The Sky City Festival of Poker Main Event saw a total of 136 players where the buy-in fee was set at $2,300. The event was a long and grueling challenge that lasted three full days with eight hours of play per day. The total prize money raised was $272,000 but when it came towards the end of it, there were three Kiwi players battling it out for the remaining prize money of $166,470.
Darren Lukas, Te Rangi Matenga and Shane Tamihana had the option of calling it a day and splitting the prize pool evenly or putting their chips on the line and trying for the big win.
The three players finally decided that it was in their best interests to take a smaller cut and walk away with an evenly split prize pool than risking it all and end endure the possibility of losing it all.
The three Kiwis split the prize money and walked away with $55,590 each. All three players were exhausted with the long hours they put in over the last three days and were more interested in calling it a day than going out and celebrating.
In a statement, Matenga said
There was a lot of money on the line when we were three handed and the pay jumps were like 20k and 30k, which is huge, and as much as I wanted to play, I think the reasonable thing to do in that situation is to take an even three way deal. I just didn’t want to gamble 30 thousand dollars, that’s 30 thousand loaves of bread.
Matenga is not a full time poker player but after this win has aspirations of becoming a full time pro. His immediate plan was to catch a plane back to Christchurch so that he could be in office and resume his day job. Matenga spends a lot of his time playing online poker and has gained a lot of experience that helped him at the Sky City poker event.
Matenga wants to spend the next three years and complete his internship in Christchurch even though he knows his income for the next three years at this full job will have a ceiling on it. While he knows he can make a lot more money playing live poker, he also realizes that there are lots of ups and downs a full time poker pro will experience and hence prefers to gain experience that qualifies him to have a full time career as well.