,098 winning prize and, of course, a WSOP bracelet, the first of his poker career. Guerrero collected $216,941 for his runner-up finish.
Event #11: $600 No-Limit Hold'em Deepstack Final Table Results
|1||Kenneth O'Donnell||United States||$351,098|
|3||Ka Chen Kan||China||$162,371|
|4||Aaron Georgelos||United States||$122,407|
|5||Robert Gittelman||United States||$92,953|
|6||Eric Pfenning||United States||$71,104|
|7||Manuel DeAlmeida||United States||$54,794|
|8||Andres Morales||United States||$42,539|
The newest WSOP bracelet winner's climb to the top meant he had to navigate a minefield of a who’s who in the poker community.
The player field boasted poker royalty with 16-time WSOP bracelet winner and Poker Hall of Famer Phil Hellmuth, as well as WSOP bracelet winner and Women in Poker Hall of Fame inductee Kathy Liebert.
Hellmuth’s quest for a 17th WSOP bracelet came to an end in Level 32 when he was eliminated in 47th place for a payout of $7,385.
O’Donnell also had to keep an eye on multiple WSOP bracelet winners, which included past WSOP Main Event champions Hellmuth, Greg Raymer, and Jerry Yang. Other notable bracelet winners to play the event included Pei Li, Allen Cunningham, Bradley Jensen, Jeremy Wien, Farzad Bonyadi, Erik Cajelais, David Jackson and Mike Ruter, among others.
Li made a deep run before being eliminated in 11th place for $26,223. Li’s exit ensured there would be a first-time WSOP bracelet winner at the conclusion of the tournament.
O’Donnell rose to the occasion in the face of stout competition. He persevered throughout the two-day event by steadily building his chip stack with well-timed aggression –– and he admits, some luck –– to get to the final table, which he started with the fourth-largest stack. And then he took it home.
A total of 6,085 entrants participated in Event #11, which generated a prize pool of $3,098,760.
Ka Chun Kan finished in third place ($162,371), while Aaron Georgelos took fourth place ($122,407).
O’Donnell, who calls St. Petersburg, Florida, home, says he’s been playing poker “for decades,” and nothing comes close to what he’s feeling after securing his first WSOP bracelet.
“It’s huge,” O’Donnell told PokerNews after winning the event. “It’s amazing.”
O’Donnell has cashed in tournaments before, according to his Hendon Mob page. His largest payout came when he took home $53,299 from a $1,700 No-Limit Hold’em tournament at the Seminole Hard Rock Tampa Poker Classic in 2021.
But this is the WSOP, and knowing the level of competition he faced in the tournament field brought the reality of the moment home.
“It’s absurdly lucky,” O’Donnell told PokerNews after coming out on top from the heads-up battle. “These giant field events are an exercise of just repeatedly getting lucky, and I did.
“I’m very, very happy to have been the ‘Chosen One’ for the poker gods today. This feels really special. I just feel really blessed.”
As for what’s next, O’Donnell doesn’t plan to go home just yet.
He’s remaining in Las Vegas and eyeing more tournaments. But first, he owes his wife a phone call to let her know he’s a WSOP bracelet winner.
“I’ll play something tomorrow (Wednesday),” O’Donnell said with a chuckle. “I’ll talk to my wife back home in a minute and wake her up.”
This concludes coverage of Event #11 of the 2023 WSOP, but make sure to continue to stay plugged in with PokerNews for live updates of your favorite events throughout the summer.