The Main Even of the Asia Pacific Poker Tour Season 8 in Macau reached its peak today after five days of play and we have the newest champion. It is Jiajun Liu, who navigated the final table in the best possible manner, emerging as the sole survivor with all the chips in front of him and a beautiful trophy in his hands.
Before this could happen for Liu, eight other players had to make the trip to the rail and it was Scotland’s Thomas Mcgarrity who started the day as number one in chips. With quite a few players nursing a short stack, there was bound to be some fireworks early, but nobody expected three players would leave their seats within the first half-hour of play.
The one to start the mini-series of eliminations was Hong Kong’s Sailesh Verma, who was sent to the rail in 9th at the hands of Mcgarrity. His early exit was still good enough for a prize of HK $198,140. Falling shortly after him was Yat Wai Cheng, earning HK $273,000 for his efforts in Macau. Finally, Frenchman Jean-Marie Peyron exited in 7th, earning HK $355,000 after failing to come from behind against Billy ‘The Croc’ Argyros’ pocket Jacks.
This left six players still battling for the title. At this point, Mcgarrity really looked good to book the win as he extended his lead and had more than a third of the chips in play in front of him. The next two eliminations to ensue involved two players from Taiwan. The first one to go was Carlos Chang, who received HK $464,000 for his sixth place finish, while Yen Han Chen finished his race in fifth, with HK $575,000 to show for his efforts.
The player to claim both of these players’ chips was Cyril Andre and this helped his stack increase quite significantly and he seized the chip lead. The tournament was down to four players with only two 60-minute levels in the books. If there is ever a need for the definition of fast and furious poker action, they can use this final table in Macau as an example.
It was now time for Argyros to start making his move and he started chipping away at Mcgarrity. In the end, it was ‘The Croc’ who sent Mcgarrity to the rail when he managed to get all the chips in the middle holding pocket Aces against the #as#kc of Mcgarrity. The fourth place finish was good for HK $737,000.
With three players still in contention, it was now Argyros leading the way. Interestingly enough, he was the next one out as well. He got entangled in two big hands against Andre, both times holding a flush draw and both times failing to improve. The second time, it was Argyros who was at risk and no flush meant no more play for him. Finishing in third place earned him HK $940,000 and that brings his lifetime winnings to nearly $1.5 million, confirming his place among the best all-time Australian poker players.
It was heads up time for the only two remaining, Andre and Liu. They both had similar stacks at the start of play, but Liu wasn’t in a mood to dance around too much. He started applying pressure right from the start and this approach saw him turn into a short stack a few times. However, he was relentless and managed to get to even stacks against his opponent every time until the final hand.
Liu finally caught some momentum and managed to build up a three-to-one chip lead over the Frenchman. At this point, Andre was running out of options and moved all in from the button holding #qs#8h. Liu made the easy call with #7s#7c and they were off to the races.
The board would provide the final excitement of the tournament as it came #qd#qc#10c and once again Liu needed some help. And help would come, as the dealer turned #7d, now leaving the Frenchman in dire straits. The river blanked as it came #9s and it was all over.
Andre finished runner-up, taking home HK $1,693,000 (~US $218,000) after a grueling heads-up battle in which, in all honesty, things just wouldn’t go his way.
As for Liu, it was clearly his day. With his victory today, he became the second Chinese player in a row to seize this title and his bounty was HK $2,776,000 (~US $360,000). His supporters on the rail certainly did not try to hide their excitement and it seems Liu had quite a fan base to help celebrate his victory.