Cary Katz entered the PCA 2018 $100k Super High Roller finale with the second-shortest stack, and he remained near the bottom for the vast majority of the play on the star-studded final table. He even called himself "a fish the others milk" on the live stream.
But that wasn't how things unfolded this time. Katz turned on an invincible mode and eventually reached the pinnacle, outlasting the 46-entry competition. He walked away champion, scooping $1,492,340 along with the most prestigious title of his career.
"I won some high rollers before but this is definitely the most prestigious one so I'm very proud of it," Katz said about his victory.
Katz, 47, is well-known to the high roller scene, he's a regular competitor in his hometown Las Vegas. He's racked up $13.7 million in live tournament cashes so far.
Katz also has a strong background in business. He founded the College Loan Corporation back in 1999 and drove the company to the seventh largest student loan company in the United States during his 15 years as CEO.
Interestingly, Katz skipped the first day and registered straight into Day 2. "On an hourly basis, I did great. The reason is, my Atlanta Falcons were playing on Day 1 so I said I'm just gonna late reg with 40 bigs, it's plenty," he explained that there was simply the NFL playoff game behind his late entrance.
Katz was five times all-in at risk but ended up doubling every time. While his first double came through Justin Bonomo, the other four were exclusively at the expense of Bryn Kenney.
Katz had only words of praise for Kenney, who's earned himself a nickname Mr Bahamas: "I felt it was definitely Bryn's tournament. I think he just got really unlucky at the end. Nobody played better than Bryn this tournament. He definitely outplayed me," Katz said.
While Kenney landslided the table for the better part of the day, he eventually fell short of heads-up. That left Katz and Bonomo fight for the title, with Bonomo slightly in front. Katz soon pushed himself into a significant lead with quads over full house. After a few more hands, it was all over. Bonomo moved all-in with ace-king and Katz looked him up with pocket eights. A harmless board left Bonomo with a second place finish worth a handsome $1,077 800.
Bryn Kenney may have finished in third place, but he put arguably the best performance in the finale. He was steam-rolling over the table straight from the start. He took care of Sam Greenwood in aces-over-kings cooler, sending him out in seventh place.
Start-of-day chip leader Ivan Luca then knocked out Isaac Haxton to regain his lead just before the first break. Luca, however, hit a steep slope thereafter. His downhill began when he pulled off a triple barrel bluff against Kenney who picked him off with pocket fives.
The two tangled again on the next hand which turned to be Luca's farewell to the tournament. The Argentinian four-bet shoved with ace-jack but Kenney had him on the ropes with ace-king. The board didn't change anything and Luca left in fifth place.
At that point, Kenney possessed two-thirds of all chips in play with four players left. The only player who resisted Kenney's dominance was Katz. He kept doubling through Kenney, keeping his short stack afloat.
After bossing the table, Kenney couldn't eventually add better than his third third-place finish to his packed résumé. Kenney is the most successful player in the PCA Super High Roller history with five cashes including a title from 2016.
He looked to be pairing it today, but the all-in situations were going the opposite way.
"In poker, you have to teach yourself not really to be disappointed with how the all-ins go and just more about how you played. I think I played a flawless final table, I'm honest. It just couldn't go my way at the end," Kenney said about his effort.
Kenney took his beat with class: "I can't really be upset about that because there is some luck in the game which makes it a great game. It happens, it's tough when you have eight million chips four-handed, but that's poker."
The Bahamas have been treating Kenney well over the years. His $686,960 payday from today allowed him to surpass $4 million in PCA Super High Roller earnings.
"It's sick. I feel I'm gonna win before I come off the plane and usually I have a big result in the $100k right off the bat," he admitted that he annually travels to the PCA with a huge confidence.
Kenney wasn't the only player at the table who had to bite some bad beats. Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu was in the epicentre of the drama as well.
With four players left, Negreanu got crippled to his last 2.5 blinds after getting three-outed by Bonomo on a river.
The next three hands saw Negreanu make a tremendous come back. He tripled up his micro stack with ace-high to start climbing. Then he scored a double with ten-nine against Kenney's kings, spiking quads on the board. On the very next hand, Negreanu doubled at the expense of Kenney yet again, winning a coin flip to rise into second place on the leaderboard.
But ultimately, it didn't matter as the Kid Poker eventually hit the rail in fourth place. Bonomo proved to be Negreanu's nemesis as he sent him back to a nub with a double in a fair race. Bonomo then finished Negreanu off for good, cracking his kings with ace-jack. Negreanu settled for $521,140 after riding a wild roller-coaster on the final table.
"You get a little frustrated but then you look at your whole career and in 20 years I've been doing so good, getting so many of these results. And obviously, at the end, you have to be lucky and the key pots I need to win, I wasn't," Negreanu described his emotions following the ups and downs he experienced today.
PCA 2018 $100k Super High Roller results:
1st - Cary Katz, USA, $1,492,340
2nd - Justin Bonomo, USA, $1,077,800
3rd - Bryn Kenney, USA, $686,960
4th - Daniel Negreanu, Canada, $521,140
5th - Ivan Luca, Argentina, $402,700
6th - Isaac Haxton, USA, $307,940
7th - Sam Greenwood, Canada, $248,720