The PokerStars Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT) took to their fourth stop on its second season tour on November 13, 2008 in the busy city of Manila, Philippines. As the last city before the season-ending championship in Sydney, Australia in December, players were ready for some high-stakes tournament action in Manila.
The event kicked off at the Hyatt Hotel & Casino with 149 players on the first of two starting days. It was a positive turnout, with players having traveled from around the world to participate, among them David Saab, James Broom, 1991 WSOP Main Event champion Brad Daugherty, and Filipino Poker Tour founder Franco Mabanta.
The latter fought valiantly but couldn’t make it through the day, but only 38 of the starting field did. PokerStars qualifier Michael Shell and Chang Yong Suk both ended action at the top of the leaderboard, tied with 124,300 chips. Next in the counts was Pang Leng Josh Ang with only 88,800, and Hans Daniel Nordstrom and Donny Michael Morris rounded out the top five.
Day 1B began the following day with 136 players, putting the total field at 285. More recognizable faces and names were in attendance on the second day of play, including John Phan, Lee Nelson, Van Marcus, J.J. Liu, Celina Lin, Carter Gill, Miss Earth Priscilla Meirelles, former APPT champions Yoshihiro Tasaka and Eddy Sabat, and 2007 APPT Manila winner Brett Parise.
Many of them could not make it to another day of play, as Phan, Liu, and others took to the rail. Marcus battled with Natasha Ellis for the chip lead at one point in the day, with Marcus as the victor, but the end of the day brought the position of chip leader to Ellis. She sat with 112,100 when the action was stopped, with Marcus trailing significantly with only 69,700 to put him in second chip position. The others in the top five included Jeppe Drivsholm, Dimitrios Pappis, and Sang Beom Chris Roh. The number of survivors for the day was 39.
Day 2 was bound to be interesting, as the remaining 77 players joined together to battle it out for the nine final table seats that would be up for grabs. Van Marcus took the chip lead early in the day, partially due to his elimination of David Saab. He wasn’t much worried about the money bubble, but other short stacks were. Eventually, it was two players who busted during hand-for-hand play that allowed the 32 remaining players to be guaranteed a piece of the prize pool. Celina Lin was eliminated with two pair against a set, and Xiaogang Lin’s A-8 couldn’t beat an A-J.
Later in the evening, the final table approached, and tensions ran high. Day 1B chip leader wasn’t able to parlay her success to a final table spot, and when she got all-in with K-J, Hyoungjin Nam called with pocket queens, and Ellis took her leave in 12th place, which was worth $6,514. Shortly thereafter, the final table bubble player was found when Josh Pang Ang’s went up against the of Noh Tae Jun after a flop. There was nothing left for Ang, especially when the came on the turn and was the river card. Ang left in tenth place with $6,514.
Thus, the final table was set, with Nam in the lead, but several players close behind. The seating assignments and chip counts were as follows:
Seat 1: Noh Tae Jun 466,000
Seat 2: Lee Nelson 238,000
Seat 3: Van Marcus 438,000
Seat 4: Benjamin Lim 115,000
Seat 5: Rainier Aquino 40,000
Seat 6: Hyoungjin Nam 561,000
Seat 7: Manish Sansi 192,000
Seat 8: Michael Chang 539,000
Seat 9: Ramil Tandoc 184,000
The final table began at 2pm on November 16th, and it was slow-going from the start. While Michael Chang began by taking the first significant pot by betting Lee Nelson out of it after the flop, there wasn’t much other big pot action until the first elimination.
Tae Jun Noh started the hand with a raise, and super short-stacked Rainier Aquino pushed his last 30K into the pot from the small blind. Hyoung Jin Nam called from the big blind, and Noh called as well. As the board came , Noh and Nam called down to the river, at which point Noh bet 40K. Nam called with , Noh showed the winning hand of , and Aquino turned over for the loss. Aquino took ninth place and the accompanying $9,228 prize.
