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The Singapore Poker Championships XV: Season 4 Finale Report

Posted by : DM101 on Friday, December 20, 2019 permalink
The Season 4 finale of the Singapore Poker Championships took place on the M/V Aegean Paradise over the weekend of December 13-15. The weekend saw John Low return to the winners’ circle by picking up the Short Deck NLH trophy for his second SPC title. He was joined by Zabib Hairi, who announced himself on the scene by scything through a tough field for a big win in the High-Roller. The SPC also crowned a new Natural8 ME champion in the form of Sherwyn Ng - a familiar face to many in the community - who parlayed a $40 satellite ticket into a Main Event scoop.

The SPC High-Roller

23 runners returned for Day 2 of the High-Roller, their eyes firmly trained on the title. For many, it was also an opportunity to pick up valuable N8 POTY points during what would be the challenge concluding weekend of the season. Some of the big names in the community were still in contention, amongst them ‘Major’ Ricky Foo, Aaron Lam, Alex Peck, K.K. Liew, Benjamin Chew, and Triple Crown winner Lim Min Soon.

The sharpest elbows on the day cut their way to the final table many hours later, and it was the unfortunate Fredo Azrael who burst the money bubble. The Indonesian, on his maiden visit to the SPC, was one of the overnight chip-leaders. He found his run at an end when he slammed his all-in-pre A7 into chip-leader Alex Peck’s AJ, which held its lead handily.

With players now assured a min-cash, the short stacks began to make their moves. The tournament would lose two of these in quick succession. Jason Chin was first to fall, when he found an all-in spot in late position with QcJc, only for Zabib Hairi to quickly oblige with AJ. The 9c 6c Tc board gave Jason an open-ended straight draw, and the Tc on the turn must have brought even greater hope. A 2h on the river though, consigned Jason to his fate.

Barely two hands later, Zhang Changjie got all his chips in the middle with A4 pre-flop, and was unlucky to find perennial final-tabler Lim Yan Ming to his immediate left make a quick call with AK. A Q turn to the Q 3 9 board brought some additional opportunities for a chop to CJ, but he was felled in 6th when the river brought a J.

A bitter and extended struggle ensued 5-handed, with Alex Peck commandeering just about 40% of the chips in play. Defending HR champion Benjamin Chew would here claim his first scalp of the FT in his bid to go back-to-back, by next eliminating Zack Yap in 5th place. Zack hadn’t found much luck thus far by way of hands at the FT, and when he found A6 in the hole it seemed as good a spot as any to get it in. After a quick pause and count, Benjamin made the call with 77. The KJ8 board brought no help to either player, while the turn 6 brought Zack a couple more outs. The river J however, consigned Zack to a very decent 5th placed finish.

Having now 45% of the chips in circulation, Alex Peck was the firm favourite 4-handed. Not ready to throw in the towel yet however, was Zabib, who started inching his way into contention with a few small-medium pots. He then made an authoritative statement by taking out the classy Lim Yan Ming. Yan Ming found AT in the hole and moved all-in, only for Zabib to insta-call with AA. The T 2 6 flop brought the former some hope, but no miracles transpired on the turn or river; eliminating Yan Ming in 4th.

With Yan Ming’s elimination, Zabib had now seized the chip-lead coming into 3-handed play, boasting a 2:1 advantage over his nearest rival Alex. He would however, be coming up against some proven winners.

On a day of extraordinarily few suck-outs, holding the lead pre-flop at this final table seemed consistently good value for the win. And so it proved when the shortest stack Benjamin Chew found occasion to pick up some blinds with A9 all-in pre. Zabib again found AJ in the hole, and had little hesitation in tabling for the call. The K 4 Q board brought Zabib an unnecessary inside straight draw, while the 6 turn left Benjamin drawing to 3 outs. A 9 failed to materialise on the river, and the defending HR champ would relinquish his title in a sterling 3rd.

With all the momentum in Zabib’s favour in addition to a 2.5:1 chip advantage, Alex was staring down an uphill task. While fortunes in poker frequently change on a dime, the Zabib tsunami would prove irrepressible on this day. With Alex failing to make much of a dent on Zabib’s stack in the early going of heads-up play, he found a standard shoving spot with 55 not long after, upon which Zabib coolly rose and announced ‘call’; while tabling a lovely pair of red pocket rockets. Neither player connected with the 3 8 J T J board, and Alex Peck would have to content himself with an excellent runner-up finish.

Congratulations to Zabib Hairi, the SPC XV HR Champion!

Natural8 Main Event

74 runners scratched and clawed their way through packed Day 1 fields to qualify for Day 2, and a shot at the coveted Natural8 Main Event trophy. Previous Main Event champions David Soin, Liew Teck Wee, Lim Min Soon, and Samson Yu were in attendance, as were N8 POTY frontrunners Benjamin Chew and Ong Ee How. Also in the field was reigning Player-of-the-Year Mark Wong, hunting down an improbable POTY 3-peat.

As always, play was fast and furious from the starting whistle on Day 2. Numerous small and medium stacks fell by the wayside in short order, with play gradually slowing down to a crawl on the onset of the dreaded bubble. Its bursting and the announcement of an assured min-cash brought a roar of applause and relief from the remaining players, as they hunkered down for the business end of the Main Event. One by one the ex-champions fell during the rough and tumble of the charge towards the final table, and when Benjamin Chew was eliminated in 18th spot, the Natural8 Main Event was guaranteed a new champion.

