The curtain has come down on the first flagship event at the 2017 Asia Championship of Poker, and that’s a great shame. This tournament, the HK$800,000 Super High Roller at PokerStars LIVE! at the City of Dreams, was spectacular.
The one man who will be most delighted that the party is over is Germany’s Dietrich Fast, our new champion. When the music stopped at around 6:30pm tonight, all of the chips and all of the plaques, which had moved like pass-the-parcel gifts between some of the world’s best players, were with him.
Fifty-seven players sat down at one point this week, and their 79 entries built a prize pool of more than HK$60 million (US$7.8 million), the biggest of all Super High Rollers under the PokerStars branding this year.
The fact that Fast was the only one still sitting at the end earned him HK$16.69 million (US$2.14 million). That was double his previous biggest career win and his second massive score in a week. Fast came fifth at the Triton Super High Roller down the road a few days ago, but bettered that by a decent measure.
It’s been a superlative couple of years for Fast, who has won on the WPT, the EPT and made the final of the €50,000 buy-in event at the PokerStars Championship Barcelona too. This latest score takes him only a whisker shy of the top 15 of the German money list.
“I feel awesome, that’s why I’m playing poker,” Fast said. “I love to play with the best players and compete with them and eventually beat them. That’s what’s happened right now so I’m really happy.”
It’s a measure of how well Fast played that he outlasted a final table featuring Steve O’Dwyer in particularly O’Dwyer-ish mood. There’s probably nobody in world poker more accustomed to Super High Roller final tables than O’Dwyer, and today he was matching his usual exceptional judgment with a series of lucky breaks to stay alive.
O’Dwyer cracked aces to stick around at one point, then he also rivered a chop when well behind in another coup. Don’t forget, O’Dwyer beat Fedor Holz in the Super High Roller at the PokerStars Championship Macau in April, so knows what it takes to win here.
But there was no budging Fast this time. The final hand was something of a cooler, particularly when one man has a three-to-one chip lead heads up. It was two pair vs. a bigger two pair, and that ended this one in Fast’s favour.
“It was not easy and there was a lot of back and forth but in the end I had some fortune and I won it!” Fast said.
Nine players came back at 1pm today, but it was obvious action would be frantic from the start.
Paul Newey, who made the final of the same event last year, was down to around one big blind before the money bubble burst yesterday, so he was delirious to still have a chair on the final day. He was still the short stack returning the afternoon and duly got his chips in on the second hand. He couldn’t beat the ace in Bryn Kenney’s hand.
It was the same story for Shan Huang, the other player who had sweated yesterday’s bubble but made the final anyway. Huang’s K♣J♦ couldn’t beat Kenney’s A♠4♣ soon after.
That left us with seven, which quickly became six when Jason Koon’s tournament ended at Fast’s hands. Koon had been analysing shoving ranges with his short stack, but will have known without the swotting that 5♦5♣ was good enough for a jam. Fast called with over-cards and hit one.
At this stage, Kenney, Fast and Timothy Adams, the overnight leader, were neck and neck and neck. But then a massive pot between Kenney and Fast, in which the latter turned trip tens to beat pocket queens, sent Fast to the summit.
Kenney never properly recovered and perished to Adams with A♦K♥ proving less than Adams’s 9♠9♦.
Felix Bleiker was probably the least known of the Western contingent at the final, but he moved through the gears beautifully to build a stack this afternoon. He might actually have won this tournament had it not been for a sickener against O’Dwyer in which O’Dwyer’s A♣Q♣ rivered a straight to crack Bleiker’s A♥A♠.
That was a massive pot and Daniel Dvoress finished Bleiker off soon after.
Dvoress has made a habit in the past years of making the final table in high buy-in tournaments, and nobody was surprised to see him back on the Macau feature table stage again.
Today he was seated alongside his friend Adams, but there was no soft play. After Dvoress shoved his K♠J♣, Adams picked him off with A♣10♠. Dvoress hit the rail in fourth.
The three-handed dynamic, between Adams and Fast with the big stacks, and O’Dwyer with the shortest was fascinating. It rewards your patience flicking through the blow-by-blow account.
O’Dwyer was all-in multiple times, but managed to survive them all. And that left Adams and Fast to play a tournament defining pot, which ended with Adams heading out in third.
Adams called Fast’s big pre-flop shove with 8♣8♦. Nobody in Macau would have done anything less. But Fast’s Q♦9♠ rivered a bigger pair and Adams was toast.
Fast took a five-to-one lead into the heads up battle, and although O’Dwyer pulled off one double, he couldn’t haul himself into the lead with that two pair at the end. Fast’s hand was bigger and better, and ultimately decisive too.
“In terms of where it takes my career, you have to have a bigger view on that,” Fast said. “Just winning money or one tournament doesn’t change my skill level or the skill level of my opponents in these tournaments, you just have to keep working hard everyday to compete with them and if you don’t do that, you will eventually be a losing player and then it’ll be tough.
He added: “It’s nice to have results and this is an accomplishment. But this will not stop me working even harder for the future.”
Look out folks, Fast is getting better all the time.
Dates: October 21-23, 2017
Buy-in: $800,000 ($776,000+$24,000)
Entries: 79 (including 22 re-entries)
Prize pool (after deductions): $60,690,960
ACOP photography by Kenneth Lim Photography