It was a long one, over 30 hours of play in just two days, with a lengthy heads-up battle at the end. But when the final card was dealt, Jason Young emerged the winner of Event #17, $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em Shootout. After winning three ten-handed tables, Young walked away with the top prize, $335,565, and the gold bracelet.
Going into the final table, here were the seat assignments and home towns (each player started with 1,000,000 in chips) of the finalists:
Seat 1: Casey Coleman (Kingston, Ontario, Canada)
Seat 2: Matthew Giannetti (Las Vegas, Nevada)
Seat 3: Thomas West (Los Altos, California)
Seat 4: Rory Monahan (Carbondale, Illinois)
Seat 5: Kyle Bowker (Walton, New York)
Seat 6: John Strzemp III (Las Vegas, Nevada)
Seat 7: Mike Schwartz (Encino, California)
Seat 8: Sergey Rybachenko (Moscow, Russian Federation)
Seat 9: Jason Young (Suffern, New York)
Seat 10: Alexander Triner (Rockville, Maryland)
After what was in the truest sense a marathon battle that took two rounds of single elimination-play over 19 hours, it was not surprising that the players might look a bit bedraggled as they headed into the Green Section of the Amazon Room and gathered around Table 15. But there was a lot at stake as play got underway as the prize money chasm between first and last at this table was huge – the winner taking home a whopping $335,565 to the modest $7,507 for the tenth-place finisher.
Casey Coleman, who plays online at FullTiltPoker as "Cosey" and PokerStars as "CCmuney," was a victim of some ill-timed early aggression, losing half his chip stack early on to Matthew Giannetti when he tried to make a move on the river only to be called by Giannetti, who held the winning top pair. Coleman scraped back a few of those chips the next hand against Giannetti, but just as soon as he was starting to crawl back up, he hit the wall in the form of Sergey Rybachenko, who had rivered a straight against Coleman's flopped top pair putting Coleman was down to 115,000.
Short-stacked, Coleman called the preflop raise of Mike Schwartz, putting himself virtually all in, and Giannetti came along to see the flop. With Schwartz betting out, Coleman calling all in and Giannetti folding, the two tabled their hands, with Schwartz in the lead with pocket eights against the A-Q for Coleman. The board ran out J -10 and Coleman was out in tenth place, taking $7,507.
Alex Triner was already down below the starting stack when he was re-reraised all in by Jason Young. Triner seemed resigned to making the call with so much already in the pot. Resignation likely turned to jubilation when he saw that he had his man dominated, Young's in need of a lot of help against Triner's . But that feeling was short-lived as the on the turn sent Young into a bit of a frenzy, celebrating with his friends on the rail, and the on the river left Triner with a severely diminished stack. Triner may have thought there would be cosmic retribution when he looked down to find jacks in the hole and he was up against John Strzemp's pocket queens for his tournament life. The board was unhelpful, and the resigned cry of "Where's the jack this time?" before the dealer dealt out the river spoke volumes. Triner was out in ninth to collect his $9,828.
Thomas West, an experienced player with 11 prior cashes in major tournaments, including a second at last year's LA Poker Classic, had already been crippled earlier in the match against the hyper-aggressive Rybachenko. After a few more hits to his stack, and with the rising blinds, West decided to make a stand for the rest of his chips when he saw A-Q. Unfortunately, he was dominated by the A-K of now-big-stacked Jason Young. The board ran out uneventfully, 3-4-3-8-6, and West was out as the eighth-place finisher, heading to the cashier to pick up his $12,421.
Sergey Rybachenko had gone out to an early lead, doubling his stack after the first hour of play. But within a very short time, Rybachenko has gone from chip leader to short stack with just 380,000 left, the biggest hit courtesy of Jason Young. With a board reading , Rybachenko check-raised Young's 55,000 bet to a total of 125,000. Young smooth-called. On the turn, Rybachenko bet out 250,000 and Young quickly called. Then, on the river, Rybachenko blasted out a 700,000 bet which, again, Young snap-called. Rybachenko mucked before even looking at Young's .
