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The Stars Align For Moon Kim's Bay 101 Victory
Level 31: 60,000-120,000, 20,000 ante
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
06:25 AM, 03/10/12