Karr Comes Back for Bay 101 Win

Mclean Karr
'I can't even express to you how happy I am.'

Making a miraculous comeback all the way from from 27th of 27 players remaining to the last man standing, McLean Karr took down the WPT’s Bay 101 Shooting Star in San Jose early Saturday morning.

Karr, a U.S. Air Force Academy Applied Math and Statistics grad turned poker player who found his way into the event through a $1,200 satellite said it was at least the second biggest moment of his life.

"It's a close call, I think when I finally graduated from the Air Force Academy and the Thunderbirds came rolling over and we threw our hats in the air and said, "You can't take this diploma back now, I made it," that was pretty close and a bigger sigh of relief," he said.

"Here I was still going to be a big winner even if I came second. It was still going to be my biggest cash ever, but obviously this is really cool. I can't even express to you how happy I am. I don't even think I'll realize for another few days."

Although he was once the shortest stack left in the event, Karr, 28, said he never gave up hope.

"I definitely thought it was possible," he said. "But it was definitely a long shot. I've played a lot of tournaments and there have been times where I've gotten down really short and came back, so I knew it was possible.

"I knew it was going to be an uphill battle against this field though. There were a lot of great players."

In fact, when the final six began Friday afternoon, one of the biggest names in the game donned the marquee at Bay 101.

However, the lights on Phil Hellmuth's tournament were turned off fairly quickly.

The 11-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner lost the first few pots he played and before long, found himself all in with queens against chip leader Andy Seth's A J.

The king-high flop kept Hellmuth safe, but he had a sweat when a ten on the turn gave Seth two more outs to a straight.

The crowd sat on the edge of their seats expecting a Hellmuth double up, but were suddenly shocked into silence when an ace fell on the river sending him out.

Hellmuth stared blankly at the board before standing up, walking to the rail and falling to his knees in anguish.

He cupped his head in his hands and kneeled on the floor in the fetal position rocking back and forth for several minutes before finally getting up, letting the WPT TV crew interview him and signing Seth's new, "I busted Phil Hellmuth," t-shirt.

After a few minutes, he walked off the WPT stage, unlucky for the fourth time, with a smile and a wave to the crowd chanting his name.

After Hellmuth's emotional exit in sixth, Seth appeared to be cruising before Karr bluffed him off an 800k pot and the chip lead with a big river bet on an ace-high board forcing a fold.

It was the moment Karr really thought winning was possible.

"It gave me that confidence that I can knock heads with the best of them here," he said. "It was like, 'Let's play some cards.'"

WSOP bracelet winner Matt Keikoan was the next player out, running ace-seven into Andy Seth's pocket nines.

He was soon followed to the rail by Hasan Habib, who committed his chips with a flush draw against Karr's flopped trips and was sent home fourth from his third WPT final table when Karr turned a full house.

A short stacked Dan O'Brien then stepped out of the way third, running jack-deuce into Karr's sevens and Karr took a better than 2:1 lead into heads up with Seth.

Seth soon doubled with jack-nine versus ace-four when he flopped two pair and before long he pulled even.

As the clock struck 2 a.m. PT it began to look as though the sun might rise before a champion would be crowned in San Jose.

However, Seth pushed with fours soon after. Karr called with eights and after a board of blanks, the $878,500 first-place prize was his.

"I got a little bit of luck and picked some good spots and, wow, here I am," he said.

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