The second-biggest Asia-Pacific Poker Tour (APPT) Main Event in the history of the PokerStars sponsored live poker series has crowned a winner in the early morning hours at Okada Manila. While the majority of the rail was rooting for eventual runner-up Christopher “BIGTIME” Mateo to keep the golden shard trophy on home soil, it was China’s Yuanning Wu who came out on top of the heads-up encounter.
With a price tag of PHP65,000 (∼$1,168), the marquee 2023 APPT Manila Main Event in the stunning Coral Room drew a staggering 1,354 entries. The PHP 76,832,730 (∼$1,381,101) prize pool is the largest for an APPT Main Event thus far and the biggest share went to Wu and Mateo. They cut a deal in heads-up and left PHP1,414,730 to play for. Besides the cash prize and coveted APPT Main Event trophy, Wu also receives a package worth PHP105,000 for a future APPT stop as well.
The two eventual heads-up opponents entered the unofficial final table sixth and seventh in chips but were separated by fewer than two big blinds when the most crucial stage of the tournament was reached. Wu was one of two former finalists of the popular mid-stakes live poker event and scored his second victory with the far biggest tournament cash prize worth PHP11,414,730 ($204,769).
New Zealand’s Thomas Ward, a runner-up from back in 2015 in Macau, had to settle for eighth place after he lost the majority of pots entered during the final stages. He was visiting Manila for the birthday of a friend and continued where he left a few years ago, coming close to victory once more.
The final table also featured another two players from the Philippines in John Tech and Archie Mariano, the former of which sits in fourth place on the country ranking according to The Hendon Mob database.
Final Table Result 2023 APPT Manila Main Event
|Place||Winner||Country||Prize (in PHP)||Prize (in USD)|
|3||Gyuhyuk Lee||South Korea||PHP5,501,000||$98,683|
|8||Thomas Ward||New Zealand||PHP1,301,000||$23,339|
*reflects deal agreement between Wu and Mateo, with PHP1,414,730 in cash added for the eventual winner
The final day saw 30 players still in contention spread across four tables and it didn’t take long for the fireworks to start. Norbert Koh bowed out almost immediately and the same also applied for Vasa Kaushal as well. Fewer than one full level surpassed and the redraw of the final three tables was reached.
Jacque Ramsden had started the day second in chips but suffered several setbacks to see his hopes of an even deeper run vanish in 22nd place. Another notable casualty then set up the final two tables when Kenny Shih put his hopes on a gutshot and the nut flush draw, which missed against the turned two pair of Nino Pansier.
The action never really slowed down and it wouldn’t take long to reach the nine-handed unofficial final table thereafter. Local hopefuls such as Ivan Tabucal and Lloyd Locsin came up short, as did Steve Yea and Junya Kubo with the latter bowing out against the red-hot running Gyuhyuk Lee. Zhigang Chen bowed out moments later and the final nine then went on a 60-minute break.
Lee continued his domination when he flipped out Alex Chong before the down-fall of New Zealander Ward unfolded, culminating in his exit against Pansier. By then, Wu was still in the middle of the pack but doubled with queens against the sevens of Riku Sasahara.
Mariano was then knocked out by Lee, who retained the top spot. Pansier was comfortable second in chips but the final table momentum shifted when he four-bet jammed ace-king. Wu called it off with pocket tens and won the flip to change the momentum of the final table. The Dutchman and Sasahara were then eliminated by Lee as the South Korean soared to half of the chips in play.
Wu sent Tech to the rail in fourth place and then jumped into a commanding lead when his full house was paid off by Lee. The South Korean never recovered from that big blow and he succumbed in third place.
With the deal agreement in place, the heads-up encounter became a brief affair and a winner was crowned within the hour. Wu had pulled away and rivered a straight, looking up the shove by Mateo who held a pair and blockers.