Joseph Cheong has shown that he has a place among the kings of high-stakes poker after taking out the Asian Poker Tour (APT) Manila Millions tournament. Held in the Philippines capital, the two-day tournament had a buy-in of HKD$1,000,000 (around US$129,000) and 18 players participate, including renowned pros Joe Hachem, Phillip Gruissem and Nam Le.
It was a very well-played tournament by Cheong, proven by the fact that he was the chip leader at the end of the first day. With seven players remaining on the second and last day of the tournament, the online poker marvel was in a great position to take out the HK $10,428,000 (US$1,343,122), something he did in great fashion.
Cheong took out each of his final three rivals en route to winning the Manila Millions in a spectacular ending to the tourney. Malaysian Paul Phua was the first of Cheong’s final three victims, knocked out after Cheong’s Eight Seven of spades hit a full house on the turn. Canadian resident Peter Chan was the next scalp on the winner’s list. Although Chan had a Queen-high flush after the river, it was no match for Cheong’s King-high flush, which ended Chan’s chances of a victory in Manila.
This left Malaysian businessman and poker enthusiast Richard Yong and Cheong in heads-up play, and it took little time for Cheong to be the last man sitting – one hand to be exact. The final two players undertook a showdown, with Yong’s Ace King being in front of Cheong’s Ace Ten pre-flop. Cheong paired his Ten on the flop, however, and with the turn and river respectively bringing the two of clubs and four of spades, it was a quick end to the heads-up play and the tournament.
The victory ended what was a stellar week for Cheong on the poker table. Along with winning the Manila Millions, Cheong also placed second at the WSOP Asia Pacific No Limit Hold’Em High Roller tournament in Australia, taking out $537,386 for his efforts. Cheong’s earnings from the two tournaments total around $1.9 million, not a bad amount for a little over one week’s work.
Born in South Korea before moving to the US with his family as a child, Cheong has steadily made a name for himself on the poker table in recent years. He began perfecting his game online, building himself a solid bankroll before deciding to participate in live tournaments. Cheong’s big break came in the 2010 WSOP Main Event where he finished third, taking home a hearty $4,130,049. He has earned $7,981,768 in live tournaments since coming onto the scene in 2009.
While he has not yet been able to replicate that performance in subsequent Main Events or major tournaments, it looks like he may have found a niche for the high-roller tournaments given his excellent performances this month.