622 Entries into the Nationally Televised WPT Event Generate $2.1 Million Prize Pool
Many of the game’s biggest stars made their way to Los Angeles, CA for the WPT Legends of Poker at the world-renowned Bicycle Casino. However, in the end, it was Josh Hale who shined brightest, capturing one of World Poker Tour’s most prestigious titles and adding his name to the WPT Champions Cup.
Hale, an amateur player from San Diego, CA, entered the stacked final table as the overwhelming chip leader with 40% of the chips in play and a near a 2-1 advantage over the next largest stack held by professional player Greg Mueller, who finished in fifth place. Other notable pros at the table included Jeff Madsen, who finished in sixth position, and Ali Eslami, who had a roller-coaster session that saw him rebuild his stack from just one big blind all the way back to more than 4 million chips before his eventual elimination in fourth place.
With three players left, Hale found himself in second position behind eventual runner-up Max Steinberg and ahead of third-place finisher Raouf Malek. Hale played a patient game, picking his spots and staying out of trouble, which resulted in his entering heads-up play with just over 4.5 million chips versus Steinberg’s stack of more than 14.1 million.
Hale steadily chipped up against Steinberg and then took the lead when he rivered a queen-high flush on a board of 10c-10h-6h-4d-3h to best Steinberg’s two pair of 10s and 6s. From there, Hale never looked back, taking just 13 more hands to eliminate Steinberg and claim his spot in poker history.
“I felt pretty good about the way I was playing poker,” Hale said after his victory. “There were a couple [of] interesting tournament spots that I may have played wrong, just because I don’t play a lot of tournaments. But I think my overall, fundamental poker game was good. I was never really nervous.”
“My plan going heads up against Max was to get it in bad and then suck out, which I did. So I feel pretty good about that. I stuck to my plan,” he joked.
With 622 entries, the star-studded field included some of the game’s best-known pros, including WPT Champions Club members Erick Lindgren, Dwyte Pilgrim, Andy Frankenberger, Jonathan Little, and defending champion Will “The Thrill” Failla. Other notable names that helped generate a prize pool worth more than $2.1 million included WPT Player of the Year Joe Serock, Vanessa Selbst, Joseph Cheong, and David Williams.
The field also contained three ClubWPT online qualifiers – Matthew Carranza, Phillip Smith, and Efren Abustan – each of whom won their free tournament entries playing online at www.ClubWPT.com. Carranza failed to make it past Day 1 while both Smith and Abustan finished in the money, with Abustan taking home more than $18,000 after a deep run that saw him bust in 17th place.
World Poker Tour returns to Europe for its next televised tournament, as players head to the City of Lights for the €7,500 WPT Grand Prix de Paris at the elegant Aviation Club de France on the Champs-Élysées starting September 10.
Final Table Pay-Outs
1. Josh Hale — $500,000, including entry into the $25,000 WPT World Championship
2. Max Steinberg – $293,490
3. Raouf Malek – $192,400
4. Ali Eslami – $133,700
5. Greg Mueller – $97,100
6. Jeff Madsen – $75,400