Yuguang Li just experienced the best two days of poker in his life, and possibly anyone’s life for that matter.
Back-to-back tournament wins are an extremely rare event, but back-back tournament wins within 24 hours of one another are unheard of. And yet Li, a 36-year-old Chinese businessman, who had previously cashed in just three live tournaments, did just that.
First, Li outlasted a field of 987 players to take down the Red Dragon Main Event at the PokerStars Live Festival in Macau for HK$1,848,000 ($238,000 USD).Perhaps emboldened by his sudden windfall he jumped straight into the HK$80,000 High Roller event. (And why not!).
There, Li charged through a further 67 to win that one too, taking his haul for the day to HK$3,495,000 (US$450,000) or about $18,750 per hour.
Li was on a heater, and when you’re on a heater you just can’t lose, as he proved on the final hand. Facing respected British pro Stephen Chidwick heads-up, he called a 20-plus BB pre-flop shove with Qd3d, overtaking Chidwick’s kings on the river when he made a flush. No, we’re not sure, either, but let’s not take anything away from Li’s heroic, odds-defying 24-hours.
As the PokerStars blog gushed: “There haven’t been many greater two-day stretches in poker and certainly not here at PokerStars LIVE Macau. There is no doubt this will go down in history as one of Asia’s most memorable poker moments.”
When Lightning Strikes Twice: Poker’s Famous Back-to-Backers
If the poker historians among you can cast your minds back to the distant mists of last Thursday, you may recall Anthony Zinno’s now-legendary back-to-back victory in WPT events. Zinno picked up $ 302,235 when he triumphed at the Fallsview Poker Classic on February 13. On February 28 he won the LA Poker Classic, too, this time for 1.1 million. Then, last Thursday, he topped the field at the Bay 101 Shooting Stars Classic High Roller. So that’s really a back-to-back-to-back. Top that!
Mark Newhouse blew our tiny little minds when he turned up at the WSOP Main Event final table this year, for the second year running, and then he kind of made us wince when he finished ninth again. Someone figured out that the odds of him even being there were about was 524,558-1, so the odds of him finishing ninth twice must be off the chart. Oof!
Kudos, also, to Dan Harrington, who did it in the noughties, when fields were much smaller, but he also won one of the things.
Doyle Brunson, Stu Ungar and Johnny Chan
These three have all achieved back-to-back WSOP Main Event victories, but perhaps Chan’s feat was more remarkable because he did it when the fields were bigger (‘87,’ 88), and because he almost did it again the next year, losing heads-up to Phil Hellmuth, which must have stung. And yes, Ungar won it again in ’97, which is amazing, but not a back-to-back thing.
Talking of back-to-back things, Layne Flack must be the back-to-back master, because he has the nickname and everything: Layne “Back to Back” Flack. But, let’s be honest, none of us can quite remember why.