Known as one of the best heads-up No-Limit Hold’em players in the world, Cates did little to dissuade that notion as he bullied the talented Sulsky over four tables for most of the match.
Taking roughly 10 hours and just over 3,000 hands, it wasn't quite a walkover but the final didn’t end up being quite as closely contested as some of the other matches in the eight-man series.
Cates was up almost $200,000 after about 1,000 hands and never let up, keeping the aggression on and taking creative lines that kept Sulsky on the back foot.
Sulsky made a brief comeback around the end of the eighth hour to keep it interesting, but Cates kept his foot on the gas and pulled away again shortly after.
As the inaugural All Star Showdown winner, Cates earns heads-up bragging rights over seven of the best players in the game.
He also takes home $550,000 – although a chunk of that will return to the hands of backer Tony G.
Sulsky earned $250,000 for his runner-up finish plus the undying respect of countless railbirds for his impressive play over his three matches.
Almost two full days of poker but no money to show for it.
Sulsky Outlasts Haxton, Cates Rolls Galfond
Also played over the weekend were the semi-final matches with Sulsky and Cates taking diametrically opposite routes to the final.
Sulsky matched up with Isaac Haxton in his semi-final and the two evenly matched pros played like it, battling back and forth over an epic 19 hours and 4,200 hands before Sulsky prevailed.
Cates on the other hand got himself into a $100k hole against Phil Galfond early in his match but stormed back over the last 1,500 hands to win fairly handily.
Galfond and Haxton, perhaps the two most marquee names in the event, wetn home empty-handed despite their performances in reaching the semi-final round.
For full recaps of all the matches in the eight-player challenge, check the PokerStars blog.
For an outline of the Challenge set-up and recaps of the quarter-finals, click here.
Grab a seat with Cates at his next live event - the PokerListings.com Battle of Malta.