Kim Jong-un’s Finance Minister may have told the Chinese Foreign Ministry that North Korea is still on course for full-scale denuclearisation this week, but that hasn’t stopped the French from dropping a few bombs along the Korean Peninsular.
PokerStars has been as quiet as a jaguar juggling jackfruits in a jungle about their appearance in Korea this week (you won’t even find the results in Hendon Mob). Jeju’s Landing Casino hosted the PokerStars Red Dragon, and outside of the PokerStars blog, you would have missed it altogether, and that would have been a shame because it was the scene of the richest live tournament prize on offer this week.
The Red Dragon Series included a $53,000 buy-in Super High Roller, and 44-entrants created a $2,231,879 prize pool, and you can buy a lot of buttons with that kind of wonga.
And what a final table.
Nobody is rocking the Asian high stakes poker scene as wildly as Ivan Leow these days. The Malaysian star has earned more than $5.4m this year, including five tournament wins, and three seven-figure scores.
Leow won the HKD 500,000 Short Deck event at the Triton Poker Series in Jeju for a million bucks. He then went to partypoker MILLIONS Russia and won the High Roller for $1.1m, and won Leon’s €100,000 High Roller at the World Series of Poker Europe (WSOPE) for $1.4m.
Leow wasn’t the only dragon from Malaysia sticking his claws into the oak surrounding the Landing Casino’s magnificent poker tables. Michael Soyza has earned a career-high $2,142,608 in 2018, picking up a #16 ranking in the Global Poker Index (GPI), and the August GPI Player of the Month award. Soyza won the Asian Pacific Poker Tour (APPT) Main Event in Korea, besting a field of 449-entrants to win the $148,629 first prize in April. During the Vegas grind, Soyza conquered 2,877 entrants to win the $588,429 first prize in a $1,655 buy-in event during the Mid-States Poker Tour (MSPT) at the Venetian. He finished off a beautiful summer by winning a 124-entrant €10,300 High Roller during the PokerStars’ European Poker Tour (EPT), banking €302,500. In October, Soyza was bracelet hunting in Rozvadov and brought home $592,594 after finishing third in Leon’s €100,000 High Roller.
However, it wouldn’t be Malaysia that would hog the headlines in this one. That honour went to the French, and two of the finest proponents of high stakes poker in the business.
Rui Cao v Romain Arnaud.
High Stakes dragon v high stakes dragon.
Compatriot v compatriot.
Friend v friend.
When it comes to multi-table tournaments (MTTs), both players are vastly inexperienced, but the smart money would have gone the way of Cao, after some sterling performances in Triton Poker Series events of late.
Cao has earned $3.1m playing tournaments in 2018, with the entirety of that haul coming in Triton Poker Series High Rollers. The French star finished runner-up to Mikita Badziakouski in the HKD 1,000,000 Main Event at the Triton Poker Series in Montenegro earning $1,683,711, and also finished fifth in the HKD 1,000,000 Short-Deck event at the same venue for $802,412. Cao carried his form into the Triton Poker Series Jeju finishing runner-up to Ivan Leow in the HKD 500,000 Short-Deck event for $672,852.
With the Poker Gods seemingly on the side of Cao, Arnaud made the smart move, and brokered an ICM deal that saw a pocket calculator split the money as the two friends played ‘blind’ poker to determine which of them would have to say ‘cheese.’ Born winners, I think this may have been a rare time when these two private men would have preferred to have been on the losing side.
Arnaud won the flips, and now has the inconvenience of finding a home for his trophy amongst his suitcase full of cash.
Here are the final table results:
1. Romain Arnaud – $668,424*
2. Rui Cao – $620,258*
3. Michael Soyza – $336,453
4. Ivan Leow – $257,948
5. Wai Kin Yong – $201,806
6. Shunu Zang – $156,961
*Signifies an ICM deal
In other Red Dragon news, John Juanda finished 12th in the 95-entrant $10,770 buy-in Red Dragon High Roller. Yin Gui Li won the event for $255,741. James Won Lee won the $66,327 first prize in the Baby Dragon event. The Main Event continues as I type.
In Other High Rolling Tournament News
So who else has been dropping bombs this week?
One of the best non-professional high rollers in the business found himself in an unusual position this week. The UK’s Talal Shakerchi made the final table of the PokerStars Sunday Million finishing 6/5720. That’s a $215 buy-in event, folks, showing you how much ‘raidalot’ loves the game.
Sticking with PokerStars and the GPI World #1, Alex “bigfox86” Foxen earned his third High Roller Club title in under a fortnight. Between Nov 25 – Dec 1, Foxen has cashed 10-times in the PokerStars High Roller Club events, securing 7 top 3 finishes, 3 runner-up spots, and 3 wins including the $530 Daily 500 for $12,376, the $1,050 Sunday Supersonic for $43,058, and the $1,050 Daily Warm-Up for $25,578.
Foxen wasn’t the only high roller making a splash in the High Roller Club this past weekend. Joao “Naza114” Vieira beat 155-players to win the $2,100 Sunday High Roller for $65,069, Ivan “Negriin” Luca won the $1,050 Sunday Supersonic for $51,384, and Romania’s Alex “Steakaddict.” Papazian conquered the field in the $215 Sunday Warm-Up for $36,151.
Outside of the tournament scene and Trickett’s Room on partypoker was bustling this week with Sam Trickett, Rob Yong and Matt Kirk competing in $100/$200 and $200/$400 Pot-Limit Omaha (PLO) cash games. According to reports, Trickett and Yong were the big winners each pulling $300k+ profit off the tables.