Mar 5, 2017
Bay 101 Casino in San Jose, CA joined the World Poker Tour in Season II. Ever since, it has been a favorite part of the WPT schedule leading up to the Season XV event to start on Monday, March 6, 2017.
The WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star Main Event has always been one of poker’s most well-attended tournaments, drawing poker’s biggest names to the felt for one of the more unique formats on the tournament circuit. Each year, a selection of players in the field are “Shooting Stars,” or bounty players. For knocking out one of the Shooting Stars, a player would earn a special bounty prize.
The WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star Main Event began as a $5,200 buy-in event in Season II, but quickly jumped to five figures when it was made a $10,250 buy-in for Season III. For Season IV, the buy-in was $10,000, where it remained until Season XI, then the buy-in was dropped slightly to $7,500. With the buy-in at $7,500 working very well with the event’s satellite structure, entry numbers soared in Season XI and have been doing great ever since.
Of the 13 previous times the Bay 101 Shooting Star Main Event was part of the World Poker Tour schedule, a first-place prize of at least $1 million was awarded 10 times. Heading into the Season XV WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star $7,500 Main Event, more than $52 million has been awarded in prize money from this tournament, and past champions include Phil Gordon, Nam Le, Steve Brecher, and Taylor Paur.
Let’s take a look at the past events a little further, shall we?
Season II: Phil Gordon Beats Chris Moneymaker for First Title
The Bay 101 Shooting Star Main Event joined the World Poker Tour schedule in Season II. With a $5,200 buy-in, the event attracted 243 entries and generated a prize pool of $1.24 million.
Emerging victorious as the first champion of the WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star Main Event was Phil Gordon to score the $360,000 first-place prize. Gordon beat Chris Moneymaker in heads-up play.
The tournament ended in dramatic fashion with a three-way all-in clash between Gordon, Moneymaker, and third-place finisher Masoud Shojaei. Shojaei was all in with the , Gordon had the , and Moneymaker had the and was also at risk. The board ran out , and Gordon was the pot to knock out both players and win the event.
Season III: Danny Nguyen Takes Million Dollar First Prize
When the WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star Main Event returned for Season III of the World Poker Tour, the buy-in was upped to $10,250. The increased price point didn’t stop the field from almost doubling with 440 entries to generate a prize pool of more than $4 million. That prize pool was more than triple the previous season, and with it came a first-place prize of $1.025 million.
Walking away with the title was Danny Nguyen, a local favorite and San Jose poker dealer. Nguyen topped a final table that included Gus Hansen (3rd place) and Men Nguyen (6th place), and he defeated Jay Martens in heads-up play.
Top top 45 places reached the money, with notables James Van Alstyne (10th place), Patrik Antonius (15th place), and Billy Baxter (18th place) all making deep runs. WPT Champions Club member Antonio Esfandiari finished in 14th place.
Season IV: Largest Score of Nam Le’s Career
The Season IV edition of the WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star Main Event attracted a field of 518 entrants to sky rocket the prize pool to more than $4.7 million. Up top was a mouth-watering $1.2 million, and it was Nam Le taking the title for the largest score of his career.
Le defeated Ravi Udayakumar in heads-up play when he made two pair on the river and got Udayakumar to call off the rest of his chips with a weaker hand. Udayakumar scored $629,500 in second-place prize money.
David Williams placed fourth in the event for $280,000.
Among the 45 players to cash in the event, Robert Mizrachi finished in 14th place, David “Chip” Reese took 26th place, and Joe Sebok busted in 32nd place. WPT Champions Club member Dan Harrington went out in 22nd place for $50,000.
Season V: Money Falls Off Trees for Ted Forrest
In Season V, the WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star attracted a field of 450 players in the $10,000 Main Event. A prize pool of $4.32 million was up for grabs, and star player Ted Forrest topped the field to score the $1.1 million first-place prize.
To this day, that score marks the only seven-figure payday for Forrest in live tournament poker and is the largest score of his career by nearly double. The win also served as a bit of redemption for Forrest, who had a handful of close calls in WPT events before this victory.
Of note, Forrest finished fifth in the Season I WPT $25,000 World Championship for $119,990, fourth in the Season III WPT L.A. Poker Classic $10,000 Championship for $263,487, and second in the Season IV WPT Mirage Poker Showdown $10,200 Championship for $579,386.
In his WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star win, Forrest defeated JJ Liu in heads-up play, with James Van Alstyne taking fourth place and Bill Edler taking sixth.
WPT Champions Club members David Williams (12th place), Nenad Medic (17th place), Erik Seidel (27th place), Joe Pelton (29th place), and Lee Markholt (31st place) all finished in the money.
