2017 WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star Day 3: Final Table Set With “Chino” Rheem Seeking Record-Setting Fourth Title
After one of the longer days of action this year on the circuit, the final table was set early Friday morning for the World Poker Tour’s Bay 101 Shooting Star in San Jose, CA. It promises to be an exciting final table as one Shooting Star remains in the event and the chip leader could etch their name into the WPT record books.
Walking into the Bay 101 on Thursday, the players were all aware it was going to be a long day as the end of Day 3 would only come with the establishment of the six-handed WPT final table. 44 players stepped back to the tables for action with Paul Volpe in command of the field with his 1.7 million-plus chip stack. Along with Volpe were five of the Shooting Star bounties – Garrett Greer, David Williams, Rainer Kempe, Christian Harder and Mike Sexton – who each held a $2500 bonus for whomever knocked them out.
Volpe came out of the gates quickly, eliminating Mike Jacob in 41st place when his pocket Queens stood over Jacob’s Big Chick to push his stack over the two million mark. Other contenders were able to move out of the pack, however, including David ‘Chino’ Rheem, the three-time WPT champion. He defeated a tough opponent in Eddy Sabat when Rheem turned an Ace to go with his Big Slick, topping Sabat’s pocket tens and sending Sabat to the rail while Rheem pushed his way into contention. Also knocking on the door of Volpe was WPT Champions’ Club member Brian Altman, who took a few chips from Volpe in making his climb.
The remaining Shooting Stars fought valiantly to keep hold of their medallions and their $2500 bounties (by rule, a Shooting Star would keep their $2500 bounty should they win the tournament). Sexton would double up through Stephen Graner to move over the half-million mark, while Kempe eliminated Pratyush Buddiga in 35th place when he went runner-runner Jacks to make trips with his A-J over Buddiga’s A-K. For four of the Shooting Stars, that was about it for the highlights as they gradually saw their chips – and their bounties – end up in other players’ stacks.
First to go was Harder, knocked out by Tuan Mai when Mai’s pocket Kings dominated his pocket nines, in 34th place. Greer was the next Shooting Star to depart, losing all his chips to Huihan Wu over the course of two hands to leave in 23rd place. Sexton saw his bounty go to Mai, who collected his second bounty of the day (and third overall) in eliminating the Poker Hall of Famer is 22nd place. Finally, there was Williams, who saw his day end at the hands of Sergio Aido when his two pair, Queens up, was crushed by Aido’s straight; Williams would walk off in 16th place for his time in San Jose.
The story was a bit different for Kempe, however. After starting the day with 513,000 in chips, Kempe pretty much was on the climb throughout the action on Thursday. He would double up early in the afternoon against Igor Yaroshevskyy and stay on an ascendant path in defeating Ravi Raghavan, Yaroshevskyy again and Mai to crack the 2.5 million chip mark. By the time two six-handed tables were set, Kempe was over three million in chips and in second place behind Aido for the chip lead.
It was at this time that Rheem began to make his charge. He eliminated Wu in eleventh and doubled through Kempe to move to 3.695 million chips, all the while keeping the pressure on his opponents. Yaroshevskyy was his next victim as Rheem’s chip stack climbed to 4.5 million and, after a slight setback in doubling up Dennis Stevermer, got them back in winning a “straight versus straight” battle with Yaroshevskyy. As the clock passed 2AM, Rheem held onto his second-place stack and was now the contender challenging Aido.
When Rheem took down Yaroshevskyy in eighth place to see his mountain of chips grow to nearly five million and take the chip lead, the remaining seven men came to one table. Over the span of 59 hands – roughly two hours of table time – the players fought it out for those six seats available for the final battle at the Bay 101 Shooting Star. On Hand 59 in a “blind versus blind” battle, Kempe moved all in and Aido called for his tournament existence.
Kempe was on the blind steal with his miniscule 8-2 off suit and Aido had caught him in it with his K-Q off suit, but the poker gods are a fickle lot. A 7-3-2 flop paired Kempe’s rags and a Jack on the turn wasn’t the paint that Aido was looking for. Once a ten came on the river, Kempe’s rags became golden in sending Aido out on the official final table bubble.
David ‘Chino’ Rheem, 10.65 million Rainer Kempe, 3.705 million* Sam Panzica, 3.215 million Paul Volpe, 3.005 million Anthony Spinella, 2.635 million Dennis Stevermer, 980,000
(* – final Shooting Star remaining)
If Rheem can hold onto that massive chip lead and earn the victory at the Bay 101, he would become the record holder for WPT championships. Currently, Rheem is tied with Gus Hansen, Carlos Mortensen, Anthony Zinno and Darren Elias in the annals of WPT history with three championships. If he is to win his fourth, Rheem must overcome a talented final table in the defending champion of the Super High Roller Bowl (Kempe), another member of the WPT Champions’ Club (Panzica), and two World Series of Poker bracelet holders (Volpe and Spinella). Only Stevermer could be looked at as the “least experienced” player on the table, but that would be a mistake; the veteran of the Mid-States Poker Tour (MSPT) has racked up almost $300K in earnings and is looking for his breakout victory.
The final table of the WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star will commence at 4PM (Pacific Time) and, while there will be no livestream of the action, it will be taped for broadcast as part of the WPT on Fox Sports 1. Every player is guaranteed $188,460 for returning to the felt today, but they all would rather take down the $1,373,000 sitting atop the mountain for winning the championship.
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