Several hands later and it got even worse for the Russian when his top pair came up against the pocket rockets of Rory Monahan, which also made a set on the flop. Rybachenko saw his stack slip even further. In his final hand, Rybachenko pushed all in from the small blind for around 300,000. Kyle Bowker, who had made the first raise to 100,000, announced he was all in as well, sliding 673,000 into the pot. The third player in the hand, Mike Schwartz, called all in as well, having both players covered, and we went to the flop with the hands as follows:
The 2-J-4 flop helped no one and, while the turn paired Bowker's nine, Rybachenko was still ahead. But the river was a heartbreaker for the two all ins, , and Schwartz eliminated two players in one fell swoop. Rybachenko, the shorter of the two stacks, left in seventh, taking home $15,697. Kyle Bowker, who had been the last person to win a seat into this final and had 12 previous cashes including one already in this WSOP, went out in sixth place, receiving $23,887.
Matthew Giannetti bested his previous top tournament finish by finishing fifth in this event. In the early going, Giannetti's chips hovered right about the starting stack, but the rising blinds and a few hits had diminished his stack to just 300,000. He got a temporary reprieve courtesy of a double up from Mike Schwartz who, having just knocked two players out, decided to go after the next shortest stack. He raised Giannetti preflop and may have been surprised when Giannetti pushed back all in, but he made the call. Schwartz was behind A-7 to pocket eights and stayed behind through the 6-Q-K-9-3 board. Even with the double up, Giannetti was still the short stack and he stayed aggressive. Finally, one of his raises was called and he and Mike Schwartz saw a flop. Schwartz announced all in and Giannetti called, but was behind with against Mike Schwartz' . The turn brought another queen; the river was another nine, giving Schwartz a full house and the hand. Giannetti took home $40,267 for fifth place.
Down to four-handed play, Jason Young had half the chips in play, five million; Schwartz had 2.4 million to the 1.4 and 1.2 of Monahan and Strzemp, respectively. Strzemp took a few quick pots that propelled him quickly to 2 million, mostly at the expense of Young. Monahan, a poker pro and writer, lost two hands to Schwartz and about half of his chips. Nursing a short stack, Rory Monahan moved all in and was looked up by John Strzemp, holding to Monahan's . The board ran out and Monahan was out in fourth place, with a $82,582 payday.
After the late dinner break, John Strzemp's aggression sent him to the rail. First, he took a huge hit to his chip stack after betting over half a million chips only to find that Jason Young had connected with the board, his pocket ace pairing the turn. Then, Strzemp and Schwartz both saw a flop of . Strzemp bet 175,000 on the flop and 500,000 on the turn, both times called by Schwartz. The river was the and Strzemp moved all in for his remaining 1.3 million. Schwartz took no time calling and turned over the K-8 for trip kings. Strzemp tried to muck, but the tournament director revealed his hole cards: . Strzemp was out, taking $129,675 for third place.
The final two went into heads-up action with nearly identical chip stacks. It looked like the match would be over after the two went in for all their chips and Jason Young's pair of jacks prevailed. Schwartz seemed finished, but "seemed" turned out to be the operative word, as Schwartz still had the proverbial chip and a chair – actually, 150,000 in chips, enough to put him all in on the next blind. Three hands later, Schwartz had turned his micro-stack into over a million and, while dominated, he wasn't dead yet. On the next hand, Young saw a pocket pair of sixes and pushed all in only to be called instantly by Schwartz, who turned over kings. After the board ran a blank, Schwartz was up to 3.5 million.
Perhaps fittingly, the match was decided by a coin flip. Schwartz went in with and Young had . And the board ran out …. Young had his victory at last. Schwartz finished in second, for $209,527. Jason Young collected both the bracelet and a cool $335,565 for his win.