The story at the final table of the 2013 WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star could have ended a number of ways. It could have made for a remarkable week for Paul Volpe, going second and first in less than two weeks in two major WPT events, or yet another resurgence in the career of poker legend Erik Seidel.
It also could have been a breakout win for Joe Kuether or Chris Johnson, two talented young pros, or a local pro in Joe Nguyen taking the title at his hometown casino. It was, however, a redemption for Kai Chang, a pro who had knocked on the door several times before and finally grabbed the brass ring at Bay 101. He defeated this stacked final table, where everybody was remarkably deepstacked at the beginning of play Friday, and added his name to the WPT Champions Cup.
Chang also added over $1.1 million and a seat in the WPT Championship, far exceeding his three previous career cashes of note. Chang burst onto the scene in 2006, finishing second to Darrell Dicken in a $10,000 WSOP Circuit event at Harrahs Rincon, and added a 40th place finish in the WSOP Main Event that same year. Chang had been close before on the WPT as well, bubbling the TV final table at the LAPC back in 2008.
He was fifth out of six in chips when play began at the final table, but neither Chang nor any of the other players could even remotely be considered short stacks. Chang started with 83 big blinds and only built from there, claiming the chiplead on the 42nd hand of the final table. He’d be at or near the lead for the remainder of the evening. There’s likely no better proof of how much play was left in the final six stacks than the fact that it took 79 hands for the first elimination to happen.
Kuether was the first one to succumb, as his stack grew shorter and shorter over the course of 13 full orbits. He picked up a great hand with which to double up in J J but Nguyen had him crushed with A A, and it didn’t get much better as an A fell on the flop. Kuether was eliminated in sixth place, but he continues to put up impressive results after finishing 26th in the 2012 BLUFF Player of the Year race as he holds down the number 13 spot in the BLUFF Power Rankings.
After all of the time it took to get to five-handed play it only stayed that way for a single hand. Johnson flopped top pair with K T on a T 8 5 board but was crushed by Chang, who had flopped top set with T T. There were no miracle runner-runner flushes or full houses for Johnson as he was sent to the rail in fifth and Chang climbed over 7.6 million.
Chang and Nguyen, the two chipleaders at this point, occasionally battled in big pots but for the most part they each continued to chip up as Seidel and Volpe got shorter and shorter. Seidel managed to pick up a double-up with a preflop all-in, making a straight with A 4 as it ran out 6 3 3 2 5 to beat Chang’s Q 9. The two short stacks would eventually do battle, as Seidel open-shoved the last of his chips with J T and Volpe called with A 4. It was a monster flop for Seidel as it came out J J 7 but Volpe connected with his flush draw on the K turn. Seidel would not fill up on the river, and with that one of the most successful tournament pros in history was gone in fourth place.
It would be as close as Volpe would get to a comeback. After starting the final table with the chiplead, it was simply not to to be on this day. A dealer error cause the button to move twice, though it was only realized after significant action had already occurred. Volpe open-shipped from the small blind with Q T and Chang called with A 9. Neither player would pair and Volpe’s run would come to an end in third.
While he was unable to capture either title, Volpe earned well over $1 million for his second place finish at LAPC and third place finish at Bay 101. He took the lead in the WPT Player of the Year race from Matt Salsberg with his latest result and, if no major changes happen in the top 20 over the weekend (it is unlikely that any will), Volpe will take over the lead in the BLUFF Player of the Year race when the next update comes out on Monday.
The heads-up match between Chang and Nguyen did not last long. After Nguyen took the first three pots to all but close the 2-1 disadvantage he started at, Chang won a significant pot on the fourth hand to get it all back. Nguyen made a flush on the fifth hand of heads-up play, but that would be the last pot he would win in this tournament.
On the sixth and final hand of their heads-up match, Chang check-called a bet on a T 7 5 flop and check-raised Nguyen on the 9 turn. Nguyen three-bet all-in and Chang snap-called with the second nuts, as his 8 6 had connected on an open-ended straight draw. Nguyen still had quite a few outs with T 2, but the 6 would not do it as Chang’s straight held and earned him the victory.
The next stop on the WPT is in Venice, which begins on March 25 and will feature a televised broadcast as well as a live-streaming final table. Just three televised main events remain in Season XI as it quickly winds towards a close.
Here are the final table payouts for the 2013 WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star.
- Kai Chang – $1,138,350
- Joe Nguyen – $666,740
- Paul Volpe – $435,610
- Erik Seidel – $295,590
- Chris Johnson – $208,910
- Joe Kuether – $162,240
Latest posts by Tim Fiorvanti (see all)
- Things Are Getting Real for Joe McKeehen on the Thunderdome Stage - July 14, 2015
- Justin Schwartz Seeks End to Dark Days with Deep Main Event Run - July 14, 2015
- Pierre Neuville Lives Post-Retirement Poker Dreams to the Fullest - July 13, 2015
- Moneymaker Legend Grows as Bruce Peery Takes WSOP Main Event Lead - July 12, 2015
- Justin Bonomo Chips Up, Busts His Friends Deep in WSOP Main Event - July 12, 2015