Three trophies and 12 final table appearances highlighted a dream performance of Team Pinoy in the P95 million ($1.7 million) Poker Dream Manila live poker series last week in what could be the start of something big for Filipino pros hoping to hit it big in the international poker scene.
Edwin “Hit D Heat” de la Cruz, an emerging force in the local circuit, led the charge of the Action PH team by capturing the Main Event of the week-long gig at the Grand Wing Casino at Newport City, his third since February of this year.
‘This is a good sign for us. It only means that Filipinos could be at par with other players in the international poker scene.
Entering the final table with a massive chip lead, De la Cruz ground it out in the nine-handed final table out of a field of 499 entries before subduing Italy’s Alessandro Taranto in their heads-up duel to pocket the top prize of P5,510,000 ($99,518).
Also making it to the final table was veteran poker pro Terry Gonzaga and Action PH founder David “Dave Spade” Erquiaga who took the Asia-Pacific live poker scene by storm in the last two years with nine victories and more than half a dozen runner-up finishes.
Erquiaga, however, became the first casualty in the final table when his pair of eights and a gut shot was looked up by Taranto with King-Jack suited for the top pair and top kicker. He settled for the P499,000 ninth-place prize but added P83,000 for his ninth place finish in the warm-up event.
For a while, it looked like it will be an all-Filipino finale but Taranto hang on to push out Gonzaga in third place. The Filipino journeyman went home P2.4 million richer for the effort.
Gonzaga’s elimination left De la Cruz and Taranto fighting it out for the trophy and the top prize. In the final reckoning, however, De la Cruz’s 10-6 flopped two pairs in a limped pot as Taranto slow-played his pocket Queens, paving the way for the Filipino triumph as the turn of 3h and river of 8d proved no help for the Italian.
“This is a good sign for us. It only means that Filipinos could be at par with other players in the international poker scene,” Erquiaga said of the lofty finishes by the Filipinos in an event participated by hotshot poker pros from various countries.
Likewise making it big was Richard “Hot Sauce” Marquez who finished second in the No Limit Hold’Em High Roller event for P1.4 million. He was also third in the Mystery Bounty for P77,000. Another Filipino, Vamerdino Magsakay topped the Mini High Roller event worth P637,000 and fifth in the Mystery Bounty for P312,100.
Likewise finishing in the money were Janno Alvarez who ruled the Monster Stack event worth P400,000; Reniel Galvez, 8th in the High Roller for P274,000; Jon Constiniano, fifth in the Mini Main event worth P120,000; and Jason Kyle Magbanua, 8th in the Mystery Bounty for P124,300, and fifth in the No Limit Hold ‘Em6 Max for P35,300.