Daniel Negreanu put on an absolute clinic at the final table of the World Series of Poker Asia-Pacific Main Event, taking the lead early and rarely faltering on his way to a $1 million victory and his fifth career WSOP bracelet.
It was the end of a nearly five year bracelet drought for Negreanu after numerous close calls, including a heartbreaking heads-up loss in the 2009 WSOP Europe Main Event. This was his second final table in Melbourne, after finishing fourth in the 8-Game Mix, and Negreanu will take a nice lead in the WSOP Player of the Year race into the summer after two final tables.
It was a cathartic experience for Negreanu to get the monkey off his back.
“When you play poker for as long as I have, you have a lot of good memories,” said Negreanu, “But there’s also the other ones. I’ve been on TV in this spot and come in second more than a couple of times, and it’s just a relief and an amazing feeling to actually win.”
Negreanu was able to keep the mood light throughout with constant banter and laughter going back-and-forth with his seven final table opponents. He couldn’t have been much more comfortable at this final table, with the exception of a few select moments, and Negreanu felt it was an incredibly helpful approach for his game.
“One of the things that I realized about poker is that I’ve always been the most successful when I was just enjoying what I was doing,” said Negreanu, “Not taking myself too seriously, and not overthinking things.”
Negreanu entered his heads-up match with Daniel Marton with a nearly insurmountable lead, but that didn’t stop things from getting a little interesting in the meantime. Marton doubled through Negreanu on the 200th hand of the final table when his Q J made a straight on the turn to beat Negreanu’s A 8. There was a brief moment of true frustration on the second all-in, as Negreanu’s A 8 was well ahead of Marton’s 8 4 on the A 7 5 flop but was drawing dead to a tie when the 6 hit the turn.
Negreanu hit the table and didn’t immediately realize that the 9 on the river had made it a chop, reducing the blow. The third all-in saw a chopped pot as each player flopped a straight with 8 7, but the fourth would spell the end. Negreanu would shove with 2 2 and Marton called with A 7, and when the board ran out K J 6 T 4 the bracelet was officially Negreanu’s.
The early stages of this final table were quite slow, with very few flops seen during the first couple of levels. It worked to the benefit of Negreanu, though, as he built his stack from 2.4 million to over 4.5 million, giving him more than a third of the chips in play. Several players managed to shove and take down pots, but the first major pot wouldn’t happen until Hand 29.
Benny Spindler opened to 40,000 and Winfred Yu three-bet all-in for about 350,000. Spindler called with A Q but was behind as Yu tabled A K, with the flop hitting both players hard as it came out K 7 3. The 9 and 9 didn’t hit Spindler’s flush draw, with Yu getting the first double up of the final table.
Several players at the final table were still short, though, and that prompted a lot of uncalled all-ins as they tried to claw their way back into contention. Kahle Burns and Russell Thomas would chop with A Q against A Q, but Thomas would find himself all-in again shortly after. George Tsatsis opened to 70,000, Thomas three-bet all-in and Tsatsis called wih A J, which had Thomas’ A T in trouble. They switched outs as the flop came out Q 9 8, but neither the 2 nor the 3 would help Thomas, and after 59 hands at the final table they finally lost a player as the October Niner was eliminated in eighth.
Seven-handed play did little to pick up the pace from eight-handed action, and after 82 hands they went to dinner with those seven players still in the hunt. It picked up significantly after the break, though, as Yu and Mikel Habb got into a hand for most of their combined chips. Habb open-shoved for about 400,000 from the button and Yu called from the big blind, setting up a coinflip between Habb’s T T and Yu’s A Q. It was all bad for Habb on the A 3 2 flop and didn’t get any better as it ran out 2 6 to knock Habb out in seventh place.
Another all-in would come on the very next hand, and Spindler, the chipleader to start the day, would be the one at risk. After losing some chips to Negreanu and doubling Yu up a second time, Spindler was left as one of the shorter stacks. He open-shoved for 535,000 from the cutoff and Burns called in the big blind with K J. Spindler was ahead with A T, but the K 9 9 flop put Burns well in front. The 4 and 6 would close out Spindler’s run at the title, with a sixth place payout as his consolation prize.
Burns wouldn’t maintain that success, losing a big pot to Negreanu without a showdown, tanking for over six minutes on the river of a J 9 6 9 K board before folding and becoming one of two short stacks. Negreanu would get the rest a dozen hands later as Burns shoved with Q J and Negreanu picked up A K and called. Burns picked up more outs on the T 8 3 flop, but the 6 turn and T river would not help as he was eliminated in fifth.
The short stacks were resilient with four players left, though luck did play a major factor. Yu doubled with Q 6 against Negreanu’s A A with a T 4 2 5 Q runout giving him a flush as Negreanu actively cheered him on, with the five big blind shove barely affecting Negreanu. Marton’s suckout was a bit tougher for Tsatsis, with a four-bet all-in bluff with T 7 by Marton getting snapped off by K K, only for Marton to make a straight with a T 9 8 flop and 6 turn. Yu would also double through Marton, making a straight on the river with J T as it ran out K K Q 2 A to beat 3 3.
Tsatsis would play one of the biggest pots of the tournament against Negreanu, but for some reason he was simply snakebitten on this day. On a board of Q J J 4, with 1.3 million already in the middle, Negreanu check-raised enough to put Tsatsis all-in and he snap-called with J 9. Negreanu had just two outs with A Q, one card away from Tsatsis pulling even at the top of the chip counts. The Q river brought an audible gasp from the room as Negreanu connected with his long-shot to make a full house and eliminate Tsatsis in fourth place.
Yu continued his impeccable record in all-in spots, doubling through Marton when his Q 7 spiked a Q on the flop to beat 8 8 as he survived his eighth time at risk at this final table. The ninth would be a different story, though. Yu raised to 150,000 from the button and Negreanu called as the flop came out A 8 2. Negreanu checked, Yu went all-in and Negreanu snap-called, tabling J 9. Yu was in big trouble as he had A K. It was over on the T turn, and with the T river Yu’s short-stacked survival skills finally fell short as he was eliminated in third.
Negreanu started his heads-up match with Marton with a lead of almost 11-to-1, on the brink of his fifth career bracelet and a win in the inaugural WSOP APAC Main Event. Despite several scares during the first three all-ins, Negreanu would eventually put Marton away to seal his victory.
Here are the final table payouts for the 2013 World Series of Poker Asia-Pacific Main Event.
- Daniel Negreanu – $1,038,825
- Daniel Marton – $637,911
- Winfred Yu – $423,225
- George Tsatsis – $284,715
- Kahle Burns – $201,994
- Benny Spindler – $146,205
- Mikel Habb – $107,730
- Russell Thomas – $82,721
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