Season VI: Brandon Cantu Beats Steve Sung for Largest Score of His Career
The Season VI WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star $10,000 Main Event attracted a field of 376 players, generating a $3.336 million prize pool. It came down to a battle between two of the game’s young stars, but in the end it was Brandon Cantu emerging victorious to capture the $1 million first-place prize.
Cantu earned the largest score of his career when he defeated another young gun in Steve Sung in heads-up play. Other notables at the final table included Jennifer Harman (3rd place) and John Phan (6th place).
Outside of the final table, WPT Champions Club member JC Tran finished in seventh place. Joe Hachem, another WPT Champions Club member, busted 20th, and Ted Forrest, a former winner of the WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star, finished in 25th. Layne Flack (35th place), Tuan Le (39th place), and Erick Lindgren (40th place) were the other WPT Champions Club members to finish in the money.
Season VII: Steve Brecher Denies Kathy Liebert
In Season VII, the field size for the WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star Main Event grew following two years of decline. The 391 entries in the $10,000 Main Event generated a prize pool of more than $3.7 million, of which $1.026 million was set aside for the champion. That champion proved to be Steve Brecher, who earned his first major tournament victory.
Once again, it was a female player coming short, similar to JJ Liu’s near victory in Season V. This time it was Kathy Liebert who fell short, but a $550,000 prize came along with her second-place finish. This marked the sixth time Liebert had reached an official WPT final table.
The top 43 spots were paid in the event, with WPT Champions Club members Vivek Rajkumar (14th place), Hoyt Corkins (19th place), Mohsin Charania (25th place), and Daniel Alaei (35th place) all finishing the event with a cash.
Season VIII: McLean Karr’s Time to Shine
In Similar fashion to Season VI, the Season VIII WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star Main Event saw the young guns rise to the top. McLean Karr took home the $878,500 top prize when he bested a field of 333 entries in the $10,000 Main Event, and Andy Seth and Dan O’Brien finished in second and third places, respectively.
On the final hand, it was a pair-versus-pair confrontation. Karr’s pocket eights held up against Seth’s pocket fours
For Karr, the win proved the largest of his live tournament career, which still holds true to this day of writing. It was also the first World Poker Tour cash of Karr’s career.
Outside of Karr, Seth, and O’Brien, the final table was made up of Hasan Habib (4th place), Matt Keikoan (5th place), and Phil Hellmuth (6th place).
The event generated a prize pool of more than $3.16 million, with four WPT Champions Club members finishing in the money outside of the final table. Scotty Nguyen finished in seventh place, Nick Schulman took 13th place, Jonathan Little busted in 20th place, and Mohsin Charania went out in 27th place.
Season IX: Satellite Qualifier Alan Sternberg Grabs the Title
The Season IX WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star $10,000 Main Event attracted a field of 415 entries, with satellite qualifier Alan Sternberg among them. Sternberg defeated a tough final table, including Steven Kelly in heads-up play, and earned the $1.039 million first-place prize.
Joining Sternberg and Kelly at the final table were Mike Matusow, Vivek Rajkumar, Casey McCarrel, and Mike Sexton. Sexton’s run ended in sixth place, with McCarrel following him out the door in fifth.
Rajkumar, who was coming off a second-place finish in the WPT L.A. Poker Classic right before this event, finished in fourth place, and then Matusow busted in third.
On the final hand, Sternberg moved all against against the much shorter stack of Kelly, and Kelly called with the . Sternberg had the , and both players flopped a pair on the board. The on the turn kept Kelly in front, but the on the river gave Sternberg a full house and the victory.
Of the 45 players to finish in the money, WPT Champions Club members Ben Hamnett (11th place), Dan Smith (22nd place), Shawn Buchanan (44th place), and Kai Chang (45th place) had deep runs.
Season X: Moon Kim Shines Bright at Bay 101
For the first time in the event’s televised history, a Shooting Star player did not reach the televised final table. Like Sternberg did the year before, Moon Kim, a satellite qualifier, emerged victorious for a life-changing sum of money. Kim, who won his way via a $1,000 satellite, scored the $960,900 top prize.
Kim bested a field of 364 runners that generated a prize pool of $3.458 million. In the end, it was Kim outlasting his friend and fellow local player Ubaid Habib in heads-up play.
Outside of the two locals who finished at the top, the final table was full of notable faces. Joe Serock took third place, Erik Cajelais scored fourth, Andrew Badecker earned fifth, and Joseph Elpayaa took sixth.
WPT Champions Club members to finish in the money were JC Tran (16th place), Taylor von Kriegenbergh (19th place), Tyler Patterson (25th place), and Tommy Vedes (26th place).
