25-year-old Neil Arce, a well known face at the Metro Card Club in Manila had the support of the railbirds this week as he took down the 2009 Asian Poker Tour Philippines at the Dusit Thani Hotel.
Arce conquered a field of 262 runners representing over 40 countries to scoop the first prize of $185 000 after beating heads up opponent Steve ‘joonhee’ Yea from South Korea who repeated his 2008 second placing at the Macau event. Players or their sponsors paid a buy-in of $2500 + $200 to compete in the Main Event which offered a total prize pool of $635 500 with 27 places cashing. “This is just great,” said Arce. "I always felt it would come down to me and Steve. For me the key to winning the tournament was position. I was so lucky that Steve was sat on my right – if he was on my left it would have been a completely different final table. I played with Steve all day yesterday when he was on a charge and kept out of his way. I knew that to get anywhere at the final table I had to keep applying pressure and my game plan worked perfectly.”
Arce had been chip leader after Day 1A and had even guaranteed Asian Poker Tour CEO Chris Parker before the event got underway that he would emerge victorious in the tournament. He was third in chips at the final table and faced some formidable opponents including the impressive Yea and internationally respected professionals Liz Lieu and Asian Poker Tour Macau 2008 finalist Kasey Castle.
The key hand came just after the talkative Arce had taken the chip lead from Yea. He showed willingness over a series of hands to up the pre -flop aggression. On the final hand, he made what had become a standard open for him of 100 000. Steve Yea re-raised to 300,000. Arce moved all in and Yea called in a shot. Arce held Ks Qs with Yea Ad Kh leaving Arce as 3 -1 underdog. The flop came 4s 6c 7h and Yea was two cards away from a massive double up. Then the turn came the Qh and the partisan crowd exploded. The river came 6h which was of no use to Yea and the 2009 Asian Poker Tour Philippines had itself a popular new champion.
After two consecutive Asian Poker Tour runner-up spots and a dominating performance over the last few days, a disappointed Yea said: "Next time I will do it.” Maybe he will prove the third time lucky maxim at the next APT event.
Chris Parker CEO of the Asian Poker Tour said: “We would like to congratulate Neil on his fantastic win and thank all the players for making the 2009 Asian Poker Philippines such a successful event. We’d also like to thank all our partners for making this all happen, including the regulator PAGCOR.”
Amongst those who were in the hunt were Nam Le, Quinn Do, David ‘Chino’ Rheem, Steve Sung and Kwang Soo Lee – all members of the Asian Poker Tour’s elite team of ambassadors – The Poker Pack. They joined a field that also included 2008 Asian Poker Tour Philippines winner David Saab, 2009 Aussie Millions Highroller event winner David Steicke, Michael Pedley, 2009 PartyPoker.com Irish Poker Championship winner Rory Rees Brennan, Brian Huang, Ivan Tan, Andrew Scott and 1990 WSOP Main Event winner Mansour Matloubi.
The Philippines was strongly represented in the field including WSOP bracelet winner Toto Leonidas. There were big contingents from South Korea and Japan, with 2008 Asian Poker Tour Philippines runner up Chris Roh and Yea leading the charge for South Korea and representatives from JBetPoker, Team J3PT and the Japan Poker League making up a formidable Japanese contingent that included Yasuhiro Waki and Yoshei Watanabe.
Coverage of this year’s Main Event will be televised and distributed internationally later in the year. The Asian Poker Tour is supported by the iPoker Network, Titan, DafaPoker, PKR, PartyPoker, JBet Poker, Everest Poker, Microgaming Poker Network, 888, 32 Red Poker, National Poker League and the Japanese Poker League.
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