Tiger Woods completed a comeback for the ages this weekend at The Masters, shipping his first Green Jacket since 2005. Brian Hou might have managed a more improbable comeback than Tiger’s, as he spun up a stack of just two antes at the final table all the way to victory here at the MSPT Golden Gates Casino and Poker Parlour Main Event.
“It’s kinda surreal more than anything else...a lot of things had to go right. More so than usual!” Hou, an employee of the University of Michigan said about his improbable final table run. “I had one ante in and one 5k chip left. Then I hit a bunch of really lucky rivers when I was all-in, all of them five outs or less.” This included binking a three-outer four on Ben Keeline to triple up to five big blinds, then after a few shoves, doubling through Alex Winter with his king-seven finding a king on the river to crack Winter’s eights. From there, Hou steamrolled through the remaining field to victory.
Hou kept it lowkey when talking about what he was going to do now that he earned his first MSPT Main Event title: “I’m gonna try to go to sleep and try to catch a flight to Michigan.” Hou added, “Shout out to some of the guys I play with out in Ann Arbor, a good group of guys, I hope they tuned in.”
Day 2 saw 46 players return to the felt, but with only 36 slated to earn a payday, a few players had to hit the rail first, including Nader Wahdan, Wyoming pro Rich Dixon, and bubble boy Eric “Mash” Greenberg, who ran big slick into the aces of Hou.
Players who managed to pick up a cash included seven-time WSOPC ring winner Vincent Moscati (11th - $5,803), start of Day 2 short stack Nissim Ancel (13th - $4,636), Jason Vanstrom (14th - $4,636), Umut Ozturk (16th - $3,949), Day 1B chip leader Ramiro Perez (17th - $3,949), Jesse Allen (18th - $3,949), Tom Bouziden (24th - $2,747), last week’s MSPT $360 Golden Gates Regional champ Aaron Frei (25th - $2,507), and Nils Bardsley (33rd - $2,404).
Final Table Action
Danny Gonzales started the final table eighth in chips, but was the first to fall when he three-bet jammed his suited ace-eight into the queens of Ben Keeline. Gonzales, who took home $5,803 for his tenth place finish, earned his second career MSPT Golden Gates final table and eighth career MSPT Golden Gates cash.
Bradley Beetz fell victim to a flip with Brian Hou, before jamming his last seven big blinds with queen-ten, and Brian Leitch called with a suited ace-seven. Beetz flopped straight and flush draws, but failed to improve. Beetz took home $7,177 for his ninth place finish, and his second career MSPT cash comes just one week after a cash in the MSPT $360 Golden Gates Regional event.
For a moment, it looked like Hou would be the next player out, after he was crippled down to two 5k ante chips, but Karlus Dobbin fell during the beginning of Hou’s comeback. Dobbin’s king-ten couldn’t overcome the king-jack of Krzysztof Stybaniewicz, and he had to settle for $9,271, much to the disappointment of his supportive rail. Dobbin earned his first MSPT cash with his finish.
Leitch was the next to go, the result of a series of unfortunate events. First, his queen were cracked by Alex Winter’s jacks. Then, he ran kings into the aces of Keeline. He was down to four big blinds when he ripped queen-five in, but Keeline was waiting with ace-deuce, and Leitch failed to catch up, leaving him with seventh place and $11,675. Leitch, the Day 1A chip leader, notched his third career MSPT Main Event cash and sixth cash overall on tour.
Alex “F’n” Winter fell victim to a Hou suckout when Winter’s eights were bested by Hou’s king-seven when Hou rivered kings-up. A few hands later, Winter’s last few bigs went to Keeline when his king-seven failed to improve against Keeline’s ace-king. Winter’s fourth MSPT Main Event cash of the season and tenth Main Event cash in the last calendar year was bittersweet, but the $15,109 for his sixth place finish pushes him over the $100k marker in lifetime MSPT Career Earnings, a tremendous accomplishment for the talented young phenom.
Maury Solano was next to go, three-bet shoving his pocket threes into the pocket kings of Andrew Peragallo. Peragallo flopped a set, and Solano was left with fifth place and $19,573. Solano already has one impressive MSPT score on his resume, finishing third in Season 8’s MSPT Venetian Main Event for $205,283. This marks his third MSPT Main Event cash.
Peragallo would fall a few hands later, three-bet jamming his last eighteen big blinds with nines, only to run into the jacks of Hou. Peragallo failed to catch a set, and he took fourth place for $26,079. This marks one of the bigger cashes of Peragallo’s career, with a runner-up performance in the 2017 Colorado Poker Championship High Roller event at Golden Gates for $31,225 his career-best cash.
Keeline, the WSOP Colossus II bracelet winner, fell in third, when he raise-called off his last nineteen big blinds with ace-ten, only to fall victim to Krzysztof Stybaniewicz and his ace-queen. Keeline, who also final tabled last November’s MSPT Denver Poker Open, earned his fifth MSPT Final Table and largest cash to date on tour with his $35,368 third place finish.
Heads up play didn’t last long, as on the last hand of Level 28 (40,000/80,000/10,000), Brian Hou raised to 190,000 on the button, and Krzysztof Stybaniewicz called in the big blind. Stybaniewicz checked a flop, and Hou bet 220,000. Stybaniewicz check-raised to 600,000, and Hou called.
The fell on the turn, and Stybaniewicz jammed for 1.5 million. Hou double-checked his cards, then called.
Hou turned a full house to crack the queens of Stybaniewicz, and the river sealed Stybaniewicz’s fate as the runner-up. Prior to his $48,760 cash, Stybaniewicz had two prior cashes at MSPT Venetian Main Events. Stybaniewicz adds to his over $1 million in live tournament earnings as reported by Hendon Mob, including a win in the 2015 WSOPC Horseshoe Hammond Main Event for $356,043.