BetMGM concluded the four-day BetMGM Poker Championship this past week at ARIA Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. Michigan’s Leo Taffe emerged as the winner, and the 24-year-old Ann Arbor resident took home the $560,442 top prize.
“It feels amazing,” said Taffe. “To be able to run deep in a tournament like this is really cool. I’m exhausted to be honest. It’s just starting to settle in. I’ll take a few hours to celebrate, but there is more I want to accomplish.”
The BetMGM Poker Championship’s final prize pool of $3.2 million surpassed the $2 million guarantee. The $3,500 buy-in no limit Hold ‘em tournament drew a field of 1,026 entries to nearly triple the turnout and prize pool from the tournament’s debut in 2022. A total of 110 BetMGM online poker qualifiers participated.
Luke Staudenmaier, BetMGM’s Director of Poker, said, “From online qualifiers through the exciting finale of the tournament, we were thrilled by the response. Congratulations to Leo, who plays online at BetMGM in Michigan, for taking the title.”
BetMGM poker championship final table
The final table was held at the PokerGO studios at ARIA, and Taffe came up aces. Speaking to PokerNews after his first major live tournament win, Taffe noted he was “elated” with the result while also “embarrassed” about how well he ran. Taffe woke up with big pairs anytime his opponents jammed into him and held out to scoop to pots each time.
That included on the final hand of the tournament when Taffe picked up pocket Aces (A-A) and his pre-flop raise was called by poker pro Mike Vanier from Nebraska (3-5). The flop came 10-4-5 and Taffe’s $1 million bet was called by Vanier with his pair of 5s. A King hit the turn and Taffe fired a $3 million bet only to see Vanier check-raised all-in for his last $7.2 million in tournament chips. Taffe quickly called and held while improving his hand with another Ace on the river to complete a set and seal the victory in the BetMGM Poker Championship.
Vanier finished second for $392,704. Other notables who cashed-in included Global Poker Index Player of the Year Stephen Song (fourth – $188,193), Nadya Magnus (10th), Justin Young (13th), David Stamm (14th), Fabrice Bigot (18th), WSOP bracelet winner Anuj Agarwal (23rd), Ben Palmer (30th), BetMGM ambassador Darren Elias (91st), and former Major League Baseball player Jason Kipnis (107th).
According to BetMGM PR, other players from Michigan who also cashed in the BetMGM Poker Championship for $7,000 to $9,000 included: Wasim Mahfooth (96th), William Paholak (93rd), Dennis Zeigler (92nd) and Jesus Castro-Reyes (77th).
Sean McCormack, MGM Resorts Director of Poker Strategy, said, “Tripling the entries in one year is an extraordinary leap. We raised the stakes by doubling the guarantee and then shattered it by over a million dollars. I am immensely grateful for the players, the MGM team, and BetMGM for making this event such a success. We look forward to our ongoing partnership for future poker events.”
Michigan’s Taffe turns poker into huge profits in 2023
Taffe is one of thousands of players who play online poker in Michigan.
BetMGM Poker teamed up with ARIA last month to offer online qualifiers a chance to win a seat into the BetMGM Poker Championship event in Las Vegas.
Taffe not only cashed big in the BetMGM Poker Championship, but in late April, he finished 19th and cashed for $46,200 in the World Poker Tour No Limit Hold ‘em – WPT Showdown Championship at Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood, Florida.
Taffe had another six-figure score in February at the WSOPC Main Event in North Carolina at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort. He came in 3rd place for $182,603 in No-Limit Hold ‘em World Series of Poker Circuit event.
Taffe has had prior success at World Series of Poker
According to the Hendon Mob poker data base, Taffe’s biggest tournament cash in 2022 was in the $10,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold ‘em WSOP Main Event when he finished 496th from a field of 8,663 entries to win $28,400.
This past weekend, Taffe cashed again for $2,401 in the WSOP $1,500 No-Limit Hold ‘em Monster Stack when he finished in 1,233rd place. We’ll try to catch up with Leo Taffe as he plays in the WSOP Main Event starting July 3.
Michigan poker players still have a chance to qualify for the $10,000 WSOP World Championship Main Event through WSOP.com. You can sign-up with WSOP Michigan and claim up to $1,100 in welcome bonuses.
Photos courtesy of BetMGM