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Asia Pacific Poker Tour Cebu, Day 4: Han Bullies His Way to Title

Dong-bin Han

Day 4 of the 2009 APPT Cebu Main Event started with a boxing match between Miguel Cotto and hometown Filipino favorite Manny Pacquiao for the WBO welterweight championship of the world. It ended with a poker match between Dong-bin Han and David Hilton for the APPT Cebu Main Event championship. Like Pacquiao did before him, Han used methodical and relentless aggression to wear down his opponent and secure the victory.

Before the final table began, players and spectators were treated to a viewing of the Pacquiao-Cotto fight on a large projection screen in the tournament room. Fans were about 200 strong and thoroughly satisfied with the savage beating that Pacquiao put on Cotto. With the room abuzz from the fight, the nine remaining players took their seats at the table.

Early eliminations all came at measured intervals. Alexandr Tikholiz went out first, soon followed by Phillip Willcocks and Nick Pronk. Mark Pagsuyuin was the last Filipino remaining in the tournament. He had a boisterous cheering section, but it wasn't enough when Pagsuyuin's {A-Diamonds} {9-Clubs} fell to Han's {A-Spades} {10-Hearts}, booting Pagsuyuin out of the tournament in sixth place.

Pagsuyuin's elimination ensured that once again the trophy would be leaving the Philippines. Terry Fan was eliminated next before Kevin Clark and Sim Somyung departured. That left Hilton and Han to vie heads-up for the championship.

Han may have learned something from watching Pacquiao take Cotto apart – he was absolutely relentless with the aggression and pressure he applied to Hilton. Although the heads-up part of the match began with level stacks, Han relentlessly chipped up at Hilton's expense by liberally three-betting before the flop and often raising or check-raising afterward. Hilton never made any adjustment in his game to account for Han's style. Hilton did open a three-to-one chip lead early on by making a small full house against Han's trips, but never came close to finishing off Han. In fact, Han reversed the counts without ever having to sweat an all-in confrontation.

By the time Hilton did adjust, he ran into two monster hands. First, Hilton tried three-betting all-in with {A-Clubs} {5-Clubs} only to see Han wake up with {A-Spades} {K-Spades}. That hand ended in a chop, but a few hands later Hilton tried again with {Q-Clubs} {J-Spades} and ran smack into Han's {Q-Spades} {Q-Diamonds}. Queens were the best hand after the river card fell, securing the championship for Han. He started the day third in chips and with a puncher's chance at the title. He finished it with the trophy, $148,200 in first-place prize money, and four beautiful APPT models at his side. That's a great day.

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