Sixiao Li wins record breaking MPC26 High Roller
After two fast-paced action-packed days China's Sixiao Li emerged triumphant over the record breaking 130-strong high-rolling field to take down the massive HK$2,436,000 (~US$313,867) first prize. Holding more than a 5-1 chip lead when play got down to heads-up, Li defeated China's Xuming Qi in just one hand.
Li peeked down to see K♠K♥ on the button and opened with a raise. Qi, down to just 10 big blinds, moved the last of his chips in with Q♦J♣ and was quickly called. The 4♦A♥7♥ flop left Qi needing to hit running outs and he found himself drawing dead with the arrival of the A♣ turn. The inconsequential 7♠ river sealed the deal to more than double Li's career tournament earnings in one fell swoop and Qi departed in second place for a HK$1,646,000 (~US$212,079) payday.
It took seven hours to whittle the 130-strong field down to 19 and with the departure of New Zealand's Slade Fisher play went hand-for-hand for 15-minutes before Zhigang Yu bled down to a single big blind and moved all-in from under-the-gun.
Keen to get the to the money spots, three players made the call and Yu's ace-four suited could not hold, with Ro Woong Park and Xuming Qi both rivering full houses to burst the bubble and bring play down to the business end of the tournament, guaranteeing all 17 remaining players a HK$152,000 payday.
As is often the case a slew of rapid eliminations followed and the departure of former Day 1 front runner Wai Kiat Lee around 90-minutes later brought the tournament down to the final nine with the final table stacking up as follows:
Seat 1:Thomas Ward (New Zealand), 3,465,000
Seat 2:Sixiao Li (China), 4,390,000
Seat 3:Canlin Chen (China), 485,000
Seat 4:Phanlert Sukonthachartnant (Thailand), 445,000
Seat 5:Wayne Yap (Singapore), 1,600,000
Seat 6:Chunqing Wang (China), 715,000
Seat 7:Hong Nan (China), 740,000
Seat 8:Matthew Wakeman (Australia), 560,000
Seat 9:Xuming Qi (China), 600,000
Chunqing Wang was the first to fall after the dealer took the deck out of the freezer and dealt the Chinese player some ice cold cards. Wang moved his last 605,000 into the middle with pocket kings and was beaten into the pot by Xuming Qi who woke up behind him with ace-king suited. While Wang was favoured to earn a double-up the poker gods had other plans and Qi spiked an ace on the river to send Wang crashing out in ninth place for a HK$242,000 payday.
Canlin Chen followed Wang to the rail a scant five minutes later after bleeding down to just three big blinds and getting the last of his chips in with pocket fours, only to run into big blind Thomas Ward's pocket fives and Chen headed for the cash desk to claim his HK$324,300 eight place prize.
Less than 10-minutes later Australia's Matthew Wakeman found himself similarly stacked and moved the last of his chips in with king-eight suited. With chips to spare, final table frontrunner Sixiao Li seemed keen to thin the field further and made the call from the small blind with the speculative 5♠3♦ and hit gin when the flop came down K♣3♣3♠. Wakeman could not hit either of the deck's two remaining kings and departed in seventh for HK$431,000.
This trend of speedy bust outs continued with the departure of Thailand's Phanlert Sukonthachartnant at the start of level 22, just 10-minutes after Wakeman. Sukonthachartnant got the last of his chips in on a 2♠3♥J♣ flop with Q♦8♣ and was quickly called by Thomas Ward, whose 2♣3♣ had hit the board hard. Despite pairing his eight Sukonthachartnant could not improve further and he exited in sixth place for HK$563,000.
Play tightened up slightly before Wayne Yap took a huge hit at the hands of Xuming Qi shortly before the break at the end of the level, jamming from the button with king-jack and Qi again woke up with ace-king. Down to just four big blinds the Singaporean player busted as soon as play resumed after moving all-in from under-the-gun with J♠7♥ and finding himself dominated by big blind Sixiao Li's J♥9♥. Yap totally whiffed the flop and Li paired her nine on the turn to bring play down to four.
Play stagnated slightly with the four remaining players swapping blinds and antes for the next two levels before New Zealand's Thomas Ward found himself one of the shorter stacks and moved all-in from the button for eight big blinds with ace-four. Hong Nan looked down to see ace-jacked suited in the big blind and made a quick call and Ward departed in fourth for HK$885,900 when the board came down ace-high and Nan's kicker played.
Despite busting Ward, Nan was the next to fall, calling off his last 15 big blinds with K♥T♦ when Li shoved the small blind with A♠J♣. While the Q♦A♦5♦ flop kept Li in the lead it did give her a sweat with Nan holding a flush draw which improved to a pair of tens on the turn. However the board bricked out on the river and Nan hit the rail in third place for the tournament's first seven-figure score of HK$1,070,000.
"I feel awesome," gushed a teary-eyed and emotional Li, "I've waited for so long to win."
For a more detailed breakdown of the High Roller payouts click here. All that high-octane action concludes our MPC26 coverage but the PokerStars blog will return to Macau on March 30 for the highly anticipated PokerStars Championship Macau so join us then for more tournament thrills and spills.