ANZPT Melbourne: Edison Nguyen victorious!
We knew when we walked to the Crown Poker Room this morning that we weren't going to be leaving for a while. With 34 players joining us for Day 3 of the ANZPT Melbourne Main Event, we were still a long, long way from crowning a champion and awarding the $253,000 top prize.
Some 33 eliminations, 16 hours of play, plenty of coffee and a Red Bull or two later, and young gun Edison Nguyen has written another chapter in his rapidly blossoming poker resume as our ANZPT Melbourne champion!
Three-handed play was a brutal affair. Dennis Huntly, Edison Nguyen and Corey Kempson all had very contrasting styles which saw the chips ebb and flow for well over three hours. All three players had moments where they ruled the pack, but they also experienced moments on the verge of elimination.
In the end, we knew it would have to take something nasty to break the deadlock and when Dennis Huntly got his last chips in the middle with A♥K♠ against Edison Nguyen's J♦7♣, Huntly was most probably expecting a double up. The flop of J♥A♠6♦ kept Huntly in front, and the 2♥ turn changed nothing. However the 7♥ river brought two pair for Nguyen and the end for a gallant Huntly in third place for $87,800 in prize money.
Corey Kempson would hold a 5.4 million to 4.9 million lead over Edison Nguyen as heads-up play was set to commence, but this is where things got a little murky.
The two players decided to look at a potential deal. It was clear that Kempson was keen while Nguyen was reluctant, so it would take a generous offer to seal the deal. Despite holding the chip lead, Kempson conceded to give Nguyen $210,000 to Kempson's $195,500 with the remaining $7,500 left in the middle to play for. Everyone was happy and the cards were back in the air.
However it was clear that something else was going on.
Kempson wanted to make it known that he was extremely tired and was ready to gamble for the title and go home. Fair enough, but some strange play would see Kempson raise for 90% of his chips before folding for the rest when Nguyen moved all in.
The clock was paused as ANZPT Commissioner Danny McDonagh and Crown Poker Tournament Director Joel Williams discussed the situation. McDonagh returned and questioned both players over the play which appeared to suggest a deal had been struck over the trophy. McDonagh implored both players to play it out with integrity, and with that, the game continued.
Kempson managed to get the chips back close to even before the two players agreed to go all in without looking at their cards to finish things once and for all. Kempson showed 6♦4♦ but Nguyen had that covered with Q♥6♣ as the final board would be spread 7♠9♥Q♦9♣4♥ crowning Edison Nguyen our champion!
At the start of the day, the 34 players all had the taste of finals fever as they harboured dreams of becoming the one to raise the trophy.
Michael Chrisanthopoulos (34th) was a surprise early casualty, while Anthony Aston (30th) and Phil Willcocks (27th) were also on the rail in the first two levels of the day.
The "Lukes" became heavily involved in the next session of play with Luke Brabin (23rd) and Luke Edwards (21st) failing to progress, while Luke Spano soared into the chip lead.
Anthony Legg (15th), Joe Reina (12th) and Robert Damelian (11th) were among those to fall short of the final table, but dinner plans were put on hold until the final table was reached.
An interesting dynamic on the final table bubble saw all five big stacks seated on the same table, as the shorties scrapped on the other. There were plenty of double ups but eventually Michael Caruana was the one to fall as the final table of nine was set.
Dennis Huntly would carry the chip lead into the final table and he extended that advantage with the early elimination of Cameron Bryce. It was pocket sixes for Bryce but he ran smack bang into Huntly's aces to kick off the final table with a bang.
However from there, the eliminations dried up and it would take another two hours to lose our next player. Gabriel Messo fell in eighth place which opened the floodgates with three eliminations in the space of fifteen minutes thanks largely to a double knockout. Corey Kempson's A♥Q♠ took on both Dylan Honeyman's A♦2♥ and Vincent Chua's pocket jacks but four spades on board sealed the deal for Kempson to flush two to the rail.
Wayde Rickhuss ran into pocket kings to depart in fifth place and he was followed by Luke Spano in fourth when his A♣3♥ was no match for Corey Kempson's pocket nines.
It wasn't even midnight and with just three players left, we thought we were a chance to avoid an extreme finish. Unfortunately some stubborn three-handed play dragged us into the wee hours of the morning before a rather anti-climactic finish to the tournament left Edison Nguyen on top as our ANZPT Melbourne champion. Nguyen takes home $217,500 in prize money and has now taken over the lead in the ANZ Player of the Year race.
ANZPT Melbourne Final Table Results
1st Edison Nguyen - $217,500*
2nd Corey Kempson - $195,500*
3rd Dennis Huntly - $87,800
4th Luke Spano - $69,700
5th Wayde Rickhuss - $54,200
6th Vincent Chua - $43,800
7th Dylan Honeyman - $33,500
8th Gabriel Messo - $25,800
9th Cameron Bryce - $18,550
* denotes private heads-up deal
That wraps up our coverage of the ANZPT Melbourne event. Thanks for following along! The next major event on the local calendar is the APPT Auckland Event to be held at SKYCITY Auckland from November 15-23 and you can qualify right now online at PokerStars. We hope to see you there!
Heath "TassieDevil" Chick is a Freelance Contributor for the PokerStars Blog.