The first major event of the 2019 PokerStars LIVE Asia Red Dragon Jeju festival has crowned a champion at the Landing Casino and China dominated the final table of the ₩5,000,000 High Roller on Jeju Island to showcase once more why they have been the most successful country in the 11 years of Red Dragon poker history in Asia.
A field of 155 entries exceeded the expectations to create a prize pool of ₩684,093,000 ($590,366), which was split among the top 23 spots and the top four were all from China. In heads-up, Liuheng Dai defeated Yang Zhang to claim his biggest payday on the live circuit thus far.
Heading into the festival with $135k in cashes according to his Hendon Mob profile, Dai doubled that amount thanks to the top prize of ₩159,052,000 ($137,270) and put the cherry on top of a very successful year on South Korean soil. His last five cashes were all from Incheon and Jeju and he claimed back-to-back victories in PokerStars sponsored Shot Clock High Rollers at the Landing Casino after coming out on top of a 39-entry strong field in the 2019 APPT Korea ₩6,000,000 High Roller in June.
“On day 1 everything went smoothly, and because I was the APPT High Roller Champion I wanted to defend my title and I had my own expectations for my self,” Dai said through a translator in the interview after his victory.
The 32-year-old has been playing MTT's for just a year and already showed tremendous results, while poker has just been a hobby so far. Dai owns his a software company and now walks home with a golden Red Dragon trophy that was specifically designed for the previous and inaugural Red Dragon Jeju festival in 2018.
His heads-up opponent Zhang was already boasting nearly $2 million in live cashes, good enough for the 10th place on the Chinese all-time money list, and had to settle for second place, which came with a payday of ₩107,745,000($92,990).
Both Dai and Zhang were among the shorter stacks when the nine-handed final table was set. Kazuhiko Yotsushika went from the prime position as the dominant chip leader to 6th place finisher. Bin Sun suffered the same fate and bowed out in 5th after losing back-to-back all-ins against Zhang, who was unable to come out on top of a roller-coaster heads-up battle.
“Then, when I got to the final table I was very short but I was consistent in sticking to my plan and my strategy. And of course, being lucky is another part, but most important was the fact that I stuck to my plan,” Dai pointed out. He was also supported by a boisterous rail that remained in place until the early morning hours.
Final Result ₩5,000,000 High Roller
|Place||Winner||Country||Prize (in KRW)||Prize (in USD)|
|7||Duc Trung Vu||Vietnam||₩27,090,000||$23,380|
|9||Bawoo Yun||United States||₩15,871,000||$13,700|
Big Names Fall Before the Money
Out of a field of 140 entries after nine levels of play on Day 1, 96 players returned to their seats and the registration remained open for the first level. Another 15 new entries and re-entries boosted the already impressive field further. Many familiar names on the Asian poker circuit were among those hoping to claim the High Roller title but had to leave empty-handed without anything to show for such as Yake Wu, defending APPT Korea Main Event champion Sparrow Cheung, Victor Chong, Guoliang Wei, Ben Lai, Hiroyuki Noda, Alex Lee, and Pete Chen.
Former EPT Barcelona Main Event champion Andre Lettau and Michael Soyza also came up short of the money spots with the later experiencing a roller-coaster day on and away from the feature table. Lester Edoc, Quan Zhou and Carson Wong were also ousted before the dinner break. Especially a spell of half an hour saw pocket aces cracked three times to send Ye Yuan into a world of pain.
From Money Bubble to Final Table in Quick Succession
Only 24 players remained when the dinner break was reached and it took just a few hads to let the bubble burst. Hengren Tu was the last player to leave without anything to show for when his pair of eights came up short against the ten-six of Duc Trung Vu. It wouldn't take long to reduce the field to the final two tables after that. Among others, Nan Hong, Yao Bai, Zhiao He and Derek Ip in his first-ever live MTT were eliminated.
Liang Chen lost a flip to Kazuhiko Yotsushika, who then also knocked out Joshua Zimmerman and Kannapong Thanarattrakul en route to enter the final table as clear chip leader. Other notables such as Phachara Wongwichit and WSOP bracelet winner Mike Tayakama didn't make the cut and bowed out in 12th and 11th place respectively.
Yotsushika and Sun fall in dramatic fashion
Kazuhiko Yotsushika entered the final table with double as many chips as his nearest follower while the short stacks Bawoo Yun and Lei Yu bowed out rather quickly. Duc Trung Vu went from a middle stack to the rail in 7th place and Yotsushika's aggression backfired as he lost a big pot to Bin Sun and then doubled eventual runner-up Yang Zhang.
It was all over for the Japanese in 6th place and Sun then went from chip leader to 5th place finisher in back-to-back hands. Sun flipped twice against Zhang who flopped and turned a set to emerge as the far biggest stack among the final five. Not even 15 minutes later, Bin Wang and Feng Chen ran out of chips and that set up the duel for the title between Liuheng Dai and Zhang.
Zhang was two cards away from victory when his flopped top two pair clashed with the jack-high flush draw of Dai, but another club hit the river and changed the circumstances in brutal fashion. The lead changed several times and it took another unfortunate cooler to determine the champion. Dai five-bet jammed with pocket treys and Zhang called with tens right away only to see a trey appear on the turn to end the tournament.
That wraps up the PokerNews updates from the ₩5,000,000 High Roller but plenty of poker action in Jeju awaits in the days to come as the Red Dragon Main Event is off to an excellent start with 252 entries on the first of three starting days.