After five days of APT Main Event action, Japan’s Takumi Samejima entered the Final 8 running second in chips, and after a stellar performance at the heads up round, he captured his first-ever championship title. Samejima earned the US$38,020 first place purse, the APT championship trophy, and the APT Championship Ring.
Samejima has been playing cash games and home games for a few years but impressively, this is just his third live tournament appearance. He learned poker through Japanese player GACKT who was also at the Final 8 today. Before Samejima headed for celebration, we were able to have a short Q&A with the champion.
APT: Entering the Final 8, what was your strategy coming in second in chips?
Samejima: When the final table started, there were some short stacks so I decided to play a bit tighter than usual. After several of them were eliminated, I gradually added more aggression to my game. But not too much.
APT: At what point did you switch gears?
Samejima: I changed gears after Sam busted out. I played more aggressively at the heads up round.
APT: Before you called Czardy Rivera’s all in, what was going through your mind that it took some time for you to call?
Samejima: After he pushed all in, I read him with an over pair but I asked myself if I could make the call or not. So I calculated my outs and from there I decided to call.
Victory Hand: Samejima ahead 5:1 in chips. Rivera min-raised to 120K and Samejima called. At the flop of 7♣ 8♣ 5♥, Samejima bet 120K, Rivera went all in for 815K, and Samejima called. Rivera had K♦ K♠ and Samejima with 6♦ 7♥. The turn J♣ and river 9♥ improved Samejima to a winning straight.
Prior to his victory, there were a several key hands that were clearly game changers for Samejima.
First Double Up: At three-handed, Razavi min-raised to 100K, Samejima three-bet to 200K, and Razavi called. At the flop of 6♠ 7♣ 3♥, Samejima bet 200K, Razavi shoved, Samejima snap-called. Samejima held J♣ J♥ and Razavi with 8♠ 8♦. The turn came 2♦ and river K♠. Samejima climbed to 2M in chips.
After Rivera eliminated Razavi, the heads up round began with Samejima behind 1.5:1 in chips. Rivera claimed the first four pots but on the fifth hand, Samejima landed his second double up of the day and it was a massive one.
Second Double Up: Samejima raised to 150K and Rivera limp-called. On the flop of 2♥ 10♠ 9♠, Samejima shoved his 1.465M chips and after a couple of minutes, Rivera called. Samejima had A♥ 8♠ and Rivera with 10♣ 7♣. The turn came 2♠ and river 7♠ for a backdoor flush to Samejima.
This was the first time at the final table that Rivera lost the chip lead. Samejima jumped ahead 2:1 in chips. From there, Samejima dominated and never relinquished his lead.
Big Pot: Samejima min-raised to 120K and Rivera called. At the flop of 10♠ J♥ J♣, Samejima check-called Rivera’s 120K bet. On the turn of 6♦, he check-called a 200K bet. Then on the river 9♦, he led out for 240K and won the pot with a fold from Rivera. He showed his J♠ 9♣ full house.
Samejima tanks Rivera: In a limped pot preflop, the board ran 6♥ 2♣ 2♦, Samejima check-called Rivera’s 60K bet. On the turn of 10♥, he check-called a 120K bet. Then on the river of J♣, he led out for 180K and after some time, Rivera called. Samejima had 10♣ 8♣ and Rivera mucked.
Final 8 recap
The Final 8 began with immediate fireworks. On the first hand of the day, Samad Razavi eliminated Yoichi Uesugi in 8th place. They were both all in preflop. Uesugi held J♣ J♠ and Razavi with A♦ Q♥. The board ran K♣ 7♠ 8♥ A♥ 9♥. Interestingly, Razavi’s first card was exposed at dealing, giving him a better replacement.
Several hands after, Czardy Rivera eliminated GACKT in 7th place. On a board of Q♥ 9♠ 10♥, GACKT three-bet all in and Rivera snap-called. GACKT had A♦ Q♠ top pair but Rivera had better K♣ J♦ straight. Two hands after, short stacked Phua Si Yang got the boot in 6th place. In a battle of the blinds, Alexis Lim and Razavi had their chips all in preflop eventually resulting in Lim falling taking 5th place.
At four-handed, Rivera climbed to over half the chips in play, while everyone else played catch up. Out of all the players, it was Razavi’s stack that fluctuated dramatically. He lost a couple of big pots but recovered to nearly average after eliminating Karl Peter Wittmann in 4th place. At three-handed, he won two pots against Rivera, with the second one as A-10 top two pair. This brought him within two big blinds from the leader.
Razavi’s rise was only momentary though as Rivera successfully challenged back claiming several small pots. The English pro fell further after losing to Samejima’s pocket jacks versus pocket eights, then settled for a 3rd place finish with Rivera’s K-Q spiking royalty on the river to defeat his A-5.
The highlight tournament came to a close when Samejima dominated the heads up round, first overtaking Rivera with a backdoor flush, and later a straight on the final hand to become the APT’s first Main Event champion of the year.
Congratulations to Takumi Samejima for reigning victorious at the Main Event!
Final 8 Payouts
1st Takumi Samejima – Japan – US$38,020
2nd Czardy Rivera – Philippines – US$23,210
3rd Samad Razavi – UK – US$16,790
4th Karl Peter Wittmann – Germany – US$12,880
5th Alexis Lim – Philippines – US$11,060
6th Phua Si Yang – Singapore – US$9,550
7th GACKT – Japan – US$8,300
8th Yoichi Uesugi – Japan – US$7,290
For the past eight days, the Asian Poker Tour has been hosting the APT Kickoff 2017, its first event of the season, at Resorts World Manila. The five-day APT Main Event had 96 entries for a prize pool of US$139,680.
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