After getting knocked down to only a few blinds early in the final table action, Taiwan’s James Chen was in dire straits and facing the possibility of not earning any cash for his efforts in the €250,000 Super High Roller event at the 2019 World Series of Poker Europe. Chen, however, had other ideas, coming back from the brink of elimination to not only cash but also to win the tournament after defeating Chin Wei Lim in heads up action on Friday.
Only Five Finishers Paid
Although the official final table of the €250,000 Super High Roller featured nine players, only seven came to the table on Friday afternoon. After Richard Yong and Paul Phua were eliminated from contention during Thursday night’s play, the seven contenders came back with Dominik Nitsche leading the way with his 42.5 million in chips. Nitsche’s lead was a substantive one, as Lim (23.9 million) and Cary Katz (20 million) were the only ones within shouting distance.
With only five players earning a cash from the tournament, you’d have thought that they would have come out of the gates a little tenuous. Instead, the chips started flying off the drop of the flag, much to the dismay of Nitsche. He would double up Christoph Vogelsang to give up his lead, then saw another big stack of his chips depart his stack when he doubled up Chen. Only 15 minutes into the play, Nitsche went from the penthouse to the outhouse and it would get worse.
Barely an hour into the action, Nitsche was in for his final chips against Lim and there was plenty of drama to the hand. Lim’s pocket Queens was racing against Nitsche’s A-K and the Queen on the flop was welcome to Lim. With that Queen, however, came a ten, giving Nitsche outs to the straight with a Jack. That chance departed quickly when the board paired with the deuce that completed the flop, giving Lim a full boat and sending Nitsche out of the tournament in seventh place (€0).
Ryan Riess was now in the cellar and would be the next to hit the exits. Holding under 10 big blinds, Riess pushed with a good hand – an off-suit A-J – but Antanas ‘Tony G’ Guoga would wake up on the button with an off-suit A-Q and was more than willing to dance with the former World Champion. The 9-9-8 flop opened plenty of options for chopping the hand and a third nine on the turn kept that possibility alive, but the ten on the river ended Riess’ hopes of a Super High Roller victory on the bubble as the final five men were determined.
On to a Champion
Now safe in the fact that they had, at least, doubled their money (the min-cash was €538,722 for a fifth-place finish), the players relaxed a bit but kept the chips in action. Vogelsang took over control of the tournament, clashing in that big hand with Chen that sent his stack to 63 million and crippling Chen to only 8.3 million. While many at this point thought Vogelsang was unstoppable, Chen had other ideas.
Getting his first double up through Lim, Chen would then get a measure of revenge in doubling up for a second time through Vogelsang to get back to roughly 30 million in chips. Lim, however, would fight back himself by doubling through Guoga to take the lead away from Chen. Another clash between Guoga and Chen would result in the elimination of Guoga as, after flopping an open-ended straight draw, Guoga would fail to complete the straight against Chen’s Aces up to send Guoga out in fourth place and solidify Chen in the lead.
Now three handed, the action got even more frenetic. Each man – Vogelsang, Chen and Lim – would have a moment in the sun as the chip leader but, just as one man looked to be taking control, the other two would pull him back. After Chen won a big double against Vogelsang to get back in the lead, Lim and Vogelsang would clash in a classic race, Lim’s A♣ 10♣ against Vogelsang’s pocket fives. A ten on the flop switched the fates of the two men and, after running eights came on the turn and river, Vogelsang was eliminated in third and Lim went to heads up against Chen facing a 94.2 million to 55.8 million disadvantage.
Although Lim would pull close to Chen at one point, Chen never did lose the lead. On the final hand, Chen shoved all in to put Lim to a decision for his tournament life and Lim decided to dance. The hands were turned up and both had viable heads-up hands to play:
An Ace on the flop paired each man and the Jack and nine that came with it made it extremely possible that the hand would be chopped. A trey on the turn didn’t change the situation, but a four on the river did, hitting Chen and giving him Aces up to take down the biggest tournament of the 2019 WSOP Europe and the WSOP Europe bracelet.
1. James Chen, €2,844,215
2. Chin Wei Lim, €1,757,857
3. Christoph Vogelsang, €1,185,161
4. Antanas ‘Tony G’ Guoga, €799,045
5. Cary Katz, €538,722
(Ryan Riess, Dominik Nitsche, Paul Phua and Richard Yong, eliminated from the official final table in sixth through ninth places, did not earn a cash in the event)