All Hail Girafganger! Bert Stevens Is King of the World

  • Bert “girafganger7” won the 2023 WSOP Online Main Event for $2.8m
  • The $28,609,252 was the largest in online poker tournament history
  • 14,000 viewers watched as Stevens streamed the final table live
  • Stevens said the viewership breaks both pressure and comfort
Hiker triumphant on top of mountain
Bert Stevens won the 2023 World Series of Poker Online Main Event championship and $2,783,432. [Image:]

Primal scream 

“Who’s the f*cking King of this sh*t? It’s me!!!” 

Howls of jubilation echoed out from a stoney farm outhouse somewhere in the Austrian countryside in the wee hours of Tuesday night. Bert Stevens knew he had a job to do and a job is what he did on everyone who dares to tussle with him on his way to becoming a WSOP Online Main Event champion. 

a cathartic display of pure emotion

Behind a cloud of cigarette ash, he punched the table, flexed and ripped his t-shirt in a cathartic display of pure emotion. Never since Jesse Pinkman escaped to freedom at the end of Breaking Bad has a primal scream been so deafening, so raw and so deserved.  

There were 6,023 entries to this mammoth $5,000 buy-in tournament, generating a prize pool of $28,609,252, the biggest in online tournament history. 14,000 people watched the winning moment live on Stevens’ Twitch channel as his pocket sixes held versus the Ace-Queen of Yagen Li to claim the first prize of $2,783,433.

Dominating performance 

When the final table began, Stevens held the lead with Dutchman Erik Bakker in second. Bakker claimed pole position briefly, but once it was reclaimed by Stevens, he never looked back, putting in one of the most dominating performances in recent memory. 

The talented young Irishman Simon Wilson came into the final table as short-stack and he was the first to be eliminated, walking away with a career-best $251,070. Fabian Rolli and Lukas Hafner were next to exit for $339,032 and $457,864 respectively. Some ill-timed bluffs from Bakker cost him momentum and he busted in sixth for $618,406. 

With five left, Stevens had two-thirds if the chips in play and he ramped up the aggression, leaning on his opponents who were all in an ICM-coffin. Alexander Timoshenko fell in fifth for $835,303 followed by Ramiro Petrone in fourth for $1,128,331. A torturous period followed as Ezequiel Kleinman and Yagen Li desperately tried to outlast one another, much to the delight of a buoyant Stevens, who was in playful mood as he chipped away at both. 

Stevens eventually sent Kleinman to the rail in third place for $1,524,214, setting up a heads-up contest with Li who immediately hit a 30% shot to double. Moments later, the cooler flip was dealt and that was all she wrote. Girafganger was champion of the world. 

I reached out to Bert Stevens to get his reaction to what was a historic victory. 

69 big blinds pre-flop for fun

David Lappin: There was a certain amount of expectation I’m sure with you coming in as chip leader. Any nerves in the afternoon before it started? 

Bert Stevens: I was very nervous before the tournament started. I couldn’t wait to start and didn’t know what to do with myself. However, the second that I fired up the stream and blasted some music it all faded away and I was hyper-focused.

I was in the zone the whole time”

DL: In the biggest spot of your career, you totally dominated the final table. How satisfying is it to have brought your A-game to such a big occasion? 

BS: I ran well right from the start and had great spots throughout. I played great, but everything just seemed to go my way for the entire final table. I was in the zone the whole time, even when I started making it 69 big blinds pre-flop for fun.

Wild ride 

DL: You have played the highest stakes online for a long time and your career has been a rollercoaster of highs and lows, often mirrored in your personal life too. Does this feel like a vindicating moment? 

BS: My girlfriend and I went through some hard times and I legit lost my mind last year and drank very heavily. I then went sober, started streaming and it’s been a wild ride. I am so lucky to still be able to do this and be successful, because the games are very hard at the moment. Even the greatest online MTT player of all time can’t cruise to free money anymore.

so many people rooting for me like that made me not want to disappoint them”

DL: You mentioned your Twitch stream there. It has totally blown up in the past few months and Tuesday night was obviously a record stream. What was it like to share that moment with the audience?

BS: The stream was absolutely amazing, so many people rooting for me like that made me not want to disappoint them. It brings extra pressure, but in some way, it also brings some comfort. The outburst at the end was unreal and the stream made that moment feel extra special!

DL: Given the instant success of your stream, it seemed like only a matter of time before you got offers from sites looking to get on the giraffe-train. What would you say to those sites now?

BS: Price went up b*tches!

2023 WSOP Online Main Event Final Table Results

PlacePlayerPrize (USD)
1Bert Stevens$2,783,432
2Yagen Li$2,059,058
3Ezequiel Kleinman$1,524,214
4Ramiro Petrone$1,128,331
5Alexander Timoshenko$835,303
6Eric Bakker$618,406
7Lukas Hafner$457,864
8Fabian Rolli$339,032
9Simon Wilson$251,070

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