After making his way through four days of play and 261 competitors, renowned Filipino rounder Neil Arce claimed first place at the 2009 Asian Poker Tour Philippines.
To pocket the $185,000 prize, Arce had to beat a tough final table that included 2008 APT Macau runner-up Steve Yea, Kasey Castle and "Poker Diva" Liz Lieu.
Lieu came into the final table as one of the short stacks and wasn't able to get much going, eventually finishing in seventh for $22,000. Kastle bounced out in third for $70,000, leaving Yea and Arce to battle it out for first place.
Also playing the event were the famed APT "Poker Pack" that includes David "Chino" Rheem, Quinn Do, Nam Le, Steve Sung and Kwang Soo Lee.
In the final hand Arce opened for $100,000, Yea reraised to $300,000 and Arce moved all-in. Yea made the call and flipped over A♦ K♥. Arce was in trouble with K♠ Q♠, but the board came 7♥ 6♣ 3♠ Q♥ 6♥ to end the tournament.
"This is great," said Arce moments after winning. "I always felt it would come down to me and Steve. For me the key to winning the tournament was position. I was so lucky that Steve was on my right - if he was on my left it would have been a completely different final table.
"I played with Steve all day yesterday when he was on a charge and kept out of his way. I knew that to get anywhere at the final able I had to keep applying pressure and my game plan worked perfectly."
Arce, who is a well-known player on the Filipino poker circuit - he runs the Metro Card Club in Manila - had been chip leader after Day 1a, and even guaranteed APT CEO Chris Parker that he would emerge victorious in the tournament.
"We would like to congratulate Neil on his fantastic win and thank all the players for making the 2009 Asian Poker Philippines such a successful event," said Parker. "Neil's win is fantastic for poker in the Philippines - we hope that it strengthens the appeal of the game even further."
For more information about the Asian Poker Tour, check out its Web site at www.asianpt.com.