Stairway to Millions Wraps Up Amid Controversy; Michael Wang Dominates With Double Wins

September 20, 2022
Stairway to Millions Wraps Up Amid Controversy; Michael Wang Dominates With Double Wins

The PokerGO Stairway to Millions concluded on Sunday, two events earlier than expected. Officials with the Venetian Las Vegas canceled the remaining ​​$25,000 and $52,000 tournament, each with guarantees of $500,000 and $600,000.

The final two events were canceled after the ninth tournament attracted just 18 players and fell $20,000 short of the  $200,000 guarantee. The 10th event, a $15,500 tournament, also fell $30,000 short of the $300,000 guarantee.

At the tables, Michael Wang (pictured in lead image) scored two titles in the series and Michael Rocco also grabbed a win in the penultimate event of the series.

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Players unhappy with event cancellations

The Stairway To Millions features lower buy-in events leading to much larger tournaments as players progress. Those who finished among the top players earned tickets to later tournaments.

This was the second running of the series and first at the Venetian. PokerGO released a statement as part of the company’s event coverage confirming that the property suspended the series after 10 events.

“The Stairway To Millions originally had 12 events on the schedule, but due to decisions made by The Venetian Resort Poker Room, the final two events were canceled,” the site noted.

Several players had already qualified for the later Stairway to Millions events and voiced their displeasure on social media.

“Players played events specifically with expectation of future events both running and having guarantees,” Ryan Laplante noted on Twitter.

Here’s a look at the final events of the series.

Event 6: $1,640 NLHE

Fresh off winning the fifth event for $22,986, Michael Wang grabbed a second-straight title. He took down this event for another $22,458.

This marked his third Stairway title for the New Jersey grinder. He rallied from the short stack at the final table to secure the win. New York’s Freddy Heller took runner-up for $14,044.

Wang now has $4.5 million in live tournament winnings. Beyond the Stairway to Millions, he also scored his second bracelet this summer at the World Series of Poker for $541,604.

Chance Kornuth celebrates his Stairway to Millions victory. (photos courtesy PokerGO)

Event 7: $2,740 NLHE

Chance Kornuth added his third Stairway to Millions title with this win. He topped a field of 92 entries to score $45,373. It’s been a nice year for Kornuth, who now has $11.6 million in live tournament winnings.

This year Kornuth also chalked up the World Poker Tour Choctaw title as well as a runner-up finish in a WSOP $100,000 High Roller for $721,144.

In the Stairway event, Kornuth entered the final day fourth in chips but proceeded to eliminate four of the other final five players. Dave Lin finished runner-up for $28,133.

Event 8: $5,350 NLHE

Andre Butler, of Chicago, Illinois, found the winner’s circle in this event for $60,945 after topping a 42-entry field. Stephen Song found the No. 2 spot for $35,850

The Michael Wang Show continued in this tournament as well. His huge run in the festival continued, earning third for $22,227.

Michael Rocco

Event 9: $10,400 NLHE 

Michael Rocco, of Los Angeles, California, grabbed $61,750 for this victory in the 18-entry field. He collected $61,750 for his efforts with Adam Hendrix finishing runner-up for $37,050. Cary Katz finished third for $24,700.

Rocco now has $3.1 million in live tournament winnings. He also grabbed a runner-up this summer at the WSOP for $87,854.

Event 10: $16,800 NLHE

What would be the final tournament of the series saw Paul Zappulla collect the title for $124,500. This becomes the largest cash of the Las Vegas player’s career.

The event attracted 18 players with Stephen Song finishing runner-up for $95,100. Spain’s Adrian Mateos grabbed third for $80,400.

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