It was September 19th when we were in Auckland and writing in awe about the achievements of a New Zealand celebrity fondly referred to simply as "Brotha D". He'd won a celebrity poker event to qualify into the PokerStars.net Asia Pacific Poker Tour Main Event and had gone on to win the whole damn thing. From king of hip hop to the king on the poker felt. What a story it was!
Yet Auckland appears to have been just the first chapter in the poker career of Danny Leaoasavaii.
It was great to see Brotha D make an appearance in Darwin this week, as he looked to play more events on the tour with his good form, confidence and newly found bankroll. Darwin was an attractive holiday destination but Brotha D hasn't had much chance to see the sights as he's spent most of the week laying the beats down on his opponents in the SKYCITY Darwin Casino in the PokerStars.net ANZPT Darwin Main Event.
After making it safely through day one with a healthy stack, Brotha D decided to jump into the $550 No Limit Holdem side event and proceeded to take it down. Fast forward four days and he's collected his second trophy in a week!
Of course, poker wasn't meant to be easy, and Brotha D found himself in plenty of tough spots during the tournament. However he will look back at a couple of key moments that helped him reach the final day of play today.
Making quads aces on the third hand of day three against Clayton Dwyer's pocket kings got Brotha D's stack moving in the right direction before the elimination of Stephen Holloway was the stroke of luck that Brotha D needed. It was Brotha D's king-queen up against Holloway's pocket kings but a pair of ladies hit the board for a dramatic elimination.
It helped Brotha D progress towards the final day of play where he entered as the third largest stack in the field. He maintained his position as the final table was formed as Ben Savage, Angelo Limanis and newly-crowned ANZPT Player of The Year Tony Hachem all fell short of the final stage.
From there Brotha D took control on a tough final table that included Australian Poker Hall of Famers, previous ANZPT champions and several young online guns.
Brotha D picked his spots and showed that he wasn't afraid to mix it up, with some big cards combined with some well-timed bluffs keeping his opponents on their toes.
Bruno Portaro got short and was the first to go in 9th place as Brotha D claimed the chip lead when his pocket aces clipped Jie Gao. Brotha D then picked up pocket kings to eliminate Trevor Potts in 8th but he had to do it the hard way, as Potts spiked an ace on the turn holding ace-jack but Brotha D found a two-outer king on the river.
Things then tightened up as the seven remaining players jostled for position. The short stacks were moving chips as Brotha D sat on his chip lead. Billy "The Croc" Argyros opened the floodgates when he fell in 7th, quickly followed by Anthony Flanagan in 6th when his ace-queen couldn't improve against Brotha D's pocket fives. Tim English fell in 5th followed by Chris Levick in 4th place as suddenly we were three-handed.
Meanwhile Luke Edwards had been fighting hard to stay in contention with his short stack, but it always seemed to be one step forwards, two steps back for the young Melbourne player. Eventually he found some momentum and when he turned a flush to bust Jie Gao's flopped straight, he found himself in the chip lead heads up with Brotha D.
However major tournament titles are not won easily and the heads-up battle was an intense affair. Both players had chances to win the title, with Brotha D's double check-raise with an open-ended straight draw missing the mark, while Edwards' flopped set didn't deliver a full house after Brotha D had turned a straight.
The tides eventually turned the way of the Kiwi, and when Edwards pushed preflop with king-queen, Brotha D made the call with ace-seven and another ace on the flop was enough to take it down.
October 30th. Just six weeks since his breakthrough victory in Auckland and Brotha D is lifting yet another major poker trophy as the ANZPT Darwin champion. So much for being an "amateur" poker player. He becomes the first player to win both APPT and ANZPT titles, and the first non-Australian to win an ANZPT title. Congratulations Brotha D!
1st Danny 'Brotha D' Leaoasavaii - $57,000
2nd Luke Edwards (PokerStars Qualifier) - $37,000
3rd Jie Gao (PokerStars Qualifier) - $21,500
4th Chris Levick (PokerStars Sponsored) - $18,000
5th Tim English - $15,000
6th Anthony Flanagan - $12,000
7th Billy "The Croc" Argyros - $10,000
8th Trevor Potts - $8,000
9th Bruno Portaro - $6,500
10th Tony Hachem (Team PokerStars Pro) - $5,000
11th Angelo Limanis - $5,000
12th Ben Savage (PokerStars Qualifier) - $5,000
What a week it's been in Darwin as we've made history on so many levels. Besides Brotha D's memorable victory, we've seen a record prize pool for tournament poker in the top end, and Tony Hachem's historic back-to-back Player of The Year honours. Off the felt, qualifiers have enjoyed Kakadu and Lichtfield National Parks, and bar-hopping down Mitchell Street with ANZPT Social Coordinator Danny McDonagh. It's been a week that we'll never forget and we look forward to coming back again next year for something even bigger and better!
That's a "rap" from Darwin and the ANZPT for 2010.
Many thanks to Tony Jackson and his SKYCITY Darwin staff for their wonderful hospitality this week as they've hosted and run a world-class tournament. If you're in Darwin then we highly suggest coming down to the casino and checking out the facilities. You won't be disappointed.
Also many thanks to the efforts of Shane Eecen and Cherry for their wonderful final table photography.
If you're looking for more ANZPT events then don't worry, Season 3 of the ANZPT will be upon us sooner than you think with the SKYCITY Adelaide Casino set to host the opening event once again in early February 2011. Until then many of the region's players will be heading to Macau for the Macau Poker Cup Championships before venturing to the exotic islands of Philippines for the PokerStars.net APPT Cebu.
Until then, thanks for your company and so long from the Top End!