While the World Series of Poker Asia-Pacific Main Event was playing down to a final table on one side of the room, the AU$25,000 High Roller was doing the same on the other. It took just over 10 levels of play, but eventually the returning 31 players — and five late registrants — of a 68-player field was whittled down to the final six.
All of them are guaranteed a minimum payday of AU$85,027, but every one of them have their eyes firmly fixed on the AU$600,000 reserved for the winner. The man best positioned to capture it is Mike Leah, who leads the final table with 2.576 million.
Leah's stack is more than twice as much as his next closest competitor, David “MissOracle” Yan, who finished sixth at the 2013 Aussie Millions. Others still in contention are 2012 WSOP Main Event runner-up Jesse Sylvia; 2 Months, 2 Million star Brian Roberts; 2010 WSOP Main Event winner Jonathan Duhamel; and then Sam Khouiss. Both Duhamel and Khouiss are making their third final table of the WSOP Asia-Pacific.
The day kicked off with a slew of eliminations including those of Jeff Rossiter, Rory Young, Fabian Quoss, Ali Ghezelbash, and Brandon Shack-Harris, who late registered after busting the Main Event in 17th place for AU$23,441.
The High Roller was Shack-Harris’ last opportunity to catch George Danzer in the 2014 WSOP Player of the Year race, but his quest came to an end in Level 12 (1,500/3,000/500) when, on a flop of , Shack-Harris and Sean Winter got all the money in. Shack-Harris had flopped the best of it with the for trip queens, and Winter held the . The turn was the to keep Shack-Harris in front, but then the spiked on the river to give Winter a winning full house.
With that ace on the river, Danzer earned the title of 2014 WSOP Player of the Year with 923.5 points to Shack-Harris' 829.2. Danzer earns an entry to the 2015 WSOP Main Event for his accomplishment, but of course everyone knows the title is the real prize.
Here’s a look at how the WSOP Player of the Year race between Danzer and Shack-Harris finished up, which included three lead changes here at the WSOP Asia-Pacific:
Before long Shack-Harris was joined on the rail by Eddy Sabat, Tobias Reinkemeier, Jeff Gross, Daniel Neilson, Mike Watson, David Steicke, Mohsin Charania, and Phil Hellmuth.
Hellmuth actually exited as the "bubble boy" in Level 20 (10,000/20,000/3,000) when action folded to Yan and he raised to 40,000. Leah called, as did Hellmuth in the big blind, and three players saw a flop of . Action checked to Leah and he bet 55,000, which only Hellmuth called with just over 200,000 chips behind.
On the turn, Hellmuth checked again and Leah moved all in. The "Poker Brat" spent quite some time in the tank, removed his headphones, and double-checked his cards.
"What do you have, Mike?" he asked. About 30 seconds later he pushed his stack forward and the cards were tabled.
Hellmuth had top pair with a flush draw, and he needed to hit his flush as Leah had a set. Only a non-nine heart could save Hellmuth, but it wasn't in the cards as the blanked on the river sending a devastated 13-time WSOP gold bracelet winner home one spot shy of the money.
Toss in the eliminations of Andrew Hinrichsen (8th - AU$50,021) and Sam Higgs (7th - AU$65,035), and the final table was set.
The High Roller Final Table
The final six players will return to Crown Casino for Day 3 action at 3:30 p.m. local time and play until a winner is crowned. What’s more, every hand of the final table will air on a 30-minute delay on ESPN2 beginning at 4 p.m. local time, which is 10 p.m. Vegas time on Thursday night and 1 a.m. ET on Friday morning. Be sure to tune in after Thursday Night Football concludes, and of course you can always follow the live updates right here in our live blog.