However, the final four hours of the tournament turned out to be a wild ride of ups and downs and a see-saw of emotions for the final two players and their dozens of supporters on opposite sides of the packed gallery. At one point, Pingray had the chance to put Joseph McKeehen out rather quickly in the duel. His A-K had McKeehen all in holding a pair of tens. Yet, Pingray couldn't pair either of his overcards, giving his rival not only new life, but the chip lead. It took two more hours for the Frenchman to scratch and claw his way back into the lead. The match ended with Pingray's A-K catching an ace on the flop to win the final hand of the tournament with a pair of aces.
“I’m happy. I’m exhausted. I really don’t know what to say,” a dazed Pingray said afterward. “This final table was really tough, with a lot of good players. All these guys were really, really good and I had to stay focused. I had to believe in myself every second of the final table.”
Pingray is 23-years-old. He’s currently on leave from college, where he’s studying hospitality and hotel management. He’s using this time to play poker. Incredibly, this marked his first visit ever to Las Vegas. This is only the second WSOP event Pingray had played.
“I took time off from my studies. I wanted to give myself a year off to play poker and see how it goes,” Pingray said. “This is a big help, I must say.”
The nearly 8,000-player field was the third largest live tournament in history. Only the 2006 WSOP Main Event Championship (8,773 players) and this year’s Millionaire Maker event (7,977 players) drew more entries. However, this five-day tournament not only was a single-elimination event, it also all began in a single day. Indeed, the first day of this tournament went down as the busiest day in poker history, smashing all previous starting-day records.
Due to the huge turnout and massive prize pool, all nine players who made it to the final table were guaranteed a six-figure payout. In fact, the top 792 finishers in this event each earned a payday worth at least $2,759. Some of the notables who cashed include Men Nguyen (685th), Marco Johnson (605th), Amir Lehavot (590th), hockey player Phil Kessel (587th), Soi Nguyen (372nd), Jeff Madsen (278th), Dwyte Pilgrim (209th), Taylor Paur (127th), John Monnette (89th), and Jason Duval (31st).
The final table featured three players who notched their first-ever WSOP cash, three players making their first-ever WSOP final table, and three players with previous final table experience. Sean Drake was the only gold bracelet winner in the bunch. His win came back in 2011 in the Casino Employees event. He collected $82,292 for his previous win, which meant that just by making the final table, Drake managed to surpass that amount as his career-high payday. Zachary Gruneberg (8th) and Thayer Rasmussen (5th) are the other final table players who came in with prior WSOP final table experience.
Here are the final table results of the $1,500 buy-in Monster Stack event:
1st: Hugo Pingray - $1,327,083
2nd: Joseph McKeehen - $820,863
3rd: Sean Drake - $619,521
4th: Claas Segebrecht - $468,594
5th: Thayer Rasmussen - $356,620
6th: Lynne Beaumont - $273,090
7th: Bobby Byram - $210,469
8th: Zachary Gruneberg - $163,238
9th: Joshua Hillock - $127,364