Galen Hall Surprises All At PCA Main Event

Going into the final day of the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event, Chris Oliver seemed like the likely winner. It wasn’t just the fact that he had three times more chips than anyone else at the table; Oliver has been a force at this record-setting tournament since his first day of competition. The other seven players have been solid too, but it was hard to name any other standouts when Chris Oliver was already holding almost half the table’s chips.

The final table started off with a bang when Philippe Plouffe moved all in with pocket queens only a few hands into the last day. Sam Stein saw him in the middle with A-K. The flop came up J-10-10, and a 4 on the turn left Stein sweating. Miracle of miracles, the river turned up an Ace, and it was all over for Plouffe who left the tournament with a $202,000 check. Max Weinberg was the next to go when he went all in with an A-8 against Galen Hall with a J-10. Galen drew a pair on the flop and then a straight on the turn while Weinberg merely busted. It was an important win for Hall, putting him near the 10-million chip mark.

Hall picked up another 1.6 million chips when he called Bolivar Palacios’ all-in in Level 31. Palacios held K-J while Hall was sitting on an A-4. When all the cards were on the board, only the 4 had managed to pair, spelling a sixth place finish for Palacios. Sowers and Stein were both playing hard and fast in an effort to bridge the gap between them and the top stacks, but Oliver and Hall were having none of it. Sowers fired off a decent bet on a pair of pocket fours and Oliver three-bet with one of the worst hands in the game, an 8-2. The flop turned up 3-8-2 and Oliver pushed in a cool million. In a ballsy move, Sowers shoved all-in, but when Oliver revealed his cards it was clear it was over. When the turn and river failed to help, Sowers was out in fifth.

Ionel and Stein seemed desperate to improve their stacks, but their ambition ultimately caught them out. Oliver took out Stein in Level 32, and Hall took out Ionel only a few hands later. The stage was set for the final showdown. Oliver went into the heads-up action with 33,395,000 chips while Hall went in with a measly 13,100,000. Oliver once again seemed like the clear favorite, but after nearly four grueling hours of heads-up play, Hall actually managed to take the giant down with a few key wins.

Before taking his seat at the PCA Main Event’s final table yesterday, Galen Hall admitted that he hadn’t even checked the payouts yet. When asked what he would do with whatever money he did win, Hall answered that it would go toward his continued studies at Stanford University. We hear so often about pros that dropped out of college to play poker, but Hall is actually using the game to pay his way. Neither Hall nor his opponent Oliver are heavily decorated when it comes to live tournament titles – Hall had only two cashes prior to the Main Event and Oliver had only four – but they still put on quite a show for the ESPN viewers at home.

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