Frank Stepuchin is planning a party as he heads into the World Poker Tour Gardens Poker Championship final table as chip leader this coming Tuesday.

With just six players remaining, the forthcoming WPT Gardens Poker Championship draws to a conclusion this Tuesday on PokerGO. The chip leader, who has more than double anyone else’s chips, is Vegas man Frank Stepuchin. We caught up with the man to beat as he prepares to take down what would be his first WPT title.

“I’m always positive about stuff and I’ve been telling anyone who asks that I’m going to win. I’m going to bring it!” says Stepuchin, who has no lack of confidence, going into the action with a massive 135 big blinds.

“We have a midget performer who’s going to lead us into the arena dressed in an army outfit with a tank commander helmet. I got the nickname ‘Frank the Tank’ from Jonathan Little a couple of summers ago.”

PokerGO has been your live stream home for the last two seasons of World Poker Tour action and more final table coverage is coming next month. Starting March 11, the L.A. Poker Classic, Gardens Poker Championship, and Borgata Winter Poker Open will crown champions live from Luxor’s Hyper X Esports Arena.

Big Money Equals Big Opportunity

Gardens Casino has been a terrific new tournament for World Poker Tour and the remaining six players are battling for a top prize of $548,825, which includes a $15,000 buy-in into the season-ending Baccarat Crystal WPT Tournament of Champions. Stepuchin is determined to make it there, and intends on having a party along the way.

“I have over a hundred people coming. As soon as I made it to the final six, I booked rooms and got the biggest suite at the Luxor which is 3,600 feet that’s just going to be the party room.”

With over 250 players taking part in the tournament, Stepuchin feels like the hiatus between making the final table in January has helped him. He put himself into his strong position early on the penultimate day of the tournament, two months ago.

“I think there were 24 left by the final day and then I was second in chips with 10 players remaining. I won a big pot and then I ran well. Half the table didn’t want to play a hand so they could ladder up. I was pretending to look at my hands and raising. They kept folding.”

WPT Gardens Poker Championship Final Table Payouts
1 $548,825*
2 $355,885
3 $259,880
4 $192,465
5 $144,595
6 $110,225

* First-prize amount includes the winner’s $15,000 buy-in into the season-ending Baccarat Crystal WPT Tournament of Champions.

Using Decades of Experience to His Advantage

Stepuchin is aware of the quality he’ll have to overcome at the final table but loves his position in the seat draw.

“Shannon is second in chips and immediately to my right, which is bad for him but good for me. I was already friends with Steve Sung before the tournament and he’s to the right of Shannon, third in chips, so as far as the set-up of chip-stacks goes, it’s perfect.”

Stepuchin learned poker as a young boy, in an Italian neighbor’s porch. He joined the Navy and didn’t play the game again until 1990 when he somehow ended up at a cash table with legendary American TV actor, Gary Coleman.

“I played Gary Coleman at the Normandie Casino in Gardena (now Larry Flynt’s Lucky Lady Casino) and he called the floor to give him two Yellow Pages books to sit on. It kept coming down to him or me, and I kept beating him. I said, ‘What you talking about?’ every time I won a pot!”

Laidback, Easy Going and Competitive

Always a social player, Stepuchin has been known to sink a few beers while he’s at the felt.

“I always drink beer when I play, I’m one of the few who do. Most of the guys don’t want to, I guess because they’ll play bad. I’m very good with quite a few beers.”

Known by many of the top-notch players in Vegas, Stepuchin credits his recent strong results in tournament poker with learning from the best.

“Ryan Riess and Joseph Cheong have been fun to play with. The best way to learn is by playing with the best. It’s like any sport in life.”

Self-improvement has taken Stepuchin so far, but can he close out the title? If he can, it’ll be a flagship victory for him. He’s visualizing that winning moment and sharing it with everyone around him.

“It’ll be an unbelievable feeling if I can win for me, my girlfriend and all my friends. I want to win it for them.”

Stepuchin will go into play as the chip leader. Here are how the six remaining players will line up at the WPT Gardens Poker Championship final table:

WPT Gardens Poker Championship Final Table
Seat Name Chips Big Blinds
1 Shannon Shorr 1,710,000 57
2 Frank Stepuchin 4,065,000 135
3 Brent Roberts 1,385,000 46
4 Jonathan Abdellatif 555,000 18
5 Ray Qartomy 820,000 27
6 Steve Sung 1,580,000 52

You can subscribe now to watch the WPT Gardens Poker Championship final table exclusively on PokerGO to see if Frank Stepuchin can bring the party to the table and collect the biggest title of his poker career so far.

Shannon Shorr, Brent Roberts, Ray Qartomy, Frank Stepuchin, Jonathan Abdellatif, Steve Sung