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Finally, it’s in the books! The 2019 Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT) Korea ran an action-packed 10-day long roster, drawing in a total of 3,247 entries who competed for a share of a mind-boggling ₩3,654,222,800 (~₹22.32 Crores) in prize money that was distributed at the series. The series turned out to be the biggest and most popular live poker festival organized by PokerStars in Korea.
The flagship event at the stop, the ₩1.8 Million Main Event ran from April 12 to 14. With 581 entries, the Main Event created a new record for the biggest APPT turnout on Korean soil. If 153 players made it to Day 2 of the event, a busy Sunday saw only 12 among them coming back to chase the title and the ₩198 Million (~₹1.21 Crores) top prize. It was Hong Kong’s Sparrow Cheung (cover image) who defeated Tomomitsu Ono heads-up to win the prestigious title and become the new APPT Korea champion!
Representing Team India at the series were Yasheel Doddanavar and Meherzad Munsaf who were both seen in action reasonably early. Doddanavar fired two bullets in the Main Event on Day 1B, and though he was more successful in his second attempt, it was still not enough to take him to Day 2 as he was eliminated in Level 6. Munsaf unsuccessfully fired one bullet on Day 1A and twice on Day 1B but couldn’t advance to Day 2 either time.
For Cheung, winning the event admittedly was less about the money than the honor of taking it down, as he said, “This is my tenth year playing PokerStars tournaments and this is the first Main Event title for me, and I’ve known Danny [McDonagh], Lorie [Lagrosas] and everyone for a long time, and it’s been a long time since I last saw them – maybe half a year. We are like family, and for me to take the Main Event title here [Paradise City, Korea] and have them celebrate with me is very special – and very exciting for me.”
Cheung came into the limelight in 2017 when he posted a record 67 cashes in a single year. While he boasts of over $1,500,000 in live earnings, this is Cheung`s career-first APPT Main Event title.
Cheung had carried a respectable stack of 1,330,000 to the final day, but his ride to victory wasn’t an easy one. He was the shortest stack entering the final table, but thirty minutes into the final table play, Cheung found a double up holding pocket rockets against Tetsuro Tomita’s big slick. It was a roller-coaster final table ride for Cheung as he kept losing large pots only to win back chips to get back in contention.
“I was excited just to make the final table because in 2017 I finished in 11th or 12th, I forget which, after running queens into aces and I was so sad, so this time, just getting to the final table I was already very happy.”
Cheung recalled a memorable hand on the final table. “The hand that stands out the most was having pocket tens against Shaq’s [Hung Sheng Lin] ace-ten for around 36-37 big blinds – that was a big pot. And then when he flopped the ace… Oh! I’m ready to leave, and then river… Ten! A one-outer ten, yeah… that’s poker. And all my friends on the rail were shouting together for me, it was a special moment.”
With only 12 players making it to the final day, it wasn’t long before the final table was reached. Wenwei Chen (12th for ₩12,750,000) was the first of the 12 returning players to exit. With Ching Wei Chen (11th for ₩₩12,750,000) and Yinsheng Yang (₩15,500,000) hitting the rail in quick succession, the final table was formed.
Hung Sheng Lin (3,000,000) was the frontrunner coming into the final day, and he maintained his lead heading into the final table. He was followed by Tomomitsu Ono (2,605,000) and Tao Fan (2,380,000).
Final Table Chip Counts
Final Table Recap
Winner of the APPT Korea ₩250K NLH Xinglong Huang was eyeing his second title of the series but was the first final table elimination in ninth place.
Cheung then narrowly missed hitting the rail when his ace-ten ran into Jiang Chen’s jack-nine with the latter flopping a pair of nines. An ace on the river rescued Cheung from the verge of elimination.
It was Mengdian Peng who went out next in eighth place after his all-in shove for 1,225,000 from the hijack found a caller in Tao Fan from the button. Peng’s pocket sevens were no match for Fan’s pocket kings.
The next hand saw Hidong Gu exit in seventh place, with his king-queen falling prey to Cheung’s pocket sevens.
Tetsuro Tomita then moved all in from under the gun for 1,150,000 and Chung moved all-in as well for 2,250,000. The cards were tabled, Tomita showing against Cheung’s . The flop saw Tomita improve, but he was still the player in danger. The turn and the river were inconsequential for Tomita who left in sixth place.
Several hands later, Tao Fan opened to 210,000 from the hijack seat and Tomomitsu Ono 3-bet 525,000 from the big blind. Fan announced all in for 2,200,000 and Ono called, putting Fan at risk. Fan tabled versus Ono’s . The runout changed nothing, and Fan left in fifth place.
Jiang Chen was eliminated next in fourth place after his ran into Cheung’s and failed to connect to the rundown .
Cheung was the short stack with three players remaining, and he would have been the next player to leave the final table had it not been for a miraculous comeback. The hand in question saw Cheung all-in with pocket tens against Lin’s ace-ten – and an ace on the flop sent him to the brink of elimination. The on the turn didn’t help Cheung either, but the on the river pulled him back into the game!
Hung Sheng Lin was eventually eliminated in third place after his all-in move for 230,000 found callers in Cheung and Lin. The flop brought , and both Cheung and Ono checked their option. The two checked their option on the turn and again on the river. The cards were tabled, Cheung with held king-high, Ono tabled for king-high with a better kicker and won the hand, eliminating Lin who turned over the for the lowest hand.
Heads-up, Cheung held 11,300,000 versus Tomomitsu Ono’s 6,100,000 and the chips went back and forth before Cheung raised to 500,000 from the button on which Ono moved all in for 5,050,000 from the big blind. Cheung snap-called, tabling against Ono’s . Cheung’s rail grew noisier as the flop kept him ahead. After the hit the turn, Cheung stood up in anticipation. The on the river sealed it for him, and he was crowned the new APPT Korea champion!
Final Table Results (KRW)
Content & Images Courtesy: Asia Pacific Poker Tour & PokerNews