Sternberg Captures Bay 101 Shooting Star Title

Last weekend saw the conclusion of one of the year’s most exciting final tables to date. While the WPT’s Bay 101 Shooting Star tournament started the final table action on Friday, an extremely tough group of finalists dragged the conclusion out until Saturday morning. Despite the tight action, when all was said and done only one player managed to improve their position, and that was first place finisher Alan Sternberg.

The Shooting Star was the first final table of the tour for popular WPT ambassador Mike Sexton, but he entered the action extremely short stacked and as a result was the first player out on Friday after just 27 hands. Sexton had hoped to double up off Mike Matusow but was sadly outdrawn on the river, giving Matusow not only his modest stack but the last $5000 Shooting Star bounty left in the competition apart from Matusow’s own.

Only three hands later, the other short stack – Casey McCarrel – hit the rail when Steven Kelly bested his unpaired J-10 with an Ace kicker. It was slow going from there, but there was a single tense moment when it looked like eventual winner Alan Sternberg would be out of the game. After some hard and fast betting, second stack Sternberg moved all-in on a hand against fourth stack Vivek Rajkumar. Sternberg seemed set with a full house, but in the showdown Rajkumar revealed four Queens.

That hand nearly crippled Sternberg and briefly propelled Rajkumar into the second stack position. As often happens with such a close call, everyone at the table responded by battening down their chips. Sternberg himself took the opportunity to steal some sizeable pots and work his way back to the top. It took almost 100 more hands of play to finally break Rajkumar back down and take the table to just three.

Mike Matusow put up a valiant effort, but it had been evident for quite a while that this competition was going to come down to Sternberg and Steven Kelly. Sure enough, in a final act of desperation Matusow went all-in with a 9-2 and was finished off when Sternberg showed a K-Q, improving his chip lead even more and taking the last $5,000 bounty in the process.

For all the excitement of the rest of the final table, the heads-up portion was fairly short and decisive. Before long Sternberg had a lead of several million chips, so when Kelly went all in with A-Q after a flop of Q-8-7, the stage was set. Sternberg was holding just a 10-8, so it looked like Kelly had it clenched, but a 7 on the turn put the hand back in Sternberg’s favor and another 8 on the river sealed the deal. It was not only Sternberg’s first WPT title, but also his first career win, increasing his lifetime earnings nearly tenfold.

Here’s how the final table placings paid out (not including bounties collected):

Alan Sternberg – $1,039,000

Steven Kelly – $595,300

Mike Matusow – $369,800

Vivek Rajkumar – $295,800

Casey McCarrel – $221,800

Mike Sexton – $148,000

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