23 September 2019 (Milwaukee) - The second World Series of Poker Circuit Potawatomi $1,700 Main Event of the year saw 447 entrants come and go, but it was Chicago's Richard Bai who navigated the field to earn a $138,317 payday, along with his second gold ring and a seat in the 2020 WSOPC Global Championship.
Bai, who made one previous WSOPC Main Event final table in 2015 at Horseshoe Southern Indiana, found himself very short with four players left at the final table and described his rise from crumbs to the championship as, "Incredible. I got short, I had like nine or ten bigs, and I thought, y'know, I was destined for fourth."
Bai found himself short after his queens were two-outed on the river by James Pupillo's jacks after an all-in confrontation preflop. Bai tried to take the bad beat in stride, saying, "That hand is just super standard. I was frustrated, but I tried to not let it affect me, I kinda winged it and played my game."
Bai got those ten big blinds in with sevens against Pupillo and his Big Slick a few hands later, and an ace on the flop looked like it would send Bai home in fourth as he thought was his destiny. However, destiny was just playing tricks with him as a miracle seven on the river gave him enough chips to work his way to victory.
"To win that flip and then just find a heater, it feels great," Bai said about that fateful hand.
Final Table Action.
Michael Esquivel, who earned a breakout win in last week's MSPT Canterbury Park Main Event for $98,113, followed that up with a ninth-place performance. He jammed his last 17 big blinds with ace-jack and ran into the queens of Helstern, and although Esquivel found a jack on the flop, he improved no further and hit the rail.
Jack Torcolese came next when he verbet jammed with a pair and a gutshot for Bai's last 60 big blinds. Bai made the call with aces, and Torcolese couldn't catch up, giving Bai nearly a third of the chips in play and a commanding lead with eight players left. Torcolese got his last 15 big blinds in a few hands later with queen-nine, but couldn't overcome the Big Slick of Apter to exit in seventh.
It took just one hand for the final table to shrink from seven to six, as WSOP Bracelet winner Brett Apter was the victim of a bad beat. He jammed his last 15 big blinds in with ace-queen, and Matthew Levin called with ace-jack. Levin spiked a jack on the flop to make Apter's Day 3 experience a brief affair.
Nik Stone was the next to go, and his exit came shortly after he made a brief run up the counts, before a huge clash with Bai. Stone got his last 26 big blinds in on the turn of a jack-high board with ace-jack, and was against Bai's nut flush draw and gutshot. The gutshot got there on the river, and Stone, who boasts a runner-up finish in the WSOPC Global Championship back in 2012, finished in sixth place.
The very next hand, Jorden Helstern got his last 24 big blinds in with ace-king, and Levin made the call with a suited ace-queen. For the third straight time on Day 3, the worst hand won, as Levin flopped a flush and straight draw, and made both on the river to send Helstern home with a career-best payday of $34,460 for his fifth-place performance.
Pupillo went on a tear for the next few levels, bringing Bai down to just under ten big blinds at one point while Pupillo took the chip lead. Bai managed a few doubles through Pupillo before a massive cooler saw both Pupillo and Bai flop sets, Bai with eights and Pupillo with fours.
James Pupillo got his last chips in on the river and was snapped off by Bai, shocking the Arizona native, who had to settle for fourth place and a $46,107 payday that brings the 23-year-old's career earnings over the six-figure marker.
Henry Zou never seemed to get much traction going during Day 3, and his stack was whittled down to just over four big blinds when Bai jammed with ace-king from the small blind. Zou called off with ace-four, and the Michigan native failed to catch up, leaving Bai and Levin heads up.
Bai began the heads-up battle with 11.4 million to Levin's 2 million in chips, and with blinds at 50,000/100,000/100,000, Bai leaned on Matthew Levin until the final hand of the tournament, where Levin jammed for 1.05 million with queen-six of clubs, and Bai quickly called with ace-four. Levin flopped a gutshot, but improved no further, while Bai ended up with the nut flush and his second WSOPC ring.
Along with the cash and ring, Bai also gets a seat into the 2020 WSOPC Global Championship, a bonus that delighted Bai. "Super excited. I've never got to play it. I've known about this forever, and it's just a great opportunity."
Final Table Results
1st Place: Richard Bai - $138,317
2nd Place: Matthew Levin - $85,488
3rd Place: Henry Zou - $62,298
4th Place: James Pupillo - $46,017
5th Place: Jorden Helstern - $34,460
6th Place: Nikolas Stone - $26,167
7th Place: Brett Apter - $20,151
8th Place: Jack Torcolese - $15,742
9th Place: Michael Esquivel - $12,478
MAIN EVENT RESULTS