The year couldn't have started any better for James Chen from Taiwan. Coming from a High Roller win in the Macau Poker Cup September last year, he was heading for Australia with a good feeling and some cash in his pocket. He played the $2,500 H.O.R.S.E. event last week and won it for A$39,700 ($29,322). He parlayed that win into a ticket for the $25,000 Challenge and turned it into a straight out win worth a massive A$861,840. His name will go into the record books as the winner of the biggest ever $25,000 poker tournament on Australian soil.
|2||Brandon Adams||United States||A$590,520|
|5||Ryan D'Angelo||United States||A$207,480|
|6||Nick Petrangelo||United States||A$143,640|
The second day of the $25,000 Challenge of the 2017 Aussie Millions saw 25 players out of 133 entries return to the poker room at Crown Casino. With just 14 players finishing in the money, it promised to be an exciting day. The day lived up to the highest of expectations with plenty of action right from the get go when the tournament director announced the shuffle up and deal at 2:30 p.m.
Dan Shak, Jason Pritchard and Sam Higgs were just some of the early exits. Another player to head to the rail well before the money stage of the tournament commenced was defending champion Chance Kornuth. He got it in with ace-three against ace-king and did not get any help from the board.
As familiar high rollers like Stephen Chidwick and Martin Kozlov hit the rail, the bubble got closer and closer. Cate Hall found herself getting short and made several short trips to other tables to see if there were others with just as few chips. Every time, she returned to her seat disappointed as no one was in such dire straits as she was.
But help sometimes comes from unexpected sources, and for Hall it was Claas Segebrecht who brought solace. The German player jammed for 26 big blinds over Antoine Saout's small blind open. Big stack Saout had been active and him raising didn't necessarily mean much of anything, but the Frenchman had kings this time and wasn't laying them down. Segebrecht had ace-seven and was drawing dead on the turn as Saout hit a king on the flop. The ace on the river only added insult to injury for Segebrecht who was officially the last one to go before the cheques were getting handed out. "stonecold bubbling 25k's isnt fun." tweeted Segebrecht who's twitter handle fittingly is '@livetourneysfml'.
Local favorite Jeff Rossiter was the first to go in the money, busting with ace-king to Nick Petrangelo's pocket kings. Rossiter, who announced his retirement from poker a couple of months ago and might be playing his last tournament series here in Melbourne this week, took home the min-cash worth A$63,840.
Cate Hall had been patient but ended up on the rail for the same min cash Rossiter had just collected. She got it in with jack-ten against queen-jack and did not make a miraculous escape.
Manig Loeser (12th, A$79,800), David Yan (11th, A$79,800), Rajkumar Ramakrishnan (10th, A$95,760), Tomas Jozonis (9th, A$95,760) and Pratyush Buddiga (8th, A$119,700) followed in quick succession to get the event down to a final table of seven.
Ryan D'Angelo pulled a Houdini after getting it in with top pair and top kicker against the set of start of day chip leader James Chen, making runner runner flush. Chen won those chips back when he busted Mustapha Kanit with queens to jack-ten. Kanit, just about the biggest regular on the high roller circuit these days, had to settle for seventh place, worth A$119,700.
Colleague high roller Nick Petrangelo followed him to the rail just eight minutes later as he rivered a flush and moved in with it. Unfortunately for him, Brandon Adams had rivered a full house with queen-five and Petrangelo went to the pay-out for his sixth place money (A$143,640).
Five-handed play lasted for quite some time. Ryan D'Angelo was chipleader for some time but went out in fifth anyway after some pots that didn't go his way. In the end, it was ace-queen against ace-king that did him in. The player known as 'g0lfa' online collected A$207,480 for his fifth place finish.
John Juanda followed not much later. The poker veteran was short for quite some time and had to go with it when he got ace-eight suited. He got most of his opponents to fold but big blind James Chen had nines and called. A nine on the flop resulted in Juanda being drawing dead on the turn and he had to settle for A$287,280.
Three-handed play lasted for well over 3.5 hours. The only remarkable hand played in that time period was a double up by Brandon Adams who turned a straight and caught James Chen bluffing. Other than that double, it was mostly small pots and a lot of hands that saw no turns or rivers. Antoine Saout would eventually be the next to go as he got short and made a move with ace-nine. James Chen was once again the executioner, this time holding ace-king and turning a king. Saout, third in the WSOP Main Event back in 2009, now third in the $25,000 Challenge for A$383,040 - the second biggest score of his poker career.
The heads up between Brandon Adams and James Chen lasted another two hours. Adams, who's last two cashes have been in the WSOP Main Event in 2016 and 2015, and Chen both were in the lead multiple times but could never hold it for long. After some 90 minutes of heads up play, Adams' momentum seemed gone. He started bleeding chips and Chen nibbled on his stack, grinding him down bit by bit.
In the last hand of the tournament, Adams made a move with jack-four suited being down 5-to-1 in chips. Chen called with ace-three and despite Adams picking up a ton of outs on the flop and turn, the river blanked and Adams had to settle for second place. Adams's deep run was worth A$590,520, by far the biggest score of his career.
The Aussie Millions Ring, designed by ANTON Jewellery, and A$861,840 went to James Chen. His last three cashes are wins now, let's see if he parlays this win again and signs up for the $100,000 Challenge tomorrow.
Besides the $100,000 Challenge tomorrow, it's also time for the $10,000 Main Event. PokerNews.com is on the floor at Crown Casino for live coverage of both events, so be sure to check the live reporting to stay up to date on all the poker action from Down Under.