WSOP Event #51 – the Monster Stack – was one event that most players were eager to play. With a small buy-in, good structure, and expected big turnout, there was very little reason not to play this one. And that was the conclusion of the 7,862 players that entered, creating a staggering prize pool in excess of $10.5 million.
It took four full days for 7,861 of those players to lose all of their chips and the one player who ended up with the huge stack of 117,800,000 was Hugo Pingray. Although his cash reward was not as big as the amount of betting discs in front of him, it was still the second biggest cash of this year’s series and was outmatched only by the first prize of the $50k Poker Players Championship.
Pingray, however, only had to pay $1,500 to get his seat in this tournament and he got to walk away with a mind-numbing $1,327,000 or nearly 900 times the amount of his buyin! Before getting his hands on this pile of money, Hugo had to fight a long heads-up battle with Joseph McKeehan. It was a grueling four hours of chips exchanging hands and the combatants trying their best to outsmart each other before Pingray was able to deliver the finishing blow.
The long grind finally came to an end when McKeehan shoved over Pingray’s button open and Pingray made an easy call with #ac#kd. McKeehan was behind with his #js#10c and the flop of #ad#5h#2s did not help his cause in any way. The #9s on the turn meant he was drawing dead and he would have to be content with a “measly” $820,863 for his runner-up finish.
This final table did not feature many big names, as the only bracelet winner in the bunch was 2011 Casino Employees Event winner Sean Drake. But even Drake’s presence at the final table guaranteed more than what he picked up for that win. Drake went on to finish in third position, claiming $619,521 for his efforts.
Two other players with previous final table experience were Thayer Rasmussen and Zachary Gruneberg, and they finished in 5th and 8th, respectively. Rasmussen took home $356,620 while Gruneberg cashed in for $163,238.
Joshua Hillock was the unluckiest of the lucky, as he was the first one to leave his final table seat. But Hillock still scored a five-figure payday in the amount of $127,364. Bobby Byram finished in seventh place, banking $210,469. Lynne Beaumont took 6th worth $273,000, while the 4th place finish of Claas Sagebrecht was good for $468,594.
This event was the third largest live tournament in history and the biggest without reentries and a single starting day. This reflected on payouts, as despite the small buyin of $1,500, all the players at the final table were guaranteed a five-figure payday.
This victory was truly huge for Pingray, as up to this point his lifetime earnings were close to $46,000. The 23-year-old, who is taking time away from college to pursue his poker dreams, was exhausted but thrilled when all was said and done. As far as poker goes, when you win your very first WSOP bracelet in a field of this size and pick up well over a million for your efforts, it doesn’t get much better than that.