The inaugural World Poker Tour Choctaw Main Event in Durant, Oklahoma proved a big success as 1,175 entrants took to the felt to create a $3,973,725 prize pool, which crushed the $2,000,000 guarantee. The tournament attracted a who's who of poker notables, and fittingly by the final table contained several exciting storylines.
For instance, Mina Greco was looking to become the first female to win an open WPT tournament, while Andy Hwang was looking to etch his name on the WPT Champions Cup for a second time. There was also Darren Elias, who was looking to win his third WPT title within a year's span (he won the WPT Borgata and WPT Caribbean late last year).
Then there was Jason Brin, a 42-year-old carpet storeowner from De Soto, Kansas. He didn't care about the aforementioned storylines. He was intent on winning first televised tournament of the WPT Season XIV, which is just what he did for $682,975 and a seat into the season-ending WPT Championship.
"What's better than the championship itself is the support from all of you," Brin posted on social media after the win. "I melted when the last card landed. You will see on the show that the audience started taking a liking to me, they knew I was the underdog to all the professional players. I cracked numerous jokes and one liners to the crowd. By the end of the night they were chanting 'Rudy, Rudy' in relation to that movie."
Prior to his win, Brin had $105,277 in live tournament earnings with his biggest cash being $29,847 for a fifth-place finish in the 2014 Heartland Poker Tour Kansas City Main Event. Brin, who cut his chops on both the HPT and Mid-States Poker Tour, also cashed for $18,912 back in 2012 when he finished fourth in the MSPT Meskwaki.
Final Table Results
Notable Finishes: Jared Jaffee (7th - $112,854), Mukul Pahuja (10th - $50,466), Erik Seidel (12th - $50,466), Vince Van Patten (14th - $40,532), Scotty Nguyen (32nd - $20,266), Ray Henson (54th - $14,703)
According to updates from the event, it took 71 hands before the first final table elimination. It happened when Australia's Alex Lynskey, who is traveling the Midwest with his girlfriend Angelina Rich (she became the MSPT's first-ever female champ this past summer), got his last 810,000 all in holding the and was up against Brin's . The flop kept Lynskey in the lead, as did the turn, but then disaster stuck as the spiked on the river to pair Brin. Lynskey had to settle for sixth place and $135,504 in prize money.
Five hands later, Greco saw her shot at WPT history go up in smoke when she four-bet jammed for 2.1 million holding the only to run into the of Hwang. Greco picked the wrong time to shove, and she paid the ultimate price as the board ran out . Greco took home $167,691 for her fifth-place finish.
After doubling Brin on Hand #94 and being left short, Jake Schindler got his stack all in on the next hand holding the and was racing against the of Hwang. The board ran out to give Hwang a flush, and Schindler was felled in fourth place for $224,913.
Three-handed play proved to be an extended affair and lasted 126 hands before Elias bowed out in third place. It happened in Level 36 (200,000/400,000/50,000) when Elias moved all in for 5.3 million from the button and Hwang called from the big blind.
Elias was dominated, and he failed to get lucky as the board ran out . Elias took home $303,593 for his third-place finish while Hwang took 22.225 million into heads-up play against Brin's 13.05 million.
Within 29 hands, Brin took over the chip lead and proceeded to whittle down Hwang. In the final hand of the tournament, which was Hand #284 of the final table, Brin moved all in and Hwang opted to call off for 8.55 million.
Hwang needed some help to stay alive, but he was left wanting as the board ran out a dry . Hwang took home a hefty $468,105 consolation prize, while Brin captured the top prize, the title, a pair of gold Monster 24K Headphones, and a Hublot Oceanographic 4000 Watch.
The WPT Main Tour will next be in Los Angeles for the WPT Legends of Poker from August 29 – September 4; however, between now and then they will also host the WPT National Rozvadov from August 7-10 and WPTDeepStacks Reno from August 28-30.
Lead photo courtesy of Joe Giron/WPT.