APPT Manila: Hometown heroes headed to final table

The PokerStars.Net APPT Manila event has been a hive of activity in recent days, and today was no different with a dramatic finish to the day which saw the last seven players eliminated in just half an hour.

At the start of the day, American PokerStars Qualifier Michael Shell led the field, equal with Korean Chang Yong Suk. Play continued at a frenetic pace with a number of other challengers nipping at their heels.

77 other players were here to play and all sort fame and glory on the final table – at the end of the day, only nine would remain.

Early in the day, PokerStars Sponsored player Van Marcus drove through the field, careening on a one-track path to the final table, running over anyone in his way. He was loud and he was brash as he played solidly and attracted the attention of the other players.

Van never dared to settle in to cruise control, continuing to play an aggressive role that impressed spectators and players alike. Of course, a little luck was helpful, such as his one-outer against Daniel Nordstrom when he rivered the single remaining three in the deck to make quads to defeat Nordstrom's set of tens.

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Van Marcus has driven through the field today.

Fireworks erupted on other tables, as the various players continued to clash and confront each other in a desperate reach for chips. Ivan Tan's hopes of a third APPT cash disappeared when he lost a coin flip with A-K.

One of the most frustrating knockouts struck Celina Lin, who got her money all-in on a J-9-4 flop with J-9 and top two pair. Without a hope to get away from the hand (she merely checked from the big button) her chips were swept up by Mike Marvanek who had a set of fours.

Thus, in a quick sweep, we lost another PokerStars Sponsored player and the bubble was burst. In the money, the players managed to knock each other even faster, with Van Marcus continuing to cause damage.

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Celina Lin was knocked out painfully close to the money.

Our overnight chip leaders had radically different fortunes, with PokerStars Qualifier Michael Shell fading in 25th place, and UK Supernova Natasha Ellis surviving until 12th place. Ellis was one of the last seven players to be eliminated in the last 30 minutes as the pace of the tournament continued to climb faster than ever before, and is the first woman to cash in both a Season 1 and Season 2 APPT event.

We had expected players to grow more timid as we approached the final table bubble, but instead, the pace escalated even further.

It included Josh Pang Ang, who went from chip leader for much of the evening to being knocked out in tenth, leaving the remaining players for the final table.

The Korean contenders, including Chang Yong Suk, Noh Tae Jun and Hyoungjin Nam managed to each amass huge chip stacks, smartly picking their spots and picking up many pots. Similarly, three Filipino players made the final table: Rainier Aquino, Ramil Tandoc and Benjie Lim. This is an improvement for the home team on last year's APPT Manila event, which saw just one.

A large part of the credit for this increased home team representation goes to the highly successful Filipino Poker Tour. The Filipinos will join the Koreans, Team PokerStars Pro Lee Nelson and PokerStars Sponsored player Van Marcus (who made the final table at this event last season) and Manish Sansi from Hong Kong.

Nelson and Marcus have now each made their third APPT cash, and only an elite and small legion of fellow players have achieved this milestone.