Michael Rocco Wins 2019 Wynn Winter Classic Championship for $540,800
The inaugural Wynn Winter Classic $5,300 buy-in Championship Event – the biggest buy-in tournament the venue has held in over five years – crushed its $1.5 million guarantee as 557 entrants created a $2,740,440 prize pool.
After a marathon 16-hour final day, it was longtime poker pro Michael Rocco, 30, besting 2018 World Series of Poker third-place finisher Michael Dyer in heads-up play to win the title outright for $540,800.
It was Rocco’s long-awaited signature win and a new career-high score passing his previous best of $423,440 for finishing third in the 2014 World Poker Tour LA Poker Classic. He also finished third in the 2017 PCA $25K High Roller for $409,020.
"After spending the time learning new things I feel like I have a different approach to playing.”
“I feel very tired and very good at the same time. It was a long day,” Rocco said after the win. “I’ve never won a big tournament. My three biggest scores prior to this were third place. So, I’ve always gotten down there but never been able to close it down. Now I feel like I’m in a pretty good place compared to where I’ve been before.”
Rocco credits a recent trip to Africa in helping his honing his game: “I’ve tried to relearn how to play poker better. I was studying every day for 8-10 hours, which I’d never done before. I was playing bad for a really long time and I just didn’t realize it. After spending the time learning new things I feel like I have a different approach to playing.”
He continued: “There’s so much work to do if I want to be where the best players are. I still have so many leaks compared to them. If I want to play at the highest level I have to keep working every single day … Now, moving forward, I need to work way harder. If I want to play the high rollers, which I do, I just have to try as hard as I can.”
Final Table Results
Day 3 Action
Day 3 saw 31 players return to action and it didn’t take long for action to heat up. Among those to fall on the way to the final table were PCA champ Galen Hall (10th - $45,987), Ankush Mandavia (11th - $45,987), Kahle Burns (12th - $39,474), Shannon Shorr (15th - $34,325), two-time bracelet winner Barry Shulman (17th - $29,848), Justin Bonomo (25th - $19,797), Ryan Leng (28th - $17,290), Daniel Strelitz (30th - $17,920), and Matt Glantz (31st - $17,290).
At the final table, Josh Bergman was the first to fall after running pocket tens into Matt Yorra’s aces, and then the short-stacked Adam Hendrix followed him out the door after his king-five went down to Joe Kuether’s king-deuce after a deuce appeared on the flop.
The next-shortest stack was Sweden’s Tomas Soderstrom, and he took his leave in seventh place after jamming with jack-nine suited and failing to get there against Dyer’s ace-ten. Soon after, Yorra bowed out in sixth after losing a race with pocket nines to Dyer’s Big Slick.
Kuether then lost a race with ace-ten to Ben Farrell’s pocket sevens to finish in fifth place, and then it was time for Louis Salter to go after losing ace-eight to Farrell’s ace-jack all in preflop.
During three-handed play, Dyer doubled through Farrell ace-jack to ace-seven, and then the latter lost the rest of it to the former a short time later busting with queen-four to ace-eight suited. That set up a heads-up match in which Rocco held 17.675 million to Dyer’s 10.2 million.
Dyer got short, managed a double, and then the final hand developed. Rocco had flopped two pair and jammed big on the river. Dyer had nut no-pair with ace-queen and opted to call it off only to see his run come to an end in second place for $353,242.
The Wynn will host its next series – Wynn Signature Series – from January 15-February 2, 2020. The festival guarantees more than $1.3 million in prize pools. Click here for further details.