One of the most bizarre endings to any poker tournament in history played out at the Borgata in Atlantic City today as Ryan Dodd took the lion’s share of the prizepool after winning the biggest mystery bounty. To do so, Dodd didn’t even knock a player out, as a truly unique nine-way deal was struck to randomly draw the final nine bounty prizes after an ICM payout.

Day 2 Action Starts with Drama

“I can’t even call my girlfriend, she’s in a massage appointment right now!”

The action got going on Day 2 with former world champions in the mix as well as a host of named professionals shooting for the biggest prizes. All seemed well for some very deep runs for the stars of the felt when Asher Coniff, a former WSOP Main Event final table player, took out a player, cashed in a bounty and vaulted up the leaderboard thanks to a flopped set which turned into a turned full house to beat his opponent’s trips.

Jesse Lonis was another who was piling up chips, but Michael Cohen could not do the same. He busted to Anthony Spinella, who ace-jack triumphed against Cohen’s ace-queen when a jack came on the flop to reduce the field. It was shortly after that hand that Anthony Cicali pulled one of the biggest bounties of the day, taking the $100,000 prize during Level 16.

“I can’t even call my girlfriend, she’s in a massage appointment right now!” he said after holding aloft the winning ticket.

There were still two six-figure bounties in the mix including the best one worth $250,000, but it would be some time before that was won and in bizarre fashion. The $100,000 bounty was won before the final table, however, when Michael Haberman launched himself into the air in a flurry of expletives as he took the six-figure sum in his stride like he had inhaled a stick of lit dynamite in the process.

Big Names Bust Before Final Table

“My watch is worth more than both of your lives.”

The money bubble was close, and when it burst, again it did so with drama. The victim was the unfortunate Zachary Daily, who lost out to the Day 1b chip leader Soukha Kachittavong when the latter had turned trip sixes to topple his pocket queens. No other queen came on the river, and everyone was in the money, sure of a cash higher than $4,000.

With players racing toward not only the biggest prizes, but the biggest bounty still remaining, that sped up the action as everyone bid to emulate the last major trophy winner or 2022 Jacob Perry, who won in Vegas last week for almost $100,000 with even more on the line this time. Greg Himmelbrand was a victim of this period, with his ace-queen shot down by Albert Nguyen’s pocket kings after the board ran out, A-T-9-8-5 to skittle his hopes in an unlucky fashion.

Anthony Zinno was another high-profile hopeful to bust outside the final table, losing with ace-five to pocket aces, and he was joined on the rail by stellar company. Will ‘The Thrill’ Failla busted with king-queen of spades to Benedetto Bianco’s ace-five of spades when all the chips went in on a board of J-T-4-A with two spades, but he didn’t go quietly. According to PokerNews, on the river of a spade, Bianco quipped “I don’t care, I got 30 jobs I want to get out of here” in reference to his call on the turn.

“My watch is worth more than both of your lives.” Muttered Failla in defeat.

Michael Gagliano busted in 25th for $7,400, losing a coinflip and after the previous winner of the $100,000 bounty Anthony Cicali was busted in 22nd place for the same score, Ryan Riess earned the same when he fell in 20th place, ace-king shot down by Samuel Laskowitz’s cowboys.

Laskowitz Takes Title, Dodd Draws Gold

It was a fast race to the final table, with the eliminations of Michael Rossitto (18th for $8,936), Christine Familetti (15th for $13,363), Anthony Spinella (13th for $13,363) and Matthew Brady (10th for $19,794) all setting the scene for the final nine to assemble. When they did, drama would ensue.

The average stack was just 29 big blinds, and with all nine players knowing that the $250,000 bounty was out there waiting, deal talk ensued. Incredibly, all nine players reached the decision to take an ICM deal, giving the chip leader at the time, Samuel Laskowitz, the trophy and top prize of $146,609.

That wasn’t nearly the end of the drama, however. Around the table, each player in turn drew a mystery bounty, with only two $25,000 tickets left, along with six $500 tickets and one worth an incredible $250,000. Amazingly, the player who was ninth in chips at the time of the deal, Ryan Dodd, was the man to draw the quarter-million ticket and the deal of a lifetime had given him life-changing money, with the $92,098 he earned for ninth adding to his bounty for a total prize of $342,098, almost double the amount won by the official winner Laskowitz.

Borgata 2023 The Return Mystery Bounty Final Table Results:

Position Player Prize* Bounty  
1st Samuel Laskowitz $146,609 $25,000  
2nd Anthony Maio $142,054 $500  
3rd Ryan Eriquezzo $132,093 $500  
4th Baruch Forst $123,817 $500  
5th Maxim Urvantsev $122,844 $500  
6th Benedetto Bianco $116,700 $500  
7th Constantine Bogiatzis $116,249 $500  
8th Francis Anderson $104,084 $25,000  
9th Ryan Dodd $92,098 $250,000  

*denotes prize after nine-handed deal


Joe Ellison

Joseph is a dedicated journalist and horse racing fanatic who has been writing about sports and casinos for over a decade. He has worked with some of the UK's top bookmakers and provides Premier League soccer tips on a regular basis. You'll likely find him watching horse racing or rugby when he isn't writing about sport.

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