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Hall Books Comeback Win at the 2011 PCA
San Fransisco student and part-time online poker pro Galen Hall came back from an almost 4:1 chip deficit heads up to win the 2011 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure main event early Sunday morning.
"I'm very excited," he said. "My focus all week, 12-hours a day, has been on playing poker as well as I can and playing every hand as well as I can. It was a very long and gruelling final table and it was also a long, gruelling heads-up match.
"Now that it's all over, it's kind of hard to just turn it off and shift gears a little, but I'm sure when it hits me it'll be pretty surreal."
Hall is ranked in the top 50 online players on Pocket Fives and cashed for over $1 million playing online poker last year.
However, the $2.3 million first prize at the PCA represents just his third live cash and by far his biggest.
Although he said the win might mean he'll play a few more live events on the poker circuit, the 24-year old has plans to attend business school at Stanford University in the coming year.
"I could go the rest of my life and never get another score this big," he said. "It's hard to top this, so there's going to have to be an evaluation process before I decide what I really want to do.
"I know for sure I won't become a full time live circuit pro, but I'm not really sure right now what I want to do."
The eight-man final began Saturday at 4 p.m. ET with Chris Oliver holding a massive chip lead.
As Canadian Philippe Plouffe, American Max Weinberg, Panamanian Bolivar Palacios and the two most experienced players at the table, WPT and WSOP finalist Mike Sowers and NAPT and WPT finalist Sam Stein, all fell by the wayside, Oliver maintained a clear advantage.
Once Romanian businessman Anton Ionel stepped out of the way third, he took a 3:1 chip lead into the heads-up match with Hall and had it up close to 4:1 at one point.
The tide turned quickly, however, when both players flopped two pair and Hall's aces up were better doubling him up.
Minutes later he got it in with kings against a weak ace from Oliver, held and took a commanding lead himself.
But even before that, when he used a four to make a one-card wheel on a river that also gave Oliver twos full of aces, Hall made a heady fold facing an all-in check-raise from Oliver that kept him in the match and may have been the key to the win.
"When he check raises me it really polarizes his range to four-six straights or better," he explained. "The only reason he's betting that much is for value.
"So when you think about it it's a pretty trivial fold. It's just the absolute value of my hand that makes it look hard."
After losing the lead for the first time at the final table, a clearly frustrated Oliver looked defeated and soon was.
In the final hand, he got it in with queens versus ace-eight, but Hall flopped two pair to secure the victory.
The 2011 PokerStars Caribbean Advednture drew a record 1,560 players to the Atlantis Hotel & Casino on Paradise Island in the Bahamas creating a $15,132,000 prize pool.
Here's how the final table finished up:
1 Galen Hall $2,300,000
2 Chris Oliver $1,800,000
3 Anton Ionel $1,350,000
4 Sam Stein $1,000,000
5 Mike Sowers $700,000
6 Bolivar Palacios $450,000
7 Max Weinberg $300,000
8 Philippe Plouffe $202,000