WSOP: Christian Rudolph Wins $25K Poker Players Championship

Christian Rudolph shined brightest at a final table full of some of the game's best players on Saturday to win his first WSOP bracelet and $1.8 million. (partypoker photo)

To the surprise of absolutely nobody, the delayed final table of the World Series of Poker Online $25,000 Poker Players Championship included some of the best poker players in the world. High regulars like Jason Koon, a former #1-ranked online poker player in Chris Hunichen, and respected grinders like Shinkar Pillai, Aleksejs Ponakovs and Brazilian superstar Bruno Botteon were all chasing their first career WSOP bracelet and the $1.8 million first place prize.

None of them it seemed were ready for the locomotive that was Christian Rudolph. The German poker pro eliminated five of his final eight opponents to win his first career WSOP bracelet.

It took 19 minutes to get the first elimination of the final table. From the button, Shankar Pillai made it 400,000 to go before Aliaksei Boika moved all in for 2,172,276 from the big blind. Pillai called and turned over AhJh which was bad news for Boika who showed Ad5d. The board ran out JdTc9c5c9s to eliminate Boika in ninth place.

A battle of the blinds between the two shortest stacks lead to one of them going home. Action folded to Aram Zobian in the small blind and he moved all in for 3,009,190 and Paulius Plausinaitis called all in from the big blind. Zobian tabled Td8c but Plausinaitis showed Kc9c. The Th4h3d flop gave Zobian control and Plausinaitis was unable to find any help on the Ad turn or 7d river and was out in eighth.

Jason Koon started the day with the chip lead but after doubling up Chris Hunichen, the Team partypoker Pro struggled to regain his footing and his tournament ended with a typical preflop race. Rudolph raised to 1,750,000 from UTG+1. Koon moved all in for 4,182,781 from the big blind and Rudolph called. Koon was ahead TdTs to Rudolph’s AhQs. The AdJh7s flop moved Rudolph ahead and neither the 7h turn or Kc river improved Koon’s and he was eliminated in seventh.

Brazilian players have posted impressive results throughout the 2020 WSOP Online and Bruno Botteon, the #5-ranked online poker player in the world, was hoping to become the fifth player from his home country to pick up a bracelet this summer. That hope was dashed by Rudolph in another blind versus blind situation. Rudolph raised from the small blind to 9,256,969 and Botteon called from the big blind for 3,080,027. Rudolph held Ac8c and Botteon showed QdQh. The 9h6h5c flop gave Rudolph a gutshot straight draw. The 7s turn completed that draw and Botteon was drawing dead to anything but a chop as the 7c completed the board to send him to the rail in sixth place.

Rudolph continued to steamroll the rest of the table and found another victim ten minutes later. Rudolph raised to 600,000 from the button before Zobian moved all in for 3,239,745 from the small blind. Chris Hunichen folded his big blind but Rudolph called and showed 9c9s. Zobian was flipping with AhQs. The board ran out Kh8s6s4s9h to give Rudolph an unneeded rivered set of nines to end Zobian’s run in fifth.

Four-handed play lasted nearly 30 minutes before the next elimination and Rudolph was the one doing the heavy lifting once again. Aleksejs Ponakovs doubled through Rudolph once but it wasn’t enough to slow his momentum. On the next hand Ponakovs raised from the to 1,225,000 before Rudolph re-raised to 2,800,000. Ponakovs called off the last 300,402 in his stack and showed Qd6d. Rudolph tabled 5d5s and then watched the Ks9d7sKhJc runout give him another pot and eliminated Ponakovs in fourth place.

Rudolph maintained the chip lead for the next 14 minutes before the next elimination saw him watching instead of working. Pillai moved all in from the button for 6,415,460, Rudolph folded his small blind, but Hunichen called from the big. Pillai got bad news after tabling Ah9c only to see Hunichen turn over AcKd. The AdTh8d flop kept Hunichen in control. The Js turn gave Pillai extra outs but the 6d river was a brick and Pillai was out in third.

That hand moved Hunichen to within five big blinds of Rudolph. That was as close as Hunichen got. Over the 18 minutes that followed, Rudolph maintained control and slowly worked Hunichen’s stack into his own. On the final hand Hunichen moved all in 2,492,208 from the button for and Rudolph called showed QhTc and Hunichen was in good shape with KhQs. The Th9d6s flop flipped the script and Hunichen found no relief on the 3d turn or 7h river and was eliminated as the runner-up, giving Rudolph his first WSOP bracelet.

Final Table Payouts

  1. Christian Rudolph – $1,800,290
  2. Chris Hunichen – $1,332,097
  3. Shankar Pillai – $979,138
  4. Aleksejs Ponakovs – $719,700
  5. Aram Zobian – $529,005
  6. Brunno Botteon – $388,837
  7. Jason Koon – $285,808
  8. Paulius Plausinaitis – $210,079
  9. Aliaksei Boika – $154,416