Asia-Millions-2013With the World Series of Poker in full swing, you might expect all of the world’s top players to be converging on the Rio in Las Vegas in an attempt to win as many bracelets as they can. Why then, were John Juanda, Isaac Haxton, Sorel Mizzi, Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, Gus Hansen and dozens of other top players in Macau recently instead?

PokerStars Sponsored Event

The answer was the $4.5 million first prize at the GaungDong Limited Asia Millions, a PokerStars-sponsored tournament taking place at the City of Dreams Entertainment Resort in Macau. The massive prizes being awarded dwarfed anything at the WSOP this week, so while some players stayed in Vegas for a chance to gain some prestige, many others followed the money to Asia in an attempt to pad their bankrolls instead.

Massive Prize Pool

In total, 71 players entered into the high-roller event, each paying a HK$1 million ($130,000) entry fee to take part. Of those players, 54 chose to rebuy, which added up to a prize pool of HK$119 million ($15.4 million). That was good enough to be the second-largest prize pool ever for a tournament taking place outside Las Vegas.

Only eight players made the money, but several of them were among the biggest names to enter the tournament, as both Haxton and Mizzi were still in the mix with just five players remaining. Haxton would ultimately go out in 5th place to win a little over HK$10 million ($1.3 million), while Mizzi survived longer before ultimately going out in 3rd place to win just over HK$16 million ($2,077,419).

That left a heads-up battle between Australia’s Jeff Rossiter and Germany’s Niklas Heinecker. On the final hand, Heinecker got his money in good with A9 suited against the QT of Rossiter. Neither player was able to improve, and with Rossiter at risk, that meant that Heinecker was able to take down the first place prize of HK$34.6 million ($4,464,516), while Rossiter had to settle for “only” HK$24.5 million ($3,161,290).

Tough German Online Player Takes It Down

Heinecker may not be a world-famous poker player, but among top pros, he’s known as an extremely tough competitor. During the final table coverage commentary, Mike McDonald called him “probably one of the top five poker players in the world,” as Heinecker has long been one of the top online cash game players under the name “ragen70.”

Heinecker has had his share of success in live tournament poker:  along with his title this week, he’s previously made a WSOP final table and finished 4th at a $25,000 tournament at the Aussie Millions.