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Shoichiro Tamaki Takes Down South Korea’s Biggest Ever APT Main Event

Jordan C

Sep 3, 2023

Shoichiro Tamaki - APT Main Event 2023 Winner

After four grueling days of play, Japan’s Shoichiro Tamaki won the biggest-ever Main Event in the history of South Korea, collecting the coveted APT Main Event trophy, along with KRW 271,447,000. Tamaki struck a deal with China’s Tsz To Wan and Thailand’s Napat Chokejindachai when they reached three-handed play, an ICM deal that guaranteed Tamaki KRW 245,100,000 and left KRW 26,347,000 to play for, as well as the famous golden lion trophy.

Playing Down To A Final Table

With just 16 players remaining, the final day of the APT Incheon Main Event was highly anticipated, with plenty of big names still remaining, as well as wild cards such as the Day 3 chip leader and eventual champion Shoichiro Tamaki.

New Zealand’s Tran Tru was our first elimination of the day; he was chipped down to just 1 million chips after losing with AT against the A9 of Wataru Kosugi. Kosugi put the final nail in his coffin a couple of hands later, cracking Tu’s aces with 74 on a K74 board; the J on the turn had Tu drawing dead, eliminating him in 16th for KRW 15,300,000.

Russia’s Artem Sofronov and Japan’s Wataru Kosugi were the next players to be eliminated receiving KRW 17,200,000 each; Sofronov jamming with a pair and a flush draw against the aces of Tsz To Wan, and Kosugi running AQ into the AK of Veleriy Pak. China’s Zhanhui Zheng found himself in a great position to double up when Soichiro Tamaki jammed a flush draw into his set, but the turn completed the flush, and Zheng was unable to boat up on the river, eliminating him in 13th place for KRW 19,000,000.

Over Halfway There…

Zheng’s elimination meant that we were over halfway to the final table, but the eliminations kept coming thick and fast, as Inaba Katsuhiro found himself on the rail after losing a flip against chip leader Tamaki. Katsuhiro shoved with TT for his last 1 million chips and was quickly called by the QJ of Tamaki. The flop of A42 gave Tamaki a backdoor straight draw and backdoor flush draw, but the Q on the turn put him firmly in the driving seat. Katsuhiro was unable to hit one of the two remaining tens on the river, and he was eliminated in 12th for KRW 19,000,000.

Not long after Katsuhiro’s elimination, we saw the APT Incheon Super High Roller Champion Milos Petakovic eliminated in 11th place for KRW 21,300,000. He had been nursing a short stack for quite a while, and eventually got all in with K9, only to find himself up against the KQ of Masahiro Adachi. Milos was unable to find a nine to keep him in the tournament, which meant we had to say goodbye to our Super High Roller champ.

Adrian Chua was the next to be sent to the sidelines, as he called off his 6bb stack with K4 against the small blind shove of Napat Chokejindachai, who held A9. Chua couldn’t find a king or a four to keep his Main Event dreams alive, and he was eliminated in 10th for KRW 21,300,000.

Early Final Table Action

Adrian Chua - Bubbled APT Main Event Final TableChua’s elimination meant that we had reached our official final table of nine; Shoichiro Tamaki held a commanding chip lead with 10,675,000, nearly double that of second place Abraham Ceevin who had 5,540,000. Martinez and Lau were our short stacks with 765,000 and 925,000 chips respectively. Each player had guaranteed at least KRW 25,700,000 (~$19,430), but they were all gunning for the KRW 346,6470,00 (~$262,090) first-place prize.

Martinez found an early double-up with A7 against the QJ of Veleriy Pak to move himself off the bottom of the chip stacks. However, his joy was short-lived, as just a few hands later he was eliminated in 9th place. He committed himself preflop with K9 against the AK, with the rest of the money going in on the T68 flop. Martinez needed a nine or a seven to stay alive, but neither the turn nor the river could help him, making him our first elimination of the final table.

Napat Chokejindachai managed to find a double-up a few hands later, shoving his last 1.4 million chips with AK and getting called by Ceesvin’s AQ. The T74 flop was no help to Ceesvin, but the 7 on the turn provided some chop outs. However, the 6 on the river meant that Chokejindachai received the full double up, bringing him up to 3.2 million chips.

Tied at the bottom of the chip counts with Masahiro Adachi, Jason Lau knew he needed to get something going if he had any hope of claiming the APT Incheon Main Event title. He shoved his remaining 790,000 chips with A7, only to be called by the AJ of Tsz To Wan. However, the 7 on the turn gave Lau a pair, which was enough to double up and survive.

Masahiro Adachi was our second player to be eliminated at the final table after he shoved 2 million chips with A7 over a raise from our chip leader Shoichiro Tamaki. Tamaki quickly made the call with his pocket queens, and the two would see all five cards. The Q on the flop gave Tamaki a commanding lead, leaving Adachi drawing to running cards. The K on the turn sealed the deal, and Adachi was eliminated in 8th place for KRW 32,600,000.

After laddering up one place, our short stack Jason Lau was eventually eliminated in 7th place for KRW 45,700,000. He found a premium in AK and shoved his last 850,000 chips. Abraham Ceesvin reshoved from the small blind with 88, meaning the two players would race for Lau’s tournament live. Lau hit a king on the flop, but the 8 followed it, giving Ceesvin a commanding lead. The 3 on the turn meant that Lau was drawing dead, eliminating him in 7th place.

Cheung Eliminated In Brutal Fashion

With six players remaining, every decision and every card had huge financial implications for everyone at the table. After Chokejindachai shoved with A3 and was called by Tsz To Wan with AT, it looked like he would be eliminated in 6th place, but the timely 3 on the turn kept Chokejindachai alive and in with a shout of the top prize.

