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After a smashing 2019 that saw Indian players doing the country proud by winning accolades at international events, we are off to a flyer in 2020! One of our former Young Guns and a well-respected poker pro and coach, Sahil Agarwal (cover image), got Team India its first major title of the year by taking down the PHP 20K Kickoff title at the PokerStars LIVE Red Dragon Manila currently underway at Okada Manila!
Agarwal ran past a field comprising of 394 runners that included four other Indians, namely, Meherzad Munsaf, Chirag Shah, Kanishka Samant, and Srinivas Polishetty, to win PHP 1,575,000 (~₹22.11 Lakhs) in prize money! Agarwal was the only Indian to make it to Day 2 and was second in chips at the start of the final table. He eventually defeated Uzbekistan’s Valeriy Pak heads-up to clinch the title.
“Manila has been very good to me the last few years, it’s one of my favorite poker destinations,” Agarwal said, shortly after receiving the trophy.
The 31-year old native from Orissa had good reason to call Manila his favorite poker destination as he has worked up quite the repertoire of scores in the Filipino capital. He has had two prominent runner-up finishes in Manila before his most recent win. In August 2018, he had finished runner-up in the APPT Manila High Roller for ₹60.65 Lakhs, and he picked up another second-place finish at the 2019 APPT Manila NLHE Deepstack where he earned ₹7.15 Lakhs. Though his win at the Red Dragon Manila Kickoff Event is a far-cry from his personal-best score, he has at least broken the title jinx in Manila.
Giving Agarwal company in the champion’s club on Sunday were two Filipino pros, Lester Edoc (PHP 500K Super High Roller for PHP 5.22 Million (~₹73.59 Lakhs) and Sandro Bruni (PHP 20K Turbo NLH Single Re-entry for PHP 368,880 (~₹5.19 Lakhs). Taking down the Super High Roller title adds another feather to Edoc’s cap, who, with this title, has added a fifth PokerStars LIVE victory to his name – his 21st live tournament title overall.
This is the inaugural stop for Red Dragon in Manila, and also the first of the seven planned stops on the PokerStars LIVE schedule for Asia this year. The 13-event series has already picked up the pace as the most awaited event at the stop, the Red Dragon Manila PHP 110K buy-in Main Event PHP 50 Million GTD has kicked off proceedings today.
Day 1A of the Main Event took flight from 1 PM (local time), and two more starting flights will run tomorrow. Day 2 of the Main Event is slated to start from 1 PM onwards on January 8. The unique format of the tournament allows all the PokerStars online qualifiers for the Main Event to be part of the Day 2 draw, even if they are eliminated in the starting flights.
The brand will also be rewarding the first $30,000 Platinum Pass of the year for the 2020 PokerStars Players NLHE Championship (PSPC) Barcelona on Day 2 of the Main Event. For choosing a winner, a table will be picked randomly, and all the players on the table will then compete in a Flip Out, with the winner to walk away with the free Platinum Pass! In 2018, it was Sumit Sapra who had won the Platinum Pass through a similar Flip Out tournament.
The series-opener PHP 20K buy-in Kickoff event attracted an impressive field of 394 entries across two starting flights. Only 48 of them (Day 1A – 21, Day 1B – 27) could secure a berth for Day 2. Though all of them were assured at least PHP 32,500 from the PHP 6,879,240 (~₹96.94 Lakhs) prize pool, it was the top prize of PHP 1,575,000 (~₹22.11 Lakhs) that each of them was eyeing.
A total of five Indians entered the event, and taking his fight to the finish line was Sahil Agarwal. The 31-year old pro had qualified from Day 1A, bagging the eighth-most massive stack among the 21 qualifiers. Agarwal climbed up the ranks quickly, and by the time the final table was formed, Agarwal was placed second in chips. Agarwal entered the heads-up play with Uzbekistan’s ValeriyPak commanding a dominating 2-to-1 chip lead. Maintaining his dominance, Agarwal eventually defeated Pak to lift the trophy!
Apart from Agarwal, Meherzad Munsaf and Chirag Shah had entered Day 1A, but neither of them could make it to Day 2. All of them tried their luck again on Day 1B along with Kanishka Samant and Srinivas Polishetty, but Agarwal was the only Indian who succeeded in making the cut for Day 2.
Day 1A chip leader Huu Tuan Nguyen (11th for ₱108,000), Day 1B chip leader Siyoung Lee (15th for ₱87,000), Hong Kong’s Wing Kei Chan (18th for ₱70,000), Norway’s Henrik Tollefsen (33rd for ₱36,000) and Japan’s Iori Yogo (34th for ₱36,000) were among the notables who cashed the event.
Final Table Results (PHP)
Another headline event at the ongoing series was the PHP 500 buy-in Red Dragon Super High Roller. The tournament attracted a total of 30 entries that included 25 unique players, generating a PHP 14,113,500 (~₹19.8 Crores) prize pool.
Manila native and accomplished Filipino pro, Lester Edoc eventually defeated fellow countryman Florencio Campomanes heads-up to capture the title, along with PHP 5.22 Million (~₹73.59 Lakhs) in prize money.
Talking to reporters after the tournament, Edoc later said, “This is one of the best final tables ever! I was short-stacked all the way, from nine players until we got to heads-up, then became chip leader, then got down to eight big blinds, then came back to win…”
“I think I had the luck this time I.’m very lucky this time but it was a great final table!”With the win, the 38-year old’s total live winnings have crossed the $1 Million-mark.
Campomanes was the player in charge when the 11 finishers returned to play Day 2. Only five of them would get paid, and so it was an intense fight to reach the final table.
At the start of the heads-up clash, Campomanes was sitting with 3.66 Million in chips, trailing Edoc’s 3.84 Million. The duo went at each other for over two-and-half hours before Edoc closed down his win. On the final hand of the tournament, Edoc shoved on the button with , and Campomanes called for his last 1.54 Million with . The flop kept Edoc ahead, and though the didn’t change things, the on the river brought Edoc the title.
Some notables who missed out on a payout included China’s Celine Xiao Ling Li and Thailand’s Phachara Wongwichit, the latter busting on the bubble at the hands of Yake Wu.
Final Table Results (PHP)
Dominating a field of 78 entries, Filipino pro Sandro Bruni took down the PHP 20K buy-in Turbo NLH Single Re-entry event. Bruni defeated China’s Yake Wu heads-up to pocket the PHP 368,880 (~₹5.19 Lakhs) reserved for the winner.
A total of top 10 finishers earned a payout from the PHP 1,361,880 (~₹19.19 Lakhs) prize pool.
Final Table Results (PHP)
Content & Images Courtesy: PokerStars LIVE
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