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Craig Varnell Wins partypoker Presents: WPT500 at ARIA Resort & Casino for $330,000

Criag Varnell


  • Craig Varnell outlasts field of 5,113 entries to win partypoker Presents: WPT500 at ARIA Resort & Casino for $330K.

  • Craig Varnell won the partypoker Presents: WPT500 at ARIA Resort & Casino, the largest WPT event in history!

While the 2015 World Series of Poker was playing out at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, just down the road the World Poker Tour was hosting the biggest event in their history — the 2015 partypoker presents: WPT500 at ARIA Resort & Casino. The tournament attracted 5,113 entrants and created a prize pool of $2,556,500.

“We are overwhelmed by the support from the poker community for the partypoker presents: WPT500 at ARIA Resort & Casino, and thrilled that so many professional and casual players enjoyed their Las Vegas experience at ARIA,” said Adam Altwies, Director of Poker Operations for ARIA. “We are also very proud of our hardworking staff members who efficiently sat more than 5,000 entries during the 10 starting flights, allowing our loyal guests to late register with deeper stacks and a better opportunity to compete for this massive prize pool.”

The top 614 players earned a minimum of $750, while the 253 players who reached Day 2 all pocketed at least $2,000. Among those to make a deep run all the way to the final table were WPT Champions Club member Alexander Lakhov and WPT Boot Camp instructor Nick Binger, though they exited in third and fourth place respectively.

In the end, the tournament came down to Craig Varnell and Brazilian Lucio Antunes. On Hand #115 of the final table, with the former holding the chip lead, Antunes moved all in from the button holding the {a-Diamonds}{5-Spades} and Varnell looked him up with the {k-Diamonds}{6-Clubs}. The {k-Spades}{k-Clubs}{q-Hearts} flop all but sealed the deal for Varnell, and the {4-Hearts} turn left Antunes drawing dead. The meaningless {J-Clubs} was put out on the river to make it official, and Antunes had to settle for runner-up and $223,000 in prize money.

“This feels surreal,” Varnell said after the win. “You have no idea how happy I am. I love poker; I love the game. I’m blessed to be here.”

Prior to the score, Varnell, who revealed he entered the summer of 2015 without a backer or a bankroll, had found success over at the WSOP when he took third in Event #64: $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em for $73,079. With the WPT score, Varnell now has $617,001 in live tournament earnings

Final Table Payouts

1Craig Varnell$330,000
2Lucio Antunes$223,000
3Alexander Lakhov$150,700
4Nick Binger$100,000
5Chad Roudebush$75,000
6Hunter Cichy$60,000
7Brett Mueller$50,000
8Brent Berger$41,000
9Milan Harper$33,000

*Official payouts do not reflect any deals between the players. In addition, every player who made it to Day 2 received $800, which is not reflected in the above payouts.

“Thanks to the tremendous support of the players, partypoker, and Adam Altwies and his staff at ARIA, we once again shattered the record for the largest World Poker Tour event at the partypoker presents: WPT500 at ARIA Resort & Casino," said WPT President Adam Pliska. "This tournament drew thousands of players to ARIA to compete for a massive prize pool at an extremely accessible buy-in level, and we look forward to the next installment of the partypoker presents: WPT500 at Dusk Till Dawn in late October.”

The WPT will next be in Durant, Oklahoma from July 31- August 4 for the first-ever televised WPT Choctaw event at Choctaw Casino Resort. For more information, visit

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