Day 9 from the 2014 World Series of Poker Asia-Pacific marked the most exciting day of the festival yet.
First, you had Rory Young capture the title in the AU$1,650 8-Game Dealer's Choice event with George Danzer finishing sixth and pulling back within a few points of Brandon Shack-Harris in the WSOP Player of the Year race. Then, there was Phil Hellmuth who reached the final table of the AU$2,200 Six-Max No-Limit Hold'em event alongside 2014 November Niner Bruno Politano. Finally, the AU$5,000 8-Game Mixed event kicked off and attracted an elite field of competitors looking for a shot at a gold bracelet.
All of that happened in just one day of poker inside the walls of Crown Melbourne, so let's not wait any further to tell you all about it.
The first mixed-game event of the 2014 WSOP Asia-Pacific come to a conclusion on Friday with Rory Young claiming gold in Event 6: AU$1,650 8-Game Dealer's Choice.
Young would lead coming into the final table, but he would be up against some formidable company that included Australian poker veterans Sam Khouiss and Jason Gray, youngster David Zhao, and two-time WSOP bracelet winners Brian Rast and Danzer. Danzer would be eyeing at least a fourth-place finish so he could once again snatch back the lead in the WSOP Player of the Year race from Shack-Harris, but things wouldn't quite work out for the German.
Action began with players arriving late, but once the cards were in the air, it would be Khouiss surging out into the chip lead before Danzer was crippled to just 700 in chips. The following hand, Danzer doubled, but on the next hand after that, the German's one pair wasn't enough to keep him alive once Rast rivered quads.
Young took back the lead, then gave it to Rast, then found it back in his possession before Gray's fight with the short stack ended at the hands of Young in 2-7 triple draw when Gray's nine-seven wasn't to defeat Young's eight-six as he fell in fifth place. Zhao would be the next to go and the final table was down to three.
Rast soon was pushed down to the short stack before his final hand occurred when he was all in holding the against Young's in no-limit hold'em. A six on the flop and on the turn would seal Rast's fate in third, as Young took roughly a 5-3 chip advantage into heads-up play.
From the onset of heads-up play, Young dominated the action as the games switched between pot-limit Omaha and 2-7 triple draw — very similar to how the entire final table played out. Khouiss was pounded down to worse than a 4-to-1 dog, but the Sydney-sider continued to fight. Unfortunately for him, it just wasn't his day as Young continued to outdraw him in 2-7 triple draw over and over before the final hand played out in pot-limit Omaha.
Khouiss potted the big blind holding the , and Young called with his . Then, Khouiss called all in with the board reading . With Khouiss needing any ace, jack, eight, or seven to stay alive, the river landed the to send him to the rail and give the victory to Young.
The brash youngster Young played very controlled and aggressive poker throughout the final table and previous days, and for his efforts will be taking home the coveted WSOP gold bracelet and AU$42,720 in prize money. Congratulations to Young and all the in-the-money finishers for their efforts in this one.
When it comes to WSOP greatness, Phil Hellmuth is an absolute legend. Since winning his first gold bracelet in 1989 by capturing the WSOP Main Event title, Hellmuth has added 12 more pieces of WSOP hardware to his trophy case, and now just five players stand between him and number 14.
Hellmuth's run in the AU$2,200 Six-Max No-Limit Hold’em event marks his 108th WSOP cash and 51st WSOP final table. Combine that with the most gold bracelets of any player, and it's hard to argue that anyone else comes close. Hellmuth also has the chance to become the third player to win gold bracelets in the three regions the WSOP has been held — US, Europe, and Australia — behind Daniel Negreanu and Jeff Lisandro. Then you've got the fitting story that this year is the 25th anniversary of Hellmuth's 1989 WSOP Main Event win and the year he turned 50 years old.
When Hellmuth sat down with PokerNews' Rich Ryan before the summer, he stated that he was going to win 11 more bracelets in his career. He did say that he felt he'd win more mixed-game bracelets than no-limit hold'em ones in those 11, but nonetheless this is a step in that direction.
