Perry Shiao celebrated his birthday last week on the first day of the World Series of Poker’s “Monster Stack” tournament.
The 25-year-old poker dealer from Pembroke Pines, Fla., received his present Wednesday.
Shiao, playing in only his second career WSOP event, won the $1,500 buy-in No-limit Hold ’em “Monster Stack” event before an enthusiastic crowd at the Rio Convention Center.
Shiao defeated Eric Place of Willington, Nova Scotia, in a heads-up duel that lasted almost three hours and collected $1,286,942 for his first career cash at a WSOP event.
“It’s the best birthday present I ever gave myself,” Shiao said. “We came out here for 20 something days because I won a tournament in Florida that gave us the funds to come here to play four or five bracelet events here. But never in a million years I would think I would be the winner of the Monster Stack.”
The “Monster Stack” event, in which players start with 15,000 chips, started Friday and drew 7,192 entrants while taking an extra day to complete. It is the seventh-largest event in WSOP history and third-largest tournament this summer at the WSOP behind the “Colossus” event and last week’s “Millionaire Maker.”
Shiao, who also is fluent in Mandarin and Taiwanese, had less than $9,000 in career earnings before Wednesday, according to the Global Poker Index. Shiao said he was part of a six-way chop for first place during an event in April at the Isle Casino in Pompano Beach, Fla., and won almost $7,500 that funded his trip to Las Vegas.
Shiao entered the final table seventh in chips out of the nine players and faced nearly a 2-to-1 chip disadvantage when heads-up play began, as Place eliminated Kevin Kung in fourth place and former WSOP bracelet winner Asi Moshe in third.
“I stayed sharp,” Shiao said. “He knocked out somebody and he just chipped up, so I didn’t look much into that he had a bigger advantage. I believe I’m a great heads-up player, and as you can see online, I put a lot of pressure on him.”
Place maintained his chip lead through the first break, but Shiao began to take control during the second hour of heads-up play and won a key pot late to grab a commanding lead. Facing an all-in bet and a board of 4-4-K-3-5, Place took approximately five minutes to make a decision before folding his hand and giving Shiao a 4-to-1 chip lead.
Almost 20 minutes later, Shiao called Place’s all-in bet and made the winning flush on the turn to set off a wild celebration among Shiao’s friends.
“I was trying to stay on the ground, but I just couldn’t,” Shiao said. “I almost swallowed my gum, and when I got up I had a little tears, but it’s all good.”
Shiao, who deals at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Fla., said he will use the prize money to invest in property in his home state and expects to play more tournament poker.
“We just came out here to chase the dream,” Shiao said. “I have a car, I have three houses. I didn’t come here to play so I could buy a car or a house. I don’t know what I’ll buy.
“I love this game. I’m glad everything happened.”
Place took home $796,834 for his second career WSOP cash.
Caio Toledo of Brazil provided one of the most memorable moments from the first three weeks of the WSOP, as he busted out in eighth place and then proposed to his girlfriend, Fernanda, who said yes.
Contact reporter David Schoen at email@example.com or 702-387-5203. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidSchoenLVRJ.