APPT Sydney Day 4: Levels 25 & 26 (Blinds 30000-60000, ante 5000)

10:00pm: Ben McLean eliminated in second place, Jonathan Karamalikis wins!

With Australian PokerStars Qualifier Ben McLean having been crippled severely in the penultimate hand of this heads-up battle, it didn't take long for Jonathan Karamalikis to be confirmed as the fourth consecutive Aussie to claim victory in the PokerStars.net APPT Grand Final in Sydney!

McLean open-shoved from the button for his last one million chips with A♦6♦, only to have Karamalikis snap-call from the big blind with 5♦5♣. Karamalikis' rail erupted! "LIKE A BOSS!" they cried as the dealer spread the flop of 2♠Q♠4♠. A repeat 2♥ fell on the turn, putting Karamalikis futher ahead. Needing one of the last three aces in the deck, a third 2♦ was snapped up on the river and McLean was confirmed as runner-up, taking home AUD $459,510.

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Ben McLean (right) congratulates Jonathan Karamalikis on his victory

McLean was embraced by his family and friends on the rail and was given a warm round of applause by the crowd before dozens of Karamalikis' supporters rushed down the stairs with a bottle of "Dong Perignon" and some champagne flutes to toast his victory.

And there it is, movers and shakers - Jonathan Karamalikis, who has already established himself as one of the rising stars of the Australian poker scene, has capped off his breakthrough year with victory in the 2010 PokerStars.net Asia Pacific Poker Tour Grand Final! We'll have a full recap of the day's action for you very soon.

9:50pm: Nut flush gives Dong the taste of victory

Jonathan Karamalikis now has one hand on the APPT Sydney trophy and his railbirds are going ballistic after a huge pot has got his way to leave Ben McLean crippled.

Karamalikis opened with a raise from the button to 120,000 before McLean three-bet to 325,000 in the big blind. Karamalikis made the call and the flop landed 9♠3♦7♠.

McLean let out with a continuation bet of 350,000 and Karamalikis made the call to see the prettiest card in the deck, the A♠ fall on the turn. McLean checked and Karamalikis slid a tempting 400,000 into the middle. McLean appeared unsure of what to do, but decided to call as the J♥ completed the board on the river.

McLean checked and Karamalikis slid out a cool one million into the middle. McLean only took a moment before making the call. Karamalikis opened K♠T♠ for the nut flush as McLean flashed A♦K♦ for top pair as a huge swing of chips went the way of the Dong as the crowd went nuts!

McLean is now down to his last 946,000 chips as Karamalikis now wields a commanding 7.6 million.

9:35pm: Karamalikis turns up the heat

Ben McLean raised to 160,000 on the button and Jonathan Karamalikis made the call in the big blind to take a flop of 8♣7♥4♦. Both players checked but the action was fierce on the A♠ turn card. Karamalikis checked, McLean bet 130,000 but Karamalikis came back over the top with a check-raise to 400,000. McLean made the call and the river was the 9♥.

Karamalikis paused for effect before splashing 625,000 into the middle. McLean went deep into the tank and thought long and hard but eventually gave it up. Karamalikis is now up to 5.2 million with McLean starting to crack as he slips to 3.3 million.

9:30pm: Level up, blinds 30,000-60,000 (ante 5000)

9:20pm: Karamalikis keeps on chippin'

Aussie online phenom Jonathan Karamalikis is continuing to work his gallery up into a frenzy and now sits on 4.9 million in chips as Ben McLean's rail starts to grow restless as this heads-up battle rages on.

Karamalikis bumped it up to 125,000 from the button, McLean three-bet it to 275,000 and Karamalikis called before raising to 350,000 after McLean's bet of 150,000 on the flop of Q♣7♥5♠. McLean mucked and the chants of, "Like a boss" went up from behind media row (this is of course a reference to the popular Saturday Night Live sketch). McLean slips to 3.6 million in chips.

9:15pm: McLean misses more value

Jonathan Karamalikis opened with a raise to 125,000 on the button and Ben McLean made the call in the big blind to see a flop of 6♣5♥T♠.

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Karamalikis: he's the boss

McLean decided to lead out for something a little different, as he committed 100,000 into the middle. Karamalikis made the call. The turn was the 9♥ and McLean bet another 150,000 and again Karamalikis made the call before McLean checked in the dark as the T♥ completed the board.

Karamalikis checked behind and McLean showed Q♥6♥ for a backdoor flush as he wondered why he checked the river in the dark.

9:05pm: McLean get some value

After checking the river with a straight a few minutes ago, Ben McLean wasn't going to miss out on value again. After calling the preflop raise to 100,000 from Jonathan Karamalikis, the two checked the flop of 5♦3♦K♥.

McLean then led out for 100,000 on the 7♠ turn, before firing another 175,000 on the 7♥ river. Karamalikis made the calls but quickly mucked when McLean tabled K♦7♦ for a full house.
Karamalikis slips to 3.3 million with McLean up to 5.2 million.

8:55pm: River raise for the Dong

Jonathan Karamalikis raised to 125,000 from the button with Ben McLean making the call to see a flop of 7♦6♦2♦. McLean check-called for 200,000 before both players checked the T♥ turn. The 5♦ river put four to a flush on board and McLean decided to take a stab with a bet of 200,000. Karamalikis was a non-believer as he raised it up to a cool million. McLean quickly gave it up as "MONSTER_DONG" rakes in another pot. He's back to 3.95 million and narrowing in on McLean's 4.6 million.

