Kane Lai is having a heck of a year. Back in March, he topped a field of 409 to win the Mid-States Poker Tour Golden Gates Casino for $101,365, his first six-figure score. More recently, Lai won the Heartland Poker Tour Ameristar Casino Resort Spa St. Charles – a tournament that attracted 466 entrants and created a prize pool of $654,730 — for $150,593 and his second major title of the year.
"I feel fantastic," Lai said after the win. "It was a tough final table but the cards fell my way. The table was a bunch of great guys all the way around … I'll be playing more HPT stops in the future."
On a side note, Lai is back in Black Hawk, Colorado attempting a title defense in the latest MSPT Golden Gates Casino. He bagged the third-biggest stack on Day 1a.
Final Table Results
|1||Kane Lai||Highlands Ranch, CO) $150,593|
|2||Chris Cornell||Clarksville, TN||$92,055|
|3||William Haner||Collinsville, IL||$61,021|
|4||Ryan Tepen||Bowling Green, MO||$42,427|
|5||Greg Wood||St. Charles, MO||$31,754|
|6||Scott Vetter||Washington, IL||$24,552|
|7||Ryan White||Leawood, KS||$19,969|
|8||Mark Fleddermann||Las Vegas, NV||$16,368|
|9||Richard Gum||Granite City, IL||$13,095|
According to updates from the event, Lai, a doctor from Highlands Ranch, Colorado, scored the first elimination by sending Richard Gum, a retired TWA crew chief from Granite City, Illinois, home in ninth place.
Not long after, Lai raised to 110,000 and a short-stacked Mark Fleddermann shoved all in.
"You're gonna like my hand," Lai said before tabling the . Fleddermann was ahead with the , but the board ran out to give Lai a winning full house.
From there, Business Development Executive Ryan White, who was making his third HPT final table appearance, was eliminated in seventh place for $19,969, and Scott Vetter, who won his seat via a $375 satellite, fell in sixth for $24,552 after his failed to get there against Lai's .
Lai then eliminated local sales manager Greg Wood, the result of the latter's failing to crack the pocket nines of Lai. Wood took home $31,754 for his fifth-place finish.
Ryan Tepen, who began the final table as the chip leader, soon found his tournament life at risk with king-queen against Lai's ace-jack. The ace-jack held up and Tepen made his way to the payout desk to collect $42,427 for his fourth-place finish.
William Haner, a local business owner who won his seat via a $200 qualifier, was then straightened out by Lai in third place, which set up a heads-up match featuring Lai (7,015,000) and logger Chris Cornell (6,995,000).
Lai managed to extend his chip lead a bit, and in the final hand of the tournament Cornell raised to 100,000 and Lai three-bet to 400,000. Cornell called and then called a bet of 400,000 on the flop. When the appeared on the turn, Lai checked and Cornell bet 500,000. Lai raised to 1.4 million, Cornell called, and the completed the board on the river.
Lai bet 2.4 million, Cornell shoved all in, and Lai called with the for the nut flush, which bested the flush of Cornell, who took home $92,055 for his runner-up finish.
The HPT now heads to Michigan's Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort from November 13-23. For more information, visit hptpoker.com.
*Lead photo courtesy of HPT & Eric Harkins of IMPDI Worldwide.