APPT Cebu: Day 4, levels 24&25, blinds 15000-30000, ante 3000

7:14pm: Break
Level 25 has ended. Young-shin Im and Fabiano Michael have been sent on a ten-minute break.

7:05pm: A rare showdown
It really is slow going here in this heads-up battle. Young-shin Im seems to have gone into her shell after being quite aggressive once this table got short-handed, while Fabiano Michael has been pretty tight with his play throughout.

In a rare showdown, Michael has chipped up a little to get back to where he started this heads-up contest. Michael limped the button and Im checked to see a flop of 3♦K♠8♦. Im check-called for 75,000 on the flop, and again for another 140,000 on the 7♠ turn. The river was the 4♠ which looked innocent but it was enough to slow both players to check it down.

Michael tabled K♦5♥ for top pair which was good to take it down. Michael is now up to 1.65 million.

Something needs to give here, otherwise we could be in for a long night. If someone can put the pedal down a little bit and ramp up the aggression, they might get the edge in this battle.

6:59pm: Small pots rule the day
Both players are keeping things very conservative after the flop comes down. They haven't been afraid to raise pre-flop and take flops, but after that many flops are checked. Usually the first player to bet has taken down the pot.

6:49pm: Michael pulls back
It's back to a 2-to-1 chip deficit for Fabiano Michael. Sitting in the big blind, he called a raise to 90,000 from Young-shin Im. On a flop of 3♦9♠T♠, Michael checked, then check-raised Im from 90,000 to 200,000. Im called the raise but folded for 175,000 more after the turn fell the 2♠.

6:31pm: First big pot to Young-shin Im
The first major pot of heads-up play has been pushed to Young-shin Im, allowing her to open a 3-to-1 chip lead over Fabiano Michael. Michael opened the button for 90,000 and was called by Im out of the blind. Im check-called another 100,000 on an ace-high flop, 6♣5♦A♦. She led the turn 5♥ for 100,000 of her own, then called a raise to 270,000 from Fabiano. Both players checked the 7♥ river. Fabiano paired 7s on the river with K♣7♠, but that came up quite short against Im's A♥8♦, a pair of aces.

young_shin_im_heads_up_appt_cebu.jpg

Young-shin Im

6:21pm: Michael ups the aggression
Now that he's dispatched her partner, Fabiano Michael seems intent on whacking Young-shin Im as well. He limped his button to Im, who raised out of the big blind to 130,000. Michael then came back with a raise of his own to 530,000. That was too much for Im, who folded. Michael flashed the 6♣ as he mucked his cards and collected the pot.

6:15pm: Play resumes, Level 25 begins, blinds 20000-40000
Our final two players, Young-shin Im of Korea and Fabiano Michael of Australia, have returned to the table and play has resumed. With the tournament now heads up, there are no longer antes. Im has the chip lead, 2.93 million to 1.6 million for Michael.

heads_up_appt_cebu.jpg

5:59pm: Kim Gap Young eliminated in 3rd place
Kim Gap Young rode his luck with one double up, but couldn't make it two. From the small blind, Kim moved all in for around 400,000 but Fabiano Michael snap-called in the big blind. Kim showed an ambitious J♠4♣ but again Michael woke up with a big pair as he tabled 9♣9♦. There were no miracles for Kim this time, as the board ran out 6♥2♣T♣3♥Q♥.

Kim was dominant early on this final table and we wondered who could stop him, but ultimately his run ends in 3rd place for PHP2,045,000 in winnings.

kim_gap_young_elim_appt_cebu_final_table.jpg

Kim Gap Young is crestfallen as he is eliminated in 3rd place

The play has been paused while the tableis prepared for heads-up play.

