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China's Hong Ru Zhang Takes Down APT Incheon Kickoff

Jordan C

Aug 27, 2023

Hong Ru Zhang

The first event of APT Incheon has been won by China's Hong Ru Zhang in his first-ever APT tournament! He made a deal with Japan’s Shogo Kiruma heads-up, banking himself KRW 29,200,000 (~$22,045) for his efforts. Let’s take a look at how he did it.

Final Day Action

After topping Flight B, Zhang must have been thinking about winning the whole thing, but he knew he had some tough competition standing in his way. There was Japan’s Takahisa Watanabe sitting on a mountain of chips, the 16-time APT Champion Lester Edoc just behind him, and a host of other notable names in the Asian poker scene.

However, Zhang took everything in his stride and started the day well by coolering Takumi Aramaki in a huge pot. The two players got it all in preflop, Zhang holding the aces, and Aramaki holding a pair of queens. Luckily for Zhang, the board ran out clean, and he suddenly found himself with 840,000 chips in front of him.

Zhang knocked out a couple more players over the next couple of levels, and by the time the players redrew seats for the final two tables, he was the only player with a seven-figure chip stack. He used the experience he gained playing in the Australian poker scene to leverage his big stack, and he was soon sitting on over 1.5 million

After Zhanghui Yu was eliminated in tenth place, the final table was set. Zhang was in a great position to convert his huge chip stack into a win and set about gathering as many chips as possible.

Final Table

Takashi Taniguchi was the first player to be eliminated at the final table, after shoving for 6.5bb from the CO with T9o and was unable to improve against the J8s of Guang Guo Piao. Despite picking up a decent pot with that all-in, Guang Guo was the next player to be eliminated. He lost a big pot with a top pair against the two pair of Zhang and dusted off the last of his chips to him the next hand.

With seven players remaining, we then saw the elimination of Xuefeng Huang, whose QT couldn’t beat the AT of Jung Hwan Shin on a T73 board. That elimination saw the field split into the haves and the have nots, as three of the final six players were all under 10bb. This allowed Zhang to leverage his big stack even more, applying huge ICM pressure to the table.

Jung Whan Shin was one of these short stacks and was eventually blinded down to just 3bb. After being shoved on by the small blind, he made the call with K6o, but couldn’t beat the 98s of Kimura. Soon after that, Zhang got lucky in a huge pot to eliminate Zhangxin Zhao and further cement himself as the chip leader. The two got it all in preflop, with Zhang holding a pair of tens and Zhao holding a pair of jacks.

The AQ5 flop did nothing to help Zhang, but the K on the turn gave him a gutshot. Zhao was holding two of his outs, so Zhang had to hit one of the two remaining jacks to win the pot. That’s exactly what he did, as the J hit the river, eliminating Zhao in 5th for KRW 10,660,000 (~$8,040).

Zhang had a commanding lead at this point and was putting his big stack to good use. He was all in with A4 against the short stack of Shen Syu Ho, who held pocket fives. However, an ace on the flop all but sealed Shen’s fate, and he was eliminated in 4th place for KRW 13,530,000 (~$10,210).

That elimination saw Koichi Saeki as the shortest stack of the final three. He needed to get something going and tried to steal the dead money by shoving with J6s after Kimura limped from the small blind. Unfortunately for Saeki, Kimura snap-called and turned over a pair of nines. A flop of 432 gave Saeki a gutshot to go with his pair outs, but he was unable to improve. He was sent to the rail in 3rd place, picking up KRW 16,720,000 (~$12,620) for his efforts.

This left Zhang and Saeki to play heads-up, but before the match could start, the two agreed on a deal. As the stacks were close to even at this point, they decided to evenly split the prize pool, with both players guaranteed to take home KRW 28,000,000 (~$21,140), leaving KRW 1,200,000 and the trophy to play for.

Zhang continued his domination of the table during heads-up play, and after winning several pots in a row, Kimura was down to 8bb. He managed to find a double with 55 against the A8 of Zhang but was always fighting an uphill battle. He soon found himself in a desperate situation and called Zhang’s all-in with T9o. He was pleased to see he was up against the 44 of Zhang, but a third 4 on the flop all but cemented Zhang’s victor. The K on the turn sealed the deal, crowning Hong Ru Zhang as the champion of the APT Incheon Kickoff event.

Event #1 APT Incheon Kickoff KRW 175,000,000 Guaranteed

Place Name Country Prize (KRW) ~Prize (USD)
1 Hong Ru Zhang China 29,360,019 $22,170*
2 Shogo Kimura Japan 28,000,000 $21,140*
3 Koichi Saeki Japan 16,720,000 $12,620
4 Shen Syu Ho Taiwan 13,530,000 $10,210
5 Zhangxin Zhao China 10,660,000 $8,040
6 Jung Hwan Shin Australia 8,140,000 $6,140
7 Xuefeng Huang China 5,980,000 $4,510
8 Guang Guo Piao China 4,400,000 $3,320
9 Takashi Taniguchi Japan 3,600,000 $2,710

*Deal was made heads-up

That wraps up the first event of the series! Can Hong Ru Zhang use this momentum to dominate APT Incheon, or will we see another star emerge? Let us know on social media and stay tuned for all the latest poker news and events.

Image Source:  The Asian Poker Tour