Decades ago there were some team events at the World Series of Poker, but nowadays the game is individualistic in nature. Still, while everyone is ultimately out for him or herself, that doesn't mean teammates don't exist. Case in point Hoyt Corkins and Ted Leahy, two of the final 29 players remaining in Event #28: Monster Stack $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em, a tournament that attracted 7,192 players and created a prize pool of $9,702,000.
The duo, who are both members of Team Blue Shark Optics (Team BSO), the official poker eyewear company of the WSOP, were just two of 272 players who returned for Day 3 action. After 10 levels of play, just 29 would remain in contention for the $1,286,942 first-place prize, with Corkins and his stack of 9.3 million leading the way. Leahy, meanwhile, finished 11th in chips with 4.39 million.
"It went good," Corkins told PokerNews after bagging and tagging. "I ran pretty good for the most part. Seems like I won two-thirds of the races. Took a couple of beats, but I give more than I took. I like my chances, but you know anything can happen. The blinds go up, and you can run cold for a couple of levels and be out. Nothing is for sure. It's hour levels, and the short stacks get short and can move all in on you, so that makes it difficult too."
Corkins, who has two bracelets on his poker résumé, is arguably the most experienced player left in the field. Way back in 1992, Corkins won his first bracelet when he took down Event #13: $5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha for $96,000. After that, he took an 11-year hiatus from the game to raise cattle back in Alabama, hence the nickname "The Alabama Cowboy." Then, in 2003, he won the World Poker Tour World Poker Finals, and four years later he captured his second bracelet in the 2007 WSOP Event #30: $2,500 No-Limit Hold'em Six-Handed for $515,065. All told Corkins has 45 WSOP cashes totaling $1,508,061.
"I think it gives me an edge because I have been there," Corkins said of his past experiences. "Taking a beat, or [finding myself in] marginal situations, I think I'll do good. Beating a 7,000-player field, sure that would be a big thrill. Of course winning a bracelet is always a big thrill, for sure."
As for Leahy, this is unchartered territory. The 52-year-old from Atlanta, Georgia has just $26,802 in cashes, the largest of which was $6,353 for a 20th-place finish in the WSOP Circuit Cherokee Event #4 $265 No-Limit Hold'em back in April.
"I've done really well in the last six or seven months in big fields," Leahy told PokerNews. "This is by far the best finish, especially with the volume of people ,so I'm excited. I just want to close the deal. It would mean a lot. Everybody always wants to be validated for what they're working on, so it would be great. A bracelet would mean a lot."
Leahy, who is married with four kids – three daughters and a son – has been in the poker world for the better part of a decade, but is still looking for that big score. For the past nine years, Leahy has run Lucky Leahy's Poker Tables, a company that builds custom poker tables including some featured at Binion's, on the Heartland Poker Tour, and in the Windy City Poker Championship. He also hosts Taking It Down on OnTilt Radio most Monday nights.
"Feeling awesome, feeling great," Leahy said of his Day 3 run. "Running good enough. Every day has been pretty much the same thing. Build, build, build, run into a big hand and go down. It's been a test of patience more than anything, just waiting on the right spots. Only a couple of bad beats, only a couple suck outs, nothing major. Aces have held up four times over the last few days."
The aces stories have been recounted numerous times throughout the tournament at the BSO booth, which is in the hall just outside the Pavilion Room. It's where both Leahy and Corkins head on most breaks.
"Everybody's pulling for you, you can feel it, and it really makes you stay focused," explained Leahy, who suddenly remembered he needed to reschedule his flight after making Day 4 (he was supposed to fly home on Tuesday).
Corkins agreed when it comes to his teammates: "I love the Blue Shark Optics. Everybody, they work so hard to make everyone feel good. They do a good job with the glasses too."
Both Corkins and Leahy have made Team BSO proud, but ultimately there can only be one winner. Time will tell if they're destined to square off on Day 4 – they'll start at different tables – but one thing is certain, there are 27 other players looking to stop them. Here's a look at the top 10 stacks left in the Monster Stack:
|1||Hoyt Corkins||Glenwood, AL||9,300,000|
|2||Kevin Kung||Newport Beach, CA||8,580,000|
|3||Jeff Kaplan||West Hills, CA||8,215,000|
|4||Jonathan McCann||Cumbria, GB||5,610,000|
|5||Asi Moshe||Tel Aviv, Israel||5,545,000|
|6||Eric Place||Willington, NS, CA||5,410,000|
|7||Petr Bartagov||Moscow, RU||5,135,000|
|8||Gregory Milliron||Phoenix, AZ||5,030,000|
|9||Richard Alati||Phoenix, AZ||5,030,000|
Day 4 of the Monster Stack will kick off at 11 a.m. local time on Tuesday with the plan of playing down to the final table of nine.