When the smoke cleared in the poker battlefield, one man came out as the lone survivor—confirming his status as not only one of the best players in the local scene but also in all of Asia.
Czardy Earl Rivera took down the APT Asian Series Manila 2013 Main Event title after roughly seven hours of play in the final table. Add the struggle and survival in the first three days to qualify for the final day– that translates to a long grind of poker necessary to win the most prestigious poker event in this side of the world.
For his efforts, Rivera goes home with PHP 4.27 million and more importantly, kept the home country pride intact as he became the third straight Filipino to win the Asian Series Manila main event title.
Filipinos Jav Medina won in 2012 and Vic De Guzman won in 2011. This year, Rivera ruled the second highest attended main event in APT history outlasting a field of 389 runners that produced over PHP 17.36 million prize pool.
As with any APT championship run, it wasn’t easy for Rivera. After Day 1B, he only had 67,800 in chips or just about the average stack at that point but by end of Day 2, his stack grew to 391,000 worth of chips and he just kept on rolling.
Rivera readily agrees that indeed the main event was a tough grind.
“I think it was very tough because Lester Edoc is there. (He’s) a very accomplished Filipino pro. (There’s) Victorino Torres, former champion and then the chip-leader the Malaysian, Jerry Lai. He’s a very good player and it just so happened that suck-outs came to him, consecutive hands where he lost— (it was) very unlucky for him,” shared the modest and humble new champion.
In the early rounds of the final table, Torres was responsible for putting Rivera among the short-stacked players. On one occasion, he got considerable amount of chips when Torres had K♦ K♥ on a board of 10♠ J♠ 8♥ K♣ 10♥.
Two of Lai’s suckouts came when his pocket 8♥ 8♦ fell against 4th-placer Naresh Kukreja’s pocket fours (hitting a set on the river) and then when his K♦ K♣ was shot down by Torres’ pocket eights (hitting a set on the turn).
Torres ended up in 3rd place while Lai, who led in chips to start the final day, settled for 7th place.
Despite early struggles in the Final Table, he was able to recover and eventually reached the heads-up round against compatriot Edoc. But even before that, Rivera said that he started getting the confidence that he had the chance to win it all.
“Actually, late part (I realized I had the chance to win it). I was short-stacked almost the entire final table. The last four players I gained chips it was the start of the card rush was coming to me already,” said Rivera, who at one point were considered 10-to-1 underdogs to win the title.
Rivera started to get back in the thick of things when he outplayed Kukreja on a board of A♦ 10♣ 2♣ 4♠. After a series of raises and re-raises after the turn, Kukreja couldn’t handle the Rivera heat and folded the hand. At this point, the Filipino climbed to around 2.1M in chips.
In the heads-up round, Rivera dominated Edoc. And the end was simply serendipitous for Rivera. Holding what would be the final and winning hand K♦ 3♦ he flopped the flush when the dealer tabled 4♦ 8♦ Q♦ practically handing him the title and over four million in cash.
“Just try and try and never stop learning, because you cannot master this game (overnight). It’s a lifetime learning experience,” said the APT champion when asked of any advice for poker newbies and other players.
Check out how the latest champion etched his name in APT history through our Live Coverage of the event.
Meanwhile, in the final side event, the Six-Handed event, Michael Capinpuyan grabbed the title for a payout of PHP 309,900.
The Asian Poker Tour then looks to close out the year with a record-breaking attempt at the longest continuously running tournament from December – the APT-RWM Iron Man Poker Challenge!