James Carroll was the last player standing from a record-setting field of 718 players at World Poker Tour (WPT) Bay 101 Shooting Star on Friday. Carroll, a successful tournament pro both online and on the live circuit, collected his first WPT title and the largest score of his career ($1,256,550).
Carroll outlasted a tough final table that included former Bay 101 champ Nam Le, as well as poker pros Dylan Wilkerson, Makul Pahuja and Garrett Greer. Carroll defeated Wilkerson in an exciting heads-up duel to secure the win.
One of the storylines going into the final day involved Greer, who finally reached a WPT final table after bubbling two of them within the past 13 months. However, Greer entered this final table as the short stack and was unable to get any traction. On his final hand, Greer min-raised to 120,000 from the cutoff and Wilkerson three-bet to 305,000 from the small blind. Greer moved all in for 1,480,000, and Wilkerson called.
Greer needed help, but the board ran out to give Wilkerson a set of nines and the pot.
That left Nam Le as the shortest stack at the table. Le won the Bay 101 event in 2006 for $1.2 million and was looking to collect the second seven-figure score of his career, but this time he fell short. With the blinds at 40,000/80,000/10,000, Le moved all in for 565,000 from the cutoff with , and Carroll called from the big blind with the . The dealer rolled out a board of , and Carroll's pair held up to eliminate Le.
From there the momentum oscillated between the remaining four players over the next 100 hands as Shaun Suller, Wilkerson and Pahuja each found double-ups. All four remaining players held the chip lead at one point during that stretch. Pahuja had another chance to double up and take the lead but took a crushing beat to Dylan Wilkerson on Hand #143.
Wilkerson min-raised to 400,000 and Pahuja moved all in for 1,650,000. Wilkerson called and discovered he was dominated with the against Pahuja's . However, the flop gave Wilkerson a Broadway straight, leaving Pahuja drawing to a chop. The turn and river changed nothing, and Pahuja exited in fourth place for $320,800. He also picked up enough Player of the Year points to take over the top spot in the WPT standings.
Fourteen hands later, Suller's run came to an end at the hands of Carroll. The two players saw a flop of and checked to see the hit the turn. Suller check-called a bet of 375,000, bringing the on the river. Suller checked again and Carroll fired 1,375,000 into the pot. Suller responded with a check-raise all in for 3,800,000, and Carroll quickly called and revealed his for a straight. Suller showed for two pair before making his exit from the table.
That pot gave Carroll a slight chip lead over Wilkerson to begin the heads-up match, and it took only 15 hands before it was all over. On the final hand of the tournament, Wilkerson min-raised his button to 500,000 and Carroll called to see the dealer fan a flop of . Carroll checked, Wilkerson bet 500,000, and Carroll check-raised to 1,300,000. Wilkerson called, and the fell on the turn. Carroll checked, Wilkerson moved all in for 4.5 million, and Carroll thought for about 30 seconds before making a bold call with the . Wilkerson tabled the and needed to improve to survive.
The river was the , and Carroll's two pair was good enough to seal his first World Poker Tour title and the $1,256,500 payday, which includes a $15,400 seat into the season-ending WPT World Championship at the Borgata in Atlantic City. Wilkerson's runner-up finish earned him $728,650.
The World Poker Tour immediately heads to Sacramento for the WPT Rolling Thunder Main Event on Saturday. You can find daily recaps from that event right here at PokerNews.com.
*Photos and data courtesy of the WPT Live Blog.