The Crown Casino poker room was packed as the 213 entrants into Thursday's event in the PokerNews Cup Australia Championships, 6-Handed No Limit Hold'em, took up most of the tables in the room. Big names in the field included Tony Hachem, Gareth Edwards, Karib Karib, Van Marcus and Emad Tahtouh. After 12 hours of play, it was Martin Cardno who stood alone with all the chips, claiming the trophy and the $25,347 top prize.
Grant Levy rode a chip rollercoaster for much of the early going, busting out before the money bubble when he ran into Jacob Chen for all his chips. Levy moved all in preflop with pocket eights, and the big-stacked Chen made the call with . Levy's eights held up on the flop, but the on the turn left his drawing thin. The on the river gave Chen the pot and sent Levy packing early in the event. Other notable eliminations before the money included Michael "Sticky" Guttman, Maurie Pears, James Honeybone, Tony Dunst and Emad Tahtouh.
The six-handed format led to more aggressive play, and the bubble approached quickly. Nuno Da Silva earned the most unhappy title when he lost a coin flip for his tournament life to Michael Palti. Da Silva moved all in from the small blind with , and Palti found pocket tens in the big blind. Palti made the call, and the race was all but over when the came in the window. The rest of the board ran out , and the money bubble was burst.
As play moved on, Tony Hachem moved all in preflop with and found one caller in Jacob Chen, with . The flop hit both players as it came down , and Hachem kept the lead. The on the turn was no help to either player, but the on the river gave Chen two pair and sent Hachem packing in 19th place ($1,065).
As the eliminations continued to flow like water, Van Marcus busted in tenth place when he called Michael Palti's all-in preflop with . Marcus was actually slightly ahead preflop, as Palti tabled , but the on the flop put Palti firmly in the lead. The board ran out , and Marcus picked up $2,663 for his tenth-place finish.
When the field reached seven, the remaining players collected around one table, and Jacob Chen then busted in seventh place ($2,663) to become the official final-table bubble boy. He moved all in from the button with , and was called by Ken Hunter, who held in the big blind. Chen was grasping at straws after the flop of , but he picked up a straight draw on the turn. The on the river made Hunter's full house and sent Chen to the rail.
The final table was a breakneck affair, with bustouts coming quick as machine-gun fire. Kent Hunter skyrocketed up the leader board after a huge pot where he busted Matt Hawker and Michael Palti in one hand. Hawker moved all in from under the gun with , then Palti re-raised all in from late position with . Kent Hunter snap-called with , and held the lead over both players going to the flop. Hunter flopped top set as the cards came down , but both players had backdoor draws. All the suspense ended when the came on the turn, making a full house for Hunter and sending Hawker home in sixth place ($4,260) and Palti home in fifth place ($6,071).
Play calmed slightly after the double bustout, as it was another 20 minutes before Steve Goldwater headed to the rail in fourth ($8,520). Kent Hunter moved all in from the button with , and Goldwater defended his big blind with . Hunter made top pair on the flop, and Goldwater needed help. It didn't materialize on the turn, and the river was too little, too late to save Goldwater.
After some back and forth play, Kent Hunter moved all in preflop with A-6, only to find himself dominated by Farhad Kia's A-Q. Nothing on the 7-10-9-9-9 board came to help Hunter, and he found himself covered by Kia's stack. He picked up $12,141 for his third-place finish.
Heads-up play didn't last long, though Michael Cardno and Farhad Kia moved chips back and forth several times before their final confrontation. In the final hand, Cardno raised preflop and Kia called to see a flop of . Kia moved all in as soon as he saw the flop, and Cardno snap-called. Kia tabled for an overcard and a gutshot, while Cardno showed for top two pair. The on the turn was no help to Kia, and the on the river gave the pot, and the trophy, to Cardno. Kia collected $17,573 for second place, as Michael Cardno outlasted 212 other competitors to take down the trophy and the $25,347 first-place prize.
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