We have a winner at the World Poker Tour Legends of Poker Main Event at the Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles, and his name is Josh Hale. He topped a field of 622 runners to win the top prize of $500,000 and his first major tournament title, but even though he entered the final table as the chip leader, his win was an exciting one thanks to multiple twists, turns, and lead changes on the final night of the tournament.
Not only did Hale have to go through three big names in Jeff Madsen, Greg Mueller, and Ali Eslami, he also faced a big chip disadvantage going into the heads-up final against Max Steinberg. In the end, it was the satellite seat winner Hale who was the last man standing, and as you can see from his winner photo, he was one of the more excited champions in the recent memory on the WPT.
Cards got into the air at 4 p.m. at the final table and it didn’t take too long for things to get warmed up as Madsen, who was making his first WPT final-table appearance, got all of his chips into the middle. Madsen shoved for a million with A-3, but Steinberg was more than willing to call with pocket aces. The board bricked out and Madsen was eliminated in sixth place.
Hale grew his chip lead to the point where he held over 50 percent of the chips in play before Mueller was the next to fall in fifth place. Mueller was all in for 2 million with pocket sevens and Steinberg was once again waiting to make the call. This time he held A K, and the K on the turn gave Steinberg his second knockout of the night.
The regularly-scheduled final table programming was then interrupted for the Ali Eslami show. After Eslami was crippled in a hand where Raouf Malek doubled through him, and Eslami was left with one big blind; he proceeded to double up, triple up, and then double up again to turn his 110,000 into 1,590,000. He doubled up one more time for good measure, and all of it took place over the course of just six hands. Eslami’s comeback run came to a halt on Hand 95. He was all in with pocket deuces and Steinberg called with K-J. A king on the flop gave Steinberg his third elimination and it took the final table down to three players.
The lead-up to the elimination showdown for third place took a different path, as Malek and Steinberg built a sizable pot through a series of bets and raises as the board ran out T 9 2 K Q: but the end result was still the same. Malek got the last of his chips into the middle with an all-in call, after a four-bet shove all in from Steinberg, but his J 6 made only a king-high straight, while Steinberg held A J for the ace-high straight.
Steinberg held a 3-1 chip advantage over Hale thanks to the fact that he had eliminated every player at the final table along the way to heads-up play to build a stack worth 14,150,000. Hale had his work cut out for him with 4,550,000, but he scored a key double up to steal the chip lead in the first big confrontation hand of the final match on Hand 132. Hale was all in with Q 2 for a flush draw against the Q 6 of Steinberg on a T T 6 flop. The turn and river were dealt 4 3 to save Hale from elimination and the heads-up final continued late into the night.
Steinberg struggled to find his footing after failing to eliminate an all-in opponent for the first time at the final table and his tournament run came to an end on the 145th hand of play. Hale raised to 550,000 preflop and Steinberg reraised all in for 3,250,000. Hale snap called and flipped over J J. Steinberg revealed A K and the board was dealt 9 8 8 5 J.
Steinberg was eliminated in second place after an impressive run at the final table. He took out every opponent on the final day except for Hale, who was crowned the champion at WPT Legends of Poker with a big grin on his face.
Here is a look at the final table results:
- Josh Hale - $500,000
- Max Steinberg - $293,490
- Raouf Malek - $192,400
- Ali Eslami - $133,700
- Greg Mueller - $97,100
- Jeff Madsen - $75,400
The next WPT stop is the Grand Prix de Paris, which will take place from September 10-15. Check back in with BLUFF for nightly recaps of the event once cards get into the air in Paris.