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Heng Zhang Wins CPPT bestbet Jacksonville Mystery Bounty Main Event

Poker Pro From St. Augustine, Florida Tops Field of 357 Entries To Earn $74,010 and $51,000 In Bounties


The 2023 Card Player Poker Tour bestbet Jacksonville series ran from Aug. 10-21. A total of 1,885 entries were made across the nine events on the schedule, with $1,033,755 in total prize money paid out along the way. The largest chunk came from the $1,700 buy-in CPPT bestbet Jacksonville no-limit hold’em mystery bounty main event. With 357 entries, the centerpiece of the festival blew away its $300,00 guarantee to create a final prize pool of $537,285. After three starting flights and two more days of action, Heng Zhang emerged victorious with the title and $74,010 from the main prize pool.

The 34-year-old poker pro from St. Augustine, Florida also earned $51,000 from nine mystery bounty payouts, bringing his total haul for the event to $125,010. Among the nine bounties he snagged was the second-largest available: a $25,000 payout.

Zhang pulls the $25,000 bountyThis was the second time in Zhang’s nine-year career as a poker pro that he found himself at the final table of a CPPT bestbet Jacksonville main event. Back in 2015, he made it down to the final three, eventually earning $69,252 as the third-place finisher.

Zhang said he didn’t feel any pressure to outdo that performance, though.

“I was actually feeling pretty chill coming into the final table. I wasn’t really focused on the win, I just focused on every hand,” said Zheng after coming out on top.

This was the second-largest payday of Zhang’s career, trailing only the $81,000 he earned for a 75th-place finish in the 2021 World Series of Poker main event. With his latest win, his career tournament earnings now sit at $450,431.

In addition to the title and the money, Zhang also earned 600 Card Player Player of the Year points for the win. This was his second POY-qualified score of the year It moved him within reach of the top 1,000 in the 2023 POY race standings presented by Global Poker.

This event began with three starting flights, with each playing down to the top 12.5 percent of the field. That resulted in 47 players that officially made the money and moved on to day 2. At that point, the mystery bounties were introduced, with $178,500 to be awarded across 47 payouts ranging from $500 to $50,000. The largest was drawn by Wendy Lu, who had finished second in the kickoff event of the series roughly a week earlier for $38,577.

Plenty of notables were among the 38 to hit the rail on day 2, including HPT Florida champion Jermaine Gerlin (45th), ladies event winner Kim Sukyung (39th), 2017 CPPT bestbet Jacksonville main event champion Jared Reinstein (28th), ladies event runner-up Mary Darnell (26th), 2021 CPPT bestbet Jacksonville main event champion Ben Scrogins (23rd), 2013 CPPT bestbet Jacksonville main event seventh-place finisher Eddy Mroczkowski (20th), 2022 WSOP $3,000 no-limit hold’em event runner-up Toby Boas (18th), WSOP Circuit ring winner Jason May (17th), Wendy Lu (14th), and 2018 CPPT bestbet Jacksonville main event fifth-place finisher Brian Arbaugh (13th).

Michael Jagroo began the final table with the leadBy the time the final table was set, Zhang sat in second chip position with his 1,530,000 trailing only the 2,545,000 of Michael Jagroo.

Thad McNulty was the first player to hit the rail at the final table. The Jacksonville local started as the short stack, and couldn’t get much going at the final table. In the end, he moved all-in for 375,000 from the button with KSpade Suit4Club Suit and Alex Kimpel isolated the action with a reshove from the small blind holding AHeart SuitKHeart Suit. Neither player improved and McNulty was awarded $7,401 for his ninth-place finish. The score brought his lifetime earnings to just shy of $585,000.

Jamison Alford managed to make this final table despite coming into day 2 of this event as the very shortest stack. His run ultimately ended in eighth place, though, when his JDiamond SuitJClub Suit was outflipped by the AHeart SuitKHeart Suit of Zhang. Zhang hit a backdoor flush to send Alford home with $9,374 and one $500 bounty payout.

Alan Franco was the next to fall. As with Alford, it was a classic preflop race. Franco’s AHeart SuitKSpade Suit was unable to overcome the QHeart SuitQSpade Suit of Tyler Chen and he was eliminated in seventh place ($12,014). Franco also drew a $10,000 bounty on day 2.

Despite scoring that knockout, Chen soon followed Franco to the payout desk. He was involved in a three-way all-in with the hands as follows:

Chen – AHeart SuitJSpade Suit
Long – KClub SuitQClub Suit
Kimpel – ASpade SuitKHeart Suit

The flop came KSpade SuitQHeart Suit3Spade Suit, giving Long kings and queens to pull ahead. The turn was the JHeart Suit, giving Chen and Kimpel straight draws. The river was the AClub Suit, giving Kimpel aces and kings to double through Long, while eliminating Chen in sixth place. Chen cashed for $15,577, to go along with the $3,500 in bounties that he pulled.

Alex KimpelJagroo started the day with a healthy lead, but couldn’t get much going at the final table. In his final hand he shoved with 10Diamond Suit9Club Suitfrom the small blind and Zhang, who sat atop the chip counts by this point, made the call with ASpade Suit7Heart Suit. Zhang turned a pair of aces and held from there to eliminate Jagroo in fifth place. He was awarded $20,432, along with $12,000 in bounty payouts.

Kimpel lost a big chunk of his stack with a flush draw facing the top pair of Chris Long. He soon found himself all-in with AClub SuitJHeart Suit facing the pocket nines of a surging Zhang. Both players improved on the flop, but Zhang’s set was still well ahead of Kimpel’s top pair. Kimpel was unable to find a miracle runout and was eliminated in fourth place ($27,106). Kimpel took home even more in bounties than he did from the main prize pool, accruing $27,500 across six bounties.

Zhang continued his reign of terror by busting Paul Chung in third place ($36,367). Chung-three-bet shoved AClub Suit2Diamond Suit from the small blind facing a button open from Zhang, who called holding the ASpade Suit9Spade Suit. Zhang made a pair of nines on the turn to take down the pot. Chung left with $36,367 and bounties worth $6,000.

After knocking out Chung, Zhang drew the $25,000 mystery bounty, leaving just two bounties left: one $5,000 bounty and one $2,000 bounty, both of which would go to the winner of the heads-up duel for the title.

Chris LongZhang started with 8,620,000 to Long’s 2,125,000. Long scored a double up and then won a few pots to essentially level the playing field. After that point, though, Zhang began to pull away again.

By the time the final hand was dealt, Long was down to fewer than 12 big blinds. He limped in from the button with 7Spade Suit6Spade Suit and Zhang checked his option with 7Diamond Suit5Diamond Suit.

The flop came down JClub Suit7Heart Suit2Diamond Suit and Zhang checked. Long went all in for 1,755,000, and Zhang went into the tank before making the call. The QSpade Suit didn’t change anything, but the 5Heart Suit on the end gave Zhang two pair and the pot. Long was awarded $49,340 for his runner-up showing.

Here is a look at the payouts and POY points awarded at the final table:

Place Player Earnings POY Points
1 Heng Zhang $74,010 600
2 Chris Long $49,340 500
3 Paul Chung $36,367 400
4 Alexander Kimpel $27,106 300
5 Michael Jagroo $20,432 250
6 Tyler Chen $15,577 200
7 Alan Franco $12,014 150
8 Jamison Alford $9,374 100
9 Thad McNulty $7,401 50

Check out a replay of the final table action from bestbetLIVE!: