Two former World Series of Poker Main Event champs were among the 116 players who returned to the Star City Hotel and Casino in Sydney for the PokerStars Asia Pacific Poker Tour Grand Final. Joe Hachem and Scotty Nguyen had the greatest name recognition, but there were plenty of poker stars as the survivors of three Day 1 flights convened to play down to a final table in Sydney. It took less than an hour for the first third of the field to be eliminated and the breakneck pace of eliminations continued until the bubble neared.
As the money bubble approached, Joe Hachem showed no signs of tightening up his play. In a five-way pot, Hachem limped in with to see a flop of . Hachem was the only caller as Barry Kohlhoff bet out on the flop, and then Hachem called again as the gave him a flush draw on the turn to go with his two pair. The on the river was doom for Hachem, as he called Kohlhoff’s all in bet with his full house, only to see Kohlhoff table for the bigger boat. Hachem was all in from the ante on the next hand with against Guillaume Patry’s . No help for Hachem, and he was eliminated just before the bubble burst.
Shortly after Hachem’s elimination, Steve Wise took a brutal beat from Karib Karib to go out on the bubble. All the money went in preflop, and Wise’s pocket Kings looked pretty good to Karib’s . Then the flop came down , giving Karib the nut straight. Wise couldn’t catch up on the turn and river, and he went out in 57th place, leaving the remaining players in the money.
Team PokerStars player Terrence “Not Johnny” Chan had a strong showing in Sydney; logging his first major tournament victory early in the week and finishing his Day 1 flight with a big stack. He cruised along through Day 2 until he ran into a big hand with Julious Colman and busted in 29th place. With the board reading , Chan called Colman’s check-raise all in move with and Colman tabled , and no eight came on the turn or river to save Chan from elimination.
Scotty Nguyen is a fan favorite at any tournament, and Sydney was no exception. The Prince of Poker ran into a big pot with Larry Wright late in Day 2 which proved to be his last hurrah. Holding , Nguyen raised preflop from late position. Larry Wright made the call, and then led out on the flop of . Nguyen moved all in over the top and Wright insta-called with for the flopped straight. Nguyen picked up outs to a full house when the came on the turn, but the on the river ended the APPT Grand Final for the 1998 World Champion.
Lee ‘Final Table’ Nelson was next to go when he got his last few chips in the middle against Le Hei holding pocket eights. He out flopped him with and hit an Ace on the flop to eliminate Nelson. As the players dwindled, the final table bubble approached. Mitchell Price became the final casualty on Day 2 when he shoved all in with , only to run onto Barry Kohlhoff’s pocket Aces to bust out in 10th place. As the players bagged their chips for the night, the final table chip counts and seating assignments looked like this -
Seat 1) Lei He – 2,623,000
Seat 2) Grant Levy – 1,052,000
Seat 3) Larry Wright – 376,000
Seat 4) Jeremiah Vinsant – 1,649,000
Seat 5) Vijayan Nagarajan – 641,000
Seat 6.) John Matwey – 498,000
Seat 7) Jai Kemp – 461,000
Seat 8) Sol Bergren – 2,601,000
Seat 9) Barry Kohlhoff – 647,000