After calling his shot, 28-year old Russian Aleksei Vandyshev was the last person standing in the $20 million guaranteed GGPoker 2021 World Series of Poker Online Main Event. He entered the final table, second in chips, and left with a $2,543,073 payday and his first career gold bracelet.
Prior to the playing of the final table, Vandyshev recorded a short interview in which he expressed supreme confidence that, in the end, it would be he who was this year’s Main Event champ.
“I think my strength as a poker player is that I have a built-in crystal ball, so I see it when people try to trick me,” Vandyshev said. “I think I can win because I don’t care at all about ICM. I will always find a way to bring home the bacon. I want the bracelet and I want it really badly. Other players should think twice because if they fight me, they will only prolong the suffering – the magic is with me.”
The magic was with him indeed. An active part of the final table, Vandyshev both took over the chip lead and found himself at the bottom of the chip counts several times. But he leaned on his nine years of experience as a professional poker player (and coach) to let the game come to him. When it did, he was able to close it out and lock up a career-defining victory.
It took no time at all for the first player to fall. In fact, it happened on the second hand of the final table. With the blinds at 300k/600k, U.S.-based pro Joe Serock moved all-in for more than 45 million on the button with and, in the small blind, a short-stacked Dimitrios Farmakoulis called putting his tournament life on the line. The runout was clean for Serock’s pocket sixes sending Greece’s Farmakoulis out in ninth for $254,308.
Forty-five minutes later the blinds were at 350k/700k when Vandyshev opened from the cutoff to 1.4 million holding the and Poland’s Dawid Smolka defended from the big blind off his stack of just over 8 million with a dominated . The flop came giving both top pair but keeping kickers in play. Smolka checked it to Vandyshev, who continued for just over 1.2 million. Smolka then check-raised all-in for roughly 7 million and Vandyshev quickly called. The came off on the turn, giving Smolka additional straight outs. But the river came the , improving Vandyshev to two pair and eliminating Smolka in eighth place for a $339,124 payout.
The two Brazilians at the table clashed during the same level. Start of the day chip leader, Edson Tsutsumi opened the action from the button to 1.47 million with the and his countryman, Renan Meneguetti three-bet shoved from the big blind holding . Tsutsumi made the call and the flop came , giving Meneguetti open-ended straight outs to go along with his pair outs. However, the turn and the river both missed him and Tsutsumi’s ace-high took the hand. Meneguetti bowed out in seventh place, good for $452,229.
With the elimination of Meneguetti, Norway’s Espen Jorstad took over the role of the table short stack. The blinds had climbed to 400k/800k when Jorstad fell victim to a brutal cooler. From the cutoff, Russian Nikita Kuznetsov raised to 1.6 million and was immediately called by Vandyshev on the button holding . When it was Jorstad’s turn in the big blind he looked down at and three-bet to just over 5 million, leaving himself with 11 million behind. Kuznetsov four-bet shoved and when Vandyshev folded, Jorstad clicked call. The flop looked good for the Norwegian, giving him top set and better than 85% to win the hand. But the hit the turn and with Kuznetsov improving to a straight, Jorstad needed the board to pair to survive. The river was the and rather than double up with his kings, he was out in sixth for $603,058.
Thirty minutes passed and Serock, who came into the day third in chips, had slipped down the chip count due to plenty of earlier tough spots. Now, the well-traveled pro was sitting at the bottom of the chip counts. He opened from under the gun to 1.76 million holding and when it folded to Tsutsumi, who was holding a commanding chip lead, the Brazilian three-bet shipped his . Serock called it off with his “big slick” and the board ran out keeping Tsutsumi’s pocket eights ahead the entire time. Serock finished up in fifth place and collected a career-high cash of $804,191.
For the better part of the next hour, Vandyshev battled back from a short stack to not only pull even with Tsutsumi but re-take the chip lead. With the blinds at 700k/1.4m, Vandyshev put in a raise from the button to 2.8 million with his . From the small blind, Tsutsumi flatted holding . From the big blind, Canadian Christine Do had 17 big blinds left and she moved them all-in holding . Vandyshev folded and Tsutsumi made the call with the dominating hand. There was no real drama as the flop came giving Tsutsumi top set. The turn was the and Do was drawing dead to the river. Do was the first player to walk with a seven-figure score, earning $1,072,405 for fourth place.
Less than ten hands later, during the same level, Kuznetsov opened the button to 2.8 million holding . After Vandyshev let go of the small blind, Tsutsumi three-bet shipped a chip leading 120 million with the inferior . Kuznetsov quickly called for the remainder of his stack and found himself in great shape to double up and get back into the hunt for the bracelet. However, the flop came , bringing two pair to Tsutsumi and leaving Kuznetsov needing help. The turn and river was no good for the Russian and Kuznetsov grabbed the Main Event bronze and $1,430,073 for the deep run.
Heads-up play began with the two players who entered the day one-two in chips. Tsutsumi and Vandyshev battled for the better part of an hour with the Russian slowly chipping up and eventually taking the chip lead, once again. The back-and-forth kept on, with both players assuming the chip lead multiple times. At 1.25m/2.5m blinds, both players still had plenty of play, both with more than 100 million in chips, but a heads-up cooler came along and ended it all.
From the button, Tsutsumi raised to 5.2 million holding . As the big blind, Vandyshev put in a huge three-bet to nearly 25 million. Tsutsumi decided to go with it and shoved with Vandyshev sticking his chips in as well. No drama for Vandyshev’s pocket tens as the board ran out , eliminating Tsutsumi as the runner-up, good for a healthy $1,907,035 payday. And, as he predicted before the final table, Vandyshev is the 2021 WSOP Online Main Event champion and took home the $2,543,073 first-place prize and gold bracelet.
2021 WSOP Online Main Event Final Table Results
Total Entries: 4,092
Prize pool: $20,000,000
- Aleksei Vandyshev – $2,543,073
- Edson Tsutsumi Jr – $1,907,035
- Nikita Kuznetsov – $1,430,073
- Christine Do – $1,072,405
- Joe Serock – $804,191
- Espen Jorstad – $603,058
- Renan Meneguetti – $452,229
- Dawid Smolka – $339,124
- Dimitrios Farmakoulis – $254,308