Hellmuth Headlines Bay 101 Final

Phil Hellmuth
'I've been working really hard on my game.'

A final table chock full of big stars, emerging young players and veterans with a chance to finally book that big score will provide a fitting end to the 2010 edition of the World Poker Tour’s Bay 101 Shooting Star Friday.

One of poker's biggest names will dawn the marquee in San Jose as Phil Hellmuth Jr. will come in second in chips in an attempt to win his first WPT title.

The 11-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner will be making his third WPT final table and a comeback of sorts, having admitted 2009 was his worst year in poker.

"I've been working really hard on my game," Hellmuth told PokerListings. "It feels really good. I'm really happy and I'm pleased with the way I'm playing."

Daniel Negreanu recently criticized Hellmuth, claiming the Poker Brat wasn't taking the necessary steps to improve his game in an ever changing poker landscape.

However, Hellmuth now says he's been working with players like Brandon Cantu, Ted Forrest and David "The Maven" Chicotsky to adjust.

A plan that appears to have worked out here at Bay 101.

"We've been talking about some of the Internet kids and their techniques and how they're playing," he said. "They seem to be very mathematical. Everything is about the math.

"And I've been learning because I have to figure out how they're playing and devise a strategy to beat them."

Armed with a better understanding of what the players around him are up to, Hellmuth will head into the final table confident and ready to get to work.

"I think I have a great chance if my reads stay strong," he said. "But I've still got a lot of work left."

Now, he says even his biggest critic has changed his tune.

"Daniel's in my corner now," he said. "He likes the fact that I'm trying some new school stuff."

However, it's still going to take all Hellmuth has to get past a final six with a combination of experience, youthful exuberance and poker skill.

Andy Seth, the runner-up in one of the many $1,500 events at the WSOP this past summer with a list of online poker accomplishments a mile long will come in with the chip lead and a reputation as the player whose been giving Hellmuth the most headaches thus far.

Plus, after an 11th place finish here last year and a ninth in Biloxi earlier this season, Dan O'Brien will finally get a crack at a big score here and has the chips to make some real noise.

Despite having played with the poise of a veteran pro, turning his short stack into a big one on the event's penultimate day, McLean Karr has just a few preliminary cashes around the circuit on his resume.

However, a recent run all the way to 62nd in the inaugural PokerStars NAPT Las Vegas and a boatload of online experience have set the U.S. Air Force Academy Applied Math and Statistics grad turned poker player on the edge of something rather large here in the Bay Area.

In the meantime, Hasan Habib will come in to his third WPT final table fifth in chips. He has yet to book a win, but does have five final tables at the WSOP and a bracelet there, proving he knows how to get it done.

Matt Keikoan has also won at the WSOP and took down the WSOP Circuit event in Lake Tahoe last year. After a seventh and a ninth on the WPT over the past few years, he will enter his first final table as the short stack.

Known for the loudest fans on tour, San Jose will be treated to a final filled with big names and dramatic story lines destined to go down as one of the most exciting in World Poker Tour history.

Action will begin at 4 p.m. PT. For comprehensive coverage, tune in to PokerListings' Live Updates and News.

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