The 2009 WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star Championship proved to be a memorable affair, both for its star-studded lineup and for its record-setting final table. The event kicked off last Monday and concluded Friday, with the final table running into the early hours of Saturday morning before Steve Brecher emerged as the champion.
The Shooting Star event always stands out on the WPT schedule because of its numerous “quirky” touches. Most notably, the tournament offers $5,000 bounties on its list of “Shooting Star Players”, a group of notable poker players ranging from Phil Hellmuth to Jonathan “FieryJustice” Little. The 50 Shooting Stars were evenly split between the two starting days.
In addition to picking up bounties by eliminating Shooting Star players, people could also rack up an extra $10,000 if they ended up as the Day 1A or Day 1B chip leader. Hoang Nguyen claimed the $10,000 prize for Day 1A and picked up a bounty for eliminating John Juanda. Day 1B’s chip leader, Isaac “westmenloaa” Baron also racked up a bounty when he eliminated Chris “Jesus” Ferguson on the final hand of the evening.
Despite their fast starts, neither Baron nor Nguyen was able to ride their chip leads to the final table. Baron was eliminated early on in Day 2, while Nguyen made the money, finishing in 23rd place for $25,000. Forty-five players in 391-person field made the money, including Shooting Stars Paul Wasicka (35th), Joe Sebok (25th), Hoyt Corkins (21st) and Kathy Liebert.
Liebert was the only Shooting Star and the only female to make it to this year’s final table, which also featured retired software developed Brecher, online cash game specialist Chris Moore and Bay 101 Casino prop player Chau Vu. Four players made their WPT final table debut, while Brecher and Liebert were the WPT veterans. This marked the second time this season that Liebert made a final table. She finished in 3rd place at October’s North American Poker Championship. Altogether, Liebert has made six WPT final tables, seven WSOP final tables and became the first woman to capture a seven-figure prize when she won the Party Poker Million in 2002. Brecher finished in 6th place at the WPT Championship Event in 2004.
The final table started off with a bang with Vu and Thao Le making quick exits in 6th and 5th place. Tony Behari was the next to go in 4th place and then 3-handed play commenced. Play continued that way for almost 100 hands and over five hours before Moore busted out in 3rd. It looked like heads-up play would be reached much sooner when Brecher got it all-in for his tournament life holding A-Q to Liebert’s A-K. She even paired her king on the flop, but Brecher managed to hit a miracle ten on the river to make a straight and double up.
Heads-up play was a back and forth battle that lasted for an astounding 319 hands, making it the longest WPT final table ever. In the end, Liebert was not able to become the first female champion in a WPT open event. On the final hand the two players got it all-in preflop with a short-stacked Liebert holding Q-10 to Brecher’s A-9. The ace high held, giving Brecher his first WPT victory and just over $1 million in prize money.
The complete results of the final table are as follows:
1st:  Steve Brecher  –  $1,025,500
2nd:  Kathy Liebert  –  $550,000
3rd:  Chris Moore  –  $291,500
4th:  Tony Behari  –  $230,000
5th:  Thao Le  –  $180,000
6th:  Chau Vu  –  $135,000

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