Photo:Moon Kim celebrates his victory with a couple dozen friends.
This year, the Shooting Stars didn't exactly align. For the first time since the World Poker Tour started broadcasting the Bay 101 Shooting Star event, one of the Shooting Star bounties failed to make the final table. In the stars' stead, the poker world got the moon.
Moon Kim got to live every local players dream, winning his way into a WPT event via a $1,000 satellite, playing his way to a televised final table, then defeating none other than his friend and fellow San Jose grinder, Ubaid Habib, at the final table to win over $960,000 and a prestigious WPT title.
Kim and Habib were the lone recreational players at a final table populated with three young pros and one known name looking to improve upon a second place finish in a WPT event at Turks and Caicos in Season VI. That WPT runner-up, Erik Cajelais, began the action with a big chip lead, but a long stretch without an elimination saw the chips shuffle around the table.
The Season X Bay 101 final table set a WPT record for most hands of six-handed play as the crew battled for 113 hands and several hours before losing a player. It took just over four orbits around the table for Kim to claim the chip lead from Cajelais' grasp, but it would be the first of many chip lead changes over the course of the night.
Joe Elpayaa rallied from the short stack to near the chip lead before a well-executed bluff from Moon meant the beginning of the end for the 24 year old Illinois pro. Just one hand after Elpayaa tilted Kim by calling the clock on him, Kim got revenge by not only bluffing Elpayaa off top pair, top kicker, but by showing his jack-high to Elpayaa after he folded.
Elpayaa rallied and doubled up twice, coming from behind in both instances t do so, but then Joe Serock doubled through him and Andrwe Badecker crippled him after Elpayaa ran QJ into Badecker's KK. Elpatyaa was left with less than a big blind and busted in sixth place at the hands of Badecker just one hand later.
Like Elpayaa, Badecker rallied from a short stack to a playable stack, only to his chips dissipate again. On his final hand of play, Badecker got it all-in preflop holding AK to Kim's 44. Badecker flopped an ace on the A52 board, but Kim turned the wheel with the 3. Badecker exited and Kim jumped way out front in the counts.
Cajelais was second in chips when four-handed play began, but he lost half of his stack after an aggressive reraise against Serock resulted in Cajelais doubling Serock up holding A2 to Serock's AK. Habib would finish Cajelais off a few orbits later to take the field to three.
Serock had the most big tournament experience of the three, but the locals had him severely outchipped, which proved to be an obstacle Serock could not overcome. Serock three-bet shoved all-in preflop holding 99 and Kim thought about a bit before calling with KQ. Kim turned a king to send Serock packing and give him the 3-2 chip advantage over Habib going into heads-up play.
When heads-up play began, it seemed as though the momentum was swining in Habib's direction. He won the majority of pots and trimmed Kim's lead to nothing. Kim made some adjustments though and started to pull ahead once again.
The match came to a head when Kim three-bet shoved all-in on a 942 flop holding J7 for a flush draw. Habib spent some time in the tank, even clarifying when the blinds were going up and how much time was left in the level before calling for his tournament life holding Q9 for top pair. Habib was ahead and stayed there with the A on the turn. But with the stars out of the way, it was Moon's turn to shine and he spiked the 8 on the river to make his flush and lock up the victory.
Kim, who is a jeweler by trade and a recreational player at the Bay 101, was flanked by family, friends, and the locals of the casino proud to see one of their own previal as Mike Sexton toasted his exceptional play. Kim was so excited, he told the rail, "I can't even remember what happened." One might even say he was over the moon about this poker dream come true.
Here are the final table results from the Season X Bay 101 Shooting Star event:
1st: Moon Kim - $960,900 (includes $25,500 WPT World Championship seat)
2nd: Ubaid Habib - $570,200
3rd: Joe Serock - $320,400
4th: Erik Cajelais - $256,300
5th: Andrew Badecker - $192,300
6th: Joseph Elpayaa - $128,200
Hand #113: Joseph Elpayaa Eliminated in 6th Place ($128,200)
Level 27: 25,000-50,000, 5,000 ante
Joseph Elpayaa is all in from the big blind for 35,000. The minimum amount to call is still 50,000 (the normal big blind). Ubaid Habib limps from middle position for 50,000, Andrew Badecker moves all in for 1,360,000, and Habib folds.
Badecker shows KJ, and Elpayaa turns over A6. Elpayaa needs it to hold to stay alive.
The board comes J9839, and Badecker pairs his jack on the flop to win the pot and eliminate Joseph Elpayaa in sixth place.
