Valentino Konakchiev Denies Andres Korn a Second Bracelet in $2.5K NLHE Freezeout

Valentino Konakchiev

A total of 1,137 took their shot in Event #19: $2,500 No-Limit Hold’em Freezeout but after a grueling three days, the final moments came down to a previous WSOP bracelet winner and a player vying for his first piece of hardware battled in heads-up action at Horseshoe and Paris Las Vegas.

When the dust settled, it was Valentino Konakchiev who stood alone after he defeated Andres Korn in heads-up action to take home $435,924 along with his first career WSOP bracelet while Korn collected $269,438 as the runner-up.

Final Table Results

RankWinnerCountryPrize (in USD)
1Valentino KonakchievBulgaria$435,924
2Andres KornArgentina$269,438
3Alexandre ReardFrance$192,723
4Ruben CostaUnited States$139,671
5Girish ReknarUnited States$102,577
6Ankit AhujaIndia$76,537
7Niall FarrellUnited Kingdom$57,620
8Adam SwanUnited States$44,087
9Qiang XuChina$34,210

Getting through Korn proved impressive enough, but it’s further highlighted by Konakchiev's journey to the win.

He outlasted a trio of WSOP bracelet winners at the final table, which boasted Korn, Alexandre Reard, who finished in third place for $192,723, and Niall Farrell, who finished in seventh place for $57,260.

Other notable bracelet winners to participate in the tournament were a trio of Poker Hall of Famers in Phil Hellmuth, Erik Seidel, and Kathy Liebert, anlong with Justin Bonomo, Jared Jaffee, Adrian Mateos, Mike Matusow, David Pham and Humberto Brenes, among others.

Konakchiev, however, stared down adversity and rose to the challenge throughout the three-day grind.

He displayed tenacity and aggression, such as a willingness to either check-raise with a gut-shot straight draw or outright bluff with air. Those attributes on Day 3 played a large role in carving his path to victory.

Andres Korn - Valentino Konakchiev
Andres Korn and Valentino Konakchiev

Winner’s Reaction

Konakchiev, who hails from Sofia, Bulgaria, has visualized sitting alone at the table as a winner while soaking in a cheering rail for 16 years.

Now, the 31-year-old Konakchiev can cross off one item off his bucket list after winning his first WSOP bracelet.

“I’ve been dreaming about it since I’ve been watching poker when I was 15 on TV and I can’t believe it actually happened,” Konakchiev told PokerNews after winning the event.

Valentino Konakchiev
Valentino Konakchiev

Entering a large tournament field can cause anxious moment, but Konakchiev was relaxed. And it contributed to him making aggressive moves, all of which helped him reach the final table and the winner’s circle.

“The beginning of the series, I could play a lot more freely until the end,” Konakchiev said.

He also drew from his experience, which includes $549,442 career earnings, according to his Hendon Mob page, to apply against opponents during the three-day tournament.

“I got a feel for players, got some decent hands to bluff with,” Konakchiev said. “So, I took them and tried to play for the win. And what happens, happens.”

Did it ever?

Konakchiev admits he didn’t know the final table boasted three WSOP bracelet winners, and he was responsible for knocking out two of them – Reard in third, and Korn in second – on his way to gaining his first. And the accomplishment against tough competition isn’t lost on the WSOP newest bracelet winner.

“It feels really, really good,” Konakchiev said with a wide smile. “They already have bracelets, so it was my time.”

In the meantime, Konakchiev wants more after securing his first WSOP win. He plans on staying in Las Vegas to play more events and perhaps obtain more hardware.

“I’ll play until pretty much the last tournaments, and stuff like that,” he said. “Maybe get another one.”

This concludes coverage of Event #19 of the 2023 WSOP, but make sure to continue to follow PokerNews for live updates of your favorite events throughout the summer.

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  • Bulgaria has a 2023 WSOP champion, and Valentino Konakchiev is it!

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