Over the course of any tournament series, it’s not unusual to have a player have a standout performance across multiple events. But what Vladas Tamasauskas pulled off in the opening week of the 2023 Poker Masters stands out as one of the most impressive three-event stretches in recent memory, making three final tables and winning Events 1 and 3.
That run earned Tamasauskas more than $500,000 in cashes, and marked his first two career live wins in $10,000 buy-in events. It’s the continuation of a career-altering month for Tamasauskas, who also won $439,650 in a €10,000 High Roller at EPT Barcelona in early September. It was that result, in fact, that helped Tamasauskas lock in his trip to Las Vegas for the Poker Masters.
“Before Barcelona, I was like 60% sure I was coming here,” said Tamasauskas. “But I felt pretty strong that somehow I would manage to figure it out. If I wouldn’t have had a score in Barcelona, I would still most likely have come, but it would have been tougher. It definitely helped me to feel more comfortable coming here.”
Tamasauskas ultimately made the trip worth it. He opened the series by winning Event 1 ($10,000 NLHE), which drew the largest number of entries for any No Limit Hold’em tournament ever held in the PokerGO Studio. The $239,400 payout was his second six-figure cash of the month, and he hardly had any time to sit still to appreciate it. Following his victory, he hopped directly into Event 2 ($10,000 NLHE) of the Poker Masters – and he promptly played all the way down to the final table for the second night in a row.
Tamasauskas’ second final table in as many days featured a stacked lineup that included current World Poker Tour Player of the Year frontrunner Bin Weng, nine-time WSOP bracelet winner Erik Seidel, four-time WPT champion Darren Elias, and high roller crusher Alex Foxen. That run would end in sixth place, but undeterred, Tamasauskas immediately bought into Event 3 ($10,000 NLHE) – and wouldn’t you know it, for the third straight day, Tamasauskas found a bag and a final table appearance.
This time around, Tamasauskas would have to fight from the shortest stack, facing a final table with two familiar faces – Ren Lin of China, who finished third in Event 1, and Foxen. Chance Kornuth was also among the final six in Event 3. After an off-day Sunday, Tamasauskas returned Monday afternoon, maneuvered his way back into contention and ultimately defeated Lin for the title.
“Event number three, I think was the toughest one for me,” said Tamasauskas. “And yeah, I won some all-ins, but I felt good at the table and I think it definitely gives more confidence moving forward. I’m definitely going to play more of these in the future.”
Tamasauskas, who is from Lithuania, first entered the poker radar in 2016 when he won a UKIPT Dublin Main Event. His career-best result came in November 2022, when he finished fourth in the World Series of Poker Europe Main Event for over $450,000. But in terms of attention, Tamasauskas’ wins to open the 2023 Poker Masters feel like the moment that brought him into his brightest spotlight to date.
In Tamasauskas’ view, coming into the PGT Studios for the first time without lofty expectations was the ideal set of circumstances for him.
“Coming in here, it’s tough to expect that much,” said Tamsauskas. “But on the other hand, I think that also helped me, because I didn’t have such grand expectations. I would just try to do my things that helped me be my best version at the table. And I think that that worked out.
“I do not have expectations that I’m gonna win every tournament I play,” said Tamasuaskas. “But at the same time, I feel that if I register a tournament, I can win that tournament.”
Tamasauskas attempted to make it 4-for-4, moving directly from his heads-up match with Lin into Event #4 as registration closed. But when two overs and a flush draw failed to connect, Tamasauskas’ immaculate run finally came to a halt.
As the Poker Masters nears its halfway point, Tamasauskas is well out in front in the race for Poker Masters Player of the Series, the signature purple jacket and $50,000 winner’s bonus. Regardless of how the rest of the series plays out, Tamasauskas’ appreciation in the moments after winning Event 3 was focused on hitting a longtime milestone – one he’s been chasing since he first traveled to Las Vegas in the summer of 2016.
“I came to Vegas for the first time seven years ago, when I turned 21,” said Tamasauskas. “And [I finally won my first trophy in the USA. To win here, it’s special to do that.”
Judging by his performances of late, it’s unlikely he’ll have to wait that long for win number three.