On Saturday, January 2, 2016, the first poker festival of the new year kicked off at Solaire Resort & Casino with hordes of players eager to get back to the felt for the World Poker Tour National Philippines opening event, the Poker King Cup $50,000 Guaranteed. With two qualifying flights running on the same day, one at 1pm and the other at 6pm, a total of 312 entries were recorded – 164 entries for flight A and 148 entries for flight B – generating a sweet prize pool of $75,660 well exceeding the guarantee. This certainly made for a great start to the week-long festivities in store.
Noel Araniel Day 1 Chip Leader
By the end of the night, 79 players remained with Filipino player, Noel "the Kid" Araniel riding high on the chip leader's seat. Returning for the final day, Araniel kept his lead for several levels but by mid-afternoon he was overtaken by Charlie Esteban whose towering chips were in such disarray that we had difficulty getting a count. When over half the field hit the rail, the bubble burst with Ivan Tan from Singapore delivering the blow by scalping two players simultaneously with his pocket kings. From then on, action was quick with players falling one-by-one.
In the Money
The first to cash in was Filipino player Johnson Tan followed by Russian player Andrei Dementev. Other players in the money were Norway's Kai Paulsen (26th place), Canadian player Thomas Lee (24th place), India's Kunal Patni (22nd place), and Filipino player Ian Brion (14th place).
At the final table, Denmark's Michael Falcon came in with a big stack but was unable to go the distance and bowed out in 8th place. Filipino player Joseph Sia followed later in 4th place. With three players remaining, Filipino player Roden Munoz, and Korean players SJ Kim and Yuh Kwang Suk, the Korean players proposed a deal to big-stacked Munoz however, it was turned down. Not long after, a reversal of fortune loomed over Munoz, and soon, he found himself fighting to stay alive. To no avail, he was sent to the rail in 3rd place by Suk.
At heads-up, Suk was ahead in chips to Kim. In the final hand of the night SJ Kim captured the first trophy of the WPT Philippines and the $16,760 first place cash prize.
Sj Kim champion