Plenty of accomplished professionals spend their whole careers trying to bag a World Poker Tour title without success, but Jay Lee, a player with a mere $10,000 in cashes to his name, pulled off the feat late Tuesday night. He won WPT Choctaw $3,700 Main Event for $593,173, overcoming a field of 924.
Lee, who has recently worked as a food delivery driver in his native Austin, also earned a $15,000 seat into the WPT Tournament of Champions, as well as a luxury watch from Hublot.
“It’s amazing,” he told tournament reporters. “Cooler hands after cooler hands, but you know, it’s a great feeling. A lot of ups and downs, and a lot of happy at the end."
Official Final Table Results
There would be 99 places paid. Andy Philachack, Joe Kuether, Aaron Mermelstein, David Peters, Darren Elias, Brian Campanello and Blair Hinkle were some of the players who made their way into the money but fell short of the final table.
According to the live updates, Lee was one of shorter stacks left in the tournament as the unofficial final table bubble approached. However, he was able to win a flip with ace-queen against the pocket sixes of Eric Bunch to get some breathing room just before the field was reduced to nine.
In the mean time, pro player Josh Kay emerged as the man to catch, scoring a number of eliminations in the final few tables to launch into the chip lead. In one key pot, he got lucky when he got a pair of jacks in on the turn against Jordan Cristos' aces and paired his kicker on the river to eliminate the WPT Champions Club member in 20th.
Zachary Smiley, who won last season's WPT Maryland Live!, narrowly missed out on another final table when he went down in seventh. He had a big stack but bluffed off much of it in a couple of pots leading up to his elimination.
He tried one final bluff shove on a board of , jamming for over the size of the pot. However, Michael Stashin sniffed it out and called with a pair of jacks, and Smiley was forced to show down his worthless .
Kay took a sizable lead into the final day of play, toting nearly 140 big blinds in. It took almost 50 hands for a player to go down, and Kay did the deed with rags. Bunch shoved all in for his last five big blinds from the button, and both blinds called and checked down. The board ran out , and while Bunch and Stashin showed down unpaired king-high hands, Kay had made bottom pair with , giving him almost half of the total chips.
About 20 hands later, Paul Fisher was next to go when he raised in the small blind with and flopped top pair on . However, big blind Stashin had made a disguised two pair with and held on to eliminate the 55-year-old recreational player.
After biding his time for 88 hands, Lee finally found a double on Hand #89 when he four-bet shoved pocket sevens and won unimproved against the of Stashin.
By the time Hand #101 rolled around, Lee had surpassed Stashin in chips. So, when the latter cold four-bet shoved a little over 30 big blinds with pocket eights and Lee called him with queens after three-betting, the 20-year-old New Yorker had to settle for fourth place when he didn't improve.
Three-handed play proved to be a marathon, but it almost took just two hands. Lee found and got short stack Jeb Hutton all in preflop, but the latter found a set with to survive.
Kay still had a huge stack with 16 million out of about 28 million total at 75,000/150,000/25,000. However, it would be a frustrating slide for him as short stacks would repeatedly double through when he had good chances to lock up a seat for heads-up play.
First, Hutton won with against Kay's despite the latter flopping a leading pair, as Hutton made a heart flush on the river. Then, Kay and Lee got in a raising war on an flop with the former holding and the latter . Kay needed bricks, but both hit their flush right away on the turn to give Lee a dominating lead with 17 million.
Kay built it back up only to have Hutton double through him with a pair and a flush draw that cracked Kay's kings. The brutal run of bad luck ended with a third-place finish when Kay's ace-king couldn't hold against Lee's ace-queen.
That left Lee and Hutton, and they wouldn't even see the level raised from 125,000/250,000/25,000 as both made huge hands when they checked down a board after Hutton raised on the button. Lee finally put in a bet of 750,000 into a pot of 1.2 million, and Hutton raised to 2 million. Lee shoved all in, and Hutton called for 7 million.
Lee had flopped a boat with , and Hutton had needed another brick on the end to avoid getting stacked as he hit a flush with . The Houston native had to settle for $366,895 for second place.
Photo courtesy of WPT
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