Shoichiro Tamaki wins record-breaking APT Incheon Main Event

Mo Afdhal
Posted on: September 03, 2023 09:40 PDT

The Asian Poker Tour Incheon Main Event crowned a champion yesterday. Japan's Shoichiro Tamaki outlasted and outmaneuvered the field of 930 runners (563 unique) to claim the first place prize of ~$206,030, along with the golden lion trophy. Tamaki's win comes after making a three-way ICM deal with China's Tsz To Wan and Thailand's Napat Chokejindachai.

The Incheon Main set records, generating the largest ever prize pool ($1,411,975) at a Main Event in South Korea and smashing the prior record for entries set at APT Korea in 2021.

The final day of play saw only sixteen of those players return for action, each with ~$11,570 already locked up, and yet they all had their sights set on the win. Tamaki entered as the chip leader, weathering the highs and lows of short-handed play as they came.

Through the swings, Tamaki remained determined and rode his momentum all the way to victory.

"I hoped, I hoped, but I didn't expect," said Tamaki, following his victory.

"This my life," Tamaki continued, the emotions overwhelming him. He paused to request to finish the interview in his native Japanese. The following quote from Tamaki is a translation of his words via interpreter.

"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!"

Tamaki then bowed his head and left to collect his winnings.

Impressively, the win is just the third live tournament cash of Tamaki's career and his second APT score, after finishing runner-up in an event earlier in the Incheon series. Tamaki's score propels him to 69th on the Japan All-Time Money List, up 1,309 spots.

Main Event Final Table Payouts

Place Name Country Prize (USD)
1st Shoichiro Tamaki* Japan $206,030
2nd Tsz To Wan* China $160,300
3rd Napat Chokejindachai* Thailand $168,650
4th Veleriy Pak Uzbekistan $83,350
5th Abraham Abdullah Ceesvin Singapore $65,250
6th King Wai Cheung Hong Kong $48,310
7th Jason Lau Malaysia $34,550
8th Masahiro Adachi Japan $24,650
9th Raul Martinez Gallego Spain $19,430

The road to a winner

New Zealand's Tu Tran fell first once Day 4 play began. Tran's pocket aces could not hold against the seven-five of Wataru Kosugi, who turned a flush. Artem Sofronov (15th), Kosugi (14th), Zhanhui Zheng (13th), and Inaba Katsuhiro (12th) failed to advance to the final table, along with APT Super High Roller champion Milos Petakovic. The final table bubble burst with the elimination of Adrian Chua in tenth place. Chua's king-high holding could not improve to beat his opponent's ace-high.

Incheon Main Event FT martin

The final table action began with Tamaki as chip leader, holding a stack of over ten million, good for just under thirty percent of the chips in play. Spain's Raul Martinez Gallego came in on the short stack and was the first eliminated when his king-nine failed to improve against the dominating ace-king of his opponent Tsz To Wan.

Gallego's ninth place finish marked the first final table of his APT career and earned him ~$19,430.

Masahiro Adachi, of Japan, followed Gallego to the rail soon after. Adachi's all-in shove over the early position open from Tamaki saw his ace-seven in rough shape against Tamaki's queens. A set on the flop for Tamaki sealed Adachi's fate, ending his run in eighth place for ~$24,650.

Just eight hands later, the deck sent another player, Jason Lau, to the rail. Lau moved all in with ace-king and found himself up against the pocket eights of Abraham Ceesvin. The king-high flop looked promising at first, but an eight alongside it ended Lau's day. The seventh place finished earned the Malaysian ~$34,550.

Tamaki takes a knock, but recovers

Tamaki's run took a slight hit after getting all the chips in pre flop against Ceesvin in a dominant situation. Tamaki's ace-jack had Ceesvin's ace-seven in serious trouble, but the deck offered up a flush draw for the Singaporean. The turn card brought home the draw, securing a full double up for Ceesvin, and knocked Tamaki off the top spot on the leaderboard.

It didn't take long for the Japan native to recuperate the lost chips. In a cooler situation, both Tamaki and King Wai Cheung flopped three-of-a-kind. Again, Tamaki was in the dominant position, holding ace-ten against Cheung's ace-eight. Tamaki rivered a full house and moved all in. Cheung, unable to find the fold button with trips, put the chips in and got the bad news. The Hong Kong player's efforts saw him finish in sixth place for ~$48,310.

Ceesvin falls, then Pak

Three hands later, the next elimination came. It was Ceesvin all-in and at risk, holding pocket eights. Wan's king-ten made the hand a coin flip. The safe flop may have given Ceesvin hope, but the king on the turn ended his tournament run in fifth place for ~$65,250.

Veleriy Pak's unorthodox play style served him well throughout the tournament and final table, at one point gaining him the chip lead. The deck, however, would not cooperate the whole way, especially against Napat Chokejindachai. Pak's ace-nine ran into the pocket nines of Chokejindachai and could not improve. Later, Pak's pocket kings failed to hold up against the Thai player's ace-eight. These two pivotal hands left Pak with just six big blinds.

It was Tamaki who would deliver the final blow to Pak in the end. The Uzbekistani took a stand and moved in with eight-nine against Tamaki's king-queen. The flop brought two additional queens to strengthen Tamaki's grip on the hand into a stranglehold. The turn and river brought no help and Pak's day ended in a fourth place finish worth ~$83,350.

A deal struck, but still more to play for

Following Pak's exit, the three podium finishers paused play immediately to discuss a potential deal. It didn't take long for them to agree to a three-way ICM chop, which guaranteed each of them a fixed amount based on their chip counts at that moment. The golden lion trophy, along with $20,000 set aside from the remaining prize pool, was still up for grabs.

The final three battled hard, with each taking their turn atop the chip counts. It was Chokejindachai who fell first when his pocket threes collided with the pocket fives of Wan. The board offered no assistance and he would have to settle with a third place finish worth ~$168,650.

Wan held the chip lead to start heads-up play, but only by a four-to-three margin. It was close. Tamaki opted for aggression and it paid off, as he quickly regained the chip lead. Soon after, he took his chance to end it and called an all in with jack-ten, but failed to improve against the ace-king of Wan.

The twenty-ninth hand of heads-up play saw the winner decided. In a limped pot, Wan decided to shove on the flop with an open-ended straight draw. Tamaki deliberated the twelve big blind jam and finally called with bottom pair to put Wan at risk. The turn and river both came clean for Tamaki and it was all over. For his runner-up finish, Wan received ~$160,300.

APT Incheon draws to a close

The Asian Poker Tour's Incheon stop officially claims the title of largest and richest South Korean poker tournament in the tour's fifteen year history. The series set three records throughout its run: the largest, richest Superstar Challenge ever, along with the records for both field size and prize pool in the Main Event.

From the tournament tables at the luxurious Paradise City Casino, the ten-day series ran 67 trophy events, drawing a total of 6,967 entries from 1,127 unique players representing over 40 countries. These players competed for a massive total prize pool of ~$6,498,715. Needless to say, the tour stop concludes as a massive success for the Asian Poker Tour.

All Images Courtesy of Asian Poker Tour