Seat 1. Joseph Elpayaa - Out in 6th Place ($128,200)
Seat 2. Joe Serock - 1,720,000
Seat 3. Moon Kim - 3,020,000
Seat 4. Ubaid Habib - 1,965,000
Seat 5. Erik Cajelais - 2,935,000
Seat 6. Andrew Badecker - 1,470,000
Hand #112: Andrew Badecker Doubles Thru and Cripples Joseph Elpayaa
Level 27: 25,000-50,000, 5,000 ante
Joseph Elpayaa moves all in under the gun for 690,000, and Andrew Badecker calls all in for 655,000 from the big blind with KK. Elpayaa shows QJ, and Badecker is a big favorite to double up and cripple Elpayaa.
The board comes A536A, and Andrew Badecker wins the pot with his pocket kings to double up in chips. Elpayaa is crippled down to less than a big blind.
Seat 1. Joseph Elpayaa - 35,000
Seat 2. Joe Serock - 1,725,000
Seat 3. Moon Kim - 3,025,000
Seat 4. Ubaid Habib - 2,020,000
Seat 5. Erik Cajelais - 2,940,000
Seat 6. Andrew Badecker - 1,365,000
Day 3 began with 20 players, which meant four 6-handed tables. It didn't take long for the first two bustouts, when the field combined to the final three tables pictured above.
This hand was probably generated the biggest roller coaster of emotions on Day 3. Steven Michaelis (center) was all in preflop with AK, a dominant favorite against the AQ of Moon Kim (right). But Kim flopped a queen to take the lead, and Michaelis was facing probably elimination.
But the turn card was a king, putting Michaelis back out in front, and he stood up and pumped his fists as you can see above. Michaelis was in great shape -- until another queen hit the river. Moon Kim won the pot, and Steven Michaelis was the first elimination of the day in 20th place.
If the previous photo represented the most emotional hand of the day, this one may have been the most impactful, at least in the early levels. On a board of J949J, WPT Champions Club member Taylor Von Kriegenbergh (left) check-called every street against Erik Cajelais (foreground, right) in a pot that grew to more than 1.2 million in chips.
Cajelais showed KJ to win the pot with a full house, jacks full of nines, and von Kriegenbergh could only flash the 9 for a smaller full house. This pot propelled Cajelais to the chip lead, and left von Kriegenbergh as the short stack, eliminated in 19th place just a few minutes later.
Shooting Star J.C. Tran (left) moved all in after a flop of 964, but even the prospect of a $5,000 bounty couldn't get a call from Danny Le (right). Le talked to Tran for about a minute, trying to coax some information, but he showed the K as he forfeited the pot.
Joe Serock (left) moved all in on the river with the board showing 99210K, and Mike McClain (right) tanked for a couple of minutes before calling. Serock would show A9 to win the pot and double up.
Shooting Star J.C. Tran (right) was all in preflop with A8 against the 44 of Mike McClain (left). Tran never improved, and McClain collected the $5,000 bounty and the autographed Shooting Star bounty t-shirt. Tran's elimination in 16th place left Jonathan Duhamel as the last remaining Shooting Star in the field.
Marko Trapani, Jr. (right) stares down Ubaid Habib (foreground, left) after moving all in preflop. Trapani entered the day with a short stack, and was treading water in dangerous territory for several hours. Habib would eventually fold, giving Trapani a few more chips to work with.
Shooting Star Jonathan Duahmel (center) shakes hands with Ubaid Habib after being eliminated in 13th place. Duhamel had been all in preflop with A6, dominated by the A10 of Habib.
Shooting Star Jonathan Duhamel signs his bounty t-shirt over to Ubaid Habib. This will be the first WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star final table without a Shooting Star.
This is the third bounty photo that Jonathan Duhamel (left) has appeared in, but up until now, he has been the hunter rather than the hunted. Earlier in the tournament, Duhamel collected the bounties on Elky Grospellier and Jason Mercier. This was the first and only bounty for Ubaid Habib (right), and he wore the t-shirt for the rest of the day.
With the board showing AK532 on the river, Amir Khaziri (right) moved all in against Joseph Elpayaa (left). Elpayaa tanked for several minutes before he called, and Khaziri won the pot with A5 -- two pair, aces and fives. Elpayaa mucked without showing.
Marko Trapani, Jr. (left) was all in preflop with QJ against Ubaid Habib's A10. Trapani never improved, and he was eliminated in 10th place, earning $41,600.
