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domenica 2 luglio 2023

PLO specialist Ka Kwan Lau joins the WSOP bracelet club

The second winner of a Pot-Limit Omaha High Roller Event of the 2023 World Series of Poker has been crowned at the Horseshoe and Paris Las Vegas. Out of a staggering field of 449 entries in Event #57: $25,000 Pot-Limit Omaha High Roller, PLO specialist Ka Kwan Lau defeated Sergio Martinez Gonzalez heads up as both Spanish-speaking four-card aficionados earned the biggest slice of the $10,551,500 prize pool. It was the biggest prize pool for a Pot-Limit Omaha live poker event in the history of the WSOP and Lau sealed the victory two years after he came up one spot shy of earning his maiden WSOP gold bracelet in the very same tournament. Known under his online moniker of "kaju85", he is one of the most-feared players in PLO tournaments on the live and online poker circuit. He was born in Spain and has a Hong Kong passport as well, but quickly became an integral part of the close-knit Spanish poker community ever since entering the live poker scene back in 2010. Lau resides in Andorra and that's where he will be heading a few days from now because the birth of his second daughter is imminent. The four-card specialist will even skip the upcoming $50,000 Pot-Limit Omaha High Roller, as well as the remainder of the 2023 WSOP, to be home with his family. His return to Europe will be sweetened with the top prize of $2,294,756 and his first bracelet, while Martinez Gonzalez receives a consolation prize of $1,418,270. Andjelko Andrejevic came into the final day as the shortest stack but laddered to third place ahead of Roger Teska and Mads Amot. All five of the finalists were competing for their maiden WSOP victory in the Horseshoe Event Center and Lau has further cemented his status as one of the best among the four-card aficionados. "I feel great,” said Lau. “It feels like I have been missing something and now it is complete ... I am very happy with that. I came here two years ago to win the bracelet. I can't really say yet how happy I am not.” Lau is arguably one of the most accomplished PLO tournament players and his strategy for success seems rather simple. "My secret is to grind a lot,” said Lau. “I love poker and push hard.” He also competes in No-Limit Hold'em tournaments once in a while as well and has had a deep run in the 2016 WSOP Main Event where he collected $269,430 for his 20th-place finish. However, the four-card variant has very much been his bread and butter for more than a decade now. "My game in No-Limit is very poor,” said Lau. “I just play a couple of tournaments. When I have no games or nothing better to do, I play probably one tournament of No-Limit Hold'em.” With two times as many cards, he is a force to be reckoned and the number of entries in each of the PLO events has been growing by a lot during the 2023 WSOP, very much to the delight of the Spaniard. "PLO is getting more and more popular,” said Lau. “The number [in this event] speaks for itself. I didn't come the last year, but people told me that it is almost double the field and that is a lot. Also, in the 10k, the field was up a lot. I think the game is getting more popular." Another high-stakes event in his preferred four-card variant is just around the corner with Event #71: $50,000 Pot-Limit Omaha High Roller, which gets underway on 30 June 2023, but other PLO specialists may be relieved that Lau won't be among the participants. "I will miss the tournament,” said Lau. “I am waiting for my second daughter and she is going to come in a week or 10 days. I think it is a great moment to come back home and be with my wife and my daughter. It is okay for this year, I will just relax and see how my daughter grows, but next year it is very probable that I will come here again with them." The final day recommenced with five players remaining and Lau in the driver's seat, while fellow Spanish-speaking Martinez Gonzalez was in distinct second place. Lau suffered a minor setback when Andrejevic extracted value with a full house, but he more than made up for it soon after. In a large clash with the third-biggest stack Amot, Lau flopped an open-ended straight and flush draw against the middle set of the Norwegian. The turn was a blank, but the river brought another spade without pairing the board to vault Lau into a commanding lead. Next to go was one of the two short stacks when Teska put his hopes on the top two pair and a gutshot. However, he was drawing very thin against the flopped wheel of Martinez Gonzalez and bricked the river to reduce the field to the final three after fewer than 90 minutes of play. Andrejevic kept his short stack afloat with a double against Martinez Gonzalez but still had a mountain to climb for a shot at the title. The big lead of Lau was then decimated to just a handful of big blinds when Martinez Gonzalez earned value from a superior full house, which had the potential to shift the momentum. The Serbian stuck around for a while but never pulled away from the bottom of the leaderboard by some margin. He eventually made a stand with double-suited queens against the pocket aces of Martinez Gonzalez in a preflop contest. Both players flopped a set and Andrejevic didn't catch the miracle one-outer to bow out in third place for nearly $1 million in prize money. Heads-up play between Lau and Martinez Gonzalez started with an incredible average of 84 big blinds, as the final two contenders were separated by just two big blinds with a pay jump of more than $800k and the WSOP gold bracelet on the line. It would only take fewer than two hours to determine a winner, however, and it was Lau who came out on top. Martinez Gonzalez started pulling away in the first half of the heads-up duel and was just one card away from victory. His nut flush draw, however, missed and Lau doubled into a narrow lead with the nut straight. It was a pivotal turning point as Lau regained his composure after having been frustrated previously and he raked in several big pots in quick succession to jump into a commanding lead. Ultimately, they got it in preflop with naked aces for Martinez Gonzalez against a double-suited broadway rundown of Lau and the latter rivered a straight to finish the job he missed out on two years ago in Las Vegas.


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