Isaac Kempton Wins the WSOP Circuit Main Event in Just His Second Live Tournament

2020 WSOP Circuit – February
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Tampa, Florida
Event 10
$1,700 WSOPC Main Event (Single Re-Entry)
$1,000,000 Guaranteed
Entries:  1,162
Prize Pool:  $1,760,430
February 14-17, 2020

WSOP Circuit Main Event Champion Isaac Kempton
WSOP Circuit Main Event Champion Isaac Kempton

When Isaac Kempton stumbled across some poker videos on YouTube four years ago, he had no idea that it would lead to him winning $290,974 and a WSOP Circuit Main Event ring in only the second live tournament he had ever played.

“I saw some YouTube videos,” said Kempton, “probably through the auto-recommendation algorithm. It recommended some poker hands from the old High Stakes Poker days.” Kempton watched those videos, and then continued down the rabbit hole, consuming more and more poker content until he was ready to play it himself.

“This game looks really fun,” Kempton said, as he reminisced about his first exposure to poker. “And they’re playing for a ton of money. Maybe I should try this.” And try it he did.

“I just played for fun for two years,” said Kempton, who started out by playing free-money games online and little sit-n-go tournaments in his college dorm. “And then I decided, ‘Hey, this is really fun, and I think I’m pretty good at it. I’m going to try taking it seriously.’ So I started studying and trying to get better. And I was able to grind my way up, and now I’m here.”

Kempton has been primarily a cash game player, and if you don’t count the sit-n-gos from the college dorms, this WSOP Circuit Main Event was just the second live poker tournament that Kempton played.

Kempton was the overall chipleader after Day 1, and when the final 25 players bagged up at the end of Day 2, Kempton was once again atop the leaderboard. But when the final table was down to four players, Kempton found himself as the short stack.

Kempton doubled up with pocket sixes against Paul Balzano’s ace-nine, and then won a big three-way pot to eliminate Rob Manjura in fourth place and catapult into the chip lead. One hand later, Kempton eliminated Balzano in third place to get heads-up with David Jackson with a 2.3-to-1 chip lead.

Jackson was able to gain some ground on Kempton, but the tournament ended when Jackson shoved the river with Js9d (jack-high) on a board of 10s8h3d4dAs, and Kempton tank-called withQs8c to win the title with a pair of eights.

Along with the prize money and the coveted WSOP Circuit ring, Kempton receives an entry into the invitation-only WSOP Global Casino Championship. It won’t be easy, but if Kempton wins that event, he could have a WSOP Circuit ring and a WSOP Bracelet after playing only three live poker tournaments. And if that were to happen, you can bet that there would be a new generation of players inspired by watching videos of Isaac Kempton on YouTube.

Final Table Results:

1st:  Isaac Kempton  –  $290,974 + WSOP Circuit Ring
2nd:  David Jackson  –  $179,833
3rd:  Paul Balzano  –  $135,794
4th:  Rob Manjura  –  $103,434
5th:  James Calderaro  –  $79,480
6th:  Ioannis Patsourakis  –  $61,616
7th:  Francisco Gomez  –  $48,195
8th:  Brad Sailor  –  $38,039
9th:  Fares Santana  –  $30,297
10th:  John Ott  –  $24,353