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Casino City’s Friday Five: WSOP Main Event champion edition

19 November 2021

What a week for the World Series of Poker. We have a new Main Event champion, a new member of the Poker Hall of Fame and a new location for the 2022 WSOP.

Before we get into those stories, we have some others to cover, including more retail sportsbook openings, a few major jackpot winners that hit it big last week and Las Vegas welcoming back overseas visitors.

Let’s begin with some big winners:

5. $1.3 million progressive jackpot win at Las Vegas Strip casino
A lucky Caesars Rewards member hit a mega progressive jackpot on Face Up Pai Gow for $1,393,273 at Harrah's Las Vegas Casino & Hotel on Sunday, 14 November.

Quoclong Pha, is a professional player from Vancouver, Washington with Caesars Rewards Platinum Tier Status who was in town on business and vacation. After just sitting down to play at a Face Up Pai Gow table, Pham opened his hand and was in disbelief as he became a millionaire with a Seven Card Straight Flush with a joker.

His initial reaction was, “It’s just surreal. It’ll hit me tomorrow once it hits the account.” Pham has never hit a jackpot of this size before, and he plans to save his winnings.

This wasn’t the only big time win of late.

Early on 10 November, another Caesars Rewards member hit a jackpot on Ultimate Texas Hold'Em for $544,904 at Planet Hollywood Las Vegas.

The guest is a frequent Ultimate Texas Hold’em player from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and was visiting the resort with his friends for a poker tournament. After approximately an hour of playing at the same table, he won the Mega Progressive Jackpot with a royal flush in diamonds.

Another jackpot came from Mississippi in the middle of October. On 13 October, a Wheel of Fortune slots player a href="$1-1-million-jackpot-241973">won $1,163,526 playing Wheel of Fortune 4D at Silver Star Hotel & Casino at Pearl River Resort in Choctaw, Mississippi.

4. Las Vegas celebrates the return of overseas visitors
On Monday, 8 November, the first transoceanic flight carrying tourists in nearly 20 months touched down in Las Vegas, the same day the U.S. reopened its borders to fully-vaccinated international travelers.

“I am thrilled to welcome international visitors back to our great state and to fabulous Las Vegas. We know you’ve missed traveling just as much as we’ve missed welcoming you—and I’m thrilled that Las Vegas was at the top of your list,” said Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak.

Las Vegas welcomed 5.7 million international visitors in 2019, resulting in $4.8 billion in direct economic impact. Prior to the pandemic, Las Vegas welcomed nonstop flights from 31 cities in 12 countries.

SolSports at Casino Del Sol

SolSports at Casino Del Sol

3. SolSports to open at Casino Del Sol
Tucson’s first retail sportsbook, SolSports at Casino Del Sol, officially opened to the public yesterday. Guests now have the opportunity to watch and wager on a variety of professional and college sporting events at the new on-site sportsbook.

The spacious 4,000-square-foot venue surrounds guests with more than 60 televisions including jumbo flat screens and a high-definition video wall to allow viewing from every angle. Guests can place a bet at any of the six live ticket writer counters or eight self-service betting kiosks. Accommodating more than 100 people with luxury seating, the sportsbook also features a full bar and food service with game day favorites like burgers, hot dogs, chicken wings and more.

“Our ability to offer sports wagering to our guests has been many years in the making, and we are elated to see our vision come to fruition with SolSports,” said Chairman of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, Peter Yucupicio. “This new gaming option will have a positive economic impact on our tribe and the state of Arizona.”

This opening comes off the heels of the DraftKings Sportsbook opening at Foxwoods Casino Resort in Connecticut which opened on 13 November.

The new two-story, 12,000-plus square foot sportsbook is a place to bet, dine, game and experience fan-favorite teams across professional and collegiate sports. Fans are able to place live bets via windows and kiosks and experience best-in-class customer service and amenities.

The DraftKings Sportsbook at Foxwoods includes wall-to-wall televisions, anchored by one of the largest LED screens in the industry at 50 feet by 30 feet, multiple VIP rooms, two full bars including an ice rail and 24 beers on tap, and a full restaurant that will offer game-day favorites including burgers and wings.

2. Eli Elezra enshrined into the 2021 Poker Hall of Fame
On Wednesday, the World Series of Poker enshrined veteran poker professional Eli Elezra into the 2021 Poker Hall of Fame. The long-awaited induction ceremony was held in tandem with day two of the Main Event Final Table and the Hall of Fame Bounty tournament at Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

Elezra has several notable tournament wins including four World Series of Poker gold bracelets - earning his fourth and latest career bracelet in 2019. Elezra, better known as Mr. Vegas, claimed the win in Event #20 $1,500 Seven-Card Stud at the 2019 WSOP. His triumphant win in the four-day event earned him an illustrious career high of $93,766, leaving him with a lifetime career total of $2,620,198.

Next year, this ceremony could be taking place at a different location as the WSOP announced it will also be moving from the Rio to Bally's – Las Vegas and Paris Las Vegas on the Strip, with actor, comedian and card player Vince Vaughn named as the event's official celebrity Master of Ceremonies.

After a 17-year run at the Rio, the WSOP will be held at the heart of the famed Las Vegas Strip inside Bally's and Paris for the first time.

1. Koray Aldemir wins 2021 WSOP Main Event
Overcoming a field of 6,650 entrants from around the world, Koray Aldemir captured the World Series of Poker Main Event on Wednesday night, hauling in $8 million and taking home the most coveted bracelet in poker.

Aldemir first came onto the professional poker scene in 2012 and, up until today’s $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em Main Event win, had amassed over $12,000,000 in total earnings. No stranger to the tournament circuit, Aldemir never secured the title as World Champ—until now.

From this victory, Aldemir boasts $8,000,000 in prize winnings and taking home the highly coveted Main Event bracelet, a 10k yellow and white gold bracelet encrusted with 2,230 rubies, white and black diamonds.

The final hand started with Aldemir calling George Holmes’ 6,000,000, and ended with Holmes all in for 133,000,000 and Aldemir winning with two pairs of tens and sevens.

“This year’s Main Event has exceeded expectations across the board,” said World Series of Poker Senior Vice President, Ty Stewart. “To see five countries represented at the 2021 Final Table was amazing, and after a classic battle, we’re looking forward to raising Koray’s banner this summer at Bally’s on the Strip.”
Casino City’s Friday Five: WSOP Main Event champion edition is republished from
Dan Ippolito

As Casino City's associate editor, Dan produces and edits all of our weekly newsletters, and writes about the gaming industry for our websites and the GPWA Times Magazine. Dan graduated from Marist College in 2017 with a degree in Communications and a concentration in Sports. Email him at, or follow him at @casinocity_dan on Twitter.
Dan Ippolito
As Casino City's associate editor, Dan produces and edits all of our weekly newsletters, and writes about the gaming industry for our websites and the GPWA Times Magazine. Dan graduated from Marist College in 2017 with a degree in Communications and a concentration in Sports. Email him at, or follow him at @casinocity_dan on Twitter.