Coming off a thunderous victory in Cambodia earlier this month, Malaysia’s Aik Chuan returned to the APT Main Event battlefield to defend his title and after four days of action, he reigned and became the first-ever back-to-back APT champion! Catching the champion for a quick quote, he shared, “My principle and motto is to never give up. This is what always keeps me going in life. Never give up.”
The APT Philippines 2017 Main Event resumed today with the final seven players returning to the Winford Hotel & Casino. Holding a dominating lead with over double the stack of his nearest competitor was defending champion Chuan. While he maintained a well above average stack on the opening round, he experienced a rough ride along the way before closing it out with a victory.
Final Table action
One of the first players to take chunks of Chuan’s stack was Korea’s Sang Jun Lee. This then led to Vietnam’s Van Sang Nguyen stealing the chip lead from Chuan. During the hand, the blinds were at 3,000-6,000 ante 1,000. Nguyen raised to 15k then called a three-bet of 42k by Chuan. On a flop of 6♣ 4♣ 4♦, both players checked; on the 6♦ turn, Nguyen bet 73k and won the pot with a fold from Chuan. Shortly after, several action packed hands took place sending Chuan’s stack nosediving.
After the first casualty was delivered with Japan’s Masato Nikawadori eliminating Filipino hope Wendell Barte, Japanese pro Iori Yogo averted the rail with A-J spiking a higher pair against Korea’s Soo Jo Kim’s pocket tens. With his double up stack, Yogo had more room to maneuver and engaged in a battle of the blinds against Chuan. It started off with a raise by Chuan to 15k and Yogo defending his big blind. At the flop of A♠ A♥ 8♣, both checked. On the A♦ turn, Chuan bet 10k and Yogo called. On the J♥ river, Chuan fired out 41k and after much contemplation, Yogo tossed in the hero call. Chuan turned open 2-9 bluff and Yogo won the pot with his K-9. By this time, Chuan’s stack was in critical mode and they were still two eliminations away from the money round.
With the first two levels delivering heavy losses to Chuan’s stack, the third level of the day was definitely fruitful. He doubled up through Nguyen with A♦ J♠ over J♣ 10♦ on a board of K♥ 3♥ 8♣ 10♠ Q♥ for a straight. Past APT Main Event champion Kim was eliminated next to bring them to the bubble stage with five players remaining.
The bubble round lasted for quite some time with both Nguyen and Lee capitalizing the most in the early orbits. But eventually both big stacks went at it for a pot and Lee got the better end with pocket aces awarding him the massive chip leader rank.
With Chuan still short stacked, he doubled up through Yogo with K♣ 8♣ pairing up against A♣ 10♦ on a board of 9♦ 7♥ 8♦ 9♠ 7♦. With enough chips to get back in the game, Chuan exerted aggression, winning multiple pots to bring him back up the ladder just behind Lee. The bubble finally burst with Chuan shutting down Nguyen with J♠ 9♠ landing a winning pair against A♦ K♥ on a board of 5♣ 4♣ 7♣ Q♥ 9♦.
Chuan’s Final Road to Victory
The money round began with Yogo tumbling out in 4th place with his pocket sixes running into Chuan’s pocket kings. At three-handed, Nikawadori was the runt with both Lee and Chuan trying to boot him out. But it was not to be as Nikawadori found a way to triple up, then gained momentum to ship in a double up against Chuan. Chuan quickly made up some of the lost chips when he railed Lee in 3rd place with yet another winning K♣ K♦. Lee had A♣ K♠ and while he improved at the flop of Q♦ 2♦ A♥ the turn 3♦ and K♥ sent him packing with Chuan overtaking with a set.
The heads up round was lopsided with the pro versus the amateur. Chuan had over 3:1 in chips. In just a few hands, it was all over. Nikawadori was all in with J♣ J♠ and Chuan with A♦ A♥. With no scares on the community board, Chuan reigned for a back-to-back victory.
“Even if it was a small field, it feels really good to win the Main Event again. I’ve had some issues that kept me away from poker for a while and it feels good to be back. I put in many hours to be better that I am so comfortable playing against anyone at the table. I took a break from poker for two years and it made me stronger, more mature, and way tougher. My mental conditioning is really good right now” expressed Chuan.
Congratulations to Aik Chuan! He was awarded the PHP 1,001,000 (approx. USD 19,750) first prize and collected his second APT Championship Ring.
You can watch the Final 4 action in the APT Twitch channel.
1st Aik Chuan – Malaysia – PHP 1,001,000
2nd Masato Nikawadori – Japan – PHP 628,600
3rd Sang Jun Lee – Korea – PHP 395,800
4th Iori Yogo – Japan – PHP 302,600