Hoyt Corkins led from Day 1 until the last chip dropped, beating 846 players to take down the $2.5k NLH 6-Max Event #30. He beat Terrence Chan at the end, one of the toughest heads-up players in poker today.
If online poker was the vehicle for poker's explosive growth, then NLH 6-max has been its engine. The short-handed game requires players to be in 20-35% of the hands rather than 10-25% of full-ring hands. This means more action, more reads, more marginal hands that shift the balance of a winning session or a losing one.
Down to eight players, Terrence Chan got very lucky to survive and make the Final Table. He came over the top of Kelly Vander-Mheen, and he was in tough shape with to Vander-Mheen's . Chan spiked an ace on the flop to double up. After Hoyt Corkins knocked out Yakov Hirsch (8th $47,339), play went to from two tables of four players to one table of seven. Corkins then quickly took out Steve Wong, his pocket nines holding up against Wong's . Hoyt had just used to bust Vander-Mheen, but Wong's version never connected (7th $47,339).
Chip counts at the Final Table:
Hoyt Corkins (1.30m)
Alan Sass (1.22m)
William Lin (726k)
Terrence Chan (502k)
Kelly Vander-Mheen (307k)
James Pittman (127k)
James Pittman came in short and got all he could ask for, moving all-in on William Lin's raise with pocket eights. Pittman had , but a board of a bunch of black cards that fell harmlessly around his nine meant James Pittman could watch his bust hand on the WSOP Webcast. The webcast was delayed an hour, but he didn't wait after grabbing his payout (6th $63,118).
The key hand of the Final Table came on the next hand between the chip leaders. Alan Sass raised to 44k with , and Corkins called in the big blind. The flop came , and Corkins bet 55k. Sass called, then hit the turn. Corkins now bet 200k, and again Sass called. on the river brought another bet from Corkins, this time for 400k. Sass called, hoping his jack kicker was good. Corkins tossed for a full house, and Sass mucked his hand. Corkins moved over 2.07m with no one closer than Lin at 691k.
Kelly Vande-Mheen next made a move with , raising from the small blind then calling Corkins re-raise. On a flop, he shoved. Corkins quickly showed pocket aces, and Kelly Vande-Mheen was gone in 5th ($96,431). The three men in pursuit of Corkins became very deliberate, and only one hand in the next sixteen reached a turn card.
Blinds moved to 10k/20k with a 3k ante, and the threesome seemed to revive after another dozen inconsequential hands of Corkins using his deep stack to grab blinds. First, Alan Sass raised from the button only to see Corkins move all-in. He called with , and Corkins showed . A flop of switched his outs to the two remaining queens, but they didn't show. Sass doubled up.
On the next hand, Corkins moved all-in from the small blind, and Chan quickly called with . Corkins had , and the board came , and now Chan doubled up. All this action seemed to embolden the other three men. Corkins raised from the small blind to 60k, and Chan called in the big blind. Corkins bet 120k on the flop of . Chan moved all-in with , and Corkins folded.
Walk among the younger players at the WSOP, and they speak of Corkins in a very disparaging manner. A top young gun looked up at the leaderboard in Day 2 with Corkins atop it and said, "That's the worst player here leading this event." Corkins uses the all-in move at any time and all the time. In some ways, he is the pin-up girl for the Main Event lol donkament shovers. Now, these three players were getting enough hands to play back at him.
Each of the three players was waiting for the one big hand to bring Corkins back to the pack, his 1.8m still comfortably ahead of the other three with roughly 750k each. Sass raised, then Corkins moved all-in. Sass quickly called with , and Corkins showed . There was no crowd to rise to their feet, but the screen outside the Media Room was abuzz with the action. The flop caused everyone to turn away for a bit, with Corkins now alive to a ten, jack, or running diamonds. looked good for everyone, but Corkins spiked the to take out Alan Sass (4th $132,471).
Terrence Chan came from behind to do the same thing to William Lin. The flop comes , and Lin checks. Chan moves all-in, and Lin calls quickly with , well ahead of Chan's . on the turn was enough to give the pot to Chan, and William Lin was three-outed (3rd $196,758). For Chan, it was one of those I-made-a-bad-read-nice-hand-oops-sorry-but-glad-I'm-alive hands, and he was heads-up with Corkins.
If there was one player at the Final Table that you would want against Corkins, it would be Chan. The former PokerStars Customer Service Manager specializes in heads-up play, and it was ironic that he was stuck at the Final Table as the $5k NLH HU event went on around him. He had 1.57m to Corkins 2.68m, plenty of ammunition to chase down Corkins.
As blinds moved to 15k/30k with 4k antes, the difference between the two men was stark. Chan slumped quietly in his chair, a Granny Smith apples on his chips, staying quiet and low during hands. Corkins, with his reflective sunglasses and black cowboy hat, frequently grabbed chips and rose, lording over his opponent. He raised with , and Chan re-popped it with two red aces. He then tried to look as humiliated and weak as Corkins went through his tough-guy routine. He didn't have the hand to do anything but fold, unfortunately to Chan.
The key hand of the heads-up match is one Chan won't want to watch. He raised to 75k from the button, and Corkins called. The flop came , and Corkins checked. Chan made a continuation bet with , and Corkins moved all-in. He must have put Chan on the big cards he had, as the hole came showed . Chan folded his baby pair and flush draw, and he was under 1m for the first time heads-up.
He had a chance to double up, but this was Corkins day. He raised with , Corkins moved all-in with , and Chan called. kept Chan in the lead, but sent the last of Chan's chips to Corkins. Terrence Chan has played many events the last two years, and this runner-up finish will only embolden him in the future (2nd $287,345).
Doyle Brunson presented a second WSOP bracelet to Hoyt Corkins (1st $515,065), fifteen years after his $5k PLO win. His strategy will always be unorthodox and frustrate many, but with he never let this one get away from him.