Biggest Post-WSOP Poker Tournament Highlights of 2016: Who Amazed Us in the Second Half of the Year

January 2nd, 2017 | by Jason Reynolds

When it comes to poker tournaments, the World Series of Poker (WSOP) is the largest series of the year. But it’s far from the only one. There are events held across the world, and we thought it worthwhile to take a look back at 2016’s most exciting non-WSOP tournament moments, from August through December.


In November 2016, longtime World Poker Tour commentator Mike Sexton etched his name on the WPT Champions Cup by winning the WPT Montreal. (Image: WPT)

Sylvia Wins First Major Event

The first major tournament after the WSOP was the WPT Choctaw, a tournament that drew 1,066 players and saw James “” Mackey take the top spot for $681,758. A week later, down at the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open, Jason Koon beat out an 847-player field to win that stop’s Main Event for a cool $1 million. On the same day, Marvin Rettenmaier bested a field of 105 entrants to win the SHRPO $25k High Roller for $787,497.

Other winners at the stop included Connor Drinan (High Roller for 957,644), Pratyush Buddiga (Single-Day High Roller for $780,095), and Sebastian Malec (Main Event for $1,271,041).

In mid-August, Pat Lyons won the 12th Annual Arizona State Poker Championship for $241,700, and less than three weeks later won the WPT Legends of Poker for $615,346. Those events had fields of 1,510 and 687 entries respectively.

And then in September, 2012 WSOP Main Event runner-up Jesse Sylvia outlasted a field of 1,197 entrants to win the WPT Borgata Poker Open Main Event for $821,811, his first major win.

“Colossus” Cord Garcia bested a 488-entry field to win the Heartland Poker Tour Golden Gates Casino for $164,988, also in September.

Smiley Gets His Smile On

Zachary Smiley, an unemployed medical school dropout, kicked off October when his first-ever cash was $341,536 for winning the WPT Maryland Live!

A week later, Elton Tsang bested a field of 28 entries to win the 2016 Monte-Carlo One Drop Extravaganza €1,000,000 buy-in Big One for One Drop for $12,248,912. That took him from 3,102nd place on the all-time money list all the way up to 21st place. At the same stop, Paul Phua won the €100K Re-Entry for $825,619.

Back in the States, Brett Blackwood took down a $188,314 first-place prize in the 2016 Mid-States Poker Tour Michigan State Poker Championship. The 884 runners in that event made it the largest tournament in Michigan state history.

In late October, the EPT Malta crowned several notable winners including Dietrich Fast, who won the High Roller for $191,821, and David Yan, who won the €25K High Roller for $510,471. Meanwhile, Jakub Michalak won the Single-Day High Roller for $193,789, Stefan Jedlicka took down a €10K High Roller for $365,496, and Aliaksei Boika won the Main Event for $386,962.

Closing Out 2016 in Style

In November, Wai Kin Yong, the son of Richard Yong, outlasted 44 unique entrants to win the Triton Super High Roller Series HK$500,000 ($65,000 USD) Main Event for nearly $2.1 million.

It’s also when Carl Carodenuto won his third MSPT title in an 11-month span over fields of 470, 376 and 490 entries for a combined $320,980 in prize money. Other highlights around that time include David Peters winning the ARIA $50,000 Super High Roller 13 and finishing runner-up in the ARIA $25,000 High Roller 51 in the same weekend, Niall Farrell winning the WPT Caribbean for $335,000, and Hakim Zoufri taking down the 2016 Master Classics of Poker Main Event for $249,661.

But the biggest story of the month came when Mike Sexton, who had commentated on the WPT since the tour’s inception, won one of their events. Sexton bested a 648-player field in the WPT Montreal at Playground Poker Club to win $425,980, and perhaps more importantly, etched his name on the WPT Champions Cup.

Fedor Holz Leaves His Mark on 2016

Fedor Holz kept his 2016 hot streak rolling in August by winning the EPT Barcelona Super High Roller for $1,471,170.

The year undoubtedly belonged to Holz, who has amassed more than $16.4 million in tournament earnings. That doesn’t even take into account the $1.1 million he won after finishing runner-up in the WCOOP Super High Roller. Fedor is well ahead of the competition in live earnings, even including Elton Tsang’s $12.2 million and the $8 million Qui Nguyen took home from winning the WSOP Main Event.


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