Minh Nguyen Wins 2014 PokerStars.net APPT Auckland Main Event

Minh Nguyen overcame 225 total players to be crowned the winner of the final stop on Season 8 of the Asia-Pacific Poker Tour. After a heads-up deal, Nguyen claimed NZ$111,600 for winning the 2014 APPT Auckland Main Event.

Final Table Results

PlacePlayerPrize (NZD)
1Minh Nguyen$111,600*
2Thomas Ward$104,000*
3William Rogers$47,100
4Jesse McKenzie$38,000
5Sam Williams$31,500
6Michael Guzzardi$26,500
7Dean Blatt$21,500
8Ben Rendall$16,500
9Stephen Thompson$12,500

*Denotes heads-up deal.

Nguyen began the final table of the event with a giant chip lead and as expected, the highly-regarded Australian poker pro used those chips to try and steamroll over his eight opponents. It was working, too, as Nguyen played a part in several of the eliminations before beginning heads-up play against Thomas Ward with a big chip lead. Then the tides turned, and Ward chipped away until he was in front.

That's when things got interesting, as the two player's agreed to a deal and then to blindly go all in for the title and the extra NZ$10,000 that was left to play for. It was at this point that it looked like Ward was going to win.

As agreed upon, the two players had gone all in without looking at their cards, and Ward had Nguyen at risk with the worst hand. But Nguyen won the flip and despite Ward clawing back with double ups over the next two hands, Nguyen ended up claiming the final pot to win the title and the NZ$111,600 top prize.

Nguyen was clearly elated with the win, celebrating with several friends on the rail, including his brother Edison Nguyen. That name might sound familiar and that's because Edison is a champion of poker in this region, too. He won ANZPT Melbourne just a few months ago.

This is the first time in Australasian poker history that two brothers have won titles on the APPT and the ANZPT. The brothers are both considered two of the best cash-game players in their home country, and this marked Minh Nguyen’s first major tournament victory.

Considering he came into the final table with under five big blinds, it perhaps wasn’t too surprising that Stephen Thompson was the first player eliminated. He was all in preflop and watched on as Nguyen and Michael Guzzardi took to n {8-Spades}{5-Clubs}{8-Clubs} flop. They checked here and then Guzzardi folded to a bet on the {6-Clubs} turn. Nguyen had the {9-Clubs}{8-Diamonds} for trip eights, while Thompson had just the {a-Spades}{9-Hearts}. The board completed with the {4-Spades} and Thompson was on the rail in ninth place, collecting NZ$12,500.

It wouldn’t take too long to lose another player, and this time it wasn’t a short stack who hit the rail, it was the third largest stack in Ben Rendall. Once again it was Nguyen who dealt the blow when Rendall got his chips in with the {q-Clubs}{q-Spades} when he five-bet shoved from the big blind. Nguyen called with the {k-Spades}{k-Diamonds} and with no help came for Rendall, as he was out in eighth place for a NZ$16,500 score.

With the elimination of Rendall, Nguyen had around 2.5 million in chips, which was more than half the chips in play and almost 2 million more than any other player during seven-handed action. It was looking that it was Nguyen’s mission to run over the table single-handedly, but then Ward sent Dean Blatt home in seventh place to see a different player win some chips.

Blatt’s final hand saw him short stacked and shove the small blind with the {9-Diamonds}{6-Diamonds}. Ward called with the {a-Hearts}{q-Spades} from the big blind and flopped trip aces. Blatt didn’t improve, as he hit the rail for NZ$21,500.

Just a short while later, it was Jesse McKenzie’s turn to send a player to the rail, and this time it was Guzzardi who was eliminated. It was a bit of a cooler, with Guzzardi getting his chips all in with the {j-Diamonds}{9-Hearts} on the river of a {9-Clubs}{9-Diamonds}{7-Spades}{a-Diamonds}{5-Diamonds} board and running into McKenzie’s {7-Diamonds}{7-Clubs} for a flopped full house. Guzzardi pocketed NZ$26,500 for that effort and ushered in five-handed play.

Nguyen may not have dealt the blows to Blatt and Guzzardi, but he was still the most active player at the final table and was continuing to dominate during five-handed play. Then, Nguyen sent Sam Williams home in fifth place when Williams turned two pair and Nguyen turned a straight and the domination continued.

When four-handed play began, Nguyen had almost 70 percent of the chips in play and didn’t look like he was going to slow down any time soon. In fact, Nguyen would once again send a player to the rail, this time dealing the blow to McKenzie in fourth place. McKenzie got his stack in preflop with the {k-Hearts}{q-Hearts} and couldn’t compete against Nguyen’s {a-Spades}{a-Hearts}. McKenzie took home NZ$38,000 for that result.

Just a few minutes after McKenzie hit the rail, William Rogers was eliminated in third place. Rogers got his short stack all in with the {k-Spades}{10-Hearts} and was in good shape against Ward’s {6-Clubs}{4-Clubs}, but when Ward made two pair and Rogers didn’t improve his hand. For his efforts, Rogers took home NZ$47,100.

Ward managed to pick up some chips with the elimination of Rogers, but would go into the heads-up battle against Nguyen with a 3-1 chip deficit. However, Ward still had around 70 big blinds and plenty of time to try and chip away.

That’s exactly what he did, as within 90 minutes Ward had moved into the lead.

It was at this point that Nguyen and Ward decided to do a deal. Ward had just a little more in his stack than Nguyen and so would lock up NZ$104,000. Nguyen, meanwhile, was guaranteed NZ$101,600. That left NZ$10,000 for the eventual winner and the two players decided to flip for it as they would proceed to go all in, without looking at their cards, until there was a winner.

It would take just four hands of the flip fest for the tournament to be over. Nguyen first got lucky when he made a straight with the {8-Hearts}{6-Clubs} against Ward’s {a-Spades}{j-Hearts}. Then, Ward won two hands in a row to almost square things up before Nguyen won the final hand of the tournament, once again getting lucky to see his {8-Spades}{3-Spades} make two pair to trump Ward’s {k-Spades}{10-Clubs}.

Congratulations to all the players on their efforts, but more importantly to Minh Nguyen, champion of the APPT Auckland Main Event.

That wraps up another season of the Asia-Pacific Poker Tour. There are now a couple of months break for major tournaments in the Australasian region, but that just means there is plenty of time to prepare for the next event on the APPT — the 2015 Aussie Millions Main Event. That grand extravaganza takes place in Melbourne, Australia, from January 14 through February 2.

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