Aug 11, 2017
By Sean Chaffin
It’s been a whirlwind of a week for Jay Lee. A native of Austin, Texas, he was so enamored with poker in high school, when he’d sneak out of the house to play with friends, dreaming of one day winning a major tournament. That dream came true Tuesday night when he notched his first major win at the Season XVI WPT event at Choctaw Resort Casino in Durant, Oklahoma.
After entering the final table third in chips, Lee successfully navigated the field – staying out of the way of some of the action and winning some big key pots – and playing his way to a title, $593,173 in cash, his name on the WPT Champions Cup, a $15,000 seat in the season-ending WPT Tournament of Champions, and a luxurious Hublot Big Bang Steel watch.
After an exhausting day of poker, Lee is now back home in Austin and trying to take it all in. The 27-year-old Austin native is a graduate of the University of Texas McCombs School of Business, but has worked as a Chinese food delivery driver for the last eight years to supplement his poker income from playing around the Austin poker scene and occasionally in other parts of the country.
“I definitely wouldn’t consider myself a full-time tournament pro or anything like that,” Lee told WPT.com. “So I do have other other gigs, and I deliver food.”
Lee says he has no interest in the corporate world now and is happy with the freedom he enjoys – along with the extra time to play poker. Overall, this delivery guy was extremely pleased with his play in Oklahoma and thrilled he was able to drive home the title.
“I played extremely well,” Lee said. “I was really proud of my play.”
A poker player for the last 13 years, the win adds significantly to his previous total of $10,000 in lifetime live tournament winnings. While the money is good, Lee has no plans to quit his delivery gig, but does have a bit more money to play poker.
“I’m definitely going to keep grinding,” Lee said. “I’ll start playing poker more again, but something stable from day to day is still nice.”
One hand that stood out for Lee was late in the day at the final table when play was three-handed. With blinds at 100,000-200,000 with a 25,000 ante, Josh Kay, who was chip leader at the time, raised to 450,000 from the button. Lee called from the big blind, and the flop brought the . Lee checked, Kay bet 525,000, and Lee check-raised to 1.4 million. Kay then moved all in for over 14 million, having Lee covered, and Lee went into the tank.
Needing some time, Lee threw in all of his six remaining time-extension chips. With nearly 7 million in chips, Lee’s tournament life would be on the line if he were to make the call, and he eventually did.
After the call, Kay tabled the for bottom pair and a flush draw. Lee showed the for a higher flush draw, but Kay’s pair of deuces had him in the lead. Needing a spade for a bigger flush or a king or five for a bigger pair, Lee had outs.
The turn brought the , giving Lee the flush and securing him the pot, with the meaningless completing the board on the river.
The hand gave Lee a massive double up and put him in the lead with more than 17 million in chips. After the hand, he would continue to roll.
“That gave me a lot of momentum,” Lee said.
A football player (linebacker) in high school and still close to some of his coaches, Lee said he has no plans to make any big purchases right away, but he is looking to donate some funds to his school to add to the weight room and facilities. Lee is also considering making use of his business degree, and he even has thoughts of someday opening a bar.
As a Texas graduate, Lee is considering a nice pair of tickets to an upcoming game, possibly the big, annual Texas-versus-Oklahoma game each year at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.
“I’m definitely going to invest the money wisely, maybe the stock market, the market’s doing pretty well lately,” Lee said. “Other than that, I’m just going to keep firing, keep playing poker.”
Next up, the newest WPT champion planning to attend the WPT Borgata Poker Open in Atlantic City, New Jersey, taking place September 17-22, and Lee already looking forward to getting back to the action.
“Hopefully, I can ship that one and we can talk again,” Lee said. “I can’t wait.”
Photography by Joe Giron of PokerPhotoArchive.com.
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