The PokerGO Studio in Las Vegas was awash with a who’s who from the crypto, poker, celebrity, gaming, and influencer circles on Thursday. Charlie Lee, Xuan Liu, Landon Tice, Robbi Lew, Nik Airball, Daniel Dinh, Tyler Hancock, Farah Galfond, Ryan Reiss, David Williams, and on and on and on.
They were all there at the invitation of Simon Yu, co-founder and CEO of StormX, to partake in the third iteration of the StormX Invitational. The tournament ran at a $5,000 buy-in–nothing to scoff at, even for the professionals in the field.
StormX Invitational provides the fun, and the gamble
The atmosphere in the PokerGO Studio was lively and light, a slight departure from the more serious events typically on display. The drinks were flowing, with tequila shots all around. And, still, the competition was just as lively. After all, at $5,000 per entry, the prize pool generated considerable prizes for those that made the final table.
The tournament structure wasn’t exactly a turbo, but it was fast, with rapid blind levels and a whole lot of trips to the re-buy desk. In the end, the field grew to a final tally of 95 entries, generating a prize pool of $427,500.
Poker pro and coach Jonathan Little emerged victorious after a heads up match against Princess Love, a reality television personality, to take home the top prize of $130,386.
Only thirteen players cashed the event, leaving many of the field outside of the money. Nik Airball took his antics to the PokerGO Studio, but his style didn’t serve him as well as it does on the Hustler Casino Live streams.
Robbi Lew made her last stand with the hand that made her famous in the poker world, but couldn’t improve to stay alive.
Kevin Chen ended up as the unfortunate bubble boy, finishing just outside of the money. Chen’s ace-queen was in good shape to deliver the double up against Sung Joo Hyun’s king-jack, but the river card paired Hyun to burst the bubble.
Little vs. Love for the win
With the ever-increasing blinds and the safety of the minimum cash secured, the eliminations came fast. The final table lasted just over an hour as players found themselves short-stacked and pressed to gamble. Eshaan Bhalla brought a healthy stack to the final table and continued to accrue chips along the way. When three-handed play began, Bhalla held the chip lead, but his opponents, Little and Love, came to battle. Then, a blind vs. blind confrontation between Little and Bhalla saw the latter’s K♦️J❤️ fail to improve against his opponent’s A♠3♠. The loss crippled Bhalla’s stack, leaving him with only two big blinds, and, despite a glimmer of hope after a quick double up, he made his exit soon after.
The heads-up match began with Little holding a commanding two-to-one chip lead over Love and he wielded that advantage to great success, applying relentless pressure. The onlookers on the rail were firmly in Love’s camp, with Little even commenting, just before the final hand, “No one’s rooting for me here.” Love made her final stand, moving all-in with K♦️8♠, only to see Little snap call with A♠Q❤️. The runout offered no help for Love and Little scored the knockout to take down the win, much to the dismay of the crowd.
StormX Invitational III payouts
|5||Daniel “Tafo” Lee||$25,009|
|9||Sung Joo Hyun||$13,039|
Images courtesy of PokerGO.com