The 2023 PokerStars Players No-Limit Hold’em Championship (PSPC) it’s in the books while Aliaksandr Shylko He ended up winning the prestigious tournament for $3,121,838, there were 175 players who walked away with a piece of the $24,843,000 prize pool, including some of the more than 400 Platinum Pass winners.
One of them was 50 years old John Orlowskiwho boarded a plane for the first time in his life to travel from cold Michigan to the luxurious Baha Mar Resort in the Bahamas!
“I have never flown. I’ve never been out of Michigan, almost only Canada driving,” he said. “First time on a plane. I had to rush my passport. I was going to come alone, but my nephew decided he wanted to come, so he came with me.”
The part-time home game dealer earned his Platinum Pass PokerStars Michigan via a “Golden Ticket” drawing that led him to a freeroll satellite, which he won.
“I played micro stakes, like $5 $10 tournaments, knockouts and stuff,” Orlowski told PokerNews. “I played some 20-cent slots there. And then the ticket thing and all the little treasures you collect playing. I clicked on it and it said I won a golden ticket. It was scheduled for the tournament, I think It was supposed to be on a Tuesday in November, but for some reason they changed it to Saturday. I’m not sure if enough people signed up or not. There were only 30 people when I won it.”
He added: “I came up short in that tournament too. I didn’t think I would come back.”
But he did, and the win came at a good time in Orlowski’s life, as he had experienced some health problems in previous years.
“I can’t do too many things for my health. I have behaved much better now than before. Like last year, maybe I wouldn’t have been able to do this, I’m sure I wouldn’t have been able to do it physically two years ago.”
With his nephew in tow, Orlowski traveled to Nassau to compete against the world’s best, where he finished 76th out of a field of 1,014 runners, earning $53,400.
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Battle the best in poker
Orlowski learned to play poker with his family when he was six years old, and it wasn’t until Chris Moneymaker won the 2003 World Series of Poker (after qualifying through PokerStars) who introduced him to Texas Hold’em. So what did he do to prepare for the biggest poker tournament of his life?
“I saw a lot of stuff on YouTube about positions, things like that, getting into position, how to take blinds,” he explained. “So I used some of that during the regular part of the tournament, but then when it came to the bubble, I couldn’t do much when they did it. I know they were getting me, but I’ve never had a lot of hands “.
Orlowski survived Day 1, but it wasn’t easy.
“It was crazy, it was exhausting,” he admitted. “The subsequent tournament is much more intense. The poker pros really hammered to get the fish practically.”
Among the pros Orlowski had to fight was the WSOP Main Event champion Espen Jorstad, Jeremy Ausmus, Jared Jaffeei Conor Beresford. While this might have been a little intimidating, Orlowski stood his ground.
In fact, on Day 2 Orlowski won a flip to double Beresford. It was level 14 (2,000/5,000/5,000) Orlowski raised from early position to 11,000 and was met with a three-bet from Conor Beresford to 26,000 in the cutoff.
The rest of the table folded before Orlowski slid a four-bet to 86,000. It took a while for Beresford to five-bet enough to put Orlowski at risk. The call was made and both hands were revealed.
Beresford was behind but got extra outs on the flop. The turn and river left Orlowski in front to stay alive and double his stack.
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make the money
From there, it was on to day 3 with the money bubble coming up.
“I started day 3 with about 300k, which was above the average stack. I probably could have walked away and made some money,” Orlowski said. “This tournament was a lot different than playing in a small game at home. People call your raises here. They think more about their decisions, which makes sense because it’s more money.”
On Day 3, Orlowski not only took the money, but instead of cashing in at a minimum of $35,100, he started going up. With 77 players remaining, Orlowski took out another Platinum Pass winner at Level 20 (10,000/20,000/20,000) when Germany Bastian Hess he was all-in and at risk in a heads-up pot against Orlowski.
Hess couldn’t hit a jack despite calling for one on every street as the board ran out to mark his elimination in 77th place for $53,400. Unfortunately for Orlowski, he followed him out the door a short time later in 76th place for the same payout.
John Orlowski at PSPC 2023.
“It was a good moment,” Orlowski told PokerNews the next day. “Everyone with PokerStars, from top to bottom, helped us with a lot of things. If we had a question, they answered it. We have been treated very well.”
In terms of money, you will do very well.
“The reason I started playing online because I used to live in the Detroit area so I could go anywhere and play in the casinos there, but now I’ve moved up north,” Orlowski explained. “There are no places near me with games. So you have to drive and they have a charity hall up there, but it’s not worth the drive… I have to fix my new place. I just bought a truck . It snows and it’s cold where I live, so you have to have a truck.”
It started with a gold ticket, turned into a platinum membership, and ended up with the poker adventure of a lifetime…plus $50,000 in Michigan cash!
Chad Holloway Executive Editor USA
US Executive Editor, PokerNews Podcast co-host and 2013 WSOP bracelet winner.