WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star Day Three: Paul Volpe Leads Second Consecutive WPT Final Table, Erik Seidel In Second

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The World Poker Tour stop at the Bay 101 Shooting Star in San Jose, CA, is shaping up to be an epic battle, with a player making his second consecutive WPT final table (with the chip lead to boot) and one remaining Shooting Star left at the six-man final table.

44 players came back on Thursday afternoon, ready to determine the six players who would battle it out for this latest WPT championship. Paul Volpe was in the lead – the only player over a million chips – while Brendon Rubie, Isaac Baron, Steve Behm and Shooting Star Maria Ho rounded out the Top Five. Joining Ho as the only remaining $2500 bounties remaining in the field were Antonio Esfandiari, Christian Harder, Kyle Julius, Erik Seidel and Jason Somerville as the cards hit the air.

Volpe took an early hit, doubling up Joe Nguyen to give up the lead, while Axel Werner and Garrett Greer (television table “bubble boy” at the L. A. Poker Classic last week) hit the rail within moments of the opening bell. Another player who did fairly well at that tournament last week, eventual LAPC champion Paul Klann, got back into the action in the Bay 101 by doubling up through Robert Tepper.

The top of the leaderboard got a bit more familiar to casual poker fans in a clash between Shooting Stars. After Somerville moved all in pre-flop, Seidel made the call out of the small blind. After some consideration, Klann decided to get out of the way and the twosome turned up their cards. Somerville was on a complete steal attempt with his J-9 and Seidel’s A 10 was in a tenuous lead (63.3-36.1 pre-flop odds). An Ace on the flop cemented Seidel’s position, but a nine on the turn opened up some outs for Somerville. When those outs failed to show on the river, Somerville was out in 42nd place while Seidel shot up over 1.1 million and pocketed $2500.

The casualties would continue to mount as the afternoon wore on. Carlos Mortensen (36th), Todd Terry (34th), Kathy Liebert (33rd) and overall Day One chip leader Andrew Lichtenberger (29th) all would hit the rail within three hours of the opening of play while Volpe began a charge to the top that would put him in first position at today’s final table.

In a key hand, Volpe and Behm duked it out with a board that read K-9-8-Q-8. After Behm tossed out 100K into a 400K pot, Volpe popped the action to 372K to send Behm into deep thought. The thought was so deep that the clock was eventually called and, just before it was counted out, Behm made the call. Volpe turned up A-8 for rivered trips and a disgusted Behm mucked his cards. The hand would shoot Volpe to nearly two million in chips and leave Behm with “only” 560K.

Julius would depart at the hands of Klann in a particularly gruesome fashion. On an 8-7-6 flop, Julius bet out and Klann moved all in. Julius made the call with less chips, putting his tournament existence on the line, and showed pocket Jacks against Klann’s 9-4 (open-ended straight draw). The three on the turn missed, but the five on the river brought Klann his out to knock Julius from the tournament in 27th place.

Volpe continued to attack the field, eliminating Rubie from the tournament, but he found himself in second place behind Klann as the tournament reached three six-handed tables (Ho was eliminated by Matt Stout in 20th place; on the next hand, Stout would take down Robert Lo to reach those three tables). By the time the dinner bell rang, fourteen players were left on the felt, working their way down to the final six.

The men returned to the felt with three Shooting Stars remaining, but not for long. Harder, crippled in a flush over flush fight with Joe Kuether, would fall in 13th place to Volpe on the next hand. Esfandiari would last a bit longer, making it to ninth place, before losing a race (holding pocket Jacks against Big Slick) to Danny Wong when Wong hit a King on the flop and added an Ace on the river for further insult. Seidel’s chip stack was a rollercoaster throughout the Day Three play but, by the time of Esfandiari’s elimination, he was sitting on a 1.5 million stack.

Volpe first doubled through and then eliminated Wong from the tournament to boost his stack to nearly six million as the final seven players gathered together on the same patch of felt to determine the official final table. After ten hands of play, Behm would get his chips to the center of the felt against Seidel (the final Shooting Star) with an A-Q against Seidel’s pocket Kings. Once the board brought no surprises, Behm was out in seventh place and the final table was set.

1. Paul Volpe, 5.525 million
2. Erik Seidel, 3.435 million
3. Joe Kuether, 2.83 million
4. Chris Johnson, 2.74 million
5. WeiKai Chang, 2.59 million
6. Joe Nguyen, 2.175 million

Volpe is coming off a runner-up finish at the LAPC, making him a serious contender not only for this championship but also to potentially take over the Season XI WPT Player of the Year race lead. As the final Shooting Star, Seidel might have the target on his back, but the $2500 bounty at this point is pocket change (sixth place receives $162,240). The remaining contenders – Nguyen, Johnson, Chang and Kuether – will have to get a double up to push their name into consideration for the championship.

The final table of the WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star begins this afternoon at 4PM (Pacific Time) and will be taped for broadcast on the WPT’s Season XI schedule. It should be an exciting final table as Volpe looks to take it one step further than he did last week at the LAPC and take down this WPT championship.

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