The first-ever PokerStars Festival Manila ₱55,000 (~$1,092) Main Event wrapped up Monday at the PokerStars LIVE poker room with Uday Bansal being crowned the champion. Bansal won the largest international tournament in the history of the Philippines with a buy-in of PHP30,000; the 594-entry easily surpassed the ₱20 million (~$397,230) guarantee.
PokerStars Festival Manila Main Event Final Results
|Place||Player||Country||Prize (PHP)||Prize (USD)|
|5||Jaehyun Lim||South Korea||1,500,000||29,792|
|6||Sam Razavi||United Kingdom||1,170,000||23,238|
|8||Hoa Thinh Nguyen||Vietnam||596,000||11,837|
|9||Tien Than Nguyen||Vietnam||470,000||9,335|
After three starting days and the penultimate tournament day, only 14 players remained when the action resumed on Monday. With the lion's share of the ₱28,809,000 prize pool (~$572,190) still up for grabs, all finalists had ₱285,000 (~$5,661) locked up for their efforts and Michael Falcon was leading the survivors. The 55 year-old Dane also made Day 2 of the PokerStars Cup as well and multi-tabled both tournaments at the same time, reaching both final tables in spectacular fashion. Falcon finished 6th in the Cup and was sent to the rail in 3rd place in the Main Event to cash for more than ₱2.6 million combined.
Bansal held a slight lead over Antti Halme when the tournament was down to the last two hopefuls, and both players briefly discussed a deal without initially coming to a conclusion. However, when they returned to the seats, both agreed to ICM numbers and left ₱300,000 (~$5,953) as well as the trophy up for grabs. It took less than an hour to crown a champion, and it was Bansal who came out on top.
Bansal, from Delhi/India, considers himself to be an amateur at the tables. The 30-year-old is the co-founder of a company called SkyBulls which boasts financial advising by artificial intelligence. Bansal previously attended London Business School where he earned a Master’s Degree in business administration and management. He’s been playing poker for the last seven years and to this date his biggest poker accomplishment is coming running up in the India Poker Championship for $15,942 in 2015.
"Sure, Antti has more experience playing than me, playing heads-up, but I think in heads-up there’s a lot of variance. So I wanted to do a deal based on ICM," Bansal said when asked about the deal he struck with Halme. "But he felt that he is a better player. And he is, heads-up, to be fair. But we ended up coming to an agreement and it’s all good."
Bansal added that poker is booming in India and hopes that the PokerStars Festival will soon make an appearance in his home country.
"I started playing about seven years ago, and about five years ago I was living in Vegas for two or three months playing poker and there was not that much happening in India. And now there poker rooms in most of the cities. There are big tournaments happening. We have the GOA [India Poker Championships] running which gets about 250 to 300 runners. So it’s pretty healthy and it’s growing steadily."
Halme, a 27 year-old full-time poker player from Tampere/Finland, made the trip over to Manila alongside fellow countryman Aki Virtanen, who also cashed in the Main Event and finished eighth in the PokerStars Cup. "I’m pretty happy,” Halme said about his finish. “The whole day when I came here I was a bit nervous, but the way it turned out, it was really good. I had a pretty good stack in the beginning, and I took some hits in the final two tables and I was in a tough spot between two big stacks, so getting to heads up was really good." Both Finns will be heading to Barcelona for the upcoming PokerStars Championship.
Final Table Action
Down to just seven big blinds, Tien Than Nguyen moved all in with king-jack suited and picked up a call from Bansal with pocket sevens. Neither jack, king or diamonds showed up on an ace-high board and Nguyen became the first casualty at the final table. Fellow countryman Hoa Thinh Nguyen followed shortly after, losing a flip with pocket tens against the king-queen of Michael Falcon when a queen came right away on the flop.
Kenneth Buck, a 61-year-old former Australian Air Force member that now lives in Manila, was blinded out and forced all in from the big blind with ace-three. Falcon held ace-four in the big blind and a possible split pot was crushed with a four on the river.
Sam Razavi, from Brighton/England who now calls Asia his home, finished runner-up in the APPT Manila Main Event last year for $73,552, has become a poker stalwart in the region with live tournament earnings of over $1.5 million. Razavi's bid to finish one place better than the previous year came to an end when he three-bet shoved with ace-eight and received an instant call by Halme. There was no help on the board and Razavi had to settle for 6th place.
Down to the last five, Korea's Jaehyun Lim was the short stack and three-bet all in with queen-jack suited. Mike Takayama called with ace-king suited and flopped top two pair. Instead of a ten for the straight to help Lim, another king hit on the river and Takayama scooped the pot with a full house. Takayama, the last local player in the field, would be the next to fall. He four-bet all in with ace-eight and Antti Halme quickly called with pocket jacks to see the board run out queen-high.
Falcon dominated Day 1b, the vast majority of Day 2 and the early stages of Day 3 before losing big chunks of his stack. The Dane made a move on a nine-high flop against both Halme and Bansal, and the latter called with queen-high for top pair to see Falcon turn over seven-three for a gutshot only. Both turn and river were blanks and the heads-up for the title and trophy was set.
After unfruitful first deal discussions, both players came to an agreement and the battle one-versus-one lasted less than an hour. Halme lost a big chunk of his stack when rivering two pair with seven-five suited only to see Bansal call with ace-six suited for the better two pair. Eventually, Halme found himself at risk with ace-ten and Bansal had the dominating ace-jack. It was all over after a jack came on the turn and the Indian rail celebrated.
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