Toby Mathews started Day 2 third in chips, and was very short during three-handed play, but thanks to a few coin flips and a bit of persistence he is the winner of the Hollywood Poker Open Tunica Regional Championship.
Mathews reached heads-up play against Jonathan Taylor with a significant chip disadvantage, and the 2013 World Series of Poker bracelet winner extended the lead. Mathews was able to double, flopping a straight against Taylor's middle set, and brought the stacks back to even.
On the final hand, Mathews five-bet shoved with pocket kings and Taylor called with pocket fives. The dominant hand held up, and Mathews was crowned the champion.
"I've got to call my wife," Mathews said excitedly while the staff was preparing for pictures. "This is so cool."
Mathews earned $15,040 for first place along with a $2,500 seat to the Hollywood Poker Open Championship at The M Resort Spa Casino Las Vegas in June. Ironically, the event takes place near his wife's birthday.
"We were thinking about going to Vegas anyway," Mathews said in a post-win interview.
Team PokerStars Pro and HPO ambassador Chris Moneymaker entered the day as the chip leader, and eliminated Lee Childs on the four-handed bubble. Childs was very short and open-jammed for around 10 big blind with pocket tens. Moneymaker made the call in the big blind with , and ended up making quad threes.
During three-handed play, Moneymaker struggled.
"I didn't win a pot," Moneymaker said afterwards.
The 2003 WSOP Main Event winner quickly went from first to last in chips, then tried to make a move on Mathews. He check-raised all in on a flop of with , and Mathews called with . The pocket queens held up, and Moneymaker hit the rail.
Mathews credits both the deep structure and the lucky tiger his nephew Nicholas gave to him for the victory, and is exited to play in the Hollywood Poker Open Championship.
PokerNews will be back to cover the next Hollywood Poker Open Regional Championship Event on March 1 in Grantville, Pennsylvania.