APPT8 Auckland: Minh Nguyen flips his way to victory!
The APPT Auckland Main Event has reached an exciting conclusion with Australia's Minh Nguyen crowned the APPT Auckland Main Event champion!
However in the end, victory didn't come quite as easily as we first thought.
Nguyen had dominated for the best part of two days. He mauled his opposition on the bubble last night and today, with a big stack in hand, he out-muscled the final table with relentless aggression. He raised 90% of hands, he stole the blinds, and when he was challenged, he'd show down a huge hand. It was near flawless poker.
Then he got heads up.
Nguyen took a big lead into heads-up play against Thomas Ward, but the Kiwi wasn't going to go down without a fight.
After some initial to-and-fro play, Ward started to chip away at the deficit. Nguyen fired three barrels on a board of 4♦T♣9♣J♣3♥ but Ward picked off the bluff with K♥Q♠ for a straight.
He then followed that up with another cooler of a hand that saw Nguyen betting on the board of 5♥3♠4♥K♥2♦ with ace-queen for a straight, but that wasn't enough as Ward called with ace-six for the bigger straight.
Ward collected a couple more smaller pots and suddenly he was into the lead as a rattled Nguyen decided he was happy to now talk a deal. The two paused the clock and looked at the numbers before coming to a quick agreement. Ward would take NZ$104,000, Nguyen would get NZ$101,600 and they would play for the remaining NZ$10,000, the title and the two beautiful trophies that were up for grabs.
However the deal went a little further as they both agreed to flip for what was left without looking at their cards. A little disappointing to see two such talented players take the skill element out of the game, but I have to admit, the next few minutes were pretty fun to watch as the players flipped for it all!
The first flip would see Ward all in with A♠J♥ against Nguyen's 8♥6♣ and he was one card away from the title when the first four community cards were spread 9♦T♦T♠J♣ but the 7♣ spiked on the river to the roars of the rail as Nguyen made a straight to double up!
Ward was crippled, but managed to win the next two flips to give himself a sneaky chance of a comeback. One more flip victory and he was back in the lead.
For the fourth time in four flips, Ward was dealt the best starting hand with K♠T♣ up against Nguyen's 8♠3♠, but this time the board of 4♥3♥2♣8♥K♣ would give Nguyen two pair for the victory!
It was a whirlwind final table that was over inside six hours of game time. Overnight short stack Stephen Thompson was a quick casualty but the action didn't slow down there.
A key hand was when the unlucky Ben Rendall made a stand against the overwhelming pressure of Minh Nguyen. Rendall found pocket queens and moved all in but Nguyen showed up with one better as his pocket kings removed Rendall in eighth place.
Dean Blatt was bounced out in seventh in a battle of the blinds with Thomas Ward, before another cooler ended the run of Michael Guzzardi. It was a clash of the roommates with Guzzardi flopping trips but Jesse McKenzie had flopped a full house to eliminate Guzzardi in sixth.
The coolers continued as again Nguyen was the one to do the damage, turning a straight against Sam Williams' two pair. Williams was out in fifth and he was soon followed by Jesse McKenzie who shoved K♥Q♥ straight into Nguyen's pocket aces!
Nguyen had an enormous chip lead, but it was Thomas Ward who claimed the scalp of William Rogers in third place to see Nguyen with around a three-to-one advantage entering heads-up play.
It was a great effort by Ward who looked like had the heads-up edge, but he couldn't win the flips that mattered and ultimately would have to be content with NZ$104,000 for his runner-up result.
Minh Nguyen matches brother Edison's victory in Melbourne with another trophy heading to the Nguyen family along with NZ$111,600 in prize money.
APPT Auckland Final Table Results
1st Minh Nguyen (Australia) - NZ$111,600*
2nd Thomas Ward (New Zealand) - NZ$104,000*
3rd William Rogers (United Kingdom) - NZ$47,100
4th Jesse McKenzie (Australia) - NZ$38,000
5th Sam Williams (New Zealand) - NZ$31,500
6th Michael Guzzardi (Austraila) - NZ$26,500
7th Dean Blatt (Australia) - NZ$21,500
8th Ben Rendall (New Zealand) - NZ$16,500
9th Stephen Thompson (New Zealand) - NZ$12,500
* denotes heads-up deal
That wraps up our coverage of the APPT Auckland Main Event. Thanks to the SKYCITY Auckland for their hospitality during the week and we look forward to returning next year.
That's also the last of the local events for this year, with the next major PokerStars event on the calendar coming from the Crown Melbourne with the 2015 APPT Aussie Millions Main Event running from January 25th to February 1st 2015.
Qualify today on PokerStars and we hope to see you there!
Heath "TassieDevil" Chick is a Freelance Contributor for the PokerStars Blog.