APPT9 Manila: Aaron Lim wins to become first two-time APPT champ!

The Season 9 APPT Manila title has been decided with Australia's Aaron Lim making history to become the first-ever two-time APPT champion with a scintillating victory!

Lim had to work for it against opponent Douglas Olsson as he entered heads-up play with a near four-to-one chip advantage.

The heads-up battle was loaded with bullets firing back and forth providing plenty of excitement for the fans on the rail. The early pots went in favour of the Swede before a huge pot amassed in the middle in a hand that broke Lim's usual silence. On a board of 8♥A♣K♣8♦2♥ and facing an overbet, Lim joked, "How crazy are you? You must be really crazy. Like a Scandinavian..." Olsson gave no tells forcing Lim to fold his hand with some frustration.

Moments later, Lim retaliated and scooped an enormous pot when his pocket tens were too strong for Olsson's pocket fives. It gave Lim a comfortable nine-to-one chip lead, as the trophy was within reach, but again Olsson wasn't going to go down without a fight.

A dramatic hand would see Olson's A♣3♣ up against Lim's dominant A♠9♣. Lim was one card away from victory before the crowd roared when a life-saving three appeared on the river to continue the battle.


In the end, Lim would finally be able to finish the job. After a preflop raise and a bet on a flop of Q♠J♣6♥, the fireworks erupted on the 8♥ turn. Olsson checked, Lim bet, Olsson check-raised all in and Lim snapped it off with A♣A♦. He was confident he was good, but got a little nervous when Olsson revealed J♥9♥ for pair, straight and flush draws! Olsson had more outs that his previous all-ins but he couldn't connect this time as the Q♣ completed the board to crown Aaron Lim as the Season 9 APPT Manila champion!


At the start of the day, 23 players returned to the Grand Ballroom at the City of Dreams Manila, all with high hopes to be the one to raise the trophy and claim the PHP6,016,250 first place prize.

After the lack of action the night before, play kicked off at a frantic rate the moment that Nicandro Filart's pocket aces were cracked by Terry Fan's pocket kings.

Andrei Dementev, Hao Tian, Frederick Hernandez and poker veteran Mike Kim were all bounced short of the final table, and when Romit Advani was eliminated in tenth place, our final table was set.


Japan's Hayato Kitajima held the chip lead, just ahead of Aaron Lim who was in great position to make his run at his second APPT title.

Ying Lin Chua was first to fall after a failed bluff attempt, before the end came for high-stakes pro Winfred Yu.

A key hand for Yu would see him run into the flopped full house of local hope Jesse Leonarez. It was a huge blow to Yu's stack and when he shoved his A♠4♠ into both pocket jacks and pocket queens, Yu was on the rail in eighth place.


Play would slow up with seven players remaining. Jesse Leonarez and Canadian Thomas Lee would exchange some pots, while Aaron Lim doubled up with pocket kings to stay in contention. It was overnight chip leader Iona Finkenrath who failed to gain any traction as he committed his short stack with A♠K♥ but would have to fade the live cards of Douglas Olsson with Q♥9♥. The board ran out T♠T♦4♦J♦8♦ to give Olsson the backdoor straight for the knockout blow.

One time final table chip leader, Hayato Kitajima would soon follow when he shoved pocket eights into the pocket kings of Jesse Leonarez, before Thomas Lee would also slide from big stack to the rail. Lee ran into pocket aces, not once, but twice, with the final blow seeing him three-bet jam K♦J♣ into the rockets of Leonarez to depart in fifth place.

Former MPC champion Terry Fan lost a coin flip to fall in fourth place before the vocal locals were silenced when the last Filipino player, Jessie Leonarez, was eliminated in third. Leonarez limp-jammed from the small blind with A♠3♥ but couldn't get past Aaron Lim's pocket tens.


That would leave Lim with the chip lead entering heads-up play and after a few scares, he was able to claim the championship.

"I feel relieved!" said Lim following his victory. "The days were very long and everyone on the final table played very well."

Lim is clearly one of Australia's best young poker talents and creating quite a poker resume for himself. He was the first Australian to win a WSOP-APAC bracelet and now he's leading the way again as the first two-time APPT champion following from his previous victory at APPT Seoul in 2013.

"There's nothing that beats the rush of being on a final table. It's something you can't replicate in a cash game," he added.

Lim not only captures the title but a whopping PHP6,016,250 (~US$131,000) in prize money! Congratulations Aaron!


APPT9 Manila Main Event Final Table Results
1st Aaron Lim (Australia) - PHP6,016,250
2nd Douglas Olsson (Sweden) - PHP3,367,500
3rd Jessie Leonarez (Philippines) - PHP2,083,000
4th Terry Fan (Chinese Taipei) - PHP1,588,900
5th Thomas Lee (Canada) - PHP1,097,600
6th Hayato Kitajima (Japan) - PHP873,000
7th Iona Finkenrath (Germany) - PHP710,900
8th Winfred Yu (Canada) - PHP598,700
9th Ying Lin Chua (Malaysia) - PHP498,900

Congratulations to our winners and also a big congratulations to Danny, Hill and all the team at PokerStars LIVE Manila for holding a tremendously successful APPT Manila series. It bodes well for even bigger and better things to come for poker in the Philippines.

The next major event in the Asia-Pacific region is Macau Poker Cup 23 which will be held at PokerStars LIVE Macau from August 28 until September 13, while those in Manila can look forward to the Manila MegaStack returning to PokerStars LIVE Manila from September 23-27. We hope to see you there!

Thanks for following our coverage this week, and until next time, it's goodbye from Manila!

Photos by Kenneth Lim Photography courtesy of APPT

Heath "TassieDevil" Chick is a freelance contributor to PokerStars Blog.