Season XI: Kai Chang Wins Record-Setting Bay 101 Shooting Star
The Season XI WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star Main Event came with a $7,500 buy-in. The buy-in level was slightly less than recent years, but it worked extremely well with the event’s satellite system and helped generate a record-setting field size of 643 entries. The prize pool was nearly $4.6 million, with a $1.138 million first-place prize up for grabs.
Kai Chang entered the final table fifth in chips out of the final six players, but he aggressively worked his way to the front of the pack despite some very tough competition in front of him.
After the eliminations of Paul Volpe (3rd place), Erik Seidel (4th place), Chris Johnson (5th place), and Joe Kuether (6th place), Chang was left to face Joe Nguyen in heads-up play. Chang entered the final duel with a 2-1 chip lead and finished off Nguyen in just six hands.
Among those to finish in the money in this record-setting event were WPT Champions Club members Antonio Esfandiari (9th place), Paul Klann (11th place), Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier (15th place), Jordan Cristos (18th place), Carlos Mortensen (36th place), Andy Hwang (54th place), and Scott Seiver (63rd place).
Season XII: James Carroll Wins After Another Record-Setting Turnout
For the second season in a row, the WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star $7,500 Main Event attracted a record turnout of entries, this time with 718 tallied. A prize pool of more than $5.1 million was generated, with a first-place prize of more than $1.25 million on the table.
James Carroll, a young but experienced grinder, walked away with the title after he defeated another young star in Dylan Wilkerson. For Wilkerson, it was his second runner-up finish on the World Poker Tour within a money, and he would go on to earn his first WPT title the following season in South Africa.
For Carroll, the win proved the largest of his live tournament career, coming in his fourth WPT cash.
Nam Le, champion of the WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star Main Event in Season IV, returned to the final table, but fell in fifth place for $223,810.
Season XIII: Taylor Paur Tops More Than 700 Entries To Earn $1.2 Million Top Prize
A slight dip in entries from the previous season occurred in Season XIII, but still more than 700 in the field helped generate a whopping prize pool of more than $5 million. The top 72 places would reach the money, but it was Taylor Paur besting them all to take home the largest score of his poker career.
Paur entered the final table second in chips to Isaac Baron, the player he would get heads up with. When heads-up play began, Paur was in the lead by better than 2-1 in chips. Nine hands later, it was all over with Paur grabbing hold of the WPT Champions Cup.
In addition to Paur and Baron, the final table consisted of Jake Bazeley (3rd place), Sorel Mizzi (4th place), Faraz Jaka (5th place), and Ravee Mathi Sundar (6th place).
Interestingly enough, Paur would go on to make the final table of WPT Rolling Thunder immediately after his victory at Bay 101 Casino in the WPT Shooting Star event. The winner of that WPT Rolling Thunder $3,500 Main Event? It was none other than Mathi Sundar, who finished sixth at the final table Paur won.
Among those to finish in the money in the Season XIII WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star $7,500 Main Event were WPT Champions Club members Giacomo Fundaro (14th place), Chris Moorman (18th place), Shawn Buchanan (20th place), Steve Brecher (27th place), Griffin Paul (32nd place), Justin Young (46th place), Jordan Cristos (50th place), Carlos Mortensen (52nd place), and Ravi Raghavan (60th place).
Season XIV: German Student Wins Largest Bay 101 Shooting Star Main Event in WPT History
A record-setting field of 753 entries turned up for the Season XIV WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star $7,500 Main Event, generating a prize pool of more than $5.3 million. German student Stefan Schillhabel topped them all and took home the $1.298 million first-place prize.
Schillhabel emerged victorious after entering the final table with the overwhelming chip lead. The first four eliminations occurred over the first 48 hands of the televised final table, and then it was time for a heads-up battle that lasted nearly three hours between Schillhabel and Adam Geyer. Eventually, Schillhabel finished off Geyer and walked away $1.298 million richer.
Bryan Piccioli (3rd place), Andjelko Andrejevic (4th place), Griffin Paul (5th place), and Maria Ho (6th place) all reached the final table. Ho was the final Shooting Star remaining.
Once again, the top 72 spots reached the money, and WPT Champions Club member Anthony Gregg bubbled the televised final table in seventh place. Gregg’s fellow WPT Champions Club members, Sam Panzica (11th place), Matt Salsberg (12th place), Noah Schwartz (13th place), and Dominik Nitsche (14th place), also ran extremely deep in the tournament.
The Season XV WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star $7,500 Main Event runs March 6-10, 2017, at Bay 101 Casino in San Jose, CA. For more information on the event, head to the tournament’s hub on WPT.com.
You should also stay tuned to WPT.com for coverage of the Season XV WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star $7,500 Main Event, which will begin when the event begins on Monday, March 6 at 11 a.m. PT and continue until a winner has been crowned.