Chip leaders at final tables don’t always have it their own way. There are countless examples of players with dominant stacks attempting to complete the formalities on a final day and crashing and burning instead.
But in the world of contemporary tournament poker, there aren’t many players as ruthless and composed as David Peters. When Peters bagged an overwhelming chip lead late last night, heading the final nine in the $250,000 Asia Championship of Poker High Roller tournament, it seemed certain that there would only be one winner.
Less than five hours later, everyone watching from the sidelines at the PokerStars LIVE card-room in Macau was muttering, “Never in doubt.” Peters completed the job in the most efficient of manners, becoming the last man standing from a field of 71 and earning HK$4,885,200 for what barely seemed to be an effort at all.
“I feel amazing,” a triumphant Peters said. “This was a very nice tournament to win and it went very smoothly. Usually it’s a little rougher but things went my way and I felt I played great the whole tournament. I felt like I was in the zone the whole time.”
Peters beat Paul Newey heads-up to claim the title, denying Newey a maiden championship win but sealing a tremendous festival for the British player. Newey was at his second major final of the ACOP and will head home in high spirits.
When action got under way at 2:30pm, the nine-handed final table was divided into the haves (Artem Metalidi, Yaqi Sun) the have-nots (Roman Korenev, Yaxi Zhu, Paul Newey and Shunu Zang), and the haves-as-much-as-all-the-rest-put-together (David Peters).
With that dynamic, we might have expected those in the second category to put their meagre stacks into play while those with medium stacks waited for them to bust. But nobody sent that particular memo to Yaqi Sun.
After Paul Newey doubled on the first hand of the day, Sun then forced the action on the next significant pot. And it turned out to be his last as he rammed his 2 million stack into the middle with A♥Q♠ but couldn’t beat Peters’ K♥K♣.
It seemed a little reckless–there were six stacks smaller than his among the final nine–but Sun has proved through the previous two days that he lives by the sword. He duly died by it and won $484,000 for ninth.
Shunu Zang, who quickly followed Sun to the payouts cage, can at least claim it was the poker gods alone who were responsible for his elimination. He and Metalidi played a pot through every street, but by the time the last of the chips went in, Zang’s A♠A♥ was behind Metalidi’s 7♦7♥. Metalidi turned a set.
Zang won $1,925,000 for finishing fifth in the Super High Roller tournament this time last week and another $635,000 for eighth today completes a very successful festival for him.
These two early eliminations set the tone for the first hour. Three more followed in very short order–two of them sent packing by Peters.
Roman Korenev was the first. He got it in with A♠Q♣ against Peters’ K♥10♥ but there was a King on the flop. Not long after that, Leo Cheng couldn’t beat Peters’ A♦9♦ with his 8♣8♦.
Cheng was actually out in fifth, however, because there was the small matter of Yaxi Zhu to talk about first.
Zhu, a member of Team PokerStars Pro, has been making increasingly large waves in the poker world over the past few years, cutting her teeth in small tournaments in Macau, then travelling with a growing Chinese contingent to the European Poker Tour.
She has made several final tables and won a €2,000 tournament in Prague, which gave her a bankroll to play the World Series in Las Vegas in the summer. She then made the final table in the women’s event. Zhu came back to ACOP and entered her first High Roller, gliding (with a few bumps along the way) into the money and the final table.
All good things must come to an end, and Zhu’s tournament hit its buffers when her pocket fours couldn’t beat Dvoress’s A♥8♥. But that’s just one tournament: Zhu’s career has a long way to run, and her bankroll is now boosted to the tune of HK$1,035,000.
With four players left, the imbalance in the counts had never been more extreme. Only really Metalidi had sufficient chips to damage Peters, but after Peters picked off a Metalidi bluff, it was one jumbo jet lined up alongside three paper aeroplanes.
Peters had 13.5 million when nobody else had even 1.5 million chips and, one-by-one, they bit the dust. Metalidi went first when 5♠5♦ couldn’t beat J♣3♦. Then Dvoress lost with A♦9♠ versus Peters’ A♣K♣. Those were the two players that Peters said he had identified as his biggest threats at the final, but the were out in a matter of minutes.
There was nothing more to it: Peters had the stack to take on anybody and was getting help from the deck to push his advantage home.
The only man Peters couldn’t seem to shake was Newey, who built on his early double up with another just after the first break of the day. Newey was at his second final table of the week, having also sat alongside Zang among the last six of the Super High Roller, and getting to heads-up signalled an improvement on his previous third-placed finish.
But Newey had a mountain to climb against Peters. Not only did Peters have Newey out-chipped by a 7:1 ratio, but there was a psychological burden to overcome as well. Newey, the businessman turned poker player, has amassed more than $3 million in live tournament earnings since trading boardroom for card-room, but he has never won a tournament outright.
Peters, on the other hand, has 11 tournament victories on his resume in the live arena and scores more online. Even in a week of huge underdog victories in more than just the poker world, this one was a step too far, wasn’t it?
Readers, it was. Although Newey put up a spirited fight–and even hit a royal flush at one point to win a small pot–Peters’ patience, experience and mighty stack prevailed.
Newey was a short stack when he called all-in with K♦6♠ but he couldn’t beat Peters’ A♣8♦. The board bricked and Peters adds another major title to his ever lengthening list. Newey took $3,507,000 for his second, with Peters picking up $4,885,200 and the coveted Spadie trophy.
“For a long time I definitely felt like I was underachieving, I had so many close spots, and so many big final table bubbles,” Peters said. “I had a very disappointing multiple year stretch and finally things started to fall my way and this year has been amazing.”
He added: “The turning point for me was the high roller result in Malta. I finally got that big win and things have been going my way since then. I’ve been playing great and working really hard things have fallen into place.”
That’s about it for this spectacular Asia Championship of Poker (ACOP). Same time next year? Sure.
ACOP High Roller
Date: November 11-13, 2016
Buy-in: $250,000 (240,000+10,000)
Prize pool: $16,699,200
|1||David Peters||United States||$4,885,200|
|2||Paul Newey||United Kingdom||$3,507,000|