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World Poker Tour closes a highly successful inaugural festival in Vietnam

It has been a thrilling nine days of poker running from September 26 to October 4 here in Ho Chi Minh City with WPT Vietnam wrapping up a fantastic festival on their first-ever visit. The event was part of a tri-leg series that began in Japan, followed by Korea, and concluding in Vietnam.

High Roller Trophy

At each successive leg, the numbers increased, culminating in a massive attendance at Pro Poker Club of over 2,200 entries and an overall prize pool amounting to VND 30 Billion. Here’s a review of what transpired at the festival and the final day winners.

Record-breaking prize pool for Vietnam

First off, the Main Event. This was the event everyone came to attend. With the combined starting days pulling in 679 entries, it surpassed the WPT’s largest recorded Asian attendance of 527 entries set in India last year. However, that’s not all that was broken. The event amassed a rich VND 13,172,600,000 (~US$565,000) prize pool setting a new record as the largest-ever live tournament poker prize pool in Vietnam.

Out of all the big names flooding the tables, which included WPT multi winner Sam Panzica, Marvin Rettenmaier, and WSOP bracelet winners Mike Takayama and John Phan, all the glory went to one player from the 40-strong Indian force, Dhaval Mudgal. Amidst a cheering rail, Mudgal championed the Main Event and claimed his first-ever international major title along with VND 2,427,580,000 (US$104,000) in winnings.

In fact, India did very well at the festival. In addition to Mudgal, two of his countrymen won trophies, Zarvan Tumboli at the WPT Ho Chi Minh Cup and Akshay Nasa at the Deepstack Turbo. Abhinav Nataraj made a bid for the WPT Vietnam High Roller title but fell short in 6th place.

The WPT Vietnam High Roller event also attracted a large field with 224 runners over the course of two starting days. Another rich prize pool was seen amounting to nearly VND 8.7 Billion. Hong Kong pro Danny Tang made it to the heads up round but fell short to local player Dinh Xuan Dinh. Dinh earned VND 2,072,600,000 (~US$88,650) for his performance.

Although the locals didn’t fully dominate the charts, they did claim other trophies: Pham Bao for the Bounty Event and La Anh Tuan for the Charity Event.

Vietnam: the newest poker destination

Once again, Vietnam continued to impress. With the country offering more than just poker to the visitors, such as great food choices, excellent nightlife, exciting tourist attractions, and incredibly affordable prices, it has quickly become a choice destination. The huge success of the WPT Asia Swing’s last leg in Ho Chi Minh clearly displayed this.

Final Day winners and the WPT Asia Swing contest winner

The final day of WPT Vietnam awarded the last two trophies and it also determined the WPT Asia Swing contest winner. The larger of the two final side events was the three-day WPT Superstack Classic with 195 entries and a prize pool of VND 1,891,500,000.

Nine players returned to the felt with Japan’s Takao Shimizu and Canada’s Kevin Ayow as the last two players in contention to win the WPT Asia Swing contest. Although Shimizu held the lead in points, his fall in 6th place put him in jeopardy of losing the contest. All Ayow needed to do was place second to win it and claim the handsome reward, the WPT India Main Event package.

Ayow did better, he went on to win the event, defeating Taiwan’s Cheli Lin at heads up to also pocket VND 470,850,000 in winnings.

Kevin Ayow

The closing event was the Finale Superstack Turbo. Many notable players joined in for the last hurrah. Finding their way to the final table were Nikita Luther, Pete Chen, Dhanesh Chainani, and Hai Chuot. Besting them all was “Tony”Ngeow Chung Fai lifting up the last WPT Vietnam trophy.

“Tony” Ngeow Chung Fai

That wraps up the inaugural WPT Vietnam festival. The next World Poker Tour event in Asia is WPT India taking place from November 13 to 19 at Deltin Royale, Goa.

Article by Tricia David


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