Ubaid Habib (right) watches as Marko Trapani, Jr. (left) receives a congratulatory hug from his brother Chris after busting in 10th place. It was an emotional moment for the two brothers, as their late father was the one who created this Shooting Star tournament. Last year, Chris finished 12th in this event, the first one held after their father's death in the summer of 2010.
The Trapani brothers (Chris and Marko, Jr.) talk to WPT Producer George Sylak (center left) after Marko's elimination in 10th place. They talked about their father, Marko Trapani, Sr., a co-owner of the Bay 101 Casino who was beloved by the players.
Ubaid Habib (background, center) watches from the rail while the dealer counts the stack of Moon Kim (right), who had just doubled up thru Amir Khaziri.
Erik Cajelais (left) eliminated Scott Baumstein in eighth place, and it was time for the final seven players to redraw for a single table. Cajelais was the chipleader at that point, in good spirits as he racked his chips alongside Joseph Elpayaa (right).
The final seven players, clockwise from the dealer: (1) Joseph Elpayaa, (2) Amir Khaziri, (3) Joe Serock, (4) Moon Kim, (5) Ubaid Habib, (6) Erik Cajelais, and (7) Andrew Badecker.
Moon Kim (foreground left) raised preflop, Erik Cajelais (center left) reraised, and Andrew Badecker (right) moved all in. Kim tanked for a while, saying he wished Cajelais hadn't raised behind him. Kim eventually folded, and Cajelais quickly folded AJ behind him. Kim said, "Oh, I should have called!" as Badecker took the pot.
In the 100th hand of seven-handed play, Amir Khaziri (left) was all in preflop with AK against the 99 of Moon Kim (standing, right). The board came 108466, and Kim won the pot with his pocket pair to eliminate Khaziri on the TV bubble.
Seventh place may have been the most painful position in the tournament. Not only did Khaziri miss the televised WPT Final Table, but the $64,000 he won, is only half of what sixth place is worth -- $128,200.
Seventh-place finisher Amir Khaziri (seated, top center) was still gathering his things as the other six players celebrated making the final table and began the process of verifying their chip counts and filling out their WPT bio sheets.
Here are the official chip counts for the televised WPT Final Table:
Seat 1. Joseph Elpayaa - 908,000 (95 BBs)
Seat 2. Joe Serock - 952,000 (98 BBs)
Seat 3. Moon Kim - 2,098,000 (105 BBs)
Seat 4. Ubaid Habib - 2,274,000 (114 BBs)
Seat 5. Erik Cajelais - 3,640,000 (182 BBs)
Seat 6. Andrew Badecker - 1,040,000 (52 BBs)
The televised WPT Final Table begins Friday at 4:00 pm PT, and the WPT Live Stream will begin on a 30-minute delay at 4:30 pm, with commentary by WPT Raw Deal Analyst Tony Dunst and Dan O'Brien. You can find the WPT Live Stream, along with our usual hand-for-hand updates, right here on WPT.com.
Photo:Erik Cajelais (left) stacks the pot from Hand #69, including more than 300,000 from Andrew Badecker (right).
Hand #68 - Andrew Badecker raises under the gun to 35,000, Amir Khaziri reraises from middle position to 82,000, and Badecker four-bets it to 171,000. Khaziri folds, and Badecker takes the pot.
Hand #69 - Amir Khaziri raises from early position to 33,000, Moon Kim calls from the cutoff, Ubaid Habib calls from the button, and Erik Cajelais reraises from the small blind to 150,000.
Andrew Badecker tanks for a while in the big blind before cold four-betting it to 326,000. Khaziri, Kim, and Habib all fold, and Cajelais moves all in. Badecker quickly folds, and Erik Cajelais takes the pot.
Erik Cajelais - 3,600,000 (225 BBs)
Andrew Badecker - 1,040,000 (65 BBs)
Andrew Badecker raises and Joe Elpayaa reraises to 75,000 out of the big blind. Badecker fires back, making it 200,000 to play, but Elpayaa is undeterred. Elpayaa reraises to 420,000 total, Badecker folds, and Elpayaa takes the pot.
Andrew Badecker - 1,620,000 (135 BBs)
Joe Elpayaa - 1,780,000 (148 BBs)
There is around 100,000 in the pot and the board reads 996Q2 when Brandon Wong checks from the big blind and Andrew Badecker bets 125,000 from the button. Wong only has around 240,000 left, so the call would be for more than half of his stack.
Wong thinks a minute, then calls. Badecker shows 39 for trip nines, Wong mucks, and Badecker takes the pot.
Andrew Badecker - 1,670,000 (167 BBs)
Brandon Wong - 115,000 (12 BBs)