Kiwi poker player Ben Rendall has taken home $75,000 after winning the Main Event of the NZ Poker Championships in Christchurch last night.
Rendall, a 26-year old doctor from Palmerston North, saw off Kwang Son (3rd for $39,000) and Steve Ahn (2nd for $55,000) in quick succession after play turned three handed, to claim the title following 25 hours of play over two days.
147 poker players put up $1650 to enter Christchurch casino's marquee tournament, and there were 78 re-entries which generated a prize pool of $337,500.
Rendall is one of New Zealand's brightest poker minds, and navigated a tough field which included Aussie Millions winner Shurane Vijayaram (10th for $7000) and a host of New Zealand's top players.
"I had a reasonably big stack at the start of day two and then ran quite hot in the first few levels, but then had a bit of a downswing losing a lot, making a few plays that were probably too ambitious in some spots trying to put pressure on people," said Rendall.
"Then on the bubble I had quite a crucial hand where I got all my money in bad with Jack, Ten on a Jack high flop and was called by Jack, King, but hit a Ten on the river to stay alive and that put me in a really good position going into the bubble.
"I was able to put a lot of pressure on people because it was quite a big min-cash ($3500). I went from about 300k to 600k in about an hour on the bubble which got me in good position at the final table.
"I knocked out five or six of the final 10 and was tied for the chip lead when we got to three handed play."
Randall won the tournament by calling Ahn's 1.7X pot over shove on a Q7QT board with J7. Ahn showed 3 5 and was drawing dead.
"Those are the kind of spots you live for as a poker player. They're the spots you spend all the time studying for and thinking about so when you're in that situation you can make the right call. It wasn't a hard call in the end because of what Ahn had been doing, but I needed to take the time to make sure I got it right.
Randall won an Auckland tournament in 2015 for $38,000, but spends most of his available poker hours playing cash games online as live poker isn't much of an option in Palmerston North.
"The key to succeeding in tournaments is the same thing that makes a good poker player. You need a good mix of understanding people and understanding the game. The point where those two come together is where you make your money. When you understand what people are doing and how they're feeling you're playing the game with a lot more ammunition than they are.
"I think Christchurch casino do a really good job of organising and promoting the tournament. They listen to the players and provide a tournament which is great for the players. People like coming here, they feel it's an event and they catch up with friends in the poker community."
So what does Rendall plan on doing with the winnings?
"I'm thinking of jumping into the pot-limit omaha cash game but I'll be sure to buy the missus something nice."
1st: Ben Rendall $75,000
2nd: Steve Ahn $55,000
3rd: Kwang Son $39,000
4th: Devon Kyle $32,000
5th: Matt Stark $26,000
6th: Matt Carlson $21,000
7th: Ferg Spary $17,000
8th: Jamie Mulligan $13,000
9th: Neranga Jayaweera $10,000
10th: Shurane Vijayaram $7000
11th: Phill Coll $6000
12th: Simon Thwaites $6,000
13th: Tyson Ratahi $5,000
14th: Eamonn Hyland $4,000
15th: Matty Yates $4,000
16th: Dave Bonham $3,500
17th: Jason French $3500
18th: Jeremy Kaywash $3,500
19th: Steve Cook $3,500
20th: Petera Gamlen $3500