After Day 2 of the 2017 World Poker Tour (WPT) Choctaw Main Event, Michael Stashin was lapping the field. After Day 3, Josh Kay was head and shoulders above everyone else. And because this is poker, neither of them ended up winning. Instead, it was 27-year old Texan Jay Lee who rose from third place going into the final table to win the whole thing and nearly $600,000.
Not only was this Lee’s first World Poker Tour title, it was only his third recorded cash in a live tournament, according to records kept by TheHendonMob.com. Those other two cashes amounted to just over $10,000, so needless to say, this was different territory for him.
As mentioned, Lee was third in chips going into Tuesday’s action, which is good, but he was significantly behind the chip leaders. Josh Kay was a one-man wrecking crew on Monday to enter the final table as the chip leader with 11.105 million chips. Next was Day 2’s runaway chip leader, Michael Stashin, with 7.685 million. The remaining four players, led by Lee, barely had more combined than Stashin did by himself. Lee was third with 3.455 million, Eric Bunch was fourth with 2.020 million, Paul Fisher was fifth with 1.700 million, and Jeb Hutton was the short stack with 1.645 million chips.
It certainly looked like it was going to be the Kay and Stashin show.
The two chip leaders maintained their edge on the field for the most part through nearly 50 hands and called Eric Bunch’s all-in, checking it through the river. Kay won the hand, lifting his stack above 13 million chips, while Stashin fell to around 5.5 million and Bunch was eliminated in sixth place.
On Hand 73, Paul Fisher raised to 260,000 and Stashin called to bring on a flop of 6-J-K. Fisher bet 375,000, Stashin moved all-in, and Fisher called-in, putting his tournament on the line. Fisher had a nice hand, K-7, for top pair, but Stashin nailed the flop, holding J-6 for two pair. He upped that to a boat on the river to knock out Fisher in fifth place and get his stack back up to 7.44 million while Kay was around 14 million.
In the meantime, Lee was letting the chip leaders do their thing, waiting for a good spot to make a move. He found it on Hand 89, when he was all-in pre-flop with pocket Sevens and called by Stashin and his A-9 suited. The pair held and Lee doubled to 4.740 million, sending Stashin down to 5.470 million.
Lee took off from there, continuing to grow his stack through the next dozen hands to move into second place. On Hand 101, he and Stashin got into another pre-flop raising war before getting all their chips in. Lee had another pair, Queens, and Stashin had pocket Eights. No drama here and all of a sudden, Michael Stashin was out of the tournament in fourth place and Lee was in the chip lead with 12.825 million, barely more than a big blind better than Kay.
It looked like Jeb Hutton had no chance at that point, down to only around 2 million chips, but he hung on, doubling through Lee, falling back, then doubling through Lee again. It was a wild ride from that point. On Hand 128, Lee doubled through Kay to surge to 17.225 million chips versus Kay’s 6.225 million and Hutton’s 4.150 million.
On Hand 142, Hutton kept it going, doubling through Kay to turn the tables, moving up to second place and 8.725 million chips, while Kay was down to 8.150 million. Lee himself had seen his stack recede to 10.725 million and just like that, it was a close race again.
At the break after Hand 154, Lee had extended his lead, building his stack to 12.85 million at the expense of Kay, who was down to 6.775 million.
And then, a dozen hands later, Jeb Hutton pulled into the lead – just barely – over Lee, a concept that would’ve been unheard of about 60 hands earlier. Kay was fading and eventually, on Hand 180, Lee knocked him out in third place to setup the heads-up match with Hutton, the guy who was the short stack going into the final table.
As long and nuts as the final table was, heads-up only lasted ten hands. On the final hand, Hutton raised to 550,000 pre-flop and Lee called. On the flop of J-4-4, both players checked, bringing on a 7 on the turn. Both checked again and a 9 was dealt on the river, making a flush and a straight possible. Lee bet 750,000 and then watched as Hutton raised to 2 million. Lee then moved all-in for 19.425 million and a surprised Hutton called for 7.025 million. Well now.
Hutton had reason to be confident, as he had made a Queen-high flush. It was Lee, though, whose heart had probably been pounding since the flop, as he had J-4 for a flopped full house and the WPT Choctaw Main Event title.
2017 World Poker Tour Choctaw Main Event – Final Table Results
1. Jay Lee – $593,173
2. James “Jeb” Hutton – $366,895
3. Josh Kay – $270,801
4. Michael Stashin – $202,617
5. Paul Fisher – $153,508
6. Eric Bunch – $117,761
Lead photo credit: WPT.com/Joe Giron