Qing Liu Denies Joe McKeehen to Win WPT Venetian for $752K

qing liu world poker tour venetian 2021
Qing Liu won his first World Poker Tour title on Tuesday night and could win his second on Wednesday night. (Joe Giron/WPT photo)

Over a year ago, Qing Liu made the final table of the World Poker Tour Gardens Poker Championship. That final table was meant to be played in Las Vegas last March but the coronavirus pandemic put an extended delay on that event. This week, Liu traveled to Las Vegas to play the WPT Venetian event before finally getting to play the Gardens Championship final table on Wednesday.

Now he’s suddenly in position to win two WPT titles – and more than $1.3 million – in a 24 hour span. On Tuesday night Liu beat 2015 World Series of Poker Main Event champion Joe McKeehen heads up to win the WPT Venetian event for more than $750,000.

Before the final table began there was some drama surrounding the player second in chips, Roland Rokita. Fedor Holz, who has worked with Rokita, tweeted that the young Austrian was in medical distress and might not be able to play the final table.

Despite Holz subsequently tweeting that he believed Rokita would require surgery, Rokita made it to the Venetian in time to play the final table.

It took 36 hands for the first elimination to happen. With blinds at 75,000/150,000, Liu raised to 300,000 with QhTs on the button. Trace Henderson moved all in from the small blind for 1,525,000 with 9h9s and Liu called. The 8d3c3d flop changed nothing but Liu connected on the Th turn to make top pair. Henderson was unable to catch either one of the two remaining nines as the 6d river and was eliminated in sixth place.

That hand moved Liu up the chip counts, but McKeehen did most of the heavy lifting the rest of the way. From the cutoff, McKeehen min-raised to 400,000 with 8c8h. Kou Vang shoved from the big blind for 4,250,000 with AcKs. The flop came Td8d2s gave McKeehen middle set and left Vang needing runner-runner help. The 3s turn made Vang’s fifth place elimination all but official as the Ad river completed the board.

McKeehen found another victim just 15 minutes later in a blind against blind spot. Action folded to McKeehen in the small blind and he moved all in with KsTd and Jack Hardcastle called all in from the big blind with Qh8s. The board ran out AdAh4s9d4c to completed miss Hardcastle and the 2021 WPT Montreal Online champion was eliminated in fourth. That pot gave McKeehen 63% of the chips in play.

It took nearly two hours to go from three-handed to heads-up and once again it was McKeehen taking charge and adding to his chip lead. McKeehen moved all in from the small blind with Jc8d and Rokita called from the big blind putting his tournament at risk with 5c5d. McKeehen picked up a gunshot straight draw on the AsTs7s flop and then made that draw on the 9c turn. The river was the meanings 8c and Rokita was done in third place.

Heads-up play began with McKeehen holding a nearly 2-1 lead over Liu. It took Liu just five hands to wrestle that lead away from McKeehen. With the board showing AsKh7hKcKd and 12,500,000 in the pot, Liu moved all in for 10,100,000 forcing McKeehen to fold. Liu took a 3-2 chip lead thanks to that pot. Just 30 minutes later, Liu collected every last chip. Down to just 11 big blinds, McKeehen moved all in with Kh7d and Liu called with Kc4s. Liu made second pair on the 6s4d2h flop and McKeehen was unable to improve as the 9d and 6c completed the board to give Liu his first WPT title and a $752,880 payday.

Liu, who has had his last 20 cashes come at the Venetian dating back to last September, will spend Tuesday night resting up before making his way to the PokerGO Studio at Aria to play the final table of the Gardens Poker Championship where is fifth in chips.

WPT Venetian Final Table Payouts

  1. Qing Liu – $752,880
  2. Joe McKeehen – $491,960
  3. Roland Rokita – $363,235
  4. Jack Hardcastle – $271,050
  5. Kou Vang – $204,430
  6. Trace Henderson – $155,865

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