Johnny Yu is the 2018 Alberta Poker Champion

Johnny Yu Casino Yellowhead Alberta Poker Championship

For over a decade, the poker year has kicked off in Alberta with the Alberta Poker Championship. For 2018, the week-long festival in Edmonton's Pure Casino Yellowhead combined no-limit hold'em with pot-limit Omaha over five events.

The series began with a $550 no-limit hold'em bounty tournament on January 14. A total of 149 players came out for the opening event, where $400 from the buy-in went to the prize pool, with $100 reserved for a bounty. Total prize pool topped out at $55,875 and Gabe P. took home the top prize of $15,395.

Event #2 happened Monday, January 15. The $330 no-limit hold'em event had 157 entries with a prize pool over $44,000. John Letts and Jeremiah Abernathy shared the top two prizes with Letts pocketing $7,880 for second and Abernathy scoring the win for $11,995.

The third event in the series was pot-limit Omaha, and 76 players came out for the $440 buy-in, generating a prize pool of $28,880. When all the cards were dealt, Francis Fan was left holding all the chips. Fan defeated Kevin Kusiak in heads-up play and secured the $9,820 first place. Kusiak picked up $5,630 for second.

The series moved back to hold'em for Event #4, a turbo tournament with a buy-in of $250. Jody Fayant ended up with all the chips at the end of play, winning $7,880. He defeated Joe Pastion heads up after an amazing run where he knocked out four of the last five players.

Johnny Yu with 2018 Alberta Poker Championship trophy at Casino Yellowhead
Johnny Yu, winner of 2018 Alberta Poker Championship

The Main Event was a three-day affair, with two Day 1s leading into the final Day 2. Total entries for the Main Event came in at 244 and Johnny Yu took down the title after he and Chris MacPherson made a deal to split the remaining prize pool heads up.

Yu's run to the title wasn't without a hiccup, however. He faced elimination at the final table in a hand against Jonathan Sanborn with a dominated queen. On-scene reporter Adam Lamers described the hand:

"Yu was all in against Jonathan Sanborn and would need to catch a break. Sanborn was dominating with {a-Diamonds}{q-Diamonds} against Yu's {q-Clubs}{j-Spades}. However, the board ran out Jh7s2dJcJd and Yu made quads to double up and take the chip lead with just three players remaining."

Yu and MacPherson each collected $45,000 for their efforts with Yu winning the final hand, and the tournament title.

Yu said that he wanted to win the tournament in his late dog's honour. "Only those close to me knew how much he meant to me," he explained. His dog, Jackson, passed away before the new year.

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