There is no easy way to work your way through a 5,430-entry poker tournament field. In the moments after winning the WPT Prime Championship on Monday night, Stephen Song couldn’t help but reflect on the highs and lows that he endured on his way to the title and a career high score of $712,650.
“There were so many points in this tournament where I was under 10 bigs from Day 2 until the end of the tournament,” Song said. “You have to run insane to win a 5,400-person field, there’s no getting around that. Just super blessed to have my friends and family here. It’s awesome.”
Helping him appreciate his big victory even more was having his mom, Anna, on his rail. It was the first time she ever saw her son play live. It seems like there might be some sort of good luck charm element attached to each of his parents.
“It’s been incredible. I couldn’t script it better. My dad was able to witness me winning my first (WSOP) bracelet and that was his first time watching me play,” Song said. “My mom gets to see me win the WPT Prime Championship and that’s the first time she’s able to see me play. It’s just unreal.”
Song started the final table just a single 1,000 chip behind chipleader Lara Eisenberg. The first three eliminations went fairly smoothly, but three-handed play with Song, Eisenberg, and Young Eum was 2.5 hours and 57 hands of chaos and ICM maneuvering. Each player took a turn – or two – as the big stack and the short stack.
“I would say I was definitely playing the tightest. Young was really getting after it. He was making things hard for sure. He was really tough,” Song said. “If I didn’t get so lucky against him, it would probably be him sitting here. That’s how poker is sometimes. Sometimes it’s just your time.”
Some might point out that it has been Song’s “time” for the better part of the last few months, if not all of 2022. The WPT Prime Championship was just the icing on the cake of a year that has seen him record 44 live cashes including 16 final tables.
A majority of those scores have come in mid-stakes level tournaments right around the $1,100 buy-in Prime level. But the 27-year-old poker pro also dabbled in some of the bigger buy-in, smaller field tournaments that dot the poker calendar including $10,000 and $25,000 buy-in events at stops in Las Vegas and Florida. The two different groups of tournaments have a very different player pool, but Song enjoys moving seamlessly between them.
“I would say obviously the skill level for those is significantly tougher, but Vegas poker in general is reasonably tough so even a big field like this when it’s in Vegas the cream tends to rise to the top, so it isn’t a huge huge difference,” Song said. “The only difference would be that when I’m playing those tournaments, we’re all friends and I know everyone there.”
A lot of those friends were on Song’s rail throughout the WPT Prime Championship final table and almost all of them were off to help him celebrate. Song understands that he’s in the midst of a special period of his poker career where everything seems to be going right.
“People talk about ‘in the zone’ but I’ve played this game long enough where you just go on streaks sometimes where you can’t lose and sometimes you can’t win,” Song said. “This last three or four months it’s just the time period where no matter what I do I just can’t seem to lose. You’ve just got to not take that for granted and really appreciate it when it does happen.“