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James Todd

The World Series of Poker first debuted the $500 buy-in no-limit hold’em Salute to Warriors events in 2019. The tournament benefits the United Services Organization (USO), which was founded more than 80 years ago to to provide entertainment and other services to active military and their families. The 2022 running of the event attracted 3,209 total entries to build a prize pool of more than $1.4 million. James Todd emerged victorious in the end, earning his first bracelet and the top prize of $161,256 for the win. While Todd secured a six-figure payday for his victory in the event, there was another key figure awarded as a result of this event: $74,809 for the USO and other military charities.

“It’s going to help a hell of a lot of people. I did not serve, but my father served in the military. I love our service men and women,” said Todd after the win.

Todd is a personal trainer from Wellington, Colorado. He has been into poker for decades and has recently invested in coaching to help take his game to the next level. Even with this win, though, he said he intends to keep his day job.

The solid turnout for this event meant that 482 finishers made the money. Among those to cash were bracelet winner Yueqi Zhu (194th – $1,277), two-time bracelet winner and Card Player columnist Steve Zolotow (141st – $1,460), three-time bracelet winner Barry Greenstein (63rd – $2,691), and two-time WSOP Circuit ring winner Frank Marasco (45th – $3,822).

The third and final day of this event began with 21 players remaining and Todd in the lead. By the time the field combined onto a single table, Todd sat in a virtual tie for the lead with Brett Coltman. Todd then knocked out Zyad Qasem (10th – $13,059) to set up the official final table.

Maximo Martinez (9th – $16,433) fell thanks to a preflop cooler (pocket queens versus pocket kings). A coin flip then spelled the end of Elias Neto (8th – $20,824), with his pocket sixes failing to outrun the A-10 of Rigoberto Rodriguez.

Todd won the next big all-in showdown, with his K-10 besting the A-2 of Todd Saffron (7th – $26,574) to narrow the field of six. Just tens minutes later he scored another knockout, with his turned jack-high straight besting the flopped top pair of Nicholas Sena-Hopkins (6th – $34,146).

Todd held more than twice as many chips as the next-largest stack when five-handed action began. Coltman soon closed that gap considerably by eliminating Rodriguez in fifth place. The chips went in preflop with Coltman holding pocket jacks, while Rodriguez had pocket fives. Neither player improved and Rodriquez was sent to the rail with $44,180 for his deep run.

Randy Levin took a stab at some crucial chips after seeing a QSpade Suit8Diamond Suit4Diamond Suit flop. He shoved with KHeart Suit9Spade Suit, only to receive a quick call from Coltman, who had flopped two pair with 8Spade Suit4Club Suit and checked from the small blind. Levin received no help on the later streets and was knocked out in fourth place ($57,554).

Patrick Pilko three-bet shoved over the top of a Todd button open for 12 big blinds with KSpade Suit10Diamond Suit. Todd called with ADiamond Suit5Spade Suit and flopped a pair of fives. He avoided a king or ten on the turn and river to take more than a 3.5:1 chip lead into heads up play with Coltman. Pilko earned $75,486 for his third-place finish.

It took just three hands for Todd to convert his lead into the title. In the final hand, Coltman moved all-in for just shy of 18 big blinds with KClub Suit7Spade Suit from the button. Todd called with ADiamond Suit3Spade Suit and the AHeart Suit8Spade Suit3Club Suit10Diamond SuitQClub Suit runout secured him the pot and the title. Coltman cashed for $99,676 as the runner-up.

Here is a look at the payouts and rankings points awarded at the final table:

Place Player Earnings POY Points
1 James Todd $161,256 600
2 Brett Coltman $99,676 500
3 Patrick Pilko $75,486 400
4 Randy Levin $57,554 300
5 Rigoberto Rodriguez $44,180 250
6 Nicholas Sena-Hopkins $34,146 200
7 Todd Saffron $26,574 150
8 Elias Neto $20,824 100
9 Maximo Martinez $16,433 50

Photo credit: WSOP / Hayley Hochstetler.

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