8:50pm: McLean extends

Ben McLean has extended his lead with a three-bet pot going his way with a nice river card. Jonathan Karamalikis raised to 100,000 on the button before McLean three-bet to 250,000 in the big blind. Karamalikis made the call and the flop landed Q♥A♦5♥.

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McLean's looking clean cut

McLean led out for 200,000 and Karamalikis called as the 7♦ found its way onto the board on the turn. A quick check-check and the river fell the K♣. Again both players were happy to get to showdown as they checked it down. McLean opened K♠9♣ for a rivered pair of kings which was good as Karamalikis mucked.

McLean is up to 5.9 million with Karamalikis now down to 2.6 million.

8:45pm: McLean takes two back

Ben McLean's supporters are starting to get just as vocal as Jonathan Karamalikis' supporters as the Australian PokerStars Qualifier has just taken the last two pots off "xMONSTERxDONGx" as this heads-up battle continues.

Karamalikis raised to 125,000 from the button and McLean called before checking to Karamalikis on the flop of [10h]5♦A♠. Karamalikis led out for 150,000, McLean min-raised to 300,000 and Karamalikis called before they checked down the turn of the J♠ and the river 6♠. McLean showed A♦4♣ and Karamalikis mucked.

A few hands later, McLean raised to 100,000 from the button and Karamalikis called before they checked the flop of 2♣6♣5♠. Karamalikis fired out 125,000 on the turn of the K♣ and McLean called before they checked the river Q♣. Karamalikis quickly threw his hand into the muck and McLean raked in the chips and he's now starting to show them who's boss with a stack worth 5.411 million. Karamalikis is down to 3.103 million in chips.

8:35pm: First blood to Karamalikis

During the dinner break, the discussion centred over Jonathan Karamalikis having the experience and skill advantage in heads-up play against Ben McLean, and the first showdown pot of this heads-up battle has gone that way.

McLean limped from the button before Karamalikis popped it up another 100,000 from the big blind. The board of 4♣8♦K♠J♥6♠ was checked through until the river when Karamalikis splashed 75,000 into the middle. McLean looked him up but mucked when Karamalikis showed down 8♥7♥ for a pair of eights.

8:30pm: Play resumes

Jonathan Karamalikis and Australian PokerStars Qualifier Ben McLean have just taken their seats and heads-up play is underway! There are still 55 minutes to go in this blind level (blinds 25,000-50,000, ante 5000).

8:15pm: Heads-up chip counts

Ben McLean - 4,786,000
Jonathan Karamalikis - 3,803,000

7:45pm: Tom Rafferty eliminated in 3rd place

Tom Rafferty has played some superb poker this week, after carrying a big stack throughout the early days of play and always looking dangerous here on this final table. However he's run has come to an end in 3rd place at the hands of Jonathan Karamalikis.

Tom Rafferty opened with a raise to 125,000 from the small blind before Jonathan Karamalikis kicked it up to 300,000 from the big blind. Rafferty came back by moving all in but Karamalikis snap-called!

Rafferty: A♣8♣
Karamalikis: A♠J♦

Karamalikis was in dominant shape and his loyal railbirds cheered in delight as the board ran out A♥2♣4♥7♦5♣. Rafferty is eliminated in 3rd place and collects AU$164,730 for a fine tournament.

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Rafferty unravels in third place

With that elimination the players have been sent on a 45-minute break before heads-up play commences. See you back here at 8:30pm local time!

7:40pm: Peco Stojanovski eliminated in 4th place

Peco Stojanovski run has come to an end in 4th place. Catching the action on a flop 7♥8♣K♥, Ben McLean checked to Stojanovski on the button who fired a bet of 175,000. It seemed like he was committed to the hand, and when McLean check-raised, Stojanovski was happy to move all in. The only problem was that McLean snap-called with K♣K♦ for top set as Stojanovski was way behind with his Q♣Q♥.

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Stojanovski ships but loses his chips and finishes fourth

It was all over on the 8♥ turn as McLean made a full house and the meaningless river was the 2♦. Stojanovski's fine tournament ends in 4th place for AU$121,380 in prize money. Meanwhile McLean is now up to a massive 4.7 million in chips!

7:35pm: Rafferty razzled by McLean

Australian PokerStars Qualifier Ben McLean may be an amateur, but he's not one to be pushed around and has now taken a commanding chip lead with 3.986 million while Peco Stojanovski struggles to stay alive.

Tom Raffery raised from the button to 85,000 before McLean called from the big blind to make it heads-up to a flop of Q♠9♠6♥. McLean led out for 90,000 and then called, only to fold after McLean fired out for 375,000.

In the very next hand, Jonathan Karamalikis raised to 120,000 from the button and Peco Stojanovski made the call in the big blind to see a flop of 4♥7♠8♠. Immediately, Stojanovski declared himself all in. Karamalikis stood from his chair and thought about it for a few moments but let it go.

Live updates brought to you courtesy of Landon Blackhall and Heath "TassieDevil" Chick

Landon Blackhall
@PokerStars in Sydney