APPT Sydney Day 4: This premiership's no cakewalk

Imagine, if you will, that you're at the final table of the WSOP Main Event. You're in the Penn & Teller Theatre at the Rio Casino and Hotel in Las Vegas, with the roar of thousands of screaming fans ringing in your ears, sitting across from your heads-up opponent. You're tired. You're hurting. You've been sitting in that same seat for over eight days and then you've had to wait over three months to get back to this moment.

And yet, you're still determined to go all the way. Your eyes are burning from the brightness of the stage lights and you're drowning in your own sweat, but you can smell the millions of dollars nearby and in the corner of your eye, you see that golden bracelet twinkle. There's no way you can give it up now! There's only minutes to go until the break. You're on the button and the chip counts are dead even. You look down at your hole cards. Pocket queens. Bingo. Time to raise it up.

Your opponent reraises from the big blind. Interesting. You check your cards again, reach for chips, pause and then riffle them in your hand as you delay your four-bet. You push your chips in and stare over at your opponent. He appears uncomfortable and he goes deep in the tank - with each passing second, you can feel the energy building up throughout the room. The clock counts down. The crowd is buzzing. Nine ... eight ... seven ... six ... your opponent sits back up, adjusts his hoodie and his sunglasses. Five ... four ... three ...

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It ain't over 'til it's over ...

Your opponent puts his hands behind his stack and quickly shoves it into the middle. You stand up out of your seat, lean over the table and the crowd stands up with you - the noise is deafening. Two ... one ... you're about to call, when all of a sudden ...

HOOOOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNK!!

Tourament director Jack Effel steps in and stops the action. "Sorry boys, time's up. It's a draw. We have to play out the whole tournament again." Wait, WHAT? You can't be serious! Surely that was one of Dennis Phillips' supporters blowing that truck horn. Nope - that was the siren sounding the end of the game. Game over man, see you next week.

Now, how do you feel?

If you really want to know, just ask anyone who was there at the Melbourne Cricket Ground to watch Collingwood and St. Kilda in this year's Australian Football League (AFL) Grand Final. For those unfamiliar with the history of "Aussie Rules", should a draw occur in the Grand Final, both teams are required to return the following the week for a replay. Although this may have many detractors in modern times, there's plenty of reasons why it should stay.

It gives sports fans one more week of football. It gives both teams a golden opportunity to truly win the premiership. And, it's tradition - after all, this is our game and it's been around since 1897. Why change? It also reflects the Aussie ethos of hard yakka - if you want to get the job done and get it done right, you've got to put all your blood, sweat and tears into it.

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Everyone is left numb after Collingwood and St. Kilda draw the 2010 AFL Grand Final (photo courtesy of The Age)

For the record, Collingwood won the replay against St. Kilda the following week, but the good news is that will never happen in a major poker event. However, if you were going to call a draw on an event based on the quality of a final table and give everyone an equal share of the prize money and a trophy, it would be this year's PokerStars.net Asia Pacific Poker Tour Grand Final.

But there's no way we'd do that. We have to let this one play out, because let me assure you sports fans, you're in for a treat.

We've got Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu - enough said. We've got Triple Crown winner Roland de Wolfe and he's got the chip lead. We've got Eddy Sabat and he's on track to becoming the only dual APPT title holder in history. We've also got Aussie online wunderkind Jonathan Karamalikis and he's looking dangerous.

Don't forget about PokerStars Qualifiers Antoine Amourette and Ben McLean, who certanily aren't there just to fill seats - they each have a great chance to win this title, but not if Sydneysiders Tom Rafferty, Manuel Hansimikali and Peco Stojanovski have anything to say about it, as they'll all be looking to keep the APPT Grand Final title in New South Wales for four years running.

You do not want to miss a minute of this - get on board the PokerStars Blog from 2pm AEDST (GMT +11) today and don't forget about Paul "The Voice" Khoury over at PokerStars TV, who will be leading the all-star cast behind the mike for our LIVE webcast of the final table! Let's get it on!

Landon Blackhall
@PokerStars in Sydney