From September 26th-30th, the WPT Korea was buzzing up the Grand Jeju Paradise Casino with 175 entries tallied for the Main Event. With each entry at KRW 1.5M each, this racked up a prize pool of KRW 229,162,500 (~US$200,000). After five days of action, Canada’s Jessica Bian Hong Yang captured her first major international poker title. Yang was awarded the lion’s share KRW 56,992,500 (~US$50,000) champion’s purse.
For Yang, her rise to the top began at the very start. Yang topped Day 1B with such an overwhelmingly large stack that her closest competitor was behind more than 100,000 in chips. Hong Kong’s Tsun Ming Chan, the Day 1A chip leader, had even less, bagging up a stack only half her size. This of course put Yang at the top of the news but since she was not exactly a familiar face in the Asian tournament circuit, it also put her in everyone’s radar at the start of Day 2.
The next round kicked off with 74 players, among them were several high-ranking Asian pros including past WPT Main Event winners Pete Chen and Hao Chen. While all the powerhouse players had reputations that clearly preceded them, by the end of the day, the scene had changed. Out of the 26 survivors, some of the pros were eliminated, Yang finished up third in chips and the new leader was USA’s Albert Paik.
This was seemingly a déjà vu moment for Paik who also topped Day 2 of the APT Korea Incheon Main Event a month and a half ago. It was an event that he went on to win for nearly US$40K. Prior to that victory, Paik also won the APPT Seoul Main Event back in June 2016 for a six-digit score over US$100K. That was his first live tournament score in the Asian tournament scene and since then has continued to cash in various events throughout Asia.
Day 3 saw the field compress further starting with Singaporean pro Bryan Huang tagged as the bubble after running into Yang’s pocket aces with pocket nines. As the money rolled out pros earning a cut were Juicy Si Xiao Li (17th), Tetsuya Tsuchikawa (13th), Winfred Yu (9th), and Hao Chen (7th) who missed the official final table by one spot.
The official final table of six players had a new leader at the helm, Yi Shun Ji; he was followed by Chan then Paik. Yang was running 4th in chips, Jia Liang Xiao in 5th, while the most decorated player at the table, Iori Yogo, was the shortest of the bunch.
After the first two players were eliminated, Chan (6th) and Xiao (5th), Yang had achieved a personal milestone having gone much further than in all her major international tournament experience. Her previous deepest run was at the EPT 12 Women’s Event finishing 5th out of 83 runners.
Making his first WPT mark with a 4th place finish was Paik followed by Ji in 3rd place. This set up the heads up round between Yang and Yogo. Despite the Japanese pro’s efforts, Yang went on to best Yogo to claim the first-ever major title of her tournament career along with the large five-digit payout worth around US$50,000 straight into her pocket.
Final 6 payouts
1st Bian Hong Yang – Canada – KRW 56,992,500 ( ~US$50,000)
2nd Iori Yogo – Japan – KRW 39,943,000
3rd Ji Yi Shun – China – KRW 25,689,000
4th Albert Paik – USA – KRW 19,020,000
5th Jia Liang Xiao – China – KRW 14,277,000
6th Tsun Ming Chan – Hong Kong – KRW 11,412,000
Article by Triccia David