Sammy Huang holds all the aces in Canberra
It was a long weekend in Australia and what better way to celebrate the birthday of Her Majesty than with a friendly game of poker. It's a game designed for royalty, as kings and queens were tossed around the felt with effortless precision this afternoon. Fifteen loyal servants came together, but they dropped away one-by-one until only one man remained. That man is Sammy Huang and he is now the King of Canberra!
As many kings and queens that we saw on the felt of the Casino Canberra today, it was the unnerving number of aces that ended up in the hands of Sammy Huang that ultimately was the story of the day. Flying the flag for the Canberra locals, Huang was a dominant force on a tough final table through a combination of aggressive play and plenty of those wicked aces! His win was well-deserved and it's great to see the ANZPT Canberra trophy staying in home territory.
We started out this afternoon with Germany's Khiem Nguyen leading the way with all eyes on the short stacks to see who would fall first. Naz Sabaei and Mario Ljubicic were quick to go, before young gun Jarred Graham made a surprisingly rapid fall from grace. Graham was unlucky when his ace-king was outdrawn by the ace-jack of Takahiro Morooka and never recovered. Morooka couldn't make the most of his chips after a ruling technicality went against him to see him next to the cashier. Brett Chalhoub was equally unlucky and when David Gorr was eliminated with a king-high flush against Khiem Nguyen's full house, our final table line up was set within 70 minutes of play.
Khiem Nguyen maintained the chip lead and was always a dangerous force on the final table. James Broom entered as the short stack but was relentless in his attack as he endured a rollercoaster ride that would give the weak heart palpitations. Broom had to come from behind on several all-in clashes including surviving with king-ten against Andrew Watson's ace-queen, and then king-queen against George Graziani's dominant ace-queen.
It was the latter hand that left Graziani crippled and led to our first elimination of the final table. Graziani was all in with A♣6♥ against Tristan Bain's Q♥Q♣ and Tony Kambouroglou's K♥K♣ with the Toothpick taking the pot to land an early double knockout blow.
Andrew Watson lost a race with A♥Q♣ against Khiem Nguyen's pocket sevens to be eliminated in seventh place, before a card-dead Luke Edwards couldn't survive with Q♣J♦ against Leigh Warne's K♠5♣ to depart in sixth.
While the number of players were quickly decreasing, Sammy Huang's stack was just getting bigger and bigger, as his overbetting style was playing havoc with the small ball approach of Khiem Nguyen and James Broom. Huang picking up pocket aces with some regularity was also helping the cause, as Nguyen was showing visible signs of frustration.
Leigh Warne was next to go went Toothpick Tony woke up with another big pair when his Q♠Q♥ proved too strong for Warne's A♥Q♣ to leave us four-handed.
Huang was the big stack and Broom was still nursing the short stack as a tight four-way battle ensued. The shorties were forced to move all in on multiple occasions, but they couldn't find any callers as the status quo remained for over an hour. Something had to give.
As the blinds ticked over, it was Germany's Khiem Nguyen who finally cracked when he three-bet shoved with 4♠4♦ but Sammy Huang woke up with his favourite hand, A♠A♣ and made an easy call. Nguyen couldn't find a four as his impressive tournament was halted in fourth place.
James Broom found some swagger when play reached three-handed with his nemesis in Nguyen now on the rails. Broom opened up his game and caught Toothpick Tony red-handed when he squeezed over the top of a raise and call. Broom tabled A♦8♦ as Toothpick sheepishly showed 5♦4♣. The board ran out 9♦T♦K♠J♥T♣ to eliminate Toothpick in third place as we entered heads-up play with the title on the line.
James Broom had a two-to-one chip disadvantage against Sammy Huang and despite a quirky Canberra heads-up rule that has the blinds in reverse to normal, Broom was confident in his heads-up game. However he forgot that Huang held all the aces!
After a preflop raise, and bet on the flop, Huang overbet shoved all in on the turn on a J♥9♦Q♥7♦ board. Broom deliberated for some time before making the call with Q♦5♦ for top pair and flush draw, but Huang once again opened A♠A♥. Broom was looking for a queen, five or diamond but it wasn't to be as the 7♠ bricked the board to eliminate him in second place and crown Sammy Huang as our ANZPT Canberra champion!
The Canberra local qualified for this event through one of the $22+R 3xTurbo online satellites on PokerStars for the investment of just $42. He's now turned that into a whopping $73,700 in prize money!
Congratulations to Sammy on a wonderful achievement which is sure to create a buzz for poker in our nation's capital.
PokerStars.net ANZPT Canberra Main Event results
1st Sammy Huang (Australia) (PokerStars Qualifier) - $73,700
2nd James Broom (Australia) - $46,900
3rd Tony Kambouroglou (Australia) - $27,470
4th Khiem Nguyen (Germany) - $22,780
5th Leigh Warne (Australia) - $18,760
6th Luke Edwards (Australia) (PokerStars Qualifier) - $15,410
7th Andrew Watson (Australia) (PokerStars Player) - $12,730
8th Tristan Bain (Australia) - $10,050
9th George Graziani (Australia) - $8,040
10th David Gorr (Australia) - $6,030
11th Brett Chalhoub (Australia) (PokerStars Qualifier) - $6,030
12th Takahiro Morooka (Australia) (PokerStars Qualifier) - $6,030
13th Jarred Graham (Australia) - $4,690
14th Mario Ljubicic (Australia) - $4,690
15th Naz Sibaei (Australia) - $4,690
So now it's time to pack up and head home (subject to volcanic ash) following a fantastic long weekend in Canberra. We've really enjoyed our time here and the poker room seem to really embrace the ANZPT which is fantastic. Many thanks to the tournament staff, dealers and the hospitality crew at the Casino Canberra for making us feel welcome and a part of the team.
Also many thanks to Cole Bennetts for his superb final table photography.
That's all we have for you from Canberra. If you're craving more tournament action, you might have heard of a wee tournament happening in Las Vegas at the moment. They call it the World Series of Poker. Stick to the PokerStars Blog for all the latest news and updates from there.
On the local scene, we have a six-week break before we head to Melbourne's Crown Casino for the first event of Season 5 of the PokerStars.net Asia Pacific Poker Tour. The APPT Melbourne will be a spectacular event with the Main Event running from July 29th until August 1st with online satellites running now on PokerStars.
Thanks for following our coverage at home and we look forward to seeing you in Melbourne. Until then, so long from Canberra!