Mandaluyong City, Philippines' Mike Takayama routs final table, claims Philippines' first-ever WSOP gold bracelet

29 June 2018 (Las Vegas) – Mike Takayama, a 29-year-old poker pro from Mandaluyong City, Philippines, has won his country's first-ever World Series of Poker gold bracelet. Takayama accomplished the feat in winning Event #59 of the 2018, WSOP, $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em Super Turbo Bounty.

Takayama's victory in this fast-paced single-day event, which featured brief 20-minute levels, earned him $198,568. The cash was also only the second payday of Takayama's WSOP career, joining a deep run in Event #34: $1,000 Double Stack No-Limit Hold'em earlier this series.

Takayama came to the final table of this 2,065-entrant event second in chips, but made quick work of his remaining foes. The last player standing turned out to be Italy's Lorenc Puka, who dodged elimination more than once but turned out to be Takayama's 16th and final bounty in the event.

Puka, originally from Albania but now living in Parma, Italy, collected $122,627 for the second-place run. Puka had two previous WSOP cashes, one earlier this summer and another in a WSOP International Circuit stop in Europe.

Third place in this event went to veteran Florida poker pro Matthew “SamENole” Smith. Smith's 23rd cash at the Vegas WSOP was worth $88,938. The United Kingdom's Steve Jelinek, one of two prior bracelet winners to make the final table, earned $65,145 for fourth.

Takayama, a skilled billiards player who once represented the Philippines in international competitions, demolished the final table, which lasted just 49 hands. Takayama bounced seven of his eight final-table foes, which accounted for nearly half of the 16 bounties he collected on the day.

The last player standing in Takayama's path was Italy's Puka, who started out at an 8:1 disadvantage. Puka did manage one double-up but never mounted a serious threat as Takayama applied continuous pressure. The last hand saw Puka get the last of his chips in with   , leading Takayama's   . However, the     flop put Takayama ahead, and the   turn and   river closed out the day's action.

"I'm very happy," Takayama told the WSOP, "because winning the bracelet is everyone's dream. I'm the first Filipino to win a bracelet, so I'm really, really, really happy about that." Takayama also admitted that some great fortune came his way late. "I had two specific hands were I got the suckout. I got a hefty stack after that, and I just kept on building it up."

Takayama, whose mid-summer plans now include playing in the Main Event, also told us about his switch from billiards to poker. "I was a great billiards player, but I didn't get any money out of billiards, so I shifted to poker."

This special super-turbo bounty event found 2,065 entrants taking seats during the early levels of play, with the field slashed all the way to a final table of nine within about 11 hours of play. Prior bracelet winner Jelinek led the way to the official final nine with about two million in chips, with eventual winner Takayama at about 1.4 million.

The super-turbo format meant the bustouts continued at a fast pace. Garbsen, Germany's Oliver Rusing made his first WSOP cash a final table, but he exited when his    fell to Takayama's    on an unexpected         runout. Eighth was decided when this final's other prior bracelet winner, South Plainfield, NJ's Jack Duong, found his    no good against Takayama's   . Duong had re-raised pre-flop for his last chips over a Takayama raise, with Takayama calling and then notching the knockout as the board brought        .

Takayama made it three in a row when he sent Hastings, NE's Elizabeth Montizanti to the rail in seventh ($27,193). Montizanti was all in for her last 263,000 when Takayama raised Spencer Baker out of the hand after a     flop. Takayama was well ahead with his   , though Montizanti had a straight draw with her   . The   turn and   river missed, howevver, leaving six players in the hunt.

That quickly became five when a short-stacked Kavish Shabbir shoved all in from the small blind and Takayama called from the big. Shabbir's    was no match for Takayama's    as the board ran out        , giving Takayama a pair of threes. Shabbir collected $36,019 for sixth.

Baker's exit came next, and in a change, it wasn't Takayama lodging the KO. Baker moved all in for 360,000 from the button, and Smith called from the big blind. Baker started ahead with    to Smith's   , but the         board hit Smith's jack instead, leaving Baker, to collect $48,196 for fifth.

Sheffield, UK pro Steve Jelinek soon followed Baker. Jelinek exited after losing a race to Takayama, where Jelinek's    squared off against Takayama's   . Takayama's rush continued as the deuces held, the board bringing       and a river   for an unneeded set. Jelinek's fourth-place showing was worth $65,145.

That left Smith and Puka vastly outchipped by Takayama, and Smith was the next to bust. Smith shoved his last 450,000 in from the button, right into big blind Takayama's waiting   . Takayama's heater held as the board ran out        , that river ten giving Takayama the winning Broadway straight. Smith's third-place effort was worth $88,938.

Event #59, $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em Super Turbo Bounty, drew 2,065 entrants and created a prize pool of $1,858,500. 310 players cashed, with a min-cash worth $1,000.

Other Notables:
Among those cashing in Event #59 were Jordan Young (15th, $9,803), Michael Moore (24th, $6,275), Pablo Mariz (32nd, $5,103), Rex Clinkscales (62nd, $2,935), Jeff Madsen (72nd, $2,497), Aditya Prasetyo (94th, $1,650), Erik Cajelais (108th, $1,471), and Greg Raymer (120th, $1,471).

Click here for Full Results.
Click here for live updates from Event #59.

Final Table Payouts (POY points in parentheses):

1st: Mike Takayama, $198,568 (1,080.55)
2nd: Lorenc Puka, $122,627 (540.28)
3rd: Matthew Smith, $88,938 (486.25)
4th: Steve Jelinek, $65,145 (432.22)
5th: Spencer Baker, $48,196 (405.21)
6th: Kavish Shabbir, $36,019 (378.19)
7th: Elizabeth Montizanti, $27,193 (324.17)
8th: Jack Duong, $20,743 (297.15)
9th: Oliver Rusing, $15,988 (270.14)