APPT Queenstown: Schreiner Ships the Snowfest!
Three months ago, tens of thousands of people from all corners of the globe swarmed through the gargantuan halls of the Rio Hotel & Casino for their shot at fortune and fame at the 42nd Annual World Series of Poker. It's the one opportunity for every poker player each year to play on the game's biggest stage, sweating and betting under the bright lights of Las Vegas and through the glare of the cameras fixed upon them, as millions of viewers around the world scrutinse their every move on television.
All this, at the height of summer, baking in the middle of the Nevada desert.
It's a far cry from where we've been working for the last week - within the confines of a tiny casino in a village resting on the banks of a picture-perfect lake, on the southern isle in a country that's about as close to Antarctica as you can get, buried deep within the mountains and almost cut off from the rest of the world.
Honestly, we wouldn't have it any other way.
The 2011 PokerStars.net APPT Queenstown Snowfest Main Event has, without question, been one of our most favourite events to have reported on over the years and, judging by everyone we've spoken to, will no doubt become one of the most popular destinations in the Asia Pacific region, if not the world.
And while we're now packing our bags for the long flight home, lamenting that we cannot stay longer, there's plenty to take away from our experience here - the most important being that of Germany's Marcel Schreiner, the first international player in this region's history to win an APPT title on New Zealand soil.
Right from the get-go, the railbirds in the SKYCITY Queenstown Casino were treated to some incredible action. Still, it took over an hour before 2010 APPT Sydney Main Event champion Jonathan Karamalikis got the last of his money into the middle, moving in before the flop with Q♠Q♥ but ran into the K♦K♣ of fellow Australian PokerStars Qualifier Daniel Laidlaw. The eight-high board improved neither hand and Karamalikis was eliminated in ninth place.
However, the big talking point of the first two hours of play was the incredible six-bet-shove attempt by Marcel Schreiner with 9♠8♠ against Matty Yates. Not an uncommon move as we've seen over the last few days, but the only problem was that Yates had woken up with K♥K♦, which improved to two pair after the dealer spread the board of 9♣J♦3♦J♠3♣, moving Yates past the million-chip mark and leaving Schreiner in a world of hurt.
Yates then took out Hugh Cohen in eighth place; the brother of the reigning Queenstown champion moved in pre-flop with A♥K♥ against Yates' A♦Q♦, but Cohen's chances of keeping the title in the family were shattered when Yates rivered two pair on the board of 7♦2♣2♠4♠Q♥ to bow out in eighth place.
Soon after, Kiwi Carl Knox delivered a 1-2 knock-out to China's Xiao Dong Xia, first crippling Xia after his 5♠5♣ held up against his A♦K♥, then taking him out in seventh place after his A♣Q♥ won the flip against Xia's 6♠6♦, hitting two pair on the 3♦Q♠3♥7♠9♦ board.
Tom Grigg's third APPT final table appearance ended in similar fashion in sixth place; the 2010 APPT Auckland runner-up was first run down after Schreiner's A♥K♠ improved to a full house on the board of 8♠7♣A♠A♣K♥ against his Q♥Q♦. Despite a couple of small double-ups, he finally got it in with 8♦6♥, only to see Schreiner's J♣4♣ turn two pair after the dealer spread the board of J♥3♦2♦3♥T♥.
Daniel Laidlaw joined Grigg on the rail only 20 minutes later in fifth place, with the Australian PokerStars Qualifier risking his remaining chips with A♣Q♠, but again, it was Schreiner who won the flip with his 2♥2♣ when he improved to a set after the flop of 2♠J♠4♦, which held all the way as the turn and river bricked out 9♥, A♠.
The remaining four players went hammer-and-tongs for the next two levels, with New Zealand PokerStars Qualifier John Waterman scoring two crucial double-ups before dinner. Soon after play resumed though, it was Waterman that felted fellow Kiwi Carl Knox in fourth place. Knox got it in good with 7♠7♥, but Waterman's A♥Q♥ "Greensteined" him when the board was spread T♠5♣J♦2♣A♣.
From there, Waterman's hard work was brought undone in third place to set up the heads-up battle between Watts and Schreiner. Waterman moved the last of his chips in pre-flop holding K♠Q♦, but Schreiner had him covered every which way with 8♠8♣, which held on the board of 4♥A♦A♣J♥2♥.
With only 180 hands played up until this point (and with such aggression), we were expecting a rather swift heads-up battle, despite the chip counts being practically even. How wrong we were. Yates and Schreiner made every pot, and every chip, count, with both players equally as determined to win the title - for Schreiner, it would mean the breakthrough victory he'd been wanting for so long - and for Yates, it would keep a clean sheet for Kiwis keeping APPT titles on home soil.
Unfortunately for Yates, he was vanquished in second place when the final hand of the night saw him move all-in with A♥9♠, only to see Schreiner snap him off with A♠Q♠, which struck gin on the flop of Q♥A♣A♦. And that, as they say, was that. Game over, man, game over.
Congratulations to Marcel Schreiner, your 2011 PokerStars.net APPT Queenstown Snowfest Main Event champion!
Don't forget to also check out the Final Four with PokerStars.tv's Lynn Gilmartin and Landon Blackhall:
On behalf of my blogging partner Heath "TassieDevil" Chick, we would like to thank Andrew Grey, Toni Quedley and their staff at the SKYCITY Queenstown Casino for their wonderful hospitality during our time here in this winter wonderland. Our thanks and congratulations also go out to the hard-working team at PokerStars.net, who without them none of this would have been possible.
Finally our very special thanks to photographer extraordinaire Joe Giron, whose iconic images of not only the players in this tournament, but also the surrounds of Queenstown, have truly brought our coverage to life this week. For that, we are truly grateful.
Be sure to join us once again when the PokerStars Blog team return to the Las Vegas of Asia for the Season 5 edition of the PokerStars.net APPT Macau Main Event from November 23-29. Until then, we bid you a very fond adieu, farewell and e noho rā.
Photography © Joe Giron | Joe Giron Photography | PokerStars.net