ANZPT Queenstown: Final table, levels 19&20 (blinds 5000-10000, ante 1000)
7:01pm: Short dinner break
The last four players, who have been at it for almost seven hours now, have been given 30 minutes to find something to eat.
6:54pm: Spilkin's check-raise doesn't get the desired result
On a paired flop of 8♥[10d]8♦, Michael Spilkin checked to the pre-flop raiser, Andrew Watson, who made a continuation bet. Spilkin then check-raised that bet, making it an extra 31,000 to go. Watson called. When the turn came a seeming blank 3♠, Spilkin checked again. Watson took the bait and fired out a bet of 93,000. Spilkin thought it over for about a minute and a half before flicking his cards into the muck.
6:46pm: The smallest of pots to Spilkin
There's still not a ton of action at our four-handed final table. As an example, consider a recent pot that was opened by Vesko Zmukic to 36,000. Michael Spilkin called from the button. Both players checked all the way to showdown, Q♥[10d]A♥9♣K♥. At showdown Spilkin's pair of aces, A♣4♣, took down the pot.
6:34pm: Cohen finds his double-up
For a while now Julian Cohen has been the shortest of the four remaining stacks. He just leveled the playing field by doubling through Andrew Watson in a blind-on-blind battle. Watson shoved from the small blind into Cohen. Cohen snap-called with [10c][10s] and needed to fade only one overcard as Watson showed A♥8♥. Cohen wound up turning a full house, Q♥5♣5♠[10h], a hand he needed after Watson rivered the nut flush with the 6♥.
Cohen is still the shortest stack but now has about 350,000 in chips. Watson is down to roughly 500,000. Michael Spilkin is in second with 680,000, while Vesko Zmukic has reclaimed the lead with 850,000.
6:22pm: Cohen a little frustrated
Several times today, Julian Cohen has opened pre-flop as the first in. Several time today, Vesko Zmukic has popped him back with a re-raise. Each time Cohen folded and flashed an ace, with Zmukic responding by showing ace-king. It just happened again, and left Cohen shaking his head.
6:11pm: Watson pressures Zmukic out
As soon as we mentioned small-ball poker, the players played a reasonably large pot. Vesko Zmukic opened pre-flop for 36,000 as t he first player to act. Small blind Andrew Watson re-raised to 116,000. Zmukic called to a flop of 8♥2♣K♠, but then folded to a bet of 127,000.
6:03pm: Small ball taking hold
Over the course of the last hour, there has been a subtle shift towards more of a "small ball" approach to this final table. The last four players are playing very cautiously, trying to minimize their investment of chips with speculative holdings. This isn't unexpected, especially since the average stack at this point is 50 big blinds deep.
6:00pm: Level 20 begins (blinds 6000-12000, ante 1000)
5:52pm: Spilkin gets paid with the nuts
Making the best hand is (sometimes) only half of the battle. The other half is figuring out how to get paid. Michael Spilkin decided to try a bet of 100,000 against Andrew Watson on a board of A♥Q♥[10c]J♣8♠. Watson opted to call, then quickly mucked as Spilkin announced the nuts and showed K♥7♥.
The final table seems to be turning into a two-horse race between Spilkin and Watson. Although Vesko Zmukic and Julian Cohen aren't short by any stretch, they're not playing nearly as many pots.
5:43pm: Zmukic gets a small victory against Spilkin
A three-way limped pot by Michael Spilkin, Andrew Watson and Vesko Zmukic produced a flop of Q♦J♦A♥. Spilkin had first action and made it 35,000 to go. Watson folded, but Zmukic called. The turn came 2♣ and was checked by both remaining player. Spilking also checked the 5♠ river, then called a bet of 50,000 by Zmukic. Zmukic showed a pair of aces, A♦6♥, good enough against Spilkin's pair of queens, Q♥[10d].
5:28pm: Zmukic and Watson chop after a good sweat
Vesko Zmukic raised first to 30,000. Then Andrew Watson re-raised to 112,000. Zmukic responded by moving all in and Watson quickly called. Zmukic showed A♠K♦ against Watson's A♣K♣. A chop was likely, but an all-black flop of 9♠8♣2♠ raised eyebrows. Any black card on the turn would give one player or the other a freeroll heading into the river. It was Watson who picked up that freeroll with the 7♣ turn. Although the river was also black, the K♠ did not give Watson a club flush. Chop it up.
5:26pm: Tim Clarke eliminated in 5th place
When action came to Tim Clarke in the small blind and nobody had yet entered the pot, he moved all in for 122,000. Michael Spilkin thought for about a minute before calling with A♥7♠. It was a flip against Clarke's pocket deuces. Spilkin won this flip, 6♣7♥[10s][10d]4♥. Spilkin's tens and sevens sent Clarke -- last year's bubble finisher in this event -- to the rail in 5th place.
5:20pm: Watson playing loosey-goosey
After seeing Michael Spilkin lay down pocket queens earlier, Andrew Watson may have thought he could push Spilkin around. The two got a bunch of chips in the pot pre-flop and took a flop of 4♠Q♥5♦. Spilkin led out for 35,000, then snap-called after Watson raised to 84,000. When the turn came the [10h], Spilkin led out again, this time for 100,000. Watson called.
The river came a threatening A♦. "How much do you have left?" Spilkin asked Watson. Each player had more than 500,000 behind and opted to check the river. Spilkin showed pocket nines; Watson showed a lot of imagination with a [10s]2♠ that turned a pair of tens.
5:13pm: Spilkin makes a big fold
Michael Spilkin opened with a standard pre-flop raise to 25,000. Andrew Watson was next to speak and made it 100,000 straight. Spilkin didn't take long to make his decision.
"I will fold my pocket queens. This time." True to his word, Spilkin open-mucked two queens.
5:06pm: Emerson Rewi eliminated in 6th place
Somehow, despite his short stack, Emerson Rewi found himself involved in a three-way flop, out of position, with chips behind. He opted to lead out with an all-in bet on the 4♦5♠9♦, making it 31,000 to go. Julian Cohen folded, but Michael Spilkin couldn't do it.
"I'm behind, but I have to call," said Spilkin. It turned out his A♣7♣ was actually ahead of Rewi's total airball, 6♥2♦. Rewi did no improve with the 9♠ turn or 7♠ river and thus is the 6th-place finisher.
5:00pm: Play resumes
Cards are back in the air.