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How a nugget of fool’s gold ended up with WSOP Main Event winner

Updated July 18, 2023 - 2:30 pm

Every winner of the World Series of Poker Main Event has a banner that hangs in the tournament room, and Daniel Weinman’s will be added next summer.

When it goes up, look closely at Weinman’s picture following his victory Monday for $12.1 million because there is something special hidden.

Sitting on the stack of chips next to the bundles of cash and the two cards Weinman used to win the final hand is a nugget of fool’s gold. The piece of pyrite was passed from player to player after they were eliminated from the tournament before it eventually reached Weinman’s hands.

Now the rock will live on in poker history through Weinman’s victory photo.

“I didn’t know it was on his winner’s photo, but that just brought tears to my eyes,” said Cody Daniels, the rock’s original owner. “I can’t believe that people forever will look at that rock on the banner hanging in the rafters of the Horseshoe.”

Daniels, a 28-year-old chronically ill poker player from Lake Havasu City, Arizona, was staked into this year’s Main Event by professional poker players MJ Gonzales and Casey Coughlan.

When Daniels was knocked out on Day 4 in 635th place for $30,000, he passed on the lucky charm to Raj Vohra, the player responsible for his elimination.

At that point, Daniels wasn’t sure what would happen to the rock. But fortunately, it landed in the right hands, as Vohra carried it all the way until he was eliminated by Anirban Das on Day 7 in 36th place.

By then, the story of Daniels’ fool’s gold started to make its way around the poker tables at the Horseshoe Events Center. Das was busted by Adam Walton in 16th place in one of the final hands on Day 7, and Walton maintained possession of the pyrite through Day 8 until he reached the final table.

“I know it was a dream for Cody to be able to have that rock make it all the way to the final table,” Walton said. “I feel fortunate that I was the one to be able to have it in the bag. It was a very cool experience to be able to help in an incredibly small way have somebody live out their dreams.”

Walton, a Henderson resident originally from Seattle, finished in third place when he was knocked out by the pocket aces of Weinman.

In all the commotion of the moment, Walton was unable to give Weinman the fool’s gold.

“But when we came for heads-up, the rock was just there,” Weinman said. “It kind of just seemed like a good sign that this rock is going to end up with the champion either way, and it finally made its way to me.”

Daniels had an invitation from Walton to attend the final table in person, but his health did not allow him to make the trip. The online poker stream “Hustler Casino Live” is hosting a charity game Sunday to raise money for Daniels, and he is saving his energy to travel to Los Angeles.

Weinman said he hopes to meet Daniels one day and return the rock in person.

“That rock means a lot to me and (I) was hoping that me and my family can have it forever,” Daniels said. “It’s super-charged now.”

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.

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