Filipino David Erquiaga was crowned the newest World Poker Tour Prime series Main Event champion after he eliminated the last four players at the final table. Erquiaga won the largest three-way deal cut of US$ 137,008 plus a seat to the WPT World Championship worth US$ 10,400. He also leads the WPT Player of the Festival race where a WPT Passport worth US$ 5,000 to any main tour is up for grabs.
Back in 2020, Erquiaga came close to his first WPT Main Event victory when he placed 3rd at WPT Philippines. Fast forward to today, Erquiaga is riding a rush at the moment. In late-July, he finished 2nd at the Poker Dream Malaysia Main Event for US$ 75,457, which was briefly his largest score, then won a high roller event at APPT Manila early this month before coming out to WPT Prime Cambodia.
SMP: How does it feel to win the biggest event in Asia?
Erquiaga: Masaya kasi fulfilling yung pakiramdam. Ang tagal natin pinaghandaan ito, tsaka naka ilang tries na kami. So yon. Fulfilling siya.
[Translation: I’m happy, I feel fulfilled. We’ve been preparing for it for a very long time, and we’ve tried several times before. So it’s fulfilling.]
SMP: Fresh from 2nd place in Malaysia and a high rollers win at APPT Manila, what is your winning formula?
Erquiaga: Parang wala naman dahil hindi naman yon madadaan sa ganon. Ano lang, hard work, tsaka keep on improving. Yun lang. Kasi ibang kalabanan, nag-iimprove so kailangan mag-improve din yung game mo.
[Translation: I don’t really have one because you won’t achieve wins that way. Just hard work, and keep on improving. That’s it. Opponents are improving so you have to improve your game too.]
SMP: Coming into the final table, big stacks were far ahead, did you have a strategy?
Erquiaga: Since ICM-wise mauna yung dalawang shorts sa akin, so may idea na kung paano mag-laro yung dalawang big stacks. Most likely nasa midding stack kami so baka i-pressure nila kami so kailangan yun yung iiwasan na maengage sa big stack kasi magka-karoon at magka-karoon ng unnecessary big pots eh. So ie-engage ka nila talaga dahil may ICM pressure. So naiwasan naman natin tapos na-double up kami ng pocket king natapat kaya ok lang.
[Translation: Based on ICM, the two short stacks come before me, so I have an idea how the two big stacks play, and most likely I’ll be mid-stack so they might pressure me and I have to stay away from engaging to avoid unnecessary big pots.]
SMP: Who was your biggest threat?
Erquiaga: Biggest threat is myself because if I don’t play good, I won’t win.
SMP: What would you say was one of your key hands before the three way deal?
Erquiaga: Siyempre yung suck-out Jack-Nine against Ace-King. So yung mga memories ng Jack-Nine puro baccarat … ispirutu ng baccarat puro sama sama, nanalo tayo.
[Translation: Of course Jack-Nine suck-out against Ace-King. Memories of Jack-Nine are all baccarat, the spirits of baccarat got together to make me win.]
SMP: During the hand against Chi Jen Chu, you used up two time banks and called then won it with Ace-Jack. What was going through your mind to make the call?
Erquiaga: May idea na ako na maaring panalo na ako sa hand na iyon so gusto ko lang makita yung reaction ng mukha niya kaya gumamit ako ng dalawang time bank para lang malaman kung talagang good yung hand ko. Pero i ca-call ko talaga siya. Kailangan ko lang ng enough time para i-analyze if tama or mali yung decision making process.
[Translation: I had an idea I would win that hand, but I wanted to see the reaction on his face, that’s why I used two time banks, to confirm if I really had a good hand. But I was really going to call. I just needed enough time to analyze whether my decision making process was right or wrong.
SMP: How will you celebrate your win?
Erquiaga: Maybe I will celebrate inside the airplane. I go home tonight.
SMP: Thank you Dave and congratulations on your big win!
