APPT8 Auckland Day 2: Minh dominant as FT is set
A huge day of thrills and spills has come to a close at the APPT Auckland. The SKYCITY Auckland Casino was full to the brim with the poker tables overflowing with action around the room and the rail loving all the excitement of championship tournament poker.
The day started with 80 players remaining but the number they all had in mind was the top 24. That's where the money would start and their two days of efforts would be rewarded.
Some didn't make it that far with Patrick Healy, Carl Knox, Daryl Hussey, Mike King, Tien Pham, Alicia Sale, Anthony Legg and Ryan Otto among those to fall during the afternoon.
Tension was rising approaching the bubble for a number of interesting stories unfolding.
First we saw a rather confusing situation approaching the money when Angela Brewster didn't receive correct change when placing her ante. Tournament staff had to consult the cameras and in that time, Brewster ran a massive bluff that failed to get past Minh Nguyen. Brewster was felted, but her tournament was resurrected when floor staff ruled she was indeed short changed by 500 chips. She was handed a single ante and allowed to continue in the event, where she managed to run that 500 up to nearly 10,000.
If Brewster could reach the cash or go further, the ruling would certainly be scrutinized, but as it was, the fairytale comeback story ended a few moments later.
The other dramatic story that unfolded on the bubble was the race for the ANZ Player of the Year.
Luke Spano, Luke Brabin, Dean Blatt and David Lim all had claims at the start of the day to take over the lead after clubhouse leader Edison Nguyen was eliminated on day one.
Spano and Brabin were eliminated during Day 2, leaving Blatt and Lim to duke it out. Blatt needed a top three finish in the tournament, but Lim only had to hang on for a min-cash to take an unbeatable lead at the top of the leader board.
With one elimination to go, all eyes were on Lim as the absolute short stack of the field, but he landed a double up with pocket kings against Michael Guzzardi's pocket eights to relieve some pressure.
In the end, Lim would survive as Robert Spano would bubble when his Q♦8♦ would fail to get past the dominant A♠Q♠ of Minh Nguyen. The irony of the elimination was that Minh bursting the bubble would ultimately be detrimental to his brother Edison, as David Lim limped into the money to officially claim the 2014 ANZ Player of the Year.
With the hour-long bubble out of the way, the accordion affect took hold as the short stacks tried to double up or die trying.
Former APPT Queenstown runner-up Matty Yates (23rd - NZ$4,550) was one of the first to the cashier before the title defence of David Lim (21st - NZ$5,050) eventually came to an end when his pocket tens were outdrawn my Michael Guzzardi's king-nine.
David Evans (16th - NZ$6,300) and Day 1c chip leader Terangi Matenga (13th - NZ$7,550) were sent to the cashier before Jesse McKenzie would strike a double elimination with eleven players left to steamroll our way to the final table of nine.
McKenzie held A♠Q♥ to trail Mehrdad Razmi's A♥K♣ while the short-stacked Carl Boag had live cards with his 9♥3♣, but an ace on the flop and a queen on the turn saw McKenzie take out two in one clean hit.
It had taken ninety minutes to burst the bubble but once safely in the money, it was only another eighty minutes of furious action to lose the next fifteen players!
McKenzie fought back from a stack of just 4,800 late on day one to now be right in contention, but he trails the irrepressible Minh Nguyen who simply crushed his table on the bubble before surging towards the final table. He'll take a dominant chip lead into the final table as he looks to match the victory of brother Edison in Melbourne and bring the second trophy of the year back to the Nguyen family.
APPT Auckland Final Table Line Up
Seat 1: Sam Williams (New Zealand) - 633,000
Seat 2: Ben Rendall (New Zealand) - 545,000
Seat 3: Michael Guzzardi (Australia) - 296,000
Seat 4: Dean Blatt (Australia) - 142,000
Seat 5: Thomas Ward (New Zealand) - 404,000
Seat 6: Jesse McKenzie (Australia) - 477,500
Seat 7: Stephen Thompson (New Zealand) - 32,500
Seat 8: William Rogers (United Kingdom) - 238,000
Seat 9: Minh Nguyen (Australia) - 1,605,500
It's a stacked final table with several Australia guns taking on New Zealand's finest, but they will have their work cut out for them with Minh Nguyen holding over 35% of the chips in play!
The final table will commence at 12:15pm (GMT+12) on Sunday. We hope you'll join us once again as we sail this baby home. See you then!
Heath "TassieDevil" Chick is a Freelance Contributor for the PokerStars Blog.