Life of the Party: Frank “The Tank” Stepuchin Having a Blast at WPT HyperX Esports Arena
Back in January, the $10,000 buy-in World Poker Tour (WPT) Gardens Poker Championship played down from 253 players to the final table of six. On Tuesday, they will convene at HyperX Esports Arena inside the Luxor in Las Vegas to play down to a winner, who will walk away with a $548,825 first-place prize.
Leading the pack with a more than 2:1 chip lead over his closest competition is Frank Stepuchin, who is known as “Frank the Tank” among his family and friends. If you’re not familiar with Stepuchin, his Twitter profile offers a good summary of the man:
“I’m a professional at enjoying life! I challenge all of you in or out of a ring to join me. Carpe Diem.”
Stepuchin, a real estate developer, likes to have fun while playing poker, and he plans on putting that on full display during his WPT final table on Tuesday.
Frank the Tank Comes to Vegas
The day before his final table, Stepuchin was inside HyperX Esports Arena watching David “ODB” Baker play his way to the WPT L.A. Poker Classic title. It was something he hoped to replicate, though unlike Baker who had less than a week hiatus before playing out the final table, Stepuchin had nearly two months to wait.
“I kind of just play by the seat of my pants, by gut instinct mixed with some beverages."
“I absolutely love it,” Stepuchin told PokerNews about the break. “The foremost reason is all my friends from all over the country, literally, have had almost two months to get off work, get cheaper airline tickets, so it’s great. I love it. People have come up to me in tournaments I’ve played since then and said it sucks I’ve lost momentum. Momentum-schmentum.”
Indeed, Stepuchin didn’t seem as concerned about the upcoming final table as he was about ensuring everyone, including himself, of having a good time.
“Over 100 friends coming in. My girlfriend’s son, John, had ‘Frank the Tank’ t-shirts. Everyone who wants one can have one,” Stepuchin explained. “We’re starting with a party suite we have. It’s going to be party central. I’m not boasting; I’m just being positive, I’m going to win. Win or lose, it’s gonna be fun. I’ve invited all my competition to the party, they’re all friends now. Everyone is invited, the more the merrier.”
There’s also a rumor that "Frank the Tank" has a special entrance planned.
Preparing for the Final Table
The final table delay opened the door for the final six players to study one another, but that’s not Stepuchin’s way.
“I kind of just play by the seat of my pants, by gut instinct mixed with some beverages,” he said with a smile. Obviously, it’s a style that works for him as he dominated on his way to making the WPT Gardens Poker Championship final table back in January.
Stepuchin continued: “I’ve read one poker book in my life. I think it was a David Sklansky book. This old guy in Wendover, Nevada, when I first started playing in casinos back in 2003 playing $1-$5 spread limit, he gave me a book. I read it and enjoyed it, but I haven’t read any books since then.”
Is a Career Score in Store?
While Stepuchin started playing poker a decade before, he didn’t notch his first tournament cash until 2013. Since then, he’s amassed $354,625 in tournament earnings including a career-high $149,220 for topping a 2,070-entry field to win the 2018 Larry Flynt Grand Slam of Poker Quantum #7: $375 NLH.
Other highlights on his poker resumé include 12th in the 2016 World Series of Poker Event #52: $3,000 NLH for $32,320, 16th in the 2018 WPT Borgata Poker Open Championship for $29,996, and $20,000 for placing sixth in the 2016 Venetian DeepStack Extravaganza II Event #5: $600 NLH.
If Stepuchin finishes in fourth place or better on Tuesday, he’ll set a new career-high score. He can even equal his entire lifetime total by finishing either first or second. With his stack, there’s a good shot that could happen.
The WPT Gardens Poker Championship final table will play out at 4 p.m. local time on Tuesday. The winner of that event will take home a $548,825 first-place prize, and of course PokerNews will bring you a recap of all the action.
Images courtesy of WPT/Joe Giron/PokerPhotoArchive.
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