In what proved to be a dominant display of power poker, Taiwan's Chou Chien Fa took down his first major tournament title, earning the prestigious honor of becoming the first man to be crowned Poker King Cup Taiwan Main Event Champion at the poker tables of the Chinese Texas Hold’em Poker Association in Taipei, Taiwan
Fa came into the heads-up confrontation against the Philippine's David Erquiaga with all the momentum and an almost unassailable 13-to-1 chip lead after eliminating the UK's Alex Lindop in third place.
Erquiaga played a great tournament, showing plenty of grit, but at the end the slopes of Fa's mountainous chip stack proved too hard to scale. Heads-up lasted all of two hands, with Fa moving all-in from the button in the second hand with eight-seven of spades and Erquiaga making the call for his tournament life with ace-deuce offsuit. Fa spiked a pair of sevens on the flop, improving to two-pair on the eight of hearts river to take the title and the TWD 1,639,000 ($52,300) top prize.
PKC Taiwan Main Event Final Table
A stern man, Fa cracked a rare smile immediately after his win, which he celebrated with his watching rail before returning to shake his opponent's hand before posing for the obligatory winner's shot.
"I don't play all that many events and I'm not a professional poker player," said Fa via the aid of a translator immediately after his momentous win, "so I wasn't thinking too much about it on the table during the game. However, I'm very happy!"
"I finished runner-up in the Red Dragon before, and while this is a slightly smaller event than that, and my favorite buy-in range is HKD 15,000-20,000 (~$1,900-2,500), so this was a little lower, but it still feels very good to win!"
Playing recreationally for seven years, the 50-year-old professional commercial photographer seemed extremely comfortable piloting a big stack for a man who admitted he rarely plays more than four or five events a year. That makes the $310,000-plus (including this event) in live tournament winnings Fa sports on his poker resume all the more impressive, and he handled the favorite tag with aplomb.
Fa returned for the fourth and final day third in the counts, after leading his Day 1C starting flight and bagging up the chip lead Day 2. The only reason Fa was not leading coming into the final was the fact that Hong Kong's Wai King Cheung put on a last-minute burst of pace on the penultimate Day 3 to edge into the lead.
While Fa started slowly on the fourth and final day, the action was high octane from the get-go, with the whole final table wrapped up in a little over four hours.
It was Malaysia's Lee Kuan Wee who scored the first casualty of the final table, waking up with pocket aces in early position and opening the action with a raise, before calling off the all-in short-stacked shove of Taiwan's Kuang Hung Lee, who had found pocket jacks in the big blind. Wee's aces held and he climbed up to fifth in the counts while Lee departed in ninth place for a TWD 164,000 ($5,230) payday.
Despite entering the day as the chip leader, Wai King Cheung finished in 7th place
While Jae Wook Shin returned second in the counts, the South Korean poker professional lost two big back-to-back hands against Taiwan's Yu You Ci Tsai to hit the rail in eighth place just minutes after Lee's departure. The first hand saw Shin and Tsai battle in a sizable four-way pot with the duo getting all the chips in on a king-high two heart flop and while the former held ace-seven of hearts for a pair and the nut flush draw, he couldn't get there against Tsai's king-queen.
The duo got into it again immediately after the first break, with Shin moving all-in pre-flop with pocket eights and getting looked up by Tsai from the blinds with ace-nine suited. An ace on the flop saw Tsai take the chip lead, and Shin hit the rail in eighth for TWD 218,800 ($6,980).
However, Tsai did not get to enjoy his stint at the top for long, doubling up one of the more dangerous players at the table when he called Alex Lindops all-in pre-flop shove, the Brit's pocket aces holding against Tsai's pocket twos to bring the pair even in chips and give the chip lead to Fa.
China's Ling He and runner-up Erquiaga tangled in a big pot shortly afterward that saw the two switch places in the counts, before former frontrunner Cheung got short and moved all-in preflop with pocket sevens. Unfortunately for the Hong Kong player, Fa woke up with pocket eights, which held to further increase his stranglehold on the final table. Cheung hit the rail in seventh for TWD 273,000 ($8,710).
Tsai continued downward climb down the counts, departing not long after Cheung after losing a preflop race with ace-king suited against Fa's two black queens to see the latter pull even further ahead of the rest of the pack. Tsai departed in sixth place for TWD 328,600 ($10,485).
UK's Alex Lindop finished in 3rd place
Fa also scored the next knockout, raising with pocket tens just a few hands later and calling the all-in shove of Wee, who chose to make his last stand with ace-six suited and failed to hit the flop to crash out in fifth place for TWD 411,000 ($13,115) just before the second break.
It was Erquiaga who then scored the next elimination, raising in early position with two black nines and calling He's all-in shove with ace-queen and hitting a full house on the turn to send the Chinese player to the rail in fourth place for TWD 547,500 ($17,470).
Lindop was Fa's next most dangerous rival, and the Taiwanese player put him to the sword immediately following He's departure, rivering a full house with pocket fives to crack the Brit's flopped trip nines to bring the tournament down to the final two players. After just two hands, it was all over and Fa could call himself the first-ever Poker King Cup Taiwan Main Event champion.
Chou Chien Fa, 2019 Poker King Cup Taiwan Main Event champion
Congratulations to inaugural Main Event champ Chou Chien Fa and thanks for reading, until next time.