Paul Phua had $26 million in live tournament earnings in his career, but had never won a World Series of Poker gold bracelet. Until Wednesday morning. After two days of action, Phua emerged triumphant in the €25,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em Platinum High Roller event at the 2022 World Series of Poker Europe, winning €482,433.
“It’s a very different kind of feeling, you know,” Phua said afterward. “You don’t get to do this all the time. Not often. I didn’t expect to win because there are so many players around. But the structure at the end is very short, which suits players like me.”
Now, there weren’t “so many players,” just 67 entries in total, because of the high price tag. But while that buy-in limits participants, those participants are strong across the board, as it is typically the best poker pros who can afford to play in high roller events. Look at the final table alone: in addition to Phua, who had names like Shaun Deeb, Daniel Negreanu, and Espen Jorstad. You don’t usually see that in a 2,000-player tournament.
Phua founded Triton Poker Super High Roller Series and is no stranger to winning high roller tournaments himself – he wouldn’t have $26 million in earnings if he couldn’t win – but a WSOP bracelet had always eluded him. Despite all of his success, this is what he really wanted.
“This is the highlight of my poker career,” he told WSOP.com. “I’m lucky enough that money doesn’t matter. I just try to play my best, and try to be competitive against pros. You know, we don’t get to study every day. But as I play more, I think I get a little bit better and have a better chance.”
Phua went into the nine-handed final table in bad shape, holding just 1.485 million chips, or nine big blinds. That still put him in seventh place and only a couple big blinds from fifth, but it was an uphill battle to get to the top. Benjamin Heath was the chip leader with 10.020 million chips. Nobody else had over 7 million.
He got a little lucky when he eliminated Eelis Parssinen in eight place, his K-T out-flopping Parssinen’s A-5. That still only got him up to 2.300 million, but it was a start.
Shortly thereafter, he doubled-up and then some off of Heath, growing his stack to 7.100 million. That spiraled Heath, who eventually bowed out in sixth place.
And that’s when Paul Phua began to romp. He knocked out Julien Martini in fifth place, then tossed Negreanu aside in fourth place (sucking out on the flop with pocket Fours versus Negreanu’s pocket Fives). Shaun Deeb was Phua’s next victim, eliminated in third place.
Phua went into heads-up play against Gab Yong Kim with a substantial chip lead, 26.765 million to 6.740 million. Kim almost came back to tie it up, but couldn’t get over the hump. Phua pulled away and on the final hand, Kim shoved with K-9 of clubs for 8.6 million and Phua made the call with A-3 (his Ace was a club). The flop gave Kim a bunch more outs, as it came out 8-7-7 with two clubs, but he couldn’t catch anything on the turn or river, clinching the tournament for Phua.
2022 World Series of Poker Europe €25,000 No-Limit Hold’em Platinum High Roller – Final Table Results
- Paul Phua – €482,433
- Gab Yong Kim – €298,163
- Shaun Deeb – €205,566
- Daniel Negreanu – €146,370
- Julien Martini – €107,752
- Ben Heath – €82,104
- Wayne Heung – €64,835
- Eelis Parssinen – €53,129
- Espen Jorstad – €45,242