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Not even a week has passed since Kenneth Kee (cover image) finished runner-up in the inaugural event at the Triton Poker Super High Roller Series Jeju i.e. the HK$ 100,000 NLHE Short Deck Ante Only Event, and now Singapore’s numero uno poker pro has done it again. This time, Kee touched the finish line in pole position, besting a field of 60 entries to stake claim over the HK$1M NLHE Short Deck Ante-Only Event and pocketed the grand prize of HK$22,500,000 (US$2,925,000) for the feat.
The short-deck format in poker is similar to Texas Hold ‘em but uses a 36-card deck, with all cards between deuces and fives removed and some changes. It has been popular at high stakes poker in Macau and has been quite a craze at Triton Jeju, that is the second high roller Triton edition this year so far, the first was the Triton high roller series that was held at Montenegro in May.
A big group of Asia’s high stakes regulars were seen in the fray at the event that was played on the format.
Although not a tournament player with preference for cash games, Kee has been doing well at the short deck events at the Triton series. “Maybe you should not gamble in some spots where you would normally gamble in cash games. It’s similar to no-limit hold’em tournaments,” Kee said. “It’s a super new game. People haven’t figured everything out yet.”
Kee did prepare for the event though. “I watched a lot of tapes and then every time they made a move, I tried to think ‘why did they limp here?’ or ‘why did they shove here?’ Then I picked a few things which I liked and added them into my game.”
Kee’s heads-up match with American pro Cary Katz saw a resilient Katz fight hard for the title. Kee had a massive 3-to-1 chip lead that worked to his advantage. “Cary Katz just started playing short deck, so I feel that I have an edge post-flop,” Kee said, talking about the heads-up match.
For Malaysian player Ivan Leow, who cruised his way to the final table only to exit first, the sixth place payday of HK$3.54M ($460,200) may not have been as sweet a score as his title win in the HK$500,000 Short Deck Ante-Only Event for HK$8,470,000 ($1,079,586), but its been a great run for him at the series, since Leow also posted a seventh place finish in the HK$100,000 Short-Deck Event.
Final Table Recap
The top six finalists reached the final table that was dominated by Kee right from the get-go. He sent Ivan Leow to the rail in sixth place shortly into the play.
Kee then scored a double knockout in a three-way all in with . In this hand, Mikita Badziakouski showed and Peter Jetten held . Kee’s hand held and Badziakouski was eliminated in fifth place and Jetten in fourth place.
An additional, third day of play had to be added for the top three finalists to play down to the winner.
While Kee (8,245,000) entered the final day as the chip leader followed closely by Richard Yong (6,815,000), Cary Katz (2,940,000) was the shortest stack on the three-handed table.
Final Day Recap
As the play resumed, Kee clashed with Richard Yong and the latter lost half of his stack in the hand where his two pair was beaten by Kee’s superior two pair. A couple of hands later, Kee bet 500,000 with ace-queen, Yong called with jack-ten and the flop came down queen-nine-nine, on which Kee checked while Yong bet 200,000. Kee moved all-in and was called by Yong. Yong now needed a king or an eight but the board didn’t favor him and Yong’s run ended in third place.
In the heads-up play, Kee managed to pull off a big bluff on Cary Katz. On a paired board where the final street saw a club flush draw and a straight fill up, Kee forced Katz to bet-fold aces on the river. Kee turned his top pair of kings into a bluff, blocking flushes and straight with a ten of clubs. “That was the key blocker. He check-called the flop, and then he decides to bet pretty hugely on the turn. I don’t really like this spot, but I don’t think I can fold this. Plus I have a couple of cards I could use to bluff,” Kee recalled later. When Katz tossed in the chips again, Kee decided to go for the bluff.
“He bets this river, and this doesn’t make any sense at all. If he has ten-jack, why would he bluff the nine on the turn. It’s so weird. He almost has no flushes. And I don’t think he has a straight, given the line he took,” Kee explained. So he raised and Katz folded.
Over the next hour, Kee claimed the rest of Katz’s chips. On the final hand, Katz moved all-in from the button with the and was instantly called by Kee who tabled . The board ran and Kee’s pocket queens dominated, eliminating Katz in second place while Kee was crowned the champion.
Final Table Results (HKD)
1. Kenneth Kee – HK$22,500,000
2. Cary Katz – HK$13,920,000
3. Richard Yong – HK$9,120,000
4. Peter Jetten – HK$6,300,000
5. Mikita Badziakouski – HK$4,620,000
6. Ivan Leow – HK$3,540,000
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