Matt Salsberg is Top Canadian in WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star; Stefan Schillhabel Wins $1.3M
The second stop of the three-part California Swing came to a close late last week with German Stefan Schillhabel winning World Poker Tour (WPT) Bay 101 Shooting Star in San Diego. There were also a handful of Canadian cashes to note.
After the previous week’s WPT L.A. Poker Classic carried a $10,000 cost of entry, the price was reduced to a still-steep $7,500 for the Bay 101 Shooting Star. The event is known for its unique format that names dozens of established and up-and-coming poker players as “Shooting Stars” and places a bounty on their heads. The player who eliminates a Shooting Star also collects a signed shirt to commemorate the knockout.
There were two starting flights for the prestigious tournament. Day 1a saw 331 players reduced to 125 after 11 levels of play and Ankush Mandavia bagged the chip lead of 263,700. With a lack of notable Canadian players among the top end of the chip counts, some of the stacks from our country were held by players like Daniel Negreanu (79,400) and Shawn Buchanan (66,100).
A further 422 players bought a Day 1b seat and this time a Canadian held the chip lead. Ari Engel counted out 294,100 chips to seal up for Day 2 — enough to lead the entire field when play resumed. Mike Leah (148,200), Matt Salsberg (140,000), Justin Oliver (131,600), and Timothy Adams (76,300) added to the Canadian contingent making it through the day as well. A total of 753 entries created a prize pool of more than $5 million.
When players came back for Day 2, the goal was to be among the 72 who would collect a payout in the tournament. The 280 chip stacks at the start of the day became 36 when the curtain was drawn on another day. Dylan Linde finished the day with a comfortable chip lead of 1,523,000 — one of just eight players to break into seven-figure territory.
The only remaining Canadians were Matt Salsberg (340,000) and Shawn Buchanan (265,000) while Mike Leah (40th — $21,580) and Ari Engel (59th — $16,950) already collected their payouts. Daniel Negreanu, Justin Oliver, and Timothy Adams were eliminated before the money bubble burst.
Day 3 became the end of the road for our final two Canadian players. Shawn Buchanan had a little over 250,000 chips remaining when he raised from the cutoff seat to 26,000 and it folded around to Brian Yoon in the big blind. Yoon pushed all in and Buchanan spent a bit of time deciding, ultimately, to call.
Buchanan had the better of it with to Yoon’s — a slim advantage of 59 percent to win the hand according to the PokerNews Poker Odds Calculator. Yoon’s 40 percent chances were the ones favoured this time as the board ran out , eliminating Buchanan in 32nd place for $25,690.
That left Matt Salsberg to wave the maple leaf among the remaining field. He was closing in on the final table but, with 12 players remaining on the final two tables, he four-bet shoved from under the gun to Griffin Paul’s three-bet from the button.
Once Paul called, the saw that they were racing with Paul holding and Salsberg flipping up . The Canadian needed to connect with the board in some way to survive, but the dealer turned over , eliminating Salsberg in twelfth place for $51,480.
The night came to an end when the official final table of six players was set. Stefan Schillabel had the chip lead with 8,720,000 followed by Griffin Paul with 5,205,000. Maria Ho held the third-best stack of 3,115,000. The bottom half was rounded out by Adam Geyer (2,030,000), Andjelko Andrejevic (1,985,000), and Bryan Piccioli (1,535,000).
The set was brought out on the final day for the televised final table with Mike Sexton, Vince Van Patten, and Lynn Gilmartin on site for commentary and hosting. Under the bright lights, the final Shooting Star was the first player eliminated. Maria Ho handed her bounty over to Adam Geyer as she was eliminated in sixth place for $179,930 after a four-bet jam with that ran smack dab into the of Geyer.
Exactly 10 hands later, Adam Geyer was at it again, knocking out two players with one blow this time. Griffin Paul was the first into the pot and put all of his short stack in the middle. Geyer called, but action wasn’t finished yet. Andjelko Andrejevic pushed all in over the top and Geyer elected to call that amount as well.
When the cards were on their backs, it was a series of big aces with Geyer holding the worst of it. He had to Andrejevic’s and Paul’s . The flop was all kinds of generous to Geyer when it came down , giving the biggest stack two pairs. The turn and river were low cards, giving all of the chips to Geyer and taking the final table down to three players in one big hand.
It took another 15 hands for the third-place elimination to occur. Adam Geyer raised his button, Stefan Schillhabel three-bet from the small blind, and Bryan Piccioli pushed forward all of his chips from the big blind. Geyer gave up his cards but Schillhabel made the call with , dominating Piccioli’s . The jack-high board was no good for Piccioli and he collected $493,350 for third place.
Heads-up play began with Adam Geyer and Stefan Schillhabel very evenly stacked. Geyer held 11,470,000 while Schillhabel had 11,120,000. With both of them having just under 100 big blinds to play with, it looked to be a long battle to determine the champion.
With only 48 hands needed to take the final table from six players down to two, it was another 54 hands before the final elimination finished the tournament. Chips passed back and forth before Schillhabel won a big pot halfway through their battle. With a chip lead, he ground down his opponent, consistently increasing his lead, until Schillhabel held a comfortable 10-to-one advantage.
Looking for a double-up, Geyer pushed all in with and Schillhabel made the call with . The flop was good for Geyer as it came for top pair. Schillhabel needed running cards to win the hand and end the tournament. The turn of was one possibility to keep the hand alive, and the river of was one of the few remaining cards that gave him the winning hand. Geyer collected $752,800 for the runner-up result and Schillhabel pocketed $1,298,000 for his first WPT title.
WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star Final Table Results
The final stop on WPT’s California Swing is WPT Rolling Thunder with a lower buy-in of $3,500 hosted at Thunder Valley Casino Resort in Sacremento, California. Watch PokerNews Canada for a recap of that event when it concludes, highlighting the Canadian contingent.
Details and photos courtesy of the WPT Live Updates.