The World Poker Tour Prime Championship $1,100 buy-in event attracted a gigantic field of 5,430 entries, more than doubling the $2 million guarantee to create a final prize pool of $5,267,100. In the end, Stephen Song emerged victorious from that sea of players with the title and the top prize of $712,650.
“Honestly, it’s just incredible,” Song told Card Player after coming out on top. “I’ve had a dream year and this is just the cherry on top. Words can’t really explain how I’m feeling. I’m just so blessed. I obviously ran like a God to, you have to beat up 5,400 people. I dunno if I’ll ever be able to repeat a run like this, but it feels really good.”
This was the largest score yet for the 27-year-old World Series of Poker bracelet winner from Greenwich, Connecticut, and it brought his lifetime live tournament earnings to more than $5.1 million. His previous top payday came when he finished as the runner-up in this year’s WSOP $5,000 six-max event for $476,990.
As he noted, this has been a red-hot year for Song. He has made 51 cashes to date, with 16 final-table finishes and two titles won along the way. All told, he has cashed for $2,389,405 in 2022.
This latest win saw him earn 1,320 Card Player Player of the Year points. As a result of his impressive run, he now sits in second place in the 2022 POY race standings presented by Global Poker.
The final table was set after midnight on Dec. 13, but the final six didn’t return to play down to a winner until the televised final table on the evening of Dec. 19. The action resumed with fellow bracelet winner Lara Eisenberg and Song essentially tied for the lead, with the former having less than two big blinds more than the latter when cards got in the air.
The first elimination of the final table came on the 14h deal of the day. Giorgii Skhulukhiia limped in from the button for 600,000 with 107. Eisenberg raised to 2,400,000 from the small blind with AA and Skhulukhiia made the call. The flop came down A72 to give Eisenberg top set. She bet 1,200,000 and Skhulukhiia called with middle pair and backdoor flush possibilities.
The 9 on the turn improved Skhulukhiia to a fully-fledged flush draw. Eisenberg bet 2,400,000 and Skhulukhiia made the call. The 2 on the end improved both players, giving Eisenberg aces full of deuces and a flush to Skhulukhiia. Eisenberg shoved, having Skhulukhiia covered. He made the call, only to be shown a full house. He earned $153,000 as the sixth-place finisher.
Albert Nguyen was the next to be sent packing. He opened with a min-raise from the button with AQ. Alon Messica came along with the A10. The flop came down AJ5 giving both players top pair. Messica bet 2,000,000 as the first to act and Nguyen called in position.
The turn brought the 10 make aces up for Messica. He checked and Nguyen checked behind. The river brought the case ace, the A, giving Messia aces full while Nguyen picked up trips. Messica checked and Nguyen fired 4,500,000. Messica check-raised all-in and Nguyen called to put his tournament life on the line. Messica revealed his full house and Nguyen shook his opponents’ hands before heading to the rail. He earned $200,000 for his fifth-place showing in this event.
A wild hand went down during four-handed action. Song limped in from the small blind with Q8 and Messica checked his option in the big blind with Q9. The action was checked down on the flop and turn. The final board read A4276. Song checked and Messica bets 2,000,000 with his queen-nine high. Song made a check-raise bluff with queen-eight high. Messica went into the tank, but he was not just posturing. After a while considering the situation, he made the gero call with the slightly better queen high to win the healthy pot and move into the chip lead. Song slid towards the bottom of the leaderboard after the hand.
Messica used his big stack to try to put pressure on Young Eum, running a multi-street bluff that put Eum to the test for his whole stack. He found the correct call with second pair and faded Messica’s two overcards to double up.
Eisenberg won a big pot off of Messica with a rivered two pair besting his rivered top pair, top kicker. Her stack then took a big hit when her trip kings ran into the kings full of tens held by Eum. With that, Eum doubled up and overtook the lead.
Messica had the hero-call tables turned on him by Song, who called a ten-high bluff on the river with his jack-high, although in a somewhat smaller pot. Messica’s run soon fittingly came to an end via a hero call. Messica limped in from the small blind for 1,200,000 with K6 and Eum raised to 4,000,000 out of the big blind with A6. The flop came down AJ4 to give Messica the nut flush draw. He checked and Eum bet 2,200,000 with his top pair. Messica called and the 2 hit the turn. Messica check-called again, this time to the tune of 6,200,000. The 4 paired the board on the end and messica checked. Eum moved all-in and after some time in the tank, Messica called all-in for 12,600,000 with his king high. Eum showed his winning aces and fours to send Messica home in fourth place ($265,000).
Three-handed play saw the remaining contenders get involved in a number of all-in pots, many of which involved classic preflop races like a pocket pair against two overs. Each time, the shorter stack won, until just such a coinflip saw Eum’s AQ fail to improve against the JJ of Eisenberg.
Eum earned $354,000 as the third-place finisher. This was his third podium finish in a huge-field tournament around this price point this year. He finished second out of 2,663 entries in a $1,000 no-limit hold’em freezeout at the WSOP for $203,949 in June. Roughly three weeks later he won his first bracelet by topping a field of 5,832 entries in the $1,000 mini main event to earn $594,189. Eum was awarded 880 POY points for this deep run. With 3,240 total points and more than $1.1 million in POY earnings, he now sits inside the top 50 in the POY rankings.
Heads-up play began with Eisenberg holding nearly a 3:1 lead, with 119,600,000 to Song’s 43,800,000. Song closed the gap considerably when he made quad jacks against the jacks full of fives of Eisenberg and was able to extract a sizable value bet on the river. He soon pulled ahead thanks to flopping jacks up against the top pair of jacks for Eisenberg.
In the final hand, Eisenberg limped in for 2,000,000 with Q8 and Song checked with 64. The Q85 flop saw Song check. Eisenberg bet 2,000,000 with her top two pair and Song called his gutshot straight draw. The 7 on the turn completed Song’s draw, giving him an eight-high straight. Song checked again and Eisenberg bet 8,000,000. Song check-raised to 22,000,000. Eisenberg considered her options before moving all-in for 53,600,000. Song snap-called and needed to fade a queen or eight on the river to secure the title.
The 2 completed the board, lockup up the victory for Song. Eisenberg earned $481,500 as the runner-up finisher, the largest cash yet for the 2021 WSOP ladies event champion. The Radiologist from Silver Springs, Maryland now has nearly $760,000 in lifetime tournament earnings.
Here is a look at the payouts and POY points awarded at the final table: