ANZPT Queenstown: Zmukic in front for the home stretch

australia_poker_tour.pngMy cab driver from the airport into the center of Queenstown last Tuesday was a woman named Jackie. Jackie looked to be in her early 40s, had a smile from the moment I walked up to her cab until the moment I got out of it, and was a font of information about Queenstown and its populace. One of the facts that she imparted to me was that the waters of Lake Wakatipu remain at roughly 8C year-round.

"There's always someone crazy enough to jump in though," Jackie acknowledged.

I replied that what seems crazy to some might not seem crazy to others. That, as much as any, seems an apy summary of the Day 3 action at the 2010 ANZPT Queenstown Main Event. Players made huge bluffs and huge calls all day. Those that made them at the right time were rewarded; those who didn't were not.

The biggest winner of the day was Vesko Zmukic. In addition to having a penchant for being dealt pocket kings (he's received them eight times in 14 levels), Zmukic also turned heads when he called to a river showdown with unimproved ace-nine -- and was good. Some thought Zmukic was crazy. Others, that he was crazy like a fox.

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Vesko Zmukic

Winning that pot gave Zmukic a big stack that he was able to swing effectively on a protracted bubble that took more than hour to play. By the time Stephen Smith was eliminated as the bubble boy, Zmukic had run his total up to 479,000. On the other side of the coin was Lee Nelson. He was the person directly responsible for the start of the bubble when he tried to run a huge bluff against Andrew Campbell Watson. Nelson check-raised a jack-high flop with a total airball, then shoved the turn when he picked up a flush draw. Watson called with a pair that stayed best through the river. Nelson's stack, 130,000 (43 big blinds) to start the hand, was reduced to zero after the crazy daring of a bubble bluff.

There were other winners and losers during the day, but most of the rest were "standard" plays. Yannick Frenette, chip leader at the start of the day, was continually out-drawn and eventually busted short of the money holding pocket aces. Team PokerStars Pro Bryan Huang doubled up from 35,000 chips early, then continued accumulating throughout the day to finish with 225,000. John Maklouf and Jason Gray each had to survive flips on the bubble to make it to Day 4.

But make it the did, along with Zmukic, Watson, and 11 other survivors. All 15 will return tomorrow at 12:15pm to play out the rest of the tournament. At the end, one will be roughly $70,000 richer. In Queenstown, $70,000 can buy a fair bit of craziness.