ANZPT Melbourne: Mighty Marty Turns Short Stack Into Big Win

What an amazing three days of poker we've witnessed here in the Crown Poker Room. Tournament poker is alive and well in this country when we can produce quality fields and exciting final tables like the one that we've enjoyed this evening.

In the end it became a battle of David versus Goliath. The short-stacked Martin Kozlov had to scratch and fight, tooth and nail, for every chip he could find, while the seemingly unstoppable James Obst raised every pot, caught good cards, and lady luck appeared to be on his side.

However Kozlov had his fair share of luck as well, and was likely to have been all-in on more occasions today than any other player. The day started out with eleven players and Kozlov finding an early double up as Ryan McKay (11th) and Joe Allis (10th) fell short of the official final table.

Overnight chip leader Kristina Jeney held her lead into the final table as Kozlov was again the first to double up, this time with pocket tens against the ace-king of Ted Nguyen.

However Kozlov should've been eliminated at the start of the final table when he pushed his pocket queens into Obst's pocket aces. Odds dictated that he was all-but-doomed, but what did we say about lady luck? It arrived in the form of a third queen on the turn and Kozlov survived.

It took us almost three full levels of play to find our first final table elimination, in which time Kozlov had found his third double up when his ace-queen held against James Obst's ace-eight.

The short stacks kept doubling up but eventually something had to give. PokerStars qualifier Daniel Laidlaw couldn't find a good spot or cards and he was the first to go in 9th place.

One of the key pots of the final table was eight-handed when James Obst and Ben Savage clashed on a flop of A♠J♣K♦. Obst led out from under the gun for 87,000 before Savage raised it up to 200,000. Obst called and both players checked the 7♣ turn. When the 4♦ hit the river, Obst bombed it with a hefty bet of 600,000 which sent Savage deep into the tank. After several minutes of thought and friendly banter, Savage called with A♥K♣ but Obst showed Q♥T♥ for the Broadway straight. That hand left Savage crippled and shot Obst out to a massive chip lead.

Obst extended that even further when he eliminated Raj Ramakrishnan in 8th place when Ramakrishnan ran his king-queen who ran smack-bang into the pocket kings of Obst.
Meanwhile Ted Nguyen was pushing the action about as fast as he was knocking back the red wines, but his run ended in 7th place before overnight chip leader Kristina Jeney departed. Jeney had bided her time for most of the final table but decided to push her pocket threes over the top of the opening raise of James Obst who made the call with pocket eights. The board bricked out and Jeney had to be content with 6th place.


Overnight chip leader, Kristina Jeney had to be content with 6th place

Ben Savage was the last to fall before the dinner break in 5th place as James Obst was starting to put his big stack to work. Obst open-jammed the button on the two short stacks, but Ben Savage woke up in the big blind with pocket nines. Obst held ace-four and all looked good for Savage to double up, but Obst found an ace from space on the river to rake in yet another pot and eliminate Savage.


Repeat ANZPT Melbourne final tables for Ben Savage ended in a 5th place finish

When the players returned from dinner, it didn't seem like much had changed as Obst quickly disposed of "The Poker Star" Amanda De Cesare in 4th place when his dominant K♠J♠ held against De Cesare's K♣8♣.


Another impressive result in the poker career of "The Poker Star" Amanda De Cesare

After the slow start to the final table, we were suddenly three-handed and James Obst had well over half the chips in play!

In another key hand on this final table, David Chilcott will be having nightmares after seeing his ace-jack cracked by Martin Kozlov's ace-nine. The chips were in preflop and when a nine hit on the river Kozlov had escaped elimination once again.

Chilcott took a huge hit and James Obst finished the job, with another dramatic river card. It was Chilcott's A♠2♠ against Obst's K♣J♦ with all the chips in preflop. Chilcott hit a pair on the 9♣2♥Q♠ flop and improved to trips on the 2♣. Obst only had outs to the straight and he nailed it with the T♦ river. Chilcott had won his seat through a Joe Hachem charity event at Crown and turned his seat into a handsome return for his 3rd place finish.


David Chilcott fought back from a short stack to reach 3rd place

That left us heads-up with James Obst holding a five-to-one chip lead. Most thought it was all-but-over, however the final chapter in the mighty comeback of Martin Kozlov had yet to be written. Kozlov's determination and patience had been evident all tournament after being one of the short stacks on the money bubble, and the short stack all day. He wasn't about to keel over just yet.

Kozlov chipped up early before finding a big double up with pocket aces against Obst's ace-seven. That gave Kozlov some momentum and he never relented. He continued to chip up and claimed the chip lead.

With deep stacks in hand, the two young guns put on an epic display of aggressive, heads-up poker, with neither giving an inch. In the end, it was only a coinflip that separated them. Both players committed their chips preflop with Kozlov's pocket nines against the ace-king of Obst.

The dealer spread the flop of J♦5♦3♥ and there was no help for Obst. The turn fell the 6♣ and again Obst was left missing. He was looking for an ace or king on the river, and the way this man had been running, we were bracing ourselves for what seemed like his destiny.

However it was the 4♣ on the river that left James Obst agonizingly short in his quest for his first major title. A huge congratulations to Martin Kozlov who overcame all the odds to claim a memorable victory!


Final table results:

1st Martin Kozlov (Australia) - $195,700
2nd James Obst (Australia) - $124,000
3rd David Chilcott (Australia) - PokerStars Sponsored Player - $68,900
4th Amanda De Cesare (Australia) - PokerStars Sponsored Player - $53,855
5th Ben Savage (Australia) - $42,625
6th Kristina Jeney (Australia) - $34,875
7th Ted Nguyen (Australia) - $27,900
8th Raj Ramakrishnan (Australia) - $22,090
9th Daniel Laidlaw (Australia) - PokerStars Qualifier - $16,275

We should also mention the Season 2 ANZPT Player of the Year points race which has tightened up considerably following this event. Andrew Scarf is now just a breath behind our points leader John Maklouf as the race for over $90,000 in added cash and prizes is on!

Season 2 ANZPT Player of the Year Leaderboard

1. John Maklouf 203.8
2. Andrew Scarf 202.65
3. Tony Hachem 191.65
4. Aaron Benton 174.45
5. Michael Spilkin 162.9
6. Rennie Carnevale 159.55
7. Ricky Kroesen 148.65
8. Daniel Neilson 139.55
9. Bradley Bower 138.75
10. Vesko Zmukic 136.1

With many different permutations possible, we should have a cracking finale at the season-ending event in Darwin from October 25th-30th 2010.

That's a wrap from the Crown Casino in Melbourne. Many thanks to Jonno Pittock, Christian Vaughan and the Crown Poker Room staff for their hospitality as they hosted another world-class tournament. Also many thanks to Nick Porta for his tireless reporting efforts over the past three days and to Shannon Morris Photography for the stunning final table pics.

Thanks for following along at home, and we look forward to seeing you in Darwin!