What would happen if Mike Sexton made a final table on the World Poker Tour? That is the question Kimberly Lansing posed at the top of the latest World Poker Tour broadcast on FSN. It was answered when Sexton actually made the final table of the Bay 101 Shooting Star tournament.
The broadcast began with highlights leading up to the final table. One of the most popular stops each season, the Season IV Bay 101 Shooting Star, which was held March 14-18, 2011, drew 415 entrants and created a prize pool of $3,942,500. The format was a little different than normal in that each “Shooting Star” had a $5,000 bounty on their head. Some of the pros with a target on their backs included Phil Hellmuth, Daniel Negreanu, Phil Ivey, Dan Harrington, Phil Laak, Michael Mizrachi, and Scotty Nguyen, just to name a few.
Interestingly, the creator of the Shooting Star tournament, Chris Trapani, ended as the chip leader of Day 1B. Later in the tournament, Layne Flack found himself all-in on the money bubble holding against the of his opponent. Things were looking good for Flack on the turn, but the river made him the official bubble boy, ensuring the remaining 45 players a decent payday.
At the end of Day 2, only three Shooting Stars remained in Mike Matusow, Kathy Liebert, and Sexton. Liebert, who finished runner-up in the same event two years earlier, was the first to go, in 25th place. Following her out the door were Trapani in 12th place and Ty Reiman in seventh, making him the televised final-table bubble boy.
Reiman’s elimination left six players who comprised a star-studded final table.
WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star Final Table
Seat 1: Mike Matusow (2,277,000)
Seat 2: Mike Sexton (329,000)
Seat 3: Alan Sternberg (3,689,000)
Seat 4: Vivek Rajkumar (1,632,000)
Seat 5: Steven Kelly (4,107,000)
Seat 6: Casey McCarrel (418,000)
First Hand: Before the first hand, it was revealed that Tony Dunst, host of the popular Raw Deal segment, would be filling in for Sexton in the broadcast booth, much to the delight of Vince Van Patten. This marked the first time in 150 tournaments that Sexton wasn’t in the commentator’s booth. In the first hand of the episode, the blinds were at 10,000/20,000 with a 3,000 ante when Mike Sexton looked down at in the cutoff. He quickly announced he was all-in and action folded to Steven Kelly in the big blind. He looked down at the but opted not to call the additional 306,000 and risk doubling up the fan favorite.
Five Questions: Kimberly Lansing sat down with Phil Hellmuth for the “Five Questions” segment and discussed the Poker Brat’s big personality, his sixth-place finish in the Bay 101 Shooting Star the season prior, and the loss of anonymity. When asked if he has been able to shed his “Poker Brat” persona, Hellmuth responded: “It turns out it's very entertaining. That’s the way I was acting in ’89, ’99, and ’09, hopefully now I’ve conquered it.”
Mike Sexton Eliminated in Sixth Place: Mike Matusow raised to 55,000 on the button only to have Mike Sexton move all-in for 224,000 from the small blind. Matusow did the math before making the call.
Sexton was in great shape and even let a smile creep across his face as he said, “How sweet it is.” The flop changed nothing, nor did the turn. Sexton was primed to double if he could just dodge a jack on the river, but much to disappointment of the fans and WPT family, the spiked on the river to send Sexton home in sixth place. Leading up to the Shooting Star event, Sexton had only played 16 WPT tournaments, so a final table and $148,000 payday certainly had to make the Hall of Famer proud.
Casey McCarrel Eliminated in Fifth Place: Vivek Rajkumar raised to 55,000 on the button only to have Steven Kelly three-bet to 140,000 from the small blind. Short-stacked Casey McCarrel looked down at in the big blind and decided it was a good spot to commit his 331,000. Rajkumar quickly folded while Kelly reluctantly made the call. Kelly showed and was a 30 percent favorite to eliminate McCarrel.
The flop was kind to the chip leader and made him a 72 percent favorite; however, the turn gave McCarrel a royal flush draw. Unfortunately for the hometown hero, the blanked on the river and Kelly took down the pot. McCarrel earned $221,800 for his fifth-place finish.
The Raw Deal with Mike Sexton?: The Raw Deal is usually hosted by Tony Dunst, but given that he was filling in for Mike Sexton in the booth, WPT producers thought it’d be fun for Sexton to fill in for Dunst. Sexton talked about the advantages of youth in poker tournaments, including having stamina, few responsibilities, and fearlessness.
Cooler: Alan Sternberg raised to 63,000 from the small blind with only to have Vivek Rajkumar, who was playing in his second consecutive WPT final table (the other was the LAPC), make it 160,000 to go with . Sternberg made the call, leading to a flop of . Sternberg checked, Rajkumar bet 105,000, and Sternberg opted for a check-raise to 277,000. Rajkumar was far behind but made the call nonetheless. Amazingly, the spiked on the turn to give Rajkumar a bigger set, the odds of which were 22.5 to 1 (4.3 percent).
Sternberg led out for 475,000, Rajkumar called, and the peeled off on the river, giving Rajkumar quads. Sternberg moved all-in and Rajkumar quickly called off his 817,000. Both players were astonished at the hand, which saw Rajkumar double to 3,474,000.
Tune in Next Week: FSN will continue its broadcast of the WPT Season IX next Sunday with Part II of the Bay 101 Shooting Star. Be sure to either check your local listings or visit PokerNews for the recap.
Past WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star Winners