Kenneth Kee Takes Down HK$1M Triton Hold’em Event for $2,866,838
2 August 2018
PokerBrave (2768 articles)
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Kenneth Kee might not be a tournament player, but the strategy he utilized in the Triton Hold’em events in Jeju was astonishingly precise. Kee has been by far the most impressive player in the newly emerging game of short deck poker, and the results reflect it. Kee conquered the HK$1 million event, topping a field of 60 entries for a mammoth payday of HK$22,500,000, more than $2.86 million.

“IT’S A SUPER NEW GAME. PEOPLE HAVEN’T FIGURED EVERYTHING OUT YET.”

What made Kee’s run through the tournament special was his ability to maneuver his stack without suffering huge chip swings. With the high variance the game brings, some may think that the straight-forward approach should be paying off. Kee, however, offered a different way to perceive the dynamics.

“Maybe you should not gamble in some spots where you would normally gamble in cash games. It’s similar to no-limit hold’em tournaments,” Kee said. But he also added that the general tournament strategy isn’t too different from cash games. “It’s a super new game. People haven’t figured everything out yet.”

Final results:

Position Player Country Prize (HKD) Prize (USD)
1 Kenneth Kee Singapore HKD 22,500,000 $2,866,838
2 Cary Katz United States HKD 13,920,000 $1,773,617
3 Richard Yong Malaysia HKD 9,120,000 $1,162,025
4 Peter Jetten Canada HKD 6,300,000 $802,715
5 Mikita Badziakouski Belarus HKD 4,620,000 $588,657
6 Ivan Leow Malaysia HKD 3,540,000 $451,049

Kee seems to be naturally talented for the game, but he also puts in a lot of hard work to prepare himself for the battles on the big stage. “I watched a lot of tapes and then every time they made a move, I tried to think ‘why did they limp here?’ or ‘why did they shove here?’ Then I picked a few things which I liked and added them into my game.”

He also said that he discusses strategy with some of his friends whom he considers to belong to the top-shelf short deck players in the world. “We still have a bit of differences,” Kee revealed and expanded on his statement. “I believe that some people have figured out what’s slightly more GTO in short deck. But it might not necessarily mean that it’s the best move in the long run. Every situation is different; every player is different.”

“KNOWING GTO IS ONE THING, BUT APPLYING IT TO SPECIFIC SITUATIONS; THAT’S THE KEY IN POKER I THINK.”

Kee is trying to balance between GTO and an exploitative approach. “Knowing GTO is one thing, but applying it to specific situations; that’s the key in poker I think,” he said. “You have to have good fundamentals. If you don’t, you’re going to lose in a long run if you’re only going to make exploits. You’re mathematically bound to lose. So I suggest doing a mix.”

That was something he showcased in the HK$1 million tournament here, mainly in the short-handed play on the final table. He came back holding the chip lead with Richard Yong not far behind. Cary Katz was the shortest stack with 25 button-antes when play resumed. “I was doing a mix of limping and raising. I was raising more when Cary was getting really short.”

Katz would make it to the heads-up as Yong quickly lost half of his stack with two pair against Kee’s superior two pair. Only a paired board saved Yong from losing all the money in the hand, but Kee got the rest of the chips anyway, getting to the final duel not only with more experience than his final opponent but also with a giant chip-advantage.

“Cary Katz just started playing short deck, so I feel that I have an edge post-flop,” Kee said. That proved to be the case when Kee pulled off a big bluff, forcing Katz to bet-fold aces on the river of a paired board which saw a club flush draw and a straight fill up on the final street.

Kee turned his top pair of kings into a bluff, blocking flushes and straight with a ten of clubs. “That was the key blocker. He check-called the flop, and then he decides to bet pretty hugely on the turn. I don’t really like this spot, but I don’t think I can fold this. Plus I have a couple of cards I could use to bluff,” Kee explained his thought process.

“I’M NOT EVEN SURE IF WHAT I’M DOING IS PERFECTLY RIGHT.”

When Katz led out again, and Kee knew it was the right time to go for the bluff. “He bets this river, and this doesn’t make any sense at all. If he has ten-jack, why would he bluff the nine on the turn. It’s so weird. He almost has no flushes. And I don’t think he has a straight, given the line he took,” Kee said.

So Kee raised, Katz, folded, and Kee claimed the rest of the chips within the next hour or so. Katz couldn’t turn over the advantage and had to settle for second place, but it’s still a fantastic effort considering he just debuted in Triton Hold’em. Earning HK$13,920,000 ($1.8 million) the first time he explored the game, that’s an achievement Katz can be proud of.

Katz seemed to be picking up the mechanics of the game as the tournament progressed. And as the champion Kee noted, anybody can still come with a more advanced strategy to dominate the world of short deck poker.

“I’m not even sure if what I’m doing is perfectly right,” Kee said. For now, he’s the Triton Hold’em champion, having made it to the throne in Jeju. Kee confirmed that he’ll be back for some more Triton Hold’em tournament action in future.