Just one orbit after Chokejindachai hit his miracle three to stay alive, King Wai Cheung was eliminated in 6th at the hands of our eventual champion. Tamaki opened with AT, and Cheung defended his big blind with A8. The two saw a flop of A2A, a flop which spelled trouble for Cheung. He called a bet of 400,000 from Tamaki, and the pair saw the 6 hit the turn.

This time Cheung called a bet of 1,000,000 from Tamaki, which took them to the river. The T gave Tamaki a full house, cementing his stranglehold on the hand. Tamaki put Cheung all in, and after using several of his time bank chips, he eventually made the call and saw the bad news that he was eliminated in 6th for KRW 63,900,000.

Ceesvin Out In 5th

The next player to be eliminated was our second-place stack heading into the final table, Abraham Ceesvin. After losing a series of hands at the final table, he found himself as one of the shortest stacks on the table and took a stand with his final 1.9 million chips with 88. He was called by the KT of Wan, putting Ceesvin at risk.

The 542 turn was a safe one for Ceesvin, but the K on the turn left him drawing to two outs for his Main Event life. Unfortunately for him, the 5 hit the river, and he was eliminated in 5th place for KRW 86,300,000.

Veleriy Pak Takes 4th Place

After losing a huge pot with KK against the A8 of Chokejindachai, Pak found himself by far the shortest stack at the table. He shoved his last 4bb with 98 over a min-raise from Tamaki and saw the flop three ways after Tsz To Wan joined the party. The flop of QQ8 gave Pak a pair, but after Tamaki shoved and Wan folded, he saw the bad news.

Tamaki was holding KQ, which meant that Pak had to find the two remaining eights to stay alive. The 3 on the turn sealed his fate, eliminating him in 4th for KRW 110,900,000 - a huge accomplishment considering the wild ride he experienced at the end of Day 3.

Deal Made

Once play reached three-handed, the players discussed the possibility of a deal. Tamaki led the way at the top of the chip counts, as he had done all day, with 15,725,000. Chokejindachai was second in chips with 11,500,000, and Wan completed the three with 9,775,000. 

After some discussion, an ICM chop was agreed, with chip leader Tamaki guaranteed to take home 245,100,000, Chokejindachai took home 222,2000,000, and Wan took 211,200,000. This left 26,347,000 to play for, as well as the coveted APT Main Event trophy.

Playing To A Winner

This deal meant that the players were no longer under the threat of ICM pressure, and were free to play for the win without worrying about potentially missing out on millions of KRW. Naturally, we saw the game open up, and the players were more liberal with their chips, as we saw when Tamaki correctly called down three streets of aggression from Wan with KJ high on a board of 98239.

However, just because each player had locked up a huge payday, it didn’t mean they weren’t playing to win, as there was still plenty of money to play for as well as the title of APT Main Event champ.

After losing a series of pots, Thailand’s Napat Chokejindachai was eventually eliminated in third place, after shoving 33 from the small blind, only to be called by Wan’s 55 in the big blind. Chokejindachai was unable to find a 3, leaving Wan and Tamaki to battle it out heads-up.

The two were evenly stacked going into heads-up play, but relentless aggression from Tamaki meant that he soon carved out a chip lead. It only took twenty hands of heads-up play for Tamaki to be crowned our champion, with the winning blow coming on hand 158.

Wan limped preflop with 87, and Tamaki checked in the big blind with 53. The two saw a flop of 963, giving Tamaki bottom pair and Wan an open-ended straight draw. Wan open-shoved for 9.5 million on the flop, sending Tamaki into the tank. He eventually made the call, and the two were essentially flipping for the Main Event title.

The 4 on the was no help to Wan, which meant he needed a seven, eight, ten, or five on the river to stay alive. However, the 2 on the turn sealed the deal for Tamaki, making him our APT Incheon Main Event champion! He collected the coveted golden lion trophy, as well as KRW 271,447,000 in prize money.

Winner’s Reaction

This Main Event win is only Tamaki’s third-ever live tournament cash, and you could see how much it meant to him after the final river had been dealt. Even in his post-game interviews, you could clearly see how much it meant to him just by looking at his face. After his triumph, Tamaki said, “I hoped, I hoped, but I didn't expect… This is... so big...in my life,” before asking if he could switch to Japanese for the remainder of the interview. 

In his native language, Tamaki said, “Thanks to everyone, I was able to win the championship! Thank you for your support. I was happy with your messages – it was really encouraging. Thank you!” 

We’re sure that everyone back home in Japan was cheering him on, and will be delighted with the performance he gave at this final table.

This win moves Tamaki up to 69th on the all-time money list for Japan and is by far the biggest tournament score of his career.

APT Incheon Event #24 Main Event Final Table Results

Place Name Country Prize (KRW) Prize (USD)
1 Shoichiro Tamaki* Japan 271,447,000 ~$206,030
2 Tsz To Wan* China 211,200,000 ~$160,300
3 Napat Chokejindachai* Thailand 222,200,000 ~$168,650
4 Veleriy Pak Uzbekistan 110,900,000 ~$83,850
5 Abraham Abdulla Ceesvin Singapore 86,300,000 ~$65,250
6 King Wai Cheung Hong Kong 63,900,000 ~$48,310
7 Jason Lau Malaysia 45,700,000 ~$34,550
8 Masahiro Adachi Japan 32,600,000 ~$24,650
9 Raul Martinez Gallego Spain 25,700,000 ~$19,430

*ICM deal was made three-handed

Can Tamaki use this APT Main Event win to become a real force on the APT tour? Will we see a repeat winner at our next APT event? Let us know on social media and subscribe to stay tuned to all the latest poker news and events.

Image Source: The Asian Poker Tour