The first-ever live Short Deck tournament has crowned a champion as part of the 2018 Triton Super High Roller Series Montenegro at the stunning Maestral Resort & Casino in Budva, Montenegro, and it was no other than superstar Phil Ivey that returned to the live poker spotlight by defeating Dan "Jungleman" Cates in heads-up.
It was a master class of strategy and determination that saw Ivey overcome a 1-4 chip deficit at the start of the heads up duel to grind down his opponent and take home the lion's share of the HKD$14,347,200 prize pool. The first tournament of it's kind on the live poker circuit attracted a field of 61 entries for the ante only format that came with a buy-in of HKD$250,000 (~$31,850) and the top nine spots were paid. Once Mikita Badziakouski had been crowned as bubble boy at the end of Day 1, the remaining nine players bagged up to play down to a champion the next day.
And the return of Ivey to the live poker tournament tables was just the start, as he immediately set the eyes on the remaining schedule of the high stakes festival in the winner's interview. "I feel pretty good, and it's always good to have a great start." When asked about his first tournament win, which came 20 years ago back in 1998, Ivey joked that he may become old, then set the sights to the next days here in Montenegro. "It still feels good, I am looking forward to the events with bigger prize pools and hope to win some more."
For his victory, Ivey claimed a payday of HKD$4,749,200 (~604,977) and the prestige to be the first player to win a live event of this action-paced game type that has become very popular in the high stakes cash game scene in Asia. Cates narrowly missed out on another Triton Super High Roller Series trophy after the win in the HKD$200,000 6-Max Event in Manila in 2016.
Among the other High Rollers to earn a portion of the prize pool were Gabe Patgorski, Jason Koon, Furkat Rakhimov , Ivan Leow, Alan Sass, 2016 Super High Roller Series Manila Main Event champion Wai Kin Yong and Mikhail Smirnov.
Final Result HKD$250,000 Short Deck Ante-Only Event
|Place||Winner||Country||Prize (in HKD)||Prize (in USD)|
|1||Phil Ivey||United States||4,749,200||604,977|
|2||Dan Cates||United States||3,199,000||407,505|
|3||Gabe Patgorski||United States||1,937,000||246,745|
|4||Jason Koon||United States||1,334,000||169,932|
|7||Alan Sass||United States||560,000||71,336|
|8||Wai Kin Yong||Malaysia||488,000||62,164|
Action of the Final Day
Alan Sass started the day as a narrow chip leader but that all but changed within the first half an hour of play. On the outer table, Gabe Patgorski pulled ahead of the pack when winning a big pot off Dan Cates and sending Mikhail Smirnov to the rail to set up the unofficial final table. In the same hand on the feature table, Sass doubled Furkat Rakhimov and was suddenly the shortest stack.
Cates immediately doubled through Wai Kin Yong with aces versus ten-nine to jump up the leader board, while Yong never recovered from that setback. Yong and Sass then busted in a three-way all in to Gabe Patgorski when the latter snap-called the two shoves with pocket queens and flopped a set. That double elimination sparked frantic action right after and Ivan Leow, as well as Rakhimov, joined the rail within a few minutes after to reduce the field to the last four only.
Jason Koon was very active at the tables to grind up a stack, but his roller coaster ride ended in 4th place. Koon three-bet all in with ace-jack and was called by Gabe Patgorski with ace-king. A king on the flop left Koon in need of a runner runner miracle, but the American pro failed to get there. Down to the last three, Patgorski was still at the top of the counts but the final trio soon found themselves with near even stacks.
Ultimatately, Patgorski, who has been playing Short Deck cash games for around one year, had to settle for 3rd place. He three-bet all in as second-biggest stack with ace-queen and Dan Cates quickly called with pocket kings to enter heads-up with a commanding lead. While Phil Ivey was the clear chip underdog, his strategy to keep the pots small and grind up a stack worked out perfectly and he often left Cates with the second-best hand.
Cates pulled back to almost even stacks before dropping back some, and got it in with ace-seven suited for a gutshot and the nut flush draw on a king-high turn. Ivey called with queen-jack suited for the straight and dodged the combo draw to take down the first of four events at the Maestral Resort & Casino.
Day 1 of the HKD$250,000 6-Max No-Limit Holdem Side Event II is already underway and the PokerNews live reporting team will provide continued coverage for the remainder of the festival.