The final table saw an exciting mix of faces old and new. Leading the charge were POTY 2018 and 2019 winner Mark Wong, SPC XIV Short Deck Champion Desmond Yow, and Zabib Hairi, who was still dusting the confetti off his shoulders from his High-Roller win a day prior.

Pamela Ang’s first appearance at an SPC final-table was a cruelly brief one. Short on chips and options, she moved the rest of her chips over the top of Gan Ming Xian’s raise from the hijack. Ming Xian made the call after a quick count, finding his J9 up against Pamela’s A7. Any hopes of a double up for Pamela were quickly dashed when the flop delivered J 8 8, leaving her drawing to 2 outs. A K on the turn and a 9 on the river were enough to cast her to the rails in 9th position.

Sherwyn Ng, another of the short stacks at the table, had just found a big double through when his 77 caught a set on the flop at the expense of Desmond Yow. He soon deployed these chips to great effect by tabling 88 to an all-in preflop shove from Alvin Yap, who had A9 in the hole. The flip went sideways in no time at all for Alvin when the dealer flopped J 7 8. The turn 4 left Alvin drawing to the 4 remaining Ts in the deck, and when a Q materialized on the river, Alvin was sent packing in 8th.

Ng Yi Da, another contestant making his first ME final table, was the next of the short-stacks to fall. Sensing a plausible spot to pick up some blinds and antes, he got his chips in preflop from the cut-off with Q8. Gan Ming Xian, perhaps familiar with the look of a man with his hand in the cookie jar, adroitly made the call with K4. Ming Xian’s intuition was richly rewarded when the board bricked out for both players, consigning Yi Da to the rails in 7th.

Zabib Hairi meanwhile, was continuing his excellent run of form. Without ever quite putting himself at risk at the FT, he’d picked up enough small pots to seize the chip-lead. He consolidated this by next eliminating Desmond Yow in 6th. The luckless Desmond - who’d been crippled only a few hands before by Mark Wong when the latter’s KJ outran his AQ - was pretty much compelled to put the rest of his chips in with 5h8d in the BB after paying the blinds and antes. Zabib duly raised from the button with Ac9c, and Desmond’s tournament life was on the line. The hand started well for Desmond when the board ran 7d 8h Qh 2h, leaving Zabib drawing to 4 outs on the river. The river brought an improbable 9s however, and Desmond tournament came to an end with a 6th-placed finish.

A defining hand occurred not long into 5-handed play, when the aggressive Mark Wong tumbled A8 into Sherwyn Ng’s KK. The Kings held, leaving the Mark crippled. Forced to take a stand lest the blinds consume his pile, Mark made his final move with KT, which was duly snapped off by Gan Ming Xian’s A9. The Q 4 4 board kept the latter in the lead, while the 2 turn and 6 river saw Mark’s run screech to a halt in 5th. Yet another terrific showing from the man who, at 21 years young, already qualifies as an SPC legend.

A couple of big battles between Zabib and Ming Xian 4-handed saw chips moving back and forth between the two, with neither prepared to back down. Facing off against them were the contrasting studies in Sherwyn Ng, who won big pots when it mattered; and Andy Sim, who never seemed to get into trouble while managing to keep an above average stack for the duration of the FT. Another pivotal hand saw Zabib trying to strongarm his way to another pot before getting knocked back by Sherwyn, whose pocket Jacks found a big double through.

Now desperately short, Zabib got all his chips in the middle with 87, and Sherwyn stepped in to finish the job with AK. The board brought no help to Zabib, and his sensational weekend concludes with a 4th-placed finish in the Natural8 ME.

Now 3-handed and with stacks almost indistinguishable, Sherwyn, Andy and Ming Xian agreed to an even chop of the remaining prizes, with a one-hand flip to determine the champion. The hand was pretty much done and dusted when the flop delivered 2 3 T, with the turn K the icing on Sherwyn’s cake. Congratulations to Andy Sim and Gan Ming Xian for grabbing the nominal 2nd and 3rd places, and to Sherwyn Ng, our SPC XV Natural8 Main Event Champion!

Full Results -

High Roller:

1. Zabib Hairi - $16,900
2. Alex Peck - $11,000
3. Benjamin Chew - $7,800
4. Lim Yan Ming - $5,800
5. Yap Bingzhi - $4,400
6. Zhang Changjie - $3,300
7. Jason Chin - $2,600

Natural8 Main Event:

1. Sherwyn Ng - $12,960*
2. Gan Ming Xian - $12,960*
3. Andy Sim - $12,960*
4. Zabib Hairi - $6,900
5. Mark Wong - $5,500
6. Desmond Yow - $4,200
7. Ng Yi Da - $3,300
8. Yap Tian Yong - $2,600
9. Pamela Ang - $2,000
10. Tan Yu Tiong - $1,500
11. Reynold Ng - $1,500
12. Sean Tay - $1,500
13. Tan Hai Shien - $1,200
14. Joe Yieu - $1,200
15. You Jun Hong - $1,200
16. Cheang Qiao Chu - $1,000
17. Toh Yong Chin - $1,000
18. Benjamin Chew - $1,000
19. Jonathan Wong - $800
20. Ivan Soh - $800
21. Jarad Seah - $800
22. Loke Chun Kit - $800
23. Neo Ming Ji - $800
24. Te Yong Song - $800
25. Russell Lim - $800
26. Jerome Sim - $800
27. Deon Yeo - $800

*Deal made

Short Deck NLH:

1. John Low - $3,000
2. Paul Ng - $1,800
3. Mark Yeow - $1,300
4. Alex Lee - $870
5. Henry Hoo - $500

The SPC congratulates all winners and thanks everyone for attending SPC XV. See you all again in Season 5!

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