Iman Alsaden Climbs Back to Win RGPS St. Louis $800 Main Event ($77,192)

Iman Alsaden Climbs Back to Win RGPS St. Louis $800 Main Event ($77,192)

 Article written by Jim Murray via PokerNews / Photos taken by Spenser Sembrat via 8131 Media

After four opening flights, the total field of 586 was combined on Day 2 where just 71 returning hopefuls looked to create some room between them and the short stacks, and after thirteen hours and seventeen minutes, Iman Alsaden would go from a sub-20 big blind stack to defeating Day 1b chip leader, Michael Chilton, heads-up and being crowned champion of The RunGood Poker Series $800 Main Event here at Hollywood Casino in St. Louis, MO. Collecting $77,192 and the coveted RGPS ring in the process, and making it their biggest career score.

The combination of RGPS and the month of May have been stellar for Alsaden, as their best cash prior to today's was a sixth-place finish in the RGPS Kansas City Main Event, one year ago, where they pocketed $19k for the effort. Their victory here more than doubles their lifetime earnings, according to The Hendon Mob.

"It's been a steady climb," said Alsaden when talking about the trajectory of their poker tournament career up to this point. "I used to be a big cash game player, but then I went to Vegas for my birthday in 2022 during the World Series and I was like, I'm going to play some of these tournaments." But things didn't exactly go according to plan. "I did so bad!" Said Alsaden, but that would only fuel the fire. "I'm very averse to doing bad, so I said to myself, I'm going to learn tournaments." And if you watched Alsaden's performance at the final table this evening, it would be obvious to anyone it was that exact passion and determination that would power them through a grueling heads-up battle and overcome multiple big chip deficits to take the crown.

Alsaden's plans for the summer include another stop at the WSOP where the goal is to simply have fun. "I'll probably play the main and sell action to my friends for no mark-up, and just have a good time and hope for some more good luck."

Final Table Results

Main FT
Main FT
Place Player Hometown Prize
1 Iman Alsaden Kansas City, MO $77,192
2 Michael Chilton Paduca, MS $51,548
3 Phil Youngclaus St. Louis, MO $37,915
4 Jeff Riebeling Columbia, IL $28,252
5 Paul Fehlig St. Louis, MO $21,292
6 Chris Audrain St. Louis, MO $16,233
7 Mike Hurley St. Louis, MO $12,521
8 Brian Jones St. Louis, MO $9,773
9 Jesse Watson Canton, IL $7,719

Final Day Action

Considering players were already in the money at the start of Day 2, tables broke down fast and often as the shorter stacks tried to make up ground. The field was nearly cut in half by the first break.

Falling throughout the day were last year's champ, Keith Heine (50th-$1,619), former Day 1a big stacks Jason Aken (44th-$1,829), and Kenny Allen (24-$2,852), RGPS Black Chip Bounty Champ, Keith Murrell (18th-$3,394), and young guns Alvin Lewis (32nd-$2,428), and Jackson Turrentine (10th-$7,719). Turrentine would unfortunately be eliminated on the final table bubble when his pocket tens were out flopped by the KJ of chip leader Chilton.

Final Table Action

The nine-handed final table fell to eight almost immediately when Jesse Watson got it all-in with KQ against the 77 of Phil Youngclaus. Youngclaus would go on to flop a set and end Watson's day.

It would be two full levels before we lost another player. Brian Jones was the first player to cross the 1m chip mark early on but would come into the final table in the middle of the pack. Jones had been chipping down when a key hand between him and Paul Fehlig took place. Jones called off about a third of his stack and lost a flip with 44 against the AK of Fehlig. From there Jones would be the recipient of a little more bad luck and go on to be the 8th place finisher when his AK was outdrawn by the AQ of Jeff Riebeling.

Mike Hurley was another player that came in with average stack hoping to make a move sooner than later, and at one point, had chipped up nicely, but was soon cooler'd by Chilton when his ten-high straight fell to Chilton's queen-high straight in a big pot. Hurley would be the seventh-place finisher a few hands later when his KK were cracked by the AQ of the future champ, Alsaden. However, he would take home over $12k for the finish, his largest career cash.

It would be a frustrating final table for Chris Audrain, who bagged the overall chip lead heading into Day 2, but just couldn't find his footing late in the day. He found himself with aggressive opponents like Youngclaus, Alsaden, and Jones on his left, and was forced to raise-fold to a number of three-bets and reshoves. Audrain's day would end when he was eliminated in sixth place after being pipped with A7 by the A9 of Alsaden. Alsaden flopped top pair right away to seal the door shut and send Audrain home.

With nearly $1m in career tournament earnings, Fehlig is no stranger to the pressure of final tables. He was able to apply it to the max to build a sizeable stack, and at one point, even doubling through Jones, but would give a lot of it back in a misfired bluff against Chilton. He would hit the rail in fifth-place when his 77 failed to hold against the AJ of Riebeling.

Riebling would head out the door shortly after in fourth place when he got it in good with AK against the A10 of Chilton, but couldn't hold on a ten-high flop. This marks Riebeling's second-highest cash.

Youngclaus came in as the second shortest stack, but was immediately able to eliminate Watson in ninth, the only player at the table he covered. Youngclaus then went on to expertly use that newly acquired stack to continuously put his opponents in tough spots. However, his day would come to an end when he got it all-in from the small blind with A2 against the A3 of Alsaden in the big blind. A situation in which the hand is chopped a high percentage of the time went south quickly on the 733 flop. Youngclaus could not recover from there and would hit the payout desk to collect his biggest career cash.

Michael Chilton
Michael Chilton

Heads-up play started with Alsaden having a more than 2:1 chip lead over Chilton, but a grueling battle lasting over three hours would see both players bouncing back and forth between the brink of elimination, and having a more than a 5:1 lead over their opponent. Exhausted, they were even compelled to take half a level to discuss the possibility of a chop, but when no deal could be reached, the gladiators battled on.

Things would come to a head when Chilton put in a hefty raise from the button with Q10 and was jammed on by Alsaden. Chilton was convinced he committed himself and made the call. The board ran out in Alsaden's favor and they were crowned champion. This finish would more than double Chilton's best cash as well.

This concludes the PokerNews coverage of the RGPS St. Louis Main Event. Check out our event hub for all of the action, and look out for coverage of major events elsewhere around the poker world.