Next to be at risk was another player who had been unable to gather momentum from a short-stacked start. After Noh made the initial raise, Benjamin Lim pushed all-in. Noh called with , and Lim showed . The board brought no help with , and Lim was gone in eighth place with $12,485.
Manish Sansi had been attempting to double up with numerous all-in moves, but when he did it with pocket nines, Ramil Tandoc came along for the ride with pocket jacks. The board came , and Tandoc’s trip jacks won the pot. Sansi was ousted from the tournament in seventh place with a $16,285 prize.
Team PokerStars Pro Lee Nelson had put forth a solid effort but continually lost ground since the start of the final table. Finally, he and Nam got into a raising war preflop where all of Nelson’s chips went into the pot with pocket eights. Nam showed , and the two players watched the board produce , and Nelson couldn’t overcome his opponent’s pair of aces on the flop. Nelson was eliminated in sixth place, which was worth $21,714.
Play slowed again. As Chang took a significant pot from Nam, he also took the chip lead, but a bit later, Nam doubled through Chang to take some back. Van Marcus made a strong stand to stave off elimination, first by doubling through Chang when his Q-10 found a queen on the flop and another on the turn to beat Chang’s A-10. Marcus then doubled through Nam with pocket sevens that found another seven on the flop to beat the pocket queens of Nam.
Tandoc then attempted to double his short stack of 89K by pushing it all-in with , only to be called by Noh and his . The dealer gave them , and Noh caught his flush to win the hand and send Tandoc packing in fifth place with $29,314.
Going into four-handed play, Nam led with over one million chips, while Marcus held up the short end of the leaderboard with little more than 300K. But Marcus worked his magic to double through Noh, and Noh then doubled through Nam.
It was Chang who lost the momentum with which he began the tournament. He finally pushed all-in preflop with , and Nam called with . The board helped the underdog in the hand with , and Nam won with jacks and threes, while Chang was forced out in fourth place. He gathered $37,999 for his efforts.
No one knew when three-handed play got underway that it would go on…and on…and on. Nam maintained a chip lead for quite some time, as Marcus and Noh lost ground. Three hours into three-handed action, Marcus doubled up to give the crowd something to see. As had been the trend, he took the worst hand of K-10 into battle with the A-K of Nam, only to hit a ten on the turn to take it. He doubled through Nam again a few hands later to catapult himself to 1.1 million in chips.
After an amazing four hours of three-handed play, it was Nam who pushed his short stack all-in from the small blind with . Noh called with , and the board produced to knock Hyoung Jin Nam out of the tournament in third place with a $54,285 cash prize.
The two remaining players started heads-up action with the following counts:
Van Marcus 1,674,000
Tae Jun Noh 1,100,000
Noh made a valiant effort to take the chip lead not long after the two began play, but Marcus steadily climbed back to the top spot, taking a 2:1 lead over Noh. And that trend continued, as Noh chipped back up and Marcus chipped up further, and as members of the audience began dozing off. It was quite some time before a deciding hand took place.
It began with both players seeing a flop of . Noh made a bet of 200K, but Marcus came over with an all-in raise. Noh called with for top pair, and Marcus showed for the straight draw. Though it didn’t surprise most people in the room, a came on the turn to give Marcus the straight, and the on the river only drove that stake deeper. Tae Jun Noh was exhausted and eliminated in second place, which was worth $103,142.
After a final table that spanned more than 14 hours, it was Van Marcus who emerged as the champion. He had finished a disappointing fourth place at last year’s APPT Manila main event and was desperately seeking a win, which he received through a lot of perseverance and luck at the 2008 event. The Australian was awarded the trophy, championship title, and $162,856 in prize money.
With the final results of the Manila stop in the bag, the APPT will move on to Sydney, Australia to wrap up its second season of live tournaments. There is still time to qualify for your seat there through satellites on PokerStars. Don’t forget to use the bonus code “First2008” and marketing code “POKERWORKS” to receive $25 in bonus money and a 100% bonus on any deposit up to $50.
(Thanks to PokerStars blog updates and PokerNews live updates for hand and chip count information.)