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Historic WSOP $25K PLO High Roller for $2.29M – Ka Kwan Lau Wins

Ka Kwan Lau Wins $2.29M - Global WPT - WSOP

Historic WSOP $25K PLO High Roller for $2.29M – Ka Kwan Lau Wins

The 2023 WSOP $25,000 Pot Limit Omaha High Roller shattered the record for the largest prize pool for a PLO event in the midst of a year where PLO is continuing to gain in popularity.

Pot Limit Omaha Specialist Takes the Crown

Pot Limit Omaha specialist Ka Kwan Lau took down the biggest PLO event in World Series of Poker history on Wednesday, topping a 449-runner field in the $25,000 Pot-Limit Omaha High Roller (Event #57) for a massive $2,294,756 payday and his first gold bracelet.

Career High Cash

It’s far and away a new career high cash for Lau, who bested his previous high score of $773,708 – a sum he earned in 2021 by finishing as the runner-up in this very event. The $2.2 million first-place prize sends Lau’s lifetime earnings just shy of $5 million, nearly doubling the total cashes in his 13-year career.

PLO Continues to Grow in Popularity

For years “the great game” of Pot Limit Omaha had been heralded as the “next big thing” in poker. And while the number of players turning up in the WSOP’s core PLO events have yet to rival those of the WSOP’s marquee, large-field No Limit Hold’em events, it’s clear that, in 2023, PLO continues it’s upwards trend of popularity and is having a banner year this summer at the series.

Perhaps no event represents this more than this $25,000 PLO High Roller. The 449 runners in this event pushed the prize pool to $10,551,500, the largest ever generated for a PLO tournament.

Record-breaking Attendance

For context, the previous largest field for this specific event was in 2019, when Stephen Chidwick outlasted a field of 278 entries for his first career gold bracelet and $1.6 million first-place prize. This year’s field boasts a 60% increase over that of 2019, allowing Lau to take home the biggest prize ever awarded in a PLO tournament and the runner-up, Sergio Martinez Gonzalez, to take home over $1.4 million in his own right.

In fact, so far this year, four of the five core PLO events at the WSOP have set new attendance records for their respective tournaments.

Growth of PLO

The $10,000 PLO Championship (Event #50), won by Lou Garza for $1,309,232, brought in 731 entries – up from 683 in 2022. The 7% increase year-over-year seems like a modest bump, but perhaps it’s better represented by the extra $429,325 in the prize pool. And when compared to just five years ago, the $10K Championship has grown by more than 56%.

It’s not just the big buy-ins where the PLO players are turning up. This year’s $600 PLO DeepStack (Event #13) saw 3,200 runners create a prize pool of more than $1.6 million. The field is more than 10% over last year’s field of 2858 and more than double the field from 2021’s field of 1571.

Rise of PLO and Non-NLHE Disciplines

The only anomaly to this sharp rise in Pot Limit Omaha fields took place in the $1,500 PLO in which there was an unexpected downturn. This year saw 1,355 runners take to the felt, 82 fewer entries than in 2022 (around a 5% drop). To make up for that, the first-ever $1,500 Big O (the five-card variant of Omaha Hi-Lo) saw a tremendous turnout with 1,458 entries – creating a prize pool of $1.946 million. Not exactly and apples-to-apples comparison, but it’s another example of players finding the time to invest in non-NLHE disciplines of poker.

Of course, there are all sorts of factors that could contribute to an event doing better or worse than in previous years including schedule placement, including other events it may be up against for registration. But the field trends in PLO indicate that more and more people are budgeting parts of their bankroll to battle in the great game. And in a poker world that’s consistently focused on No Limit Hold’em events, the growth of another game is a promising step forward.

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