Kiwi poker players Te Rangi Matenga, Shane Tamihana and Darren Lukas have each pocketed $55,490 after chopping the Sky City Festival of Poker Main Event prize pool in Auckland last night.
After 24 hours of play over three days, Matenga, Tamihana and Lukas found themselves with similar stack sizes at the final table and decided to evenly split the remaining $166,470 in the prize pool.
The three players went all-in with their final action of the tournament and 23-year-old Matenga was crowned champion when his AK scooped the pot.
The trio outlasted a field of 136 players that all bought into the tournament for $2300, generating a prize pool of $272,000.
Matenga, who flew up to the tournament from Christchurch, was playing in his 10th live tournament and said he was still processing the fact he had won.
"I'm not really feeling anything at the moment," Matenga said. "I just want to eat something and have a sleep."
"There was a lot of money on the line when we were three handed and the pay jumps were like 20k and 30k, which is huge, and as much as I wanted to play, I think the reasonable thing to do in that situation is to take an even three-way deal."
"I just didn't want to gamble $30,000, that's 30 thousand loaves of bread."
Matenga said he had no immediate plans to celebrate as he had to catch a plane home to Christchurch that was set to depart one hour after the tournament finished.
"I have to go to work tomorrow, the boss said I could have a day off but I think I'll just go home, don't want to waste a $300 ticket."
Matenga was short stacked coming into the final day of play but said he picked his moments well to build his stack.
"It's just a value game. I play a lot online and with us internet players we are quite confident playing with 20 big blinds. It's plenty of room to work with and other players aren't going to call correctly and will often fold better hands. You can apply maximum pressure."
Matenga has just started a three-year carpentry apprenticeship in Christchurch but says he dreams of being able to play poker professionally.
"It's kind of depressing going to work each day knowing that you can only earn x amount of money each week for the next three years when your friends are professional poker players winning tournaments for like $40,000. But I want to get a trade behind me and then maybe I'll give it a shot."
The next poker tournament series at Sky City is the Waitangi Deep Stack Champs which runs from Feb 1-8. The series will culminate in a $1500 Main Event.
Final Placings and Prizes:
1st. Te Rangi Matenga $55490
2nd. Shane Tamihana $55490
3rd. Darren Lukas $55490
4th. Zack Lowrie $26110
5th. Jason Cook $20670
6th. Kuru Whiston $13330
7th. Glen Young $10880
8th. Maddy Yates $9620
9th. Eric Chang $7890
10th. Joe Allis $7070
11th. Tatjana Zizic $5440
12th. Michael Stubbs $4620