It had been awhile since the last Asian Poker Tour stop, but the APT wasn’t sitting idle waiting for the Manila tournament to come in 2009. Busy organizing the APT Poker Pack with some of the biggest names in professional poker, the APT stood out from the crowd at the Aussie Millions through a pact with ChipMeUp
before settling in Manila for some exciting tournaments with the likes of J.C. Tran, Nam Le, Steve Sung, Quinn Do, and David “Chino” Rheem.
The APT Philippines $2,700 buy-in main event was set to begin with two starting days but only a total of four days of play. Therefore, with long days ahead, players geared up for some heavy duty poker at the Dusit Thani Hotel.
Day 1A started with 75 players, including names like 1990 WSOP main event champion Mansour Matloubi , Toto Leonidas, and Casey Kastle. Leonidas did the “shuffle up and deal” honors, and after ten levels and about twelve hours, only 19 players remained. Matloubi didn’t make it through, and Leonidas had a rough day, finally accepting elimination at the hand of Kastle. When the day was over, Neil Arce was the unofficial chip leader.
Day 1B had a full house of 187 players, making the total number of players 262 and creating a $635,500 prize pool to be split among the final 27 finishers. The second starting day found all of the aforementioned APT Poker Pack at the tables, along with other big names like David Steicke, David Saab, and Liz Lieu. In the end, there were 50 players remaining, including Lieu, Saab, Chino Rheem, Nam Le, and Steve Sung. Steven Yea was the far-and-away chip leader with more than 122K and would need it to hold up the following day to make the final table.
There were only 69 players at the beginning of Day 2, but only nine would finish it and head to the final. Rheem was one of the first to leave the tables, and Saab soon joined him on the rail. As the bubble neared, it was Adalberto Orrigo who put his very short stack of 2,500 chips into the pot with , and four opponents checked the all the way to the river. When one of them showed a five for trips, Orrigo became the 28th place finisher with some extra time to enjoy Manila. That made way for John Dalessandri to cash for $6,000 in 27th place, and other notables in the money included Andrew Scott in 24th, Bryan Huang in 21st, Eddie Hearn in 16th, Steve Sung in 13th, and Nam Le in 12th.
After Norihito Suzuki left in 11th place by way of Casey Kastle, it was Michael Pedley who pushed his short stack with . Neil Arce called with , and it was off to the board, which produced . Arce’s pair of kings was good, and Pedley was the final table bubble player, out in tenth place with $8,000 to show for it.
The final table was then set for Sunday, February 1st, with the following counts and seating assignments:
Seat 1: Ron Kluber 310,000
Seat 2: Cicurel Didier 182,000
Seat 3: Steven Yea 754,000
Seat 4: Vesa Leikos 94,000
Seat 5: Neil Arce 377,000
Seat 6: Kim Tae Hyung 168,000
Seat 7: Susumu Toge 102,000
Seat 8: Liz Lieu 144,000
Seat 9: Casey Kastle 503,000
Native Philippine player Steven Yea dominated the chip counts when the final table began, with the majority of the players with less than one-fourth of his stack.
Play began with blinds at 4,000/8,000 and a 1,000 ante, and it only took one hand for a player to bow out of the festivities. Cicurel Didier made an initial raise, which was called by Neil Arce but raised by Kim Tae Hyung, who moved all-in for 167K. Everyone folded but Arce and his , and Hyung showed . The rest of the cards fell , and Arce made the flush. Hyung took a ninth place finish and $12,000 in prize money.
The very next hand found Vesa Leikos pushing all-in for 92K with , and Casey Kastle called with pocket nines. The board came , and the irrelevant river gave the pot to Kastle, sending Leikos to the rail in eighth place with $16,000.
Liz Lieu lost some chips to the chip leader and finally tangled with him again, as she put the last of her 100K chips into the pot preflop with pocket deuces, and Yea was the caller with pocket queens. The board bricked, and Lieu finished in seventh place, which was worth $22,000.
Ron Kluber wasn’t exactly short-stacked coming into the final table, but he hadn’t been very active from the outset. Eventually, he got involved with Yea to see a flop. Kluber took that opportunity to move all-in for 120K, and Yea check-called with and the draw. Kluber showed and the straight draw. The on the turn made Yea’s flush, and it was all over for Kluber, who left with $30,000 in sixth place.
Susumu Toge tried to accumulate some chips by getting involved with Yea to see a flop that came . Toge pushed all-in with and the straight draw, but Yea called with and the same draw but the ace-high if it didn’t come. The last two cards came and , and Toge was eliminated in fifth place with $36,000.
The next exit came within minutes, as Cicurel Didier pushed preflop for his last 125K with pocket jacks. Arce was the caller holding , and an ace came for him on the flop. The other ace on the river solidified Arce as the winner of the hand, and Didier left in fourth place with $46,000.
Three-handed action found Yea maintaining his lead with 1.44 million. Arce had about half that, and Kastle was trailing with 529K. Kastle and Arce were the two that tangled, and Arce took a significant pot from the short stack. Kastle soon pushed the rest of his 133K into the pot preflop with , and Arce was the caller with . Kastle looked like a double-up favorite, but the dealer couldn’t make it so with . Kastle was forced out in third place with $70,000 for the effort.
Heads-up play began with the following counts:
Steven Yea 1,570,000
Neil Arce 1,050,000
Arce was anxious to make a run for the title, and his aggression showed it. He finally took the lead when he got involved with Yea with ; Arce made the straight and took the chip lead with 1.7 million.
Finally, the two got involved preflop. Arce started it with a raise to 100K, but Yea pushed it up to 300K. Arce reraised all-in with , and Yea called with . The latter sought a double-up, and it looked possible when the flop came . But a fell on the turn to give Arce the advantage, and the made it definite. Steven Yea took second place in the event, as he had at the 2008 Macau event. This time, his finish was accompanied by a $100,000 prize.
Neil Arce was able to score a win at the 2009 APT Philippines event, keeping the title for his home country. Along with the honor of title-holder, Arce was awarded $185,000 for the accomplishment.
(Thanks to PokerNews live updates for hand and chip count information.)