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Photo Recap: Day 3 of the WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star
Level 23: 10,000-20,000, 3,000 ante
By BJ Nemeth
Day 3 of the WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star began with 24 players, and they played six-max tables with two-hour levels, really changing the dynamic compared to most WPT events. It's a format that really lets the best players rise to the top, evidenced by the strong lineup at the final table. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let's take a photographic look back at Day 3:
With 20 players remaining, Chris Trapani (top left, obscured by his cheering brother, Marko Trapani, Jr.) moved all in from the big blind with AK, and ran into the KK of Galen Hall (far right). But Trapani spiked an ace on the turn to win the pot and double up in chips.
After losing a race with pocket nines to Danny Minh Nguyen's ace-king suited, Eric Blair (center) was crippled and all in with 108 against the 33 of Mike Matusow (bottom left). Blair flopped a pair of eights for the lead, but the board came 8425A to give Matusow a straight, and Blair finished in 20th place.
With 19 players remaining, there are only four or five players per table. This gives the playdown day of the WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star tournament a much different dynamic than the rest of the World Poker Tour events.
Joris Springael (left) started the day as chipleader with nearly 1.5 million in chips, which wasn't too much less than the average would be at the final table. But Springael couldn't seem to get anything going as the field got smaller and smaller. Here, after a flop of KJ9, Springael three-bets all in with 32 (flush draw), only to run into the K9 (two pair) of Andrew Weisner (right). Weisner's hand held up to double his stack and knock Springael down toward the middle of the leaderboard.
Zach Clark (center) was eliminated on a bad beat, but took it with class. Clark was all in preflop with JJ against the KJ of Alan Sternberg (foreground, right). Sternberg flopped a king to win the pot, eliminate Clark, and take the chip lead.
Ben Hamnett (center, right) got his short stack all in with AA against the JJ of Casey McCarrel (foreground, right). Hamnett cheered as the best hand held up to double his stack.
Chris Trapani (far right) doubles up with 99 all in preflop against the 66 of Joris Springael (far left). Trapani was treading water with a relatively short stack while start-of-the-day chipleader Springael was in a downward spiral.
Noah Lathrop (left) was short stacked and all in with Q7 against the K10 of Steven Kelly (center). Lathrop would need a queen or a seven on the river to stay alive, and Vivek Rajkumar (right) tried to sprinkle a little luck for him. Unfortunately for Lathrop, it didn't work, and he was eliminated in 16th place. As for Kelly, he was now chipleader with 15 players remaining.
While Mike Matusow plays his way toward the televised WPT final table, his girlfriend Annie LePage sweats him from the rail.
Day 1a chipleader Brian Schmidt (left) studies the board after Mike Sexton bets the river on a board of AK593, seemingly unsure of what to do. Schmidt would eventually call to see Sexton's AJ (pair of aces), and Schmidt would muck. Sexton never had a lot of chips on Day 3, but value bets like this let him make the most of what he did have.
There were three Shooting Stars in the field when the day began with 24 players -- Mike Sexton, Mike Matusow, and Kathy Liebert (left). Unfortunately, Liebert was eliminated in 15th place when she moved all in with an ace on a final board of A552Q -- and ran into the quad fives of Ben Hamnett, who had 55. Hamnett collected the $5,000 bounty, and celebrated in his own way while Liebert autographed his "I Busted Kathy Liebert" t-shirt.
With a full house on the board -- A22AA and about 120,000 already in the pot, Mike Sexton (left) bets 170,000, and Ty Reiman (right) tanks for a couple of minutes before calling. Sexton shows A2 for a flopped full house that improved to quad aces, while Reiman flashes 77 -- a higher full house than the board, but a loser here.
With the board showing 665Q, Kevin MacPhee (standing, right) check-raises all in. Steven Kelly (foreground, left, wearing the same black-and-gray sweatshirt) calls with KK, while MacPhee was semi-bluffing with A10 for a flush draw with an overcard. The river card was the J, and Kelly celebrates with a fist pump while MacPhee dejectedly turns away.
Chris Trapani (standing, right) was the Cinderella story of the tournament, playing the tournament in honor of his late father, Marko Trapani, the owner of the Bay 101 casino who first created this Shooting Star tournament. Trapani was the Day 1b chipleader and played his way all the way to the final two tables. He got lucky earlier with ace-king suited against pocket kings, but not this time.
