ANZPT Queenstown: Lucky coin carries Cohen to victory

australia_poker_tour.pngThe writer in me loves a good storyline. When play kicked off today for Day 4 of the 2010 ANZPT Queenstown Main Event, several of those "good storylines" were in play. Could the overnight chip leader, Vesko Zmukic, go wire to wire? How would the Season 2 point races affect the play of Andrew Scarf and John Maklouf, a player looking for his third ANZPT final table in a row? Could one of the four remaining Kiwis take down the tournament for the home team? Would Tim Clarke, the bubble boy in 2009, exact his revenge upon the tournament by winning the whole thing? Or would Michael Spilkin's Tuesday "gift" from a local bluebird prove to be the best of good-luck charms?

While considering all of those good storylines, I overlooked the most obvious: recently graduated uni student and young gun rises to the top.

But we should start at the beginning.

15 players returned for Day 4. Within two hours six of them -- Andrew Scarf, Serge Mazza, Robert Wang, Jie Gao, Campbell Melville and Tim Macbeth -- were standing on the rail. Several of my "good storylines" were still in play. Then one by one they began to drop away until only the two young guns were left.

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The first to go was Team PokerStar Pro (Asia) Bryan Huang, who took some beats early in the day to limp into the final table 7th in chips. He was soon joined by Maklouf, who did indeed secure his third ANZPT final table in a row -- and precious leaderboard points -- but ultimately couldn't get much going when it mattered most. Jason Gray soon dropped out of contention after Cohen flipped a coin to decided whether or not call Gray's shove. Gray called it in the air, and called it wrong. Cohen called, then won another flip with Q♥[10h] against Gray's pocket eights to knock Gray out.

Gray was followed shortly by the last Kiwi in the field, Emerson Rewi, and Clarke, the 2009 bubble boy. That left Spilkin, Zmukic, Watson and Cohen to battle it out for the trophy.

Spilkin was the player who was the recipient of a nasty gift from a bluebird upon arriving in Queenstown on Tuesday. He rode that "good fortune" all the way to four-handed play, then made a daring all-in call against Watson with A♠2♦ after Watson raised all in on a board of 2♣9♦9♥J♥3♦. It turned out to be the wrong move, as Watson tabled [10c]9♣ to knock Spilkin out of the running.

Zmukic exited in 3rd place. He lost a flip to Andrew Watson after seeing his own stack decimated by doubling Cohen up. That left only two players -- the two youngsters, Watson and Cohen.

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Cohen, you might remember, finished Day 2 by making a royal flush and started Day 3 by flopping quad sixes. He had definitely found some run-good in the early stages. He was going to need it in the late stages as well, as Watson started with a 3-to-1 chip lead. Cohen quickly whittled that down to even by winning a flip and then winning a few pots in succession, but a series of mis-fired bluffs allowed Watson to climb right back up to his 3-to-1 perch. Cohen was actually all in a second time, with [10d]9♦ against Watson's K♠Q♠ but survived again by flopping a pair and rivering a straight.

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After that second all in, Cohen re-grouped and kept firing away at Watson. A critical hand that pushed Watson firmly underwater occurred when, for the second time of the evening, Cohen flipped a coin to determine whether to call or fold. The coin told him to call and it was the correct decision. After losing that pot, Watson's stack trended steadily downwards until he finally moved in with K♥[10d]. Cohen was there to greet Watson with A♦[10c], a hand which held up to end the tournament in Watson's favor.

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For his four days of tournament glory, Cohen will receive $73,630. He's also jumped to 12th in the Season 2 points standings. Those standings are still led by Tony Hachem, but today's results have considerably narrowed Hachem's lead. His 171.65 points are trailed closely by John Maklouf (161.00), Andrew Scarf (154.50) and Rennie Carnevale (139.55). With three more events yet to be played, the points championship is far from decided.

That concludes our coverage from Queenstown. I hope you've enjoyed following along as much as I've enjoyed being here. This is truly an amazing little town set in the midst of some majestic wilderness. Put it on your list of can't-miss tour stops for next season -- and maybe your name will be one of those good storylines at the end of the week.