Josh Hale Wins WPT Legends of Poker Main Event

After six grueling days of hard core poker and a chip stack that waxed and waned more than the myriad moons of Jupiter, Josh Hale has finally emerged victorious in the World Poker Tour’s Legends of Poker Main Event. The poker tournament came to a suspenseful end last night at the Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles, California.

Josh Hale survived a field of 622 entries, most of which supplied the $3,500 + $200 buy-in to take a shot at a prize pool that rose to an immense $2,111,690, and the coveted WPT title. Josh Hale had previously won a satellite tournament that granted him an automatic seat in the main event and resulted in his eventual win of his first major title and a proverbial slice of the pie worth an impressive $500,000.

Although Josh came into the final table as the chip leader, it was not an easy road to victory. The lead changed hands multiple times, and he had to outlast the likes of several fierce competitors in Greg Mueller, Jeff Madsen and Ali Eslami. When the table finally diminished to the final two, Hale had fallen well behind entering the heads-up denouement, facing off against 2012 WSOP bracelet winner Max Steinberg.

Here’s how it all went down. The final table started off quickly when Madsen lead out early with an all-in push holding A-3, and Steinberg couldn’t resist the call, holding pocket Aces. With no help on the board, Madsen fell to the rails.

As the match progressed, Hale’s slow but intuitive play kept his stack rising until at one point he actually held more than half of all the chips. But again, it was Steinberg who made the biggest moves, calling another all-in push, this time from Mueller with pocket 7’s. Steinberg was behind with A-K offsuit, but hit another King on the turn to wipe Mueller from the felt.

Ali Eslami was far behind by now, with only 110,000 chips left to his name, but he made a huge climactic run over the next six hands that saw him double, triple, double and double yet again until his stack rose to a dominating 3million. Unfortunately for Eslami, recent history would repeat itself three-fold as he pushed his stack with pocket 2’s, called by – you guessed it – Max Steinberg. With K-J underneath, Steingberg once more snagged a King in the flop and sent Eslami packing.

It was down to Steinberg, Hale and Raouf Malek remaining, and I probably don’t have to tell you how Malek took to the rails. All-in push, Steinberg calls, Malek eliminated with a strong K-high straight; just not strong enough to beat Steinberg’s A-high straight.

Heads-up play commenced with Steinberg boasting a 3-1 chip lead over Josh Hale. The chips flew well into the night as these two exchanged stacks, hand after hand. Everyone expected it to end when Hale pushed all-in and Steinberg called. After all, this was the theme of the night thus far. However, it wouldn’t be so easy this time around. Hale’s Q-2 suited hearts looked meek against Steinberg’s Q-6 offsuit, especially when a 6 came on the flop, but two hearts came as well, trumped by another heart on the river. Hale’s flush took the pot.

Steinberg never quite recovered from his first loss of calling an all-in bet. In the final hand of the night, the two reversed roles. Hale had the chip lead and it was Steinberg who pushed all of his chips into the middle. An immediate call from Hale revealed pocket Jacks for Josh, A-K offsuit for Max. The board was no help to either of them until the river card boosted Hale’s lead with a third Jack.

After Steinberg had eliminated every single member of the WPT Legends of Poker Main Event final table, Hale took all the glory, the WPT title, and half a million dollars.

The final table results were as follows:
1st Josh Hale – $500,000
2nd Max Steinberg – $293,490
3rd Raouf Malek – $192,400
4th Ali Eslami – $133,700
5th Greg Mueller – $97,100
6th Jeff Madsen – $75,400