After five glorious days of non-stop thrilling plays, the third running of the World Poker Tour Choctaw $3,700 no-limit Hold’em main event came to a close, with one of the most unlikely participants crowned as champion.
Many professional poker players spend their entire careers trying to earn a prestigious WPT title without success. But it was a dream come true for Texan Chinese food delivery driver Jay Lee who had only previously cashed twice, with a mere $10,000 poker earnings to his name.
The 27-year-old was rewarded with a life-changing sum of $593,173 for his unbelievable feat of topping a massive field of 924 players which helped to boost the final prize pool to $3,121,980; smashing the original $2 million guarantee out of the park. This was a monumental step forward compared to his previous best finish of 147th place at last year’s WSOP Millionaire Maker where he netted a little over $7,500.
In addition to the six-figure payday, he was also presented with a brand new Hublot watch worth $15,000, as well as a $15k entry into the WPT Tournament of Champions.
A delighted Lee told WPT reporters “it’s amazing. Cooler hands after cooler hands, but you know it’s a great feeling. A lot of ups and downs, and a lot of happy at the end. I’m glad I did it.”
Lee’s journey to the final table wasn’t exactly smooth sailing. He was at one point among the shortest stacks left in the tournament as the final table bubble approached. Luckily for Lee, Lady Luck was watching over him and he managed to win a flip with AQ versus Eric Bunch’s pocket sixes to get a little more cushion before heading into the final nine.
It was from that moment that Lee started to get hot, putting constant pressure on the rest of the players, and slowly but surely increasing his stack to the point where he took the chip lead going into three-handed play.
Lee continued his strong performance throughout the final rounds against earlier chip leader Josh Kay and Jeb Hutton. He first danced back and forth with Kay for the chip lead while Hutton took a backseat. Lee eventually eliminated Kay with his AQ against AK of Kay on a Q,8,6,2,J board, sending him to the rail with $270,801 for his efforts.
Lee went into heads-up with a 3-to-2 advantage over Hutton. Hand #190, after a mere 10 hands, was to be the night’s final hand and which the winner was to be determined. With blinds of 125,000-250,000 and 25,000 ant, Hutton raised to 550,000 from the button and Lee called. The flop came Jd,4d,4c and both players checked. An ineffective 7s hit the turn with both players checking once again. When the 9d fell on the river, Lee took a short moment before betting 750,000. Hutton raised it to 2 million, only to have Lee go all in. Realizing that this was to be the deciding hand, Hutton called the Texan’s shove.
Hutton revealed Qd,2d for a flush, while Lee turned over Jh,4h for a flopped full house, sealing the deal and sending Hutton to the rail in second place with $366,895 for his deep run.