Becoming a World Poker Tour (WPT) champion is a wonderful accomplishment. Having the specific feat be a first in poker history is even cooler. On Tuesday, David Tang won the WPT Australia Main Event, the first main tour stop in Australia in the WPT’s illustrious history.
The total field was 710 players, generating a prize pool of AUD $3,550,000 (US$2,300,116). For the victory, Tang pocketed AUD$647,470 (US$425,712). It was the first major tournament title of Tang’s career and his first six-figure score, more than quadruple his entire earnings total going into the event.
In a fortuitous twist of fate, Tang didn’t actually want to play in the tournament, instead preferring to watch the Australian rules football league championship. But the poker gods decided his plans for him.
“I’m still a bit stung, but it’s awesome. I wasn’t expecting to get this far,” Tang told WPT.com afterward. “To be honest I was actually trying to cancel my flight here because I wanted to watch the (Australian Football League) Grand Final in Melbourne, but they wouldn’t give us a refund on our flights so it just all worked out.”
The final table looked like it could be a runaway before the day started. Daisuke Ogita held a massive chip lead going into the final table, with 17.625 million chips. Naj Ajez was his closest competitor, holding 5.900 million. The next three players, including Tang, had in the mid-3 million range. So, the opportunity was there for Ogita to run everyone over while the clump behind him duked it out for second place.
Things started pretty much as expected, as Ogita quickly eliminated De Kun Li – one of that “clump” – in sixth place. Tang, though, proceeded to double through Ogita and while Ogita still had a healthy lead, Tang was now within striking distance.
Ajez eliminated Josh Hutchins, the short stack going into the final table, in fifth place on Hand 27 and the final table was moving along rapidly.
At the next break, which was after a few more orbits, the chip counts had evened. Ogita was still the leader, but with just 11 million chips, barely ahead of Ajez, who had 10.675 million, and Po Ho, who had 9.500 million. Tang was in last with 4.425 million.
It kept going poorly for Ogita after the break and he eventually bowed out in third place at the hands of Po Ho, who vaulted into the chip lead with 19.500 million, more than his two competitors combined. Things slowed significantly as the three remaining players were determined to get to heads-up.
About 100 hands after Ogita’s ouster, Ajez doubled through Ho with K-K against A-7 to take his stack way up to 22.800 million, while Ho was down to 4.100 million. Ho recovered, however, returning the favor and pulling back into second, close behind Ajez.
After another break, for as long as three-handed play took, the tournament ended in the blink of an eye. Ajez had seen his stack whittled down a bit while Tang chipped up. On Hand 187, Ajez shoved with A-5 for 7.600 million and Ho made the call with A-4 after having already committed 1 million on raise. Ho hit a 4 on the flop and another on the river to take the pot and eliminate Ajez in third place.
Going into heads-up play, Po Ho had the lead on David Tang, 21.000 million to 14.500 million. With blinds and antes at 250,000/500,000/500,000, there wasn’t all that much room to play. The two men knew it. On the very first hand of heads-up, they found themselves all-in, Tang with K-Q and Ho with Q-T. Tang’s hand held up and he doubled into a massive chip lead.
Then, the very next hand, just two hands into heads-up play, it was over. The players were again all-in pre-flop, Tang with K-T of diamonds, Ho with A-8 of clubs. Tang made a flush on the turn to lock down the hand and win his first World Poker Tour title.
2022 World Poker Tour Australia Main Event – Final Table Results
- David Tang – AUD$647,470* (US$425,712)
- Po Ho – AUD$421,635 (US$277,225)
- Naj Ajez – AUD$310,675 (US$204,269)
- Daisuke Ogita – AUD$231,505 (US$152,215)
- Josh Hutchins – AUD$174,480 (US$114,721)
- De Kun Li – AUD$133,025 (US$87,464)
Image credit: WPT.com / Chris Wadih