2009 Aussie Millions Event #4, $1,100 LHE: Zach Gruneberg Victorious
Just a few short hours after the early-morning conclusion to Event #3, the Crown Casino in Melbourne saw 140 players take to the felt for more fixed-limit poker festivities as Event #4, $1,100 Limit Hold'em, kicked off. Among the crowd was recently crowned champ Mel Judah, who was back at the tables less than eight hours after taking down the championship ring in Event #3. Joining Judah were Dan Shak, Grant Levy, Tony Dunst, Sam Khouiss and dozens more top pros.
Annette Obrestad confided in tablemate James "Andy McLEOD" Obst that Event #4 was her first live limit tourney. The 2007 WSOP-Europe Main Event champ ran good in the early going, but was eliminated short of the money. Other early bustouts included Sorel Mizzi, Jamie Pickering, Tony Dunst and "Alias" star Michael Vartan. Vartan got the last of his chips in the middle on a flop of . Vartan's needed help to catch up to John Caris' , but the turn and river brought running sevens to send the Hollywood star out for some Melbourne sight-seeing.
The ever-voluble David Saab made it to the dinner break, but a few big hands after dinner left him watching from the rail as the tournament moved down to the bubble. After bleeding off chips for a while, Saab got the last of his chips in the middle on a flop of against Dan Shak. Shak tabled , well ahead of Saab's . The turn and river fell , and Shak's ace-high was enough to send Saab packing.
Late in the evening, the money bubble drew close, and it was Maya Gellar-Antonius who finished in 19th place, busting at the hands of James Obst and leaving the remaining players in the money. Gellar-Antonius called Obst's preflop raise, then checked the flop of 4s-6d-3c. Obst bet out and Gellar-Antonius called. Obst bet out again on the turn when the hit, and Gellar-Antonius check-raised him all in. Obst snap-called with for the nut straight, and Gellar-Antonius was drawing dead with .
After Gellar-Antonius departed, the field went from two tables to one fairly quickly. It took less than two hours for the next nine players to bust, helped along by one big hand that sent Dan Shak and Joshua Wilson to the rail simultaneously. The short-stacked Shak and Wilson found all their chips in the middle on the turn with the board reading . Craig Bergeron had both men covered and dominated with his . Wilson's had more outs than Shak's pocket deuces, but when the river brought the , Bergeron took over the tournament chip lead and Shak and Wilson picked up AU $2,100 each for their finishes.
After local favorite Emad Tahtouh busted in 11th place ($2,100), Dean Blatt became the final-table bubble boy. Blatt three-bet Bruno Portaro preflop. Portaro called and exposed , thinking that Blatt was all in. Blatt actually still had a 1,000 chip left, but he called it off on the flop, tabling his cracked . No king showed on the turn or river, and Blatt was done in tenth place ($2,100).
Craig Bergeron took a slight chip lead into the final table, as the seating assignments and chip stacks looked like this:
Seat 1: Zach Gruneberg - 90,000
Seat 2: Ken Eastwood - 55,000
Seat 3: Grant Levy - 94,500
Seat 4: Jesse Maguire - 112,000
Seat 5: Craig Bergeron - 118,000
Seat 6: Billy "The Croc" Argyros - 18,000
Seat 7: David Bach - 37,000
Seat 8: Bruno Portaro - 117,000
Seat 9: James Obst - 57,500
Billy "The Croc" Argyros came into the table as the short stack, and he wasted no time getting those chips into the middle. Grant Levy raised preflop with , and Argyros three-bet all in with . Levy called, and then made the full house as the board ran out . The ever-cheerful Argyros picked up $3,500 for ninth place, his second consecutive cash in the 2009 Aussie Millions.
Soon after, David Bach got his last few chips in preflop as Grant Levy and James Obst both checked down a board of . Levy fired out a bet on the river, Obst folded, and Levy tabled for top pair. Bach showed for a ton of missed outs on the river, but no real hand as he was finished in eighth place ($4,200).
Bruno Portaro got all his chips in good and exited the tournament in brutal fashion in seventh ($5,600) at the hands of eventual champ Zach Gruneberg. Gruneberg started things off with a raise preflop, Portaro three-bet, and Gruneberg capped it with . Portaro called and the flop came down , and Portaro moved all in. Gruneberg called to see Portaro table for top set. The turn woke the crowd from its slumber, and the river gave Gruneberg runner-runner and sent Portaro home.
At only 18 years of age, James Obst has been a fixture on the tournament circuit for the past several months. He logged his first live cash when he finished in sixth place ($7,700). Obst was crippled and stuck his last few chips in preflop as Ken Eastwood, Jesse Maguire and Craig Bergeron all made the call. The three live players checked around on the flop, and Maguire fired a bet at the turn. Bergeron got out of the way as Eastwood called. The river brought the , and both Eastwood and Maguire checked. Maguire showed as both Eastwood and Obst mucked. Maguire's pair of tens was enough to send Obst to the rail and thin the field to five.
Zach Gruneberg picked up a hand at just the right time as he and Grant Levy capped the action preflop as the first three cards came down . Gruneberg led out and Levy raised, Gruneberg three-bet, and Levy re-raised for the last of his chips with . Gruneberg called with , and Levy needed help to stay alive. The board ran out , and Levy was done in fifth ($9,800).
Next, Gruneberg crippled Ken Eastwood with a flush, and then found another flush to send Eastwood off in fourth ($12,600). The last of Eastwood's chips went in preflop, with Gruneberg and Jesse Maguire joining him to a flop. Maguire and Gruneberg checked, and the turn came down the . Gruneberg bet out, and Maguire made the call in the side pot. Gruneberg bet out again when the came on the river, and Maguire again called. Gruneberg tabled for the flopped flush, and Maguire and Eastwood both mucked as Eastwood headed to the cashier's cage.
The three remaining players briefly discussed pausing the tournament for some sleep, but decided to play on to a final victor. Not long after Eastwood departed, Gruneberg busted Jesse Maguire in third ($17,500). Maguire's short stack went into the middle preflop with , only to see Gruneberg table to trim Maguire's outs. No help came as the board bricked out ten-high, and the tournament was heads-up for the title and the championship ring.
Zach Gruneberg took a nearly 2:1 chip lead into heads-up play, and it took only about half an hour for him to dispatch Craig Bergeron in second place ($25,200). In the final hand, Bergeron raised preflop from the button and Gruneberg called. Both players checked the flop, and the turn brought the . Gruneberg led out, and eventually all the money went in. Gruneberg showed to Bergeron's , giving Bergeron bottom pair and a flush draw to Gruneberg's top pair. The river was no help, and Bergeron was ousted as the runner-up. After more than 14 hours of poker, Zach Gruneberg slipped on the Aussie Millions Event #4 championship ring and pocketed the accompanying $35,000 in prize money.