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The 2018 World Poker Tour (WPT) Korea was one of the grandest poker festivals ever hosted in Incheon, South Korea and right after the Global Teams Event concluded, action kicked off in the Main Event that saw 283 entries registering through the two starting flights. Maintaining a strong command over the field, Belarus-based Valeriy Pak (cover image) took down the event.
Pak clashed with Tsugunari Toma in the heads-up play and defeated him to bank the winner’s payday of KRW63,620,000 (~$57,058), while Toma took home KRW44,700,000 (~$40,090). This is Pak’s second event title in recent months. He won the KRW440,000 NLHE at the 2018 APT Korea Incheon for KRW6,480,000 last month on August 15.
Team India`s Kunal Patni, Amit Jain and Dhaval Mudgal entered the event through the first starting flight but none of them managed to bag chips for Day 2. However, Patni re-entered through Day 1B and this time, he held on to his tournament life, taking a stack of 32,500 to Day 2. Nikita Luther, Jain and Mudgal also entered Day 1B but they failed to progress further in the tournament.
With Patni being the lone Indian challenger to run deep in the event, all hopes banked on his performance. Patni chipped up well and played a balanced game on Day 2 but he narrowly missed on crossing the money bubble and was eliminated in 31st place.
The top 27 players took home a minimum $1,695 in prize money and in addition to them, there were four players who had already cashed at WPT Japan and qualified to enter the WPT Korea Main Event. These four players converged into the field after the money bubble.
Hideo Miyamoto was eliminated on the money bubble after his ace-jack was cracked by Markus Garberg’s ace-king.
Among the notables who fell before the final table included Sho Saika (11th for KRW5,400,000), Taewook Kwon (14th for KRW4,640,000), Russel Thomas (15th for KRW4,640,000), Paul Hockin (18th for KRW3,885,000), Masato Yokosawa (23rd for KRW2,525,000), and Louis Yin (27th for KRW2,210,000).
Kitty Kuo (10th for KRW5,400,000) bubbled the final table after her ace-four was dominated by Yisha Chen’s ace-king..
The nine finalists returned to the felts on Day 3, for the finale. Paul Hong was the chip leader with 2,215,000 in chips, followed by Pak (1,710,000) and Hiroyuki Noda (1,675,000).
Final Table Chip Counts
1. Paul Hong – 2,215,000
2. Valeriy Pak – 1,710,000
3. Hiroyuki Noda – 1,675,000
4. Yisha Chen – 780,000
5. Tatsuki Nakamura – 585,000
6. Yuichiro Harada – 520,000
7. Tsugunari Toma – 465,000
8. Markus Garberg – 325,000
9. Kevin Ayow – 215,000
Final Table Recap
Action on the final table saw its first elimination when Pak raised from early position and Yuichiro Harada re-raised from middle position to 105,000, prompting Pak to make the call. Both players checked till the turn and Pak then bet 85,000 while Harada tanked for a bit before moving all in for 375,000. Pak called with for a pair of tens with an open-ended straight draw. Harada tabled for a gutshot straight draw and needed to improve on the river. The was a disappointment for Harada who exited in ninth place.
Yisha Chen bowed out of the tournament when she moved all in from the button for 700,000 with . She needed her hand to stay alive against big blind Pak’s . The board came , and Pak rivered higher two pairs on the river to eliminate Chen in eighth place.
A huge, three-way pot in a flush-over-flush situation was then witnessed and it was Tsugunari Toma who won the hand to chip up to 3.25 Million while Tatsuki Nakamura was sent packing in seventh place. In the hand, Paul Hong raised from under the gun to 65,000 and Nakamura called from the button with only 135,000 left in his stack. Toma made the call from the big blind. The flop fell and the action checked to Nakamura who moved all in with his entire stack. While Toma called, Hong check-raised to 500,000, sending Toma into the tank. He finally decided to re-raise to 1 Million. It was Hong’s time to tank for a long time before he eventually moved all in and had Toma snap-call all in for 1,560,000. The three players tabled their cards.
Toma’s flush was dominating both Nakamura, who had flopped a pair of kings, and Hong, who had flopped a weaker flush. The felts tensed up as the dealer peeled the on the turn and the on the river. Toma won the pot while Nakamura was eliminated, leaving Hong grappling with a poor stack.
After losing big in the monster pot, the short stacked Paul Hong moved all in from the small blind for 260,000. Noda woke up from the big blind with and snap called. Hong tabled and though he turned a gutshot straight draw and then rivered a pair on the board, it wasn’t enough to hold off Noda’s pocket queens. Hong was eliminated in sixth place.
Kevin Ayow’s tournament run ended in fifth place when he clashed with Hiroyuki Noda in a hand where Noda raised from the button to 100,000 and big blind Ayow decided to move all in for 490,000. Noda thought for a bit before calling. Noda tabled against Ayow’s . Ayow desperately needed to improve but the board bricked out and Noda picked up he pot with his pocket sevens.
Next up, Markus Garberg moved all in from the small blind for 910,000 and had Pak tank call from the big blind with . Garberg turned over and he needed to improve to stay in the game. Pak’s pocket threes held up on the rundown and Garberg was relegated to the rail in fourth place.
Hiroyuki Noda was eliminated in third place after he moved all in from the big blind for 825,000 with Noda was leading against Tsugunari Toma who held in the small blind but the board came and Toma spiked a six on the turn to scoop the pot with his three-of-a-kind, while Noda hit the rail.
The heads-up clash between Tsugunari Toma and Pak then began with both players almost even in stacks. Toma won the first hand of the heads-up but Pak soon grabbed the lead.
It wasn’t long before the event came to its thundering finale, when Pak raised to 350,000 and Toma moved all in for 2,535,000. Pak instantly called with and Toma tabled . Pak was leading and though Toma still had hopes after he turned an open-ended straight draw on the board, the river was a blank for him. With two pairs on the board and his ace kicker, Pak collected the pot and claimed the WPT Korea Main Event title while Toma had to settle for a runner-up finish.
Final Table Results (KRW)
1. Valeriy Pak – KRW 63,620,000
2. Tsugunari Toma – KRW 44,700,000
3. Hiroyuki Noda – KRW 28,135,000
4. Markus Garberg – KRW 17,180,000
5. Kevin Ayow – KRW 13,215,000
6. Paul Hong – KRW 10,950,000
7. Tatsuki Nakamura – KRW 9,405,000
8. Yisha Chen – KRW 7,830,000
9. Yuichiro Harada – KRW 6,365,000