Thanks to busting out Kris Nestorovic in seventh place, Hellmuth will take 266,500 in chips into Day 3. While that's technically fifth on the leader board out of the final six players, the top five stacks are separated by less than 50,000 in chips, as the top stack has 315,000.
After play completed for the day, Hellmuth spoke with PokerNews Senior Editor Chad Holloway:
Steven Zhou is the player leading the way, and then you've got Alexander Antonios (278,000), Michael Tran (274,000), and Yu Kurita (269,500) bunched in between Zhou and Hellmuth. Kurita has become the first female player to reach a WSOP Asia-Pacific final table, and she's got just as good a chance as any to grab the gold.
Bringing up the year with 65,000 in chips will be 2014 WSOP November Niner Bruno Politano. When the WSOP Main Event final table resumes in November, Politano will be the shortest stack of the final nine. He'll be able to earn some valuable experience in that position through this event, as he also enters the final table as the lowest on chips. It's a great story that Politano has reached this final table, and he's proving it was no fluke when he made the November Nine.
Day 3 and the final table will begin at 12:10 p.m. local time, and this is clearly a final table you will not want to miss.
The 2014 World Series of Poker APAC continued on Friday with the start of Event #8: $5,000 8-Game Mixed, the very tournament that Phil Ivey won last year to capture his ninth gold bracelet. This year’s tournament attracted 45 runners – down from 2013’s 91 – though that should go up as registration is open until the start of Day 2.
After 10 one-hour levels of play, just 26 players would make it through the night with Richard Ashby and his chip stack of 79,850 leading the way. Others making it through with big stacks were Bruno Portaro (52,925), Brandon Shack-Harris (51,175), and Dylan Honeyman (49,400).
Top 10 Day 1a Chip Counts
Ashby, who late registered after Level 4, slowly built his stack throughout the evening, but had an especially good round of Omaha hi-lo in Level 9. After taking two decent pots from Jeff Madsen earlier in the orbit, Ashby opened his button to 1,000 and Rob Campbell defended the big blind.
Ashby continued for 500 on the flop with Campbell check-raising to 1,000. Ashby called, and when Campbell bet 1,000 when the landed on the turn, Ashby raised. Campbell called, and then check-called another 1,000 when the river brought the . Ashby tabled his for Broadway and Campbell mucked. With that, Ashby saw his stack climb to over 80,000 in chips.
Long before that, 2010 WSOP POY Frank Kassela became the first elimination of the day. We missed the hand that crippled him, but we do know that he tried to run a bluff in no-limit hold'em against Portaro, who held two pair.
Not long after, Kassela got his last few chips all in on fourth street in razz against Mike Leah.
Kassela: / /
Leah: / /
"Why do I feel I'm drawing dead?" Kassela said even before fifth was dealt. Kassela was drawing live, but his bad omen came true as Leah made a seven-six low on sixth to leave Kassela drawing dead. With that, Kassela exited in Level 1 and became the day’s first elimination, though he wouldn’t be the last.
Others who fell on Day 1 were Vanessa Rousso, Dylan Hortin, Roland Israelashvili, Jackson Zheng, Rainer Quel, Sam Ngai, and Antonio Esfandairi, who fell in a hand of Omaha hi-lo to recent WSOP APAC bracelet winner Jeff Lisandro. The Australian Poker Hall of Famer would follow Esfandiari out the door a short time later though.
While some big names fell, plenty made it through to Day 2 including Mike Watson (39,875), Brian Rast (32,350), Daniel Negreanu (25,000), Joe Hachem (24,375), Dan Heimiller (15,350), Jonathan Duhamel (14,550), and George Danzer (9,525).
Registration is open up to the start of Day 2, which will begin at 12:30 p.m. local time on Saturday. The field is sure to pick up a few players, and once official numbers are determined the prize pool and payout information will be made available.
Be sure to stay tuned to PokerNews as we bring you continued coverage from the 2014 WSOP Asia-Pacific.