Final table payouts
1st David Erquiaga – Philippines – US$ 147,408*
2nd Chi Jen Chu – Taiwan – US$ 120,980*
3rd Junnie Pamplona – Philippines – US$ 106,482*
4th Jean Patrick Autran – France – US$ 62,060
5th Patrick Soh – Malaysia – US$ 46,820
,6th Kunal Patni – India – US$ 35,690
7th Ankit Jajodia – India – US$ 27,510
8th Ji Jun Xu – China – US$ 21,430
9th Hoang Van Nguyen – Vietnam – US$ 16,880
*Three-way ICM deal
The WPT Prime Cambodia Main Event at NagaWorld Phnom Penh set out to be the largest open event in Asia and it did exactly that with a record turnout of 1,050 entries (Day 1A -246, Day 1B – 364, Day 1C – 440) for a seven figure prize pool of US$ 1,018,500. The money flowed at Day 2 with 129 players hunting down a seat to the Final Table. Two players – Wanki Baik and Ankit Jajodia – were double qualifiers already awarded the first of the US$ 1,810 payouts.
Dates: August 18 to 22
Buy in: US$ 1,100
Guarantee: US$ 500,000
Total entries: 1,050 entries
Prize pool: US$ 1,018,500
ITM: 131 players
Within the first three levels, 2019 finalist Jae Kyung Sim aka Simba was eliminated in 109th place while Erquiaga chipped up from 68th rank to one of the chip leaders after a double knockout with pocket . Unbeknownst to all, this was the beginning of his rise to the top. As the final table neared, Erquiaga eliminated Louis Bilodeau (22nd), Minjung Kim (17th), and Sam Ath Lor (15th). By the 11th hour, the final table was formed at the fall of WSOP bracelet champion Abhinav Iyer in 10th place to Taiwan’s Chi Jen Chu aka Justin with dominating .
Chu carried in the mightiest stack to the final table of 107 (BB). Also with an impressive large stack was India’s Kunal Patni who entered the day as chip leader and maintained it to bring in 83 BB. Erquiaga was wedged in the middle with 36 BB.
Final table recap
Final table action was thrilling from the start as players hustled for chips. The first to risk it all was short stacked China’s Ji Jun Xu (7 BB) with a fast double up to build enough to rail Vietnam’s only hope, Hoang Van Nguyen in 9th place. Despite the boost in chips and confidence, Xu followed next in 8th place. Both players pocketed a career high live tournament score.
France’s Jean Robert Autran was another early mover at the final table, rising incredibly fast to steal the top spot from Chu. Bumping Chu down further was Erquiaga who claimed his first of six final table busts in India’s Ankit Jajodia with staying ahead of . As the blinds increased, India’s hopes were crushed by Filipino Junnie Pamplona who cleaned out Patni in 6th place with over .
Down to five players, Erquiaga denied Malaysia’s Patrick Soh a third double up and nearly sent Chu out of the running with dominating until two Nines and a King turned up. On the pair’s next big face-off, Chu won that round again with a straight over mid-pair to regain the chip lead. Despite the drop to just 13 BB, Erquiaga stayed aggressive to drag in multiple big pots, including a lucky double up against Autran with a outdrawing on a board . The lengthy four-handed round ended with Erquiaga besting Autran again, to send the Frenchman out in 4th place. Autran walked away earning the largest payout of his career.
Following the bust, the final three players struck an ICM deal that guaranteed each player six figures and Erquiaga the largest cut. Set aside was the WPT Main Event trophy, the WPT World Championship US$ 10,400 seat, and US$ 24,000.
With the deal in place, Pamplona didn’t last long. He shoved with and was outdrawn by Erquiaga’s , Queen on the flop. As one of the final table underdogs, Pamplona pocketed the largest payout of his career totaling US$ 106,482.
A bit of background on Pamplona, in Day 2 he was down to just 8 BB, doubled up twice, then eliminated WPT India Main Event champion Ashish Munot in 31st place. During the bubble round to the final table, Pamplona briefly sat in the leader’s seat after muscling Chu out of a big pot. In a battle of the blinds, with a board that completed , Pamplona check-raised the flop and jammed the river.
Heads up between Chu and Erquiaga was also quite quick. Chu lost the first few pots to fall below 10 BB. He then pushed with that was outdrawn by Erquiaga’s on a final board of . Erquiaga shipped a total of US$ 137,008 in cash plus a seat, accommodation, and flight to WPT World Championship in December. Runner up Chu had to settle for a payout of US$ 120,980. Both players earned their largest known live tournament payout.
Stay tuned to Somuchpoker as we bring you updates on the ongoing WPT Prime Cambodia at NagaWorld Phnom Penh. For pics, head to the Somuchpoker FB page.
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