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Harry Potter Dazzles Manila! Feng Zhao Uses His Magic To Win APT Philippines 2014

A new nickname was needed for the poker pro from Singapore, Feng Zhao, after his incredible display in Manila, Philippines. And the local pros railing the Asian Poker Tour final table delivered.

“A magician never reveals his secrets. I’m not going to tell you how I did it,” Zhao responded after hearing his new nickname: Harry Potter. According to APT Live Reporting, the locals were impressed by Zhao’s run as he managed to climb up from being severely crippled – he was 99th out of 116 players after Day 1 and 32nd out of 35 after Day 2 – to dominating the final table and taking down the 2014 APT Philippines trophy.

He started the final day with a big lead and ready to own the recreational players who were trying to go home with the big prize. Unfortunately for them, they couldn’t stop the magic of Harry Potter.

Norwegian Mikal Blomlie was the first player to fall by the hands of Singapore’s magician. He moved all-in with #5c#5d but discovered the bad news after Zhao called with #ah#as.

The Asian pro continued his run and took yet another victim in 2012 APT Asian Series Cebu High Roller winner, Aussie Michael Marvanek. Marvanek shoved his #ad#qd but failed to win the race against Zhao’s #5c#5d.

Vietnamese Huy Pham was next to leave the final table in sixth place. Pham three-bet shove with #kh#10c to no avail; Zhao had yet another premium hand in #ac#qd and after a bad #8s#10h#5c flop, he rebounded and hit the #ad on the turn.

Spaniard Inaki Santos grabbed the lead for a short time and managed to eliminate Lebanese Mike Fawaz in fifth place. Fawaz was left with just over 10 big blinds after losing a big pot against red-hot Zhao. Having #ac#jc, the Lebanese called Santos’ all-in but was just a 29% favorite against his opponent’s #as#kc.

Zhao resumed his aggression, taking back the chip lead and forcing Hyeong Wook Choi to put his tournament life on the line. Again, the pro from Singapore was on top of the situation, holding #ah#jc against Choi’s #qc#js. For his fourth place finish, Choi cashed in $35,300.

The third spot was secured by Chinese Jia Jie Liang. He raised all-in his last 10 big blinds with #8d#9h and was called by Santos, who had #ad#5h. The community cards didn’t help the Chinese at all as he left the $2,700 buy-in event with a healthy $49,400 in his pockets.

The heads-up play started fairly balanced but Zhao had the momentum and took pot after pot from the last player in his way, Inaki Santos. In the last hand of the tourney, the player from Singapore called a min-raise preflop and check-raised on a #8s#6s#5d flop. Zhao continued his aggression on the #7d turn, betting strong and snap-calling Santos’ all-in as he had #js#9c for the straight. The Spaniard had #10d#8d and only a diamond could have saved him. The river, though, brought anything but an out: #7h, securing second place for Santos plus a $72,600 prize.

Congratulations to Feng Zhao on his performance. According to Hendon Mob Poker DB, the $126,500 win in Manila is the biggest live prize of his career. Overall, however, Zhao has grabbed even bigger prizes in the online world. The PocketFives rankings show a $175,893 cash for fourth place in the 2014 Turbo Championship Of Online Poker Main Event, plus first place in the Sunday Warm-up tournament at PokerStars for $131,248. Will he top those two cashes too?

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Florian Gheorghe