APPT8 Auckland Day 2: Spano bubbles, Lim claims POTY

Our last post was about some of the drama that was unfolding approaching the money stage of the tournament, but that was nothing compared to the 100 minutes of play that followed the dinner break.

In the first few minutes of the level we had two eliminations, including former champion Brotha D, before an incredible bubble that lasted in excess of an hour of hand-for-hand play. The short stacks dug their heels in with incredible focus and determination, while the big stacks were happy to accumulate with little resistance.

All eyes were on David Lim. He just needed to reach the money to claim the ANZ Player of the Year award, but with 25 players left and only 24 in the money, he was the absolute short stack of the field. He was hoping to fold his way to the money, but then something happened - he found a hand!

Michael Guzzardi opened with a min-raise to 10,000 and Lim, with a stack of 23,500, looked down at two red kings. It wasn't an insta-shove as this bubble was worth far more to Lim that just the NZ$4,550 min-cash, but he decided to go for it. Guzzardi called with pocket eights and Lim was ecstatic to fade the two-outer to double up.

But the bubble was over quite yet.

Next we would see an impressive call by Minh Nguyen with just jack-high. Nguyen had three-bet preflop, bet the flop, checked the turn and was then faced with a sizeable bet on the river on a board of 4♠T♦9♥9♦T♠. Nguyen tanked for several minutes before making the call with J♠5♣ for a jack kicker to the two pair on board and his read was spot on as Matt Carter had missed with 8♠7♠.

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Nguyen was out to a big chip lead, while fellow pros Thomas Ward, Jesse McKenzie and Michael Guzzardi were busily pounding on their tables. Slowly but surely the medium stacks became short stacks, and the short stacks became vulnerable.

Stephen Thompson was down to just 16,000 when he committed with pocket tens against Sam Williams' king-queen. It looked like it was all over when a king and queen both fell on the flop, but after the turn bricked, a two-outer ten landed on the river to the roars of the rail. Thompson found a miracle and the bubble continued on.

Finally the bubble would eventually pop on Robert Spano. He got his last 21,000 in preflop with Q♦8♦ and was dominated when Minh Nguyen called with A♠Q♠. Spano flopped a flush draw, but ultimately the K♦T♠6♦J♣J♥ board would leave Spano with the unfortunate distinction of bubble boy.

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That was a huge relief for David Lim who limped into the cash, and the valuable points, to officially claim the 2014 ANZ Player of the Year honour. Lim's season included a victory in the ANZPT Auckland event, a deep run at the ANZPT in Perth and then another cash here at APPT Auckland. Congratulations David!

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Edison Nguyen drops to second place in the ANZ Player of the Year, and that will only be under threat if Dean Blatt can finish third or better here in this event.

Heath "TassieDevil" Chick is a Freelance Contributor for the PokerStars Blog.