After a flop of AQ8, Trapani moved all in with A8 (two pair), and he was ahead of the AK of Mike Matusow (foreground, left). The turn card was the Q, pairing the board and counterfeiting Trapani's two pair. Trapani was eliminated in 12th place, but received a very warm ovation from the crowd.
The torch was passed from the Day 2 chipleader to the Day 3 chipleader as Joris Springael (left) was eliminated with AK to the 99 of Steven Kelly (far right). Springael collected $48,100 for 10th place, while Kelly opened up a huge lead with nine players remaining.
With the board showing 874Q on the turn, Andrew Weisner (standing, right) three-bets all in with 87 (two pair). But Alan Sternberg (seated, far left, in blue) quickly calls with QQ for a set of queens, and Weisner was drawing dead. It was the biggest pot of the tournament to that point, and the stacks had to be counted down to see who was covered. Weisner had fewer chips, so he was eliminated as Sternberg catapulted to the top of the leaderboard to contend for the chip lead with Steven Kelly.
After Danny Minh Nguyen's elimination in eighth place, the final seven players combined to a single table to battle for the six seats at the televised WPT final table. The players, in seat order: (1) Ty Reiman, (2) Mike Matusow, (3) Mike Sexton, (4) Alan Sternberg, (5) Vivek Rajkumar, (6) Steven Kelly, (7) Casey McCarrel.
In Hand #37 of the final table, Mike Sexton (center) made a standard raise under the gun, and Mike Matusow called from the big blind. The flop came J65, and Matusow check-raised to 160,000. Sexton reraised to 275,000, and Matusow moved all in.
Sexton was in the tank for about five minutes, eventually saying, "There's only an outside chance you'd try this with seven-eight, but I don't think so." Sexton folded, later claiming he had pocket kings, and Matusow took the pot, later claiming he had pocket aces. This hand cost Sexton a lot of chips, but at least he was still alive to play on.
In the final break of the day, some of the chips were colored up to light yellow plaques worth 100,000 each. Chipleader Steven Kelly picks up one of his new plaques to get a feel for them, wondering how difficult it would be to shuffle them.
While Mike Sexton (foreground, center) battles on the bubble of the televised WPT final table, his partner for nine seasons in the broadcast booth, Vince Van Patten, sweats from the rail. One of the big questions on everyone's mind was who would sit in the chair next to Van Patten if Sexton made the final table? We'll find out when the final table begins at 4:00 pm PT on Friday.
In Hand #91 of the final table, Mike Sexton (left) studies Vivek Rajkumar (right) as he contemplates his options after Alan Sternberg bets the river on a board of QJ101010. Meanwhile, Sternberg practices shuffling the plaques worth 100,000 each. Rajkumar would eventually fold
Mike Matusow (right) celebrates with his arms in the air after he eliminated Ty Reiman in seventh place. Reiman moved all in preflop with 1010, but ran into Matusow 's QQ. Matusow turned a queen to win the pot with an unnecessary set, and loudly declared, "It's my time, boys and girls! It's my time!"
Steven Kelly (right), who won a WSOP bracelet last summer, fills out his WPT bio sheet. Kelly goes into the final table with the chip lead, followed by Alan Sternberg (left). Here are the official chip counts and seating positions for the TV final table:
Seat 1. Mike Matusow - 2,173,000 (109 BBs)
Seat 2. Mike Sexton - 363,000 (18 BBs)
Seat 3. Alan Sternberg - 3,701,000 (185 BBs)
Seat 4. Vivek Rajkumar - 1,616,000 (81 BBs)
Seat 5. Steven Kelly - 4,169,000 (209 BBs)
Seat 6. Casey McCarrel - 430,000 (22 BBs)
While this final table is headlined by the two Shooting Stars, Mike Sexton and Mike Matusow, nobody should overlook Vivek Rajkumar, the only player at the table who already has a WPT title under his belt. Rajkumar is hot right now -- two weeks ago, he was the runner-up at the WPT L.A. Poker Classic.
That puts Rajkumar in an elite group of six players who have made back-to-back WPT final tables. (The others are Phil Ivey, John Juanda, Antonio Esfandiari, Danny Wong, and the only player to do it twice, Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi.)
The final table begins Friday at 4:00 pm PT. Return to WorldPokerTour.com for continuing live coverage, including hand updates, frequent chip counts, and a victory interview with WPT Anchor Kimberly Lansing.
12:38 PM, 03/18/11