Photo: Qing Liu poses with his WPT Champions Trophy outside the Venetian after winning WPT at Venetian on Tuesday night.
Back in January of 2020, Qing Liu made a deep run at the WPT Gardens Poker Championship in California, making it to the televised WPT Final Table, which was scheduled to be filmed on March 31, 2020.
Then there was a global pandemic.
Liu would have to wait an additional year before that WPT Final Table would be played, and while he was waiting for that delayed shot at a WPT title, Liu went out and won a different WPT title.
On Tuesday evening, Qing Liu overcame a 2-to-1 deficit heads-up against former Main Event champion Joe McKeehen to win the WPT at Venetian, earning $752,880.
On Wednesday (tomorrow), Liu will finally be sitting down to play the final table for the WPT Gardens Poker Championship, only this time he’ll be playing for his second WPT title instead of his first.
Liu moved to Las Vegas last year, and the Venetian seems to have become his casino of choice — all 19 of his tournament cashes in the past year have come at Venetian. Less than two weeks ago, Liu entered a $600 buy-in event here at Venetian, and he outlasted a field of 1,187 to win $110,890.
“I waited a year, so I just moved here to play a lot more,” said Liu. “I’ve been coming here to Venetian every day.”
Photo: Joe McKeehen won the WSOP Main Event back in 2015, but is still seeking his first WPT title.
The biggest story coming into the final table was McKeehen, who had the chip lead and experience on his side. McKeehen was expertly using his chip stack to continue taking more and more chips from his opponents as he all but steamrolled his way thru most of the final table.
Liu got the first knockout of the day, when his turned a ten against the of Trace Henderson in Hand #36.
But McKeehen got the next three knockouts as he continued to build his stack. In Hand #79, McKeehen’s held up against Kou Vang’s to knock out Vang in fifth place.
In Hand #94, WPT champion Jack Hardcastle got it all in with , but failed to improve against McKeehen’s . Hardcastle finished fourth.
Lest you think that McKeehen was winning every hand, in Hand #107, Roland Rokita got it all in with pocket fours against McKeehen’s pocket tens, and spiked a four on the turn to double up. If McKeehen’s hand had held there, he would have had 132 big blinds and well over a 2-to-1 chip lead for heads-up play. But three-handed play continued for another 45 hands.
In Hand #152, McKeehen finally got his revenge. Rokita got it all in with against McKeehen’s , and McKeehen turned a jack-high straight to eliminate Rokita in third place.
McKeehen had nearly a 2-to-1 lead going into heads-up play against Liu, and that’s when everything immediately turned sour for McKeehen.
Liu won three of the first four hands, and then they built up a pot worth 12.9 million in the fifth hand (Hand #157), and Liu shoved the river to get a fold from McKeehen. That gave Liu the chip lead, and he didn’t stop there.
Liu won 18 of 23 hands during heads-up play, and the final one was a bad beat — McKeehen’s couldn’t hold up against Liu’s . There was a four on the flop, and that card turned Qing Liu into a WPT champion.
And tomorrow, he’ll have a chance to do it again. But does Liu think he can win WPT titles on back-to-back days?
“I don’t think so,” said Liu. “I used up all my luck today. Tomorrow I won’t be so lucky.”
Photo: Qing Liu
Final Table Results:
1st: Qing Liu – $752,880
2nd: Joe McKeehen – $491,960
3rd: Roland Rokita – $363,235
4th: Jack Hardcastle – $271,050
5th: Kou Vang – $204,430
6th: Trace Henderson – $155,865
Photography by Joe Giron / PokerPhotoArchive.com