Frontline ICU nurse wins record-breaking final WPT of the '20/'21 season

Jon Pill
Posted on: May 19, 2021 12:17 PDT

Brek Shutten won the record-breaking largest World Poker Tour main event ever yesterday evening. He finished first in the 2021 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown, winning $1,261,095 for his first place finish.

It was a perfect end to both the season, and one of the biggest weeks in WPT history. Three new champions were crowned on back-to-back nights.

Two of the newly fledged champs were for long-delayed final tables from early-2020. The 2020 Borgata Winter Poker Open and the LAPC played down to a winner on Sunday and Monday respectively. Tuesday's child had less far to go. Where the other two events were paused almost 18 months ago, the SHRPS started last month, reaching the final six on April 27, 2021.

The SHRPS event collected some 2,482 entries. That's a good sign of times to come. At $3,500 per buy-in the prize pool mad it to a whopping $7,942,400 after the Hard Rock had taken its vig. The previous record-holder for live entries was the 2014 edition of the SHRPS with just 1,795 entries. The 2020 WPT Online Main Event beat that with 2,130 entries.

There was an extra $15,000 up top as the Tournament of Champions was cancelled for this season. Usually the winner of a main event gets a package to play the TOC for free an a little extra for travel and accommodation while they're there.

This was the last event of Season XVIII of the WPT and a fitting end to a difficult year for live poker.

The WPT announced the win on their Twitter account, saying: "ICU Nurse Brek Schutten wins the largest WPT event in history versus 2,482 entries to claim victory at #WPTShowdown for $1.26 million."

The end of the end times

It was fitting, in a week that celebrates a reopening from the darkest days of the pandemic, that Brek Shutten is an intensive care nurse.

In fact, a pattern-seeking mind might find a number of things about this win that make it feel like the passing of a torch.

Shutten works in an ICU in his hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Wolverine State was a central part of last year's deranged election narrative. It was a key battleground in the anti-scientific battle against lockdowns and mask mandates. And it became one of the newest members of the legal and regulated online poker club.

That the record-setting event came out of Florida, one of the hardest hit states when it came to COVID, feels symbolic too. As does the fact that this is the last event of the WPT's 2020/2021 season.

Hopefully, the narrative of 2021/2022 will be a little more upbeat.

The WPT thanks their staff and the players in a tweet reading: "Thank you to everyone who made the Season XVIII TV final tables happen and for all the support during a season like no other! Until next time."

The final hands of a busy season

The final table started with Shutten in second place behind Sonny Franco.

It took 40 hands before the first player fell. Ken Aldridge went out with a flip of Kx-9x against Sutten's 5x-5x.

Shutten took Albert Calderon out in 5th place too. His ace-high was higher. Franco went out in 4th, the only person not to be sent to the rail by Shutten. Viet Vo was next out. After that, it was heads-up play.

Shutten had a 2:1 chip lead going into the heads-up rounds with Steven Snyder. On hand #108, Shutten picked up 8♣5❤️. He raised, was called, and went to the flop: T♦️5♦️5♣.

Snyder bet into the 7❤️ that fell on the turn. Shutten shoved, and Snyder called with A♦️2♦️ for a flush draw.

A 2♣ on the river paired with Snyder's hand, but Shutten's trips held. Snyder won $899,295 for second place, and Shutten got his name added to the growing list on the Mike Sexton trophy.

WPT SHRPS Main Event final table results

Position Player Name Prize
1st Brek Schutten $1,261,095
2nd Steven Snyder $899,295
3rd Viet Van Vo $593,140
4th Sonny Franco $438,500
5th Albert Calderon $326,750
6th Ken Aldridge $261,700

Featured image source: Flickr by WPT