In the wee hours of Thursday morning, Hoyt Corkins defeated Jonathan Kantor heads-up to win the 2010 WPT Southern Poker Championship at the Beau Rivage casino in Biloxi, Miss. Corkins pocketed $739,486 for his win along with a WPT bracelet and a $25,500 entry to May’s WPT World Championship at Bellagio. This is his second World Poker Tour title.
The $10,000 buy-in event drew 208 players to the Gulf Coast including Jason Mercier, Shannon Shorr, Jeff Madsen, “Miami” John Cernuto, Chris Bell, and James Van Alstyne. Those gentlemen unfortunately wouldn’t survive Day 1, while Jonathan Little, Corkins, Tommy Vedes, James “mig.com” Mackey, Paul Wasicka, Chad Brown, Matt “All In at 420” Stout and Gavin Smith all ended the first session of play among the top ten in chips. Dwyte Pilgrim, already on quite the 2010 winning streak with two victories and one second-place finish in preliminary events at the Southern Poker Championship, ended Day 1 as the chip leader but ultimately finished outside the money in 24th place.
Day 2 saw 106 players return to action and by night’s end only 27 remained. Despite the formidable stacks they brought to play that day, Stout, Wasicka, Smith, Brown, and Little all fell by the wayside while Jared Jaffe, Tyler Smith and Kantor pulled out to the front of the pack. Also hitting the rail that evening were WPT champions Nick Schulman, Daniel Negreanu, and Joe Tehan.
Of the 27 players who survived to Day 3, 18 cashed including Vedes (17th), Mackey (14th), Justin “Boosted J” Smith (13th), Ayaz Mahmood (11th), and J.J. Liu (8th). Andy Philachack was the TV-table bubble boy, going out in seventh place at the hands of eventual champion Corkins.
Corkins took not only the most name recognition to the final table; he also brought the biggest stack, outchipping his closest competitor by nearly 2 to 1:
Seat 1: Tyler Smith (1,169,000)
Seat 2: Hoyt Corkins (2,069,000)
Seat 3: Jonathan Kantor (894,000)
Seat 4: Jerry Vanstrydonck (1,044,000)
Seat 5: James Reed (377,000)
Seat 6: Jared Jaffee (762,000)
Despite entering the final table with the second-largest stack, Tyler Smith was the first player eliminated. After losing the majority of his chips to Jonathan Kantor with top pair against two pair, Smith committed his last 49,000 with , but could not improve against Jared Jaffee’s . He earned $86,837 for his sixth-place finish.
James Reed hung on as long as he could with his short stack, but with the blinds up to 12,000/24,000 with a 3,000 ante, he open-shoved from the cutoff holding . Instead of stealing the blinds as he’d hoped to do, he earned a call from Jaffe, who woke up with on the button. Reed caught a faint ray of hope, hitting bottom pair on the flop, but neither the on the turn nor the on the river helped him any further. For fifth place, Reed collected $106,134.
Despite a great start to the final table, Jaffe couldn’t get too much traction after Reed’s elimination and ultimately went for a squeeze play in the hope of picking up some chips. Corkins opened for 110,000 from under-the-gun, Kantor flat-called from the button, Jerry Vanstrydonck called from the small blind, and Jaffe shoved for his remaining 661,000 from the big blind. Corkins made the call, and both Kantor and Vanstrydonck folded, setting up a coinflip for Jaffe’s tournament life. However, Jaffe’s couldn’t outrun Corkins’ pocket jacks on the , sealing his elimination in fourth place for $135,079.
The final table began at 4:30 p.m. EST, Jaffe was eliminated around 7:30 p.m., and it took a full five hours and 102 hands of play before Vanstrydonck succumbed in third place. With the blinds up to 30,000/60,000 with a 10,000 ante at that point, the chip counts were relatively close-- Kantor leading with 2.7 million, Corkins with 1.975 million and Vanstrydonck close behind with 1.6 million. On what was his final hand, Vanstrydonck shoved over Corkins’ 200,000 button raise, but Corkins made the call, turning up to Vanstrydonck’s . The board blanked out for both players and Corkins took down the pot, sending Vanstrydonck home with a $196,829 payday.
Corkins held 3,635,000 to Kantor’s 2,665,000 as heads-up play commenced. Eight hands in, Kantor managed to pull off a huge bluff against Corkins, firing three barrels on a board with nothing more than (he showed it too). Corkins, however, was unfazed and took down a game-changing 1.7 million pot only a few hands later. Corkins opened for 190,000 and Kantor called from the big blind. Kantor checked the flop over to Corkins, who bet 210,000. Kantor called and they went to the turn, which fell the . Both players checked. The river was the and Kantor led at the pot for 450,000. After a bit of a tank, Corkins made the call, turning up for aces up. Kantor mucked and Corkins took down the pot, extending his chip lead to 4.1 million over Kantor’s 2.2 million.
On the 173rd hand of the final table, Kantor limped in on the button and Corkins shoved from the big blind. Kantor called with and needed to improve against Corkins’ . The flop, however, heavily favored Corkins as he hit top pair. The on the turn gave everyone a bit of a sweat as Kantor picked up a flush draw, but the river blanked out with the , sealing the victory for Corkins. For his runner-up finish, Kantor earned $366,643.
The $739,486 Corkins earned for first place took his career tournament earnings past the $5 million mark ($5,095,484 to be exact). This is Corkins’ second WPT title, his first coming in the 2003 World Poker Finals at Foxwoods. His run in Mississippi also marked the sixth televised WPT final table for the “Alabama Cowboy.”
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