5:55pm: Kim doubles back in true suckout fashion
Nothing's come easy since we've gone to three-handed play, so no surprise that Fabiano Michael couldn't deliver a knockout punch to Kim Gap Young. Kim open-shoved on the button for just more than 200,000. Michael snap-called out of the small blind with Q♥Q♦, a huge favorite against Kim's T♠6♥. Kim paired tens on a the flop, T♣7♦3♠, then clapped his hand when he made a second pair with the turn 6♣. He successfully dodged all of Michael's outs when the river bricked off K♦.

Kim's up to about 420,000.

Fabiano_Michael_sweat_appt_cebu_final_table.jpg

Fabiano Michael awaits the flop

5:42pm: Kim in big trouble as Michael doubles again
We thought for certain we were headed for a couple's spat in heads-up play but Fabiano Michael had other plans. After coming from behind all in against Young-shin Im, Michael decided to tangle with Im's partner, Kim Gap Young. The action was all pre-flop, with Im opening the button for 65,000 and Kim three-betting to 265,000. Michael then moved all in from the big blind for an additional 417,000.

Im folded, leaving Kim looking pained. He was getting 2.5-to-1 pot odds but calling Michael's raise would cost almost all of his remaining stack. He did finally call with 3♣3♦ and found he'd walked right into a monster: Michael showed A♠A♦. Michael doubled to 1.4 million on a board of 4♦[10h]7♣6♦2♦, leaving Kim with just 240,000 in chips.

5:29pm: Michael won't let this become an all-Korea affair
The severely short-stacked Fabiano Michael has been hanging on, hanging on and hanging on. He finally moved all in for just more than 300,000 from the small blind. Chip leader Young-shin Im snap-called with Q♣Q♥. She saw she needed to fade an ace when Michael turned up A♦T♣. No fade this time; the ace came right on the flop, 2♠A♣T♥. Im was unable to come from behind as the turn 3♥ and river J♣ did not improve her hand. She doubled Michael up to 657,000, ensuring that three-handed play will continue a while longer.

5:20pm: A race for 2nd place
Right now this final table is shaping up as a race for 2nd place between Kim Gap Young and Fabiano Michael. Michael has been biding his time as Young-shin Im continues to raise, re-raise and check-raise her way to the title. She recently three-bet the big blind to 200,000 after Kim opened the button for 65,000. Kim called, then folded for 200,000 more on a 4♥9♠6♣ flop.

No matter where she finishes, Im will have recorded the best female result on the APPT in its four seasons. Only one previous time has a woman reached the final table. Liz Lieu accomplished that feat at Macau in Season 1, ultimately finishing in 7th place. In 2008 at Seoul, Japanese player Wooka Kim just missed the final table when she finished in 10th place.

If she can close out this final table, Young-shin Im will become the first female winner in the four-season history of the APPT.

young_shin_im_appt_cebu_final_table.jpg

Young-shin Im

5:09pm: Pozdnyakov wins High Rollers
It's all over in the High Rollers event. Anton Pozdnyakov finished off Jarred Graham to win the trophy and, more importantly, PHP 1.6 million. The Main Event was paused for a brief trophy presentation but cards are now back in the air. Young-shin Im is really looking to join the battle with not only Fabiano Michael, but with her paramour Kim Gap Young as well. Oh, to have been a Korean fly on the wall for their conversation during the last break!

Speaking of battle, Team PokerStars Asia did battle here in Cebu and PokerStars TV was there to capture all the action:

5:01pm: High Rollers update
Over at the High Rollers Event and Australian Jarred Graham has carried his overnight chip lead through to the heads-up battle, thanks largely to his ace-deuce outdrawing pocket kings in a recent all-in pot. His opponent is Russian Anton Pozdnyakov who currently holds around a two-to-one chip advantage.

4:58pm: Play resumes
Our last three players are back at the table. Will we reach the next break before the tournament ends?

APPT Cebu reporting comes courtesy of bloggers Heath "TassieDevil" Chick and Dave "F-Train" Behr.

Dave Behr
@PokerStars in Asia Pacific Poker Tour