Huy Pham of Vietnam emerged from the ashes in Day 3 to become the chip leader entering the Final Table of the APT-RWM Poker Finale 2014 Main Event; after under just seven hours of play in the final day Wednesday, he also emerged as the champion capping off what was a come-from-behind victory in the tournament held at Resorts World Manila (RWM) in Pasay City, Philippines.
Behind a raucous Vietnamese crowd and some risky plays in the latter part of the tournament, Pham won the title and top prize of PHP 3,185,000.
“This is the biggest win for me in a tournament,” declared Pham, who also placed 6th in the APT Philippines 2014 Main Event last April. “This means a lot to me as this is the first time in a main event. I’ve been traveling a lot to play so this means a lot.”
The Vietnamese beat a tough final table filled with former APT champions and popular poker pros in Asia; and nothing tougher than the final four which included APT veterans Tetsuya Tsuchikawa (2nd place – PHP 1,818,000) of Japan; Jojo Tech (3rd place – 1,225,000) of the Philippines; and Linh Tran (4th place – PHP 864,000) of Canada.
Others who finished inside the Top 8 are Michael Mariakis (5th place – PHP 696,000); Eric Sia (6th place – PHP 554,000); Chow Mun Fei (7th place – PHP 438,000); and Azusa Maeda (8th place – PHP 348,000).
Pham entered the final day with the most chips but the road to the title was paved with real struggles and real threats to his tournament life. Entering Day 3 (Tuesday) when the main event was down to 36 players, he only had 10 big blinds to work with. Pham tripled up in the very first hand of that day and the rest, as they say, is history.
“Yeah, I came in at Day 3 with 61K, first hand of the day i got jack and i put it all in!” shared Pham. “(against) pockets tens and pocket queens and the jack came. It was the hand of the day for me.”
From at-risk, he became the chip leader entering in the final table when he had over 1.2M in chips. During the final day he fell below the 1M mark when Mariakis doubled-up off him with J♥ J♠ against his A♠ J♦ in the middle levels. Slowly but surely, Pham built it up once again— with the key hand being the double-up off Tsuchikawa, who called Pham’s all-in with K♦ Q♦. The Vietnamese had A♠ 4♣ and the board A♦ A♥ 6♦ 3♥ 7♥ extended his tournament life.
From there, Pham started targeting then chip leader Tech, who at one point had 3.2M in chips against Pham’s 1.3M and Tsuchikawa’s 1.2M. In one hand, he forced Tech to fold on the river when the pot was already very large; at this point, he took over as chip leader when play was three-handed.
A few hands later, he shoved with J♦ 3♦ on a board of 8♦ 4♥ 2♦ 5♦. Tech snap-called with pocket eights for a set but a diamond appeared on the river 9♦ to give Pham the massive pot. With a dominating 4:1 chip ratio in the heads-up round against Tsuchikawa, the Vietnamese took full advantage and eventually won with Q♥ 7♥ hitting two pairs on a board of 5♠ 2♦ Q♠ 7♦ 5♣.
When asked for his advice for poker enthusiasts who like to find success on the felt, Pham had a few simple words:
“Just concentrate and give your best; just like I did.”