MANILA, Philippines (1 February, 2009) – What was expected to be a dogfight of a Final Table ended up being one of the shortest anyone could ever remember. At the end of the day, it was the Philippines’ own Neil Arce who won the 2009 Asian Poker Tour Philippines Main Event.
The heads-up showdown between Day 1A chipleader Arce and Day 1B and Day 2 chipleader Steve Yea became Arce’s personal showcase. Coming into the showdown, the Filipino was behind in chips to the Korean, 1,572,000 to 1,048,000. Their heads-up battle began with Arce outdueling Yea to take over the chip lead. After a few hands of back-and-forth action, the tide turned to the Filipino’s favor when he won a huge hand with a Queen-High straight against Steve Yea to take 1,700,000 million to 800,000 chip lead. After that, it was a case of Arce bullying Yea into folding numerous times before the dramatic hand came.
On the final hand, Arce again made a move for Yea’s chips with a 100,000 raise. This time, Yea made a raise of his own for 300,000. Arce then moved all-in to which Yea called. The crowd was on its feet for this one because should Arce take the hand, he would eliminate Yea and become the new Asian Poker Tour Philippines Main Event Champion.
Unfortunately for Arce, his Ks Qs was completely dominated by Yea’s Ad Kh. With the flop of 4s 6c 7h, it was looking more and more likely that Steve Yea would double-up, leaving Neil Arce’s chip stack severely crippled. The dealer made the burn and showed the turn…the Queen of Hearts! Arce let out a loud ‘Yeah!’ followed by the raucous eruption of the Filipino crowd. Meanwhile, Yea was left shaking his head at the sudden turn of events. If the river didn’t show an ace, Yea’s tournament would be finished . When the dealer made the burn and it showed 6h, the whole gallery exploded and Arce was mobbed by his friends and supporters – both stunned and delirious about the way the board turned in his favour.
In some ways, it was a prophetic victory for Neil Arce after he had guaranteed to Asian Poker Tour CEO Chris Parker earlier this week that he would win the tournament. While addressing the crowd, the normally loud and boisterous Arce couldnt find the right words to explain his victory, which prompted Parker to quip: “It’s not often you’ll find Neil Arce at a loss for words.”
The Final Table started off with a bang when after only two hands, two players already hit the rail. Fittingly, it was both Arce and Yea that most of the eliminations. The first to go was Kim Tae Hyung who was dispatched by Arce. On the very next hand, Casey Kastle eliminated Vesa Leikos in an eerie carbon copy of Hyung’s elimination. Soon after, Liz Lieu hit the rail courtesy of Steve Yea. He soon added to his list of victims by eliminating Ron Kluber and Susumu Toge. Not to be outdone, Arce took out fourth placer Cicurel Didier and third placer Casey Kastle, thereby setting up a showdown with Steve Yea. In the end, it was Neil Arce who came out victorious in front of a partisan Filipino crowd cheering on his every move.
For Steve Yea, it was another bridesmaid finish after also placing runner-up in last year’s Asian Poker Tour Macau Main Event to Yevgeniy Timoshenko. Devastated as he was, there’s no denying that Steve Yeah is one of the most promising young poker players in the world.
But for today, it was the hometown boy who made all the right moves and for his efforts, Neil Arce is the 2009 Asian Poker Tour Philippines Main Event Champion!
The Asian Poker Tour has been licensed by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation. The Asian Poker Tour is supported by the iPoker Network, Titan, Dafa Poker, PKR, PartyPoker, Everest Poker, 888, JBet Poker, Japanese Poker League, 32 Red Poker, Microgaming Network and the National Poker League.