Josh Hale Wins WPT Legends of Poker ChampionshipFriday, August 31st, 2012 by Ryan
The 2012 World Poker Tour’s Legends of Poker Championship featured quite a few big names. The event came to a close last night in Bells Gardens, California at the Bicycle Casino. While it was a fight to the finish, it was Josh Hale who started the final day of action with a huge chip stack, who carried just kept rolling along with that stack in order to pull in the win at the event against a tough final table that featured some well-known players. While the action started with Hale holding a stack of 7.325 million chips, which was more than double that of the second place player in Greg “FBT” Mueller, there were other big named pros including Ali Eslami and Jeff Madsen still in the action with Mueller. To round out the final table there was Raouf Malek and Max Steinberg who were the last of the six remaining players fighting for the title.
Things started off quickly, as only about 20 hands in the first player was sent to the rail when it was blind vs. blind with Steinberg completing his small blind, and Madsen moving all in. Steinberg insta-called the all-in turning over pocket Aces against the A-3 of diamonds for Madsen. The board did not improve Madsen’s hand, and he was sent home with his first ever final table at a World Poker Tour event with a sixth place finish.
Hale went to work once again after this and he was able to add over 2 million chips within the next 20 hands, which ended up being more than half of the total chips that were in play. Then came another all-in when Mueller decided to push his short stack all in and nearly stole the blinds, but Steinberg called off the bulk of his stack from the small blind. When the two turned over the cards, Mueller was ahead pre-flop with pocket sevens against the A-K of Steinberg, and the flop came down with 10-8-5. A turn of a King switched the advantage to Steinberg, leaving Mueller in need of help badly. He didn’t get it though and he was sent home in fifth place.
Eslami was the next player to go home, as he had only 120k after he ran into Malek, he actually fought all the way back and got his stack over 4 million chips. He hit a bad down swing though and was left with only 1.455 million chips when he had to go all-in. Hale limped before this, but ended up folding his hand after Steinberg called the all-in from the big blind. Steinberg showed K-J of diamonds against the pocket two’s of Eslami, and the flop came down with a King. This was good enough for Steinberg as Eslami was unable to improve his hand, going home in fourth place.
This win by Steinberg actually pushed him into the chip lead with 8.6 million chips, as Hale had dropped a bit back to 5.65 million. Malek was in third with 4.45 million, and even took another big time pot from Steinberg soon after, but it was Hale who took over from this point. It took four hands from Hale to go from third place to first place. Malek and Steinberg got mixed up in another big hand that featured Steinberg calling a raise from Malek and saw a 10-9-2 flop. Steinberg check-called, and when a King came on the turn both players checked. The river was a Queen and then Steinberg pushed all in. Malek made the call and turned over J-6 for a King high straight, but Steinberg showed the A-J for the nut straight. This sent Malek home in third place.
Heads up play started with Steinberg holding a huge chip lead of 14 to 4 over Hale, but Hale was able to double up after 12 hands of play. He hit a flush on the river on this hand, and five hands later he took the chip lead with an all-in push over a three bet from Steinberg. The 25th hand of heads up play proved to be the final one, as Steinberg pushed it all-in, and Hale called turning over pocket Jacks. Steinberg had A-K, but the board went 9-8-8-5-J to give Hale the win. Hale took home $500,000 for the impressive win, and the second place pay day for Steinberg was worth $293,490.