Another day, another dollar. … $1,138,350 to be exact. This is the amount local player Kai Chang took home after winning the World Poker Tour’s Bay 101 Shooting Star Main Event in San Jose, Calif.
This annual tournament drew its largest turnout ever with 643 players each putting up $7,500 for a chance at a seven-figure payday. There was also a $2.5K bounty attached to 50 pros to spice up the action.
The tournament entry used to be $10K, but tournament director Matt Savage and the Bay 101 crew are constantly adjusting and listening to players’ wants and needs. The cheaper buy-in allowed more players to enter, thus inflating the prize pool to more than $4.5M.
Chang is no stranger to Bay 101 or large paydays. He has three six-figure scores and more than $2M in career earnings. Chang’s Shooting Star victory wasn’t easy, however, as he came into the final table against some strong odds. He started the day as one of the short stacks vs. some tough opponents, but his aggressive style propelled him into heads-up action.
Chang started heads-up as a 2-to-1 chipleader and finished off Joe Nguyen ($666K) in only six hands of play. Nguyen, also a local, put in all of his chips with a flush draw against Chang’s made straight and missed, giving Chang a million-dollar payday, a $25K seat in the WPT World Championship and the title.
The rest of the final table included L.A. Poker Classic runner-up Paul Volpe (third, $435K), eight-time World Series of Poker bracelet-winner Erik Seidel (fourth, $295K), Chris Johnson (fifth, $208K) and Joe Kuether (sixth, $162K).
Two other champions were crowned during the series. Amir Lehavot of Pembroke Pines, Fla., won the $2K side event for $140K (after a three-way deal) and a $7.5K seat into the main event. Well-respected pro Nick Schulman won the $25K High Roller and more than $270K.
— Garrett Roth is the Ante Up Ambassador for Northern California and the Where to Play editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @GarrettRoth.