US Poker Open: Stephen Chidwick Begins the Defence of His Title With a Victory in Event #1

To win something once is a beautiful thing indeed. To win it again, now you’re talking some next level nonsense, right there.

Take the English Premier League (EPL) for example. Not since 2008/9 has a team defended the title.

Poker is even more complicated given the enormous fields that the giants of the live tournament genre seem to churn out these days. Even in the higher echelons of poker power, with smaller fields, you’re still more likely to see Daniel Negreanu staying at the Holiday Inn than a successful title defence. 

Take the US Poker Open, for example.

Stephen Chidwick won the inaugural series back in 2018, making five final tables and winning two events. If the man leading the All-Time Money Earned list in the UK wants to repeat that feat, then he has to collect more money than anyone else throughout the ten series follow-up.

2019 US Poker Open
2019 US Poker Open

When you consider how much his opponents would have improved in the past 12-months, the hunger of those players, and the possibility that personal motivation levels may have dropped a tad after becoming the 2018 champion – it’s a Jack and the Beanstalk tall order. 

No-one has told Chidwick. 

The US Poker Open Champion has taken down Event #1: $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em. The man from Deal in the UK who loves the cadence of the PokerGo Studios, calling it the ‘best place to play poker anywhere in the world,’ surmounted a field of 90-entrants to collect the $216,000 first prize, including beating an in-form Sean Winter in the process.

Let’s see how it went down.

Day 1 consisted of 20-levels, and by the time the players were reaching for their toothbrushes, Joseph Cheong was barking and howling at the top of the chip counts with only six players remaining. 

It was a final table rammed with talent from the USA, with only Chidwick spoiling the perfect picture, and it also contained more Joseph’s than the manuscript of the Technicoloured Dreamcoat. 

Final Table Seat Draw

1. Stephen Chidwick – 1,950,000 (200 points)

2. Sean Winter – 1,190,000 (140 points)

3. Joseph Cheong – 2,885,000 (100 points)

4. Joseph Cappello – 1,380,000 (80 points)

5. Lazaro Hernandez – 2,195,000 (60 points)

6. Joseph Orsino – 1,635,000 (40 points)


The first player to leave without donning his final photo bow tie was Joseph Orsino. With blinds at 30k/60k/60k, Joseph Cheong opened to 175,000 with AcTh from the cutoff, and Orsino defended the big blind holding QdTc. When Orsino saw the AdQsTs flop, we imagine he was a tad excited. Such a shame then, that Cheong had flopped a stronger two pairs. The pair got it in, and the Floridian was first out, albeit with a personal best ITM finish of $54,000 decorating his Hendon Mob page.

Sean Winter looked likely to fall next when Lazaro Hernandez took chunks, leaving him with six big blinds, but he was able to double up through Stephen Chidwick A6dd>T7o. Hernandez wasn’t as fortunate. Soon after giving Winter a hangover, he ran into a champion in inspired mood. 

With blinds at 40k/80k/80k Hernandez limped from the button holding A9dd, Chidwick raised to 325,000 from the small blind holding T9hh, the big blind folded, Hernandez raised to 650,000, and Chidwick called. The dealer cut 8h7c6c out of the deck to give Chidwick the nuts, and Hernandez ace high with an open-ended straight draw. The pair got it in, and after a worthless turn and river, Hernandez fell to 9 big blinds, which Chidwick gobbled up several hands later when AJ beat AT all-in pre-flop. Like Orsino before him, the $72,000 that Hernandez banked for his fifth-place finish was also a personal best.

Winter continued his Lazarus impression by doubling through Chidwick a second time when pocket tens beat the pretty looking 54dd, but at the end of Level 23, Chidwick still held a big lead. 

Chip Counts

1. Stephen Chidwick – 6,765,000

2. Joseph Cappello – 1,570,000

3. Joseph Cheong – 1,570,000

4. Sean Winter – 1,350,000

After a brief break, Winter doubled through Cheong KQ>KT, and Cheong doubled through Cappello AQ>77 after flopping an ace and a queen to leave Cappello with two big blinds. Cappello survived his first all-in when he found pocket tens to double through the KJo of Chidwick, but he wasn’t so lucky when he moved all-in holding A2, only for Chidwick to wake up with A4 and a call. The split pot possibilities evaporated on the flop when Chidwick picked up a pair of fours. The former World Series of Poker Circuit (WSOPC) Main Event Champion was out in fourth.

Winter maintained his miraculous run of evading the razor blade after hitting a miracle river card in a chaotic hand against Chidwick. Winter was in beautiful shape when he got it in with pocket kings against the Q9hh of Chidwick only for the defending champion to turn a two pair hand; then with one card to go, the board paired to give Winter a stronger two pair hand, and a great chance of winning the event.

Cheong then doubled through Chidwick when moving all-in on the flop with a flush draw versus a pair of sevens, and the draw got there on the turn, only for Chidwick to claw them all back and more when his AK beat the A2hh of Cheong when all-in pre-flop. 

The heads-up encounter between Chidwick and Winter began with Chidwick holding a 2:1 chip lead, and it lasted as long as a politician telling the truth. Chidwick limped with 75dd and then called after Winter raised to 650,000 holding pocket eights. The dealer placed Ks9s6c onto the flop to give Chidwick a gutshot, and he called after Winter c-bet to 375,000. Then the card to end all competitions arrived on the turn in the shape of the 8s. Winter had a set, and Chidwick had a straight. The pair got it in, and the defending champion had begun the defence of his title with the exuberance of a poor man looking forward to his Christmas bonus. 

Final Table Results

1. Stephen Chidwick – $216,000

2. Sean Winter – $157,500

3. Joseph Cheong – $112,500

4. Joseph Cappello – $90,000

5. Lazaro Hernandez – $72,000

6. Joseph Orsino – $54,000

Other veterans of the high roller scene that made money include Jake Schindler (9th), Bryn Kenney (10th) and Erik Seidel (13th).