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Poker Rookie Masato Yokosawa wins first ever WPT Korea

Everyone has a chance to win a poker tournament, no matter the age or experience. Masato Yokosawa, a 21-year-old Tokyo business manager, showed that once more in the first ever World Poker Tour (WPT) main event held on the Asian continent.

Yokosawa started playing poker eight months ago and saw an opportunity when he heard that the WPT was heading to South Korea this December. He took on the challenge and never regretted it.

The Japanese was able to beat a total field of 137 players in five days to win the Main Event and $100,000, including a $15,400 entry to the 2014 WPT World Championship.

Yokosawa started the final day second in chips out of six players remaining, but he quickly secured the chip lead after experienced poker player, Chane Kampanatsanyakorn, spewed off his stack. The 18th place finisher in the 2013 WSOP APAC Main Event lost most of his stack in one key hand: after a call pre-flop, he check-called a monotone flop, check-raised a blank turn, and bet the river only to see his opponent, Kosei Ichinose, holding a flush. His elimination came a few hands later: his Ace-Five all-in was crushed by Chris Park’s pocket fives.

Another experienced poker player failed to deliver in the first WPT event in South Korea. Jae Kyung Sim, who won the 2013 APPT Cebu (Philippines), had to make a move with his 12 big blinds. He found a premium hand to do that, the Ace-Queen of diamonds, but he ran into an even bigger one – pocket Kings.

The next elimination showed that Yokosawa knows how to play the game and recognize the spots when you just have to be aggressive. He open-shoved with Nine-Four suited from the small blind to force five big blind stack Ichonese to make a decision. Ichonese correctly called with Jack-Ten but to no avail. The Japanese caught a lucky turn and eliminated the tiny stack in fourth place.

Forty-one hands later, Hyunshik Hun three-betted an open raise from Park and called his shove for his tournament life. Unfortunately for him, his King-Queen hand wasn’t good enough to win the race against Park’s pocket tens.

The heads-up battle between Park and Yokosawa started with the Japanese having a 2-to-1 chip advantage and lasted 50 hands. In the final hand, Park got the initiative pre-flop; he was aggressive on all streets and eventually moved all-in on the river with two pair, only to get called by Yokosawa, who had made trips on the turn. Park finished second, earning $60,700.

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Florian Gheorghe