FOR the first time in the history of the tournament, a female player has grabbed the grand prize of $70,000 in the second Baccarat Challenge hosted by the Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino over the weekend.
Imagawa Kayo, a 31-year-old office secretary from Osaka, Japan, bested 112 other players when she maximized her bet and ended with 21,200 chips in the final round on Saturday night.
Kayo hovered between third and fourth places before placing second to January’s Baccarat champion and tournament favorite Ozakazi Takao in the penultimate hand.
Coming in second with $23,000 prize was Hanazawa Osamu, followed by the eventual third place winner Takao who went home $10,000 richer. Takao bagged the $65,000 grand prize during the first Baccarat challenge in January.
He was in the lead throughout the recently held tournament but ended in third.
Fourth place winner Namura Tamio won $4,000. The fifth to the 10th place winners who received $1,000 prize each were Heo Ji Uk, Yamasaki Kumi, Hideaki Kobayashi, Mabuchi Jun, Cho Hyun Chan, and Onuma Ryo.
In an interview, Kayo said it was her fifth time to join major tournaments, but her first time to win. She is a regular at Tinian Dynasty.
“I am very happy to win the grand prize, and being the first female to win makes it all different,” she said.
When asked what she planned to do with her winnings, she said it is up to her husband to decide.
Kayo said she may be back here for the next tournament in June.
Casino manager Tim Blythe said he was very glad of the turnout despite the emergency brought about by the tsunami warning.
“Over 40 of our players were not able to come in because their flights were cancelled, but that was something beyond our control,” Blythe said.
Casino marketing and promotions manager Chell Funtanar said they expected over 170 players from Japan, Korea and other places but the number dipped due to the tsunami.
“It is sad but despite it all, the tournament was successful. We hope to see more players in the future tournaments,” she said.
Fifty-five of the 113 players made it to the semi-finals on Saturday evening, and 10 made it to the finals. Two of the 10 got eliminated from the game within an hour, two turned in all their chips while the last the six players fought to the end.