Seemed like just a few months ago that the PokerStars-sponsored Asia Pacific Poker Tour began, but the APPT Grand Final in Sydney brings about the realization that the tour’s second season has already come to an end. To wind down the whirlwind Season 2 of the APPT, not to mention the 2008 calendar year, players came from all corners of the globe to begin play on December 2nd at the Star City Casino.
The beginning of the tournament was divided into three starting days to as to comfortably accommodate everyone. Day 1A saw some of the game’s most well-known professionals hit the felt, including Chad Brown, Vanessa Rousso, Tony Dunst, David Saab, Julian Powell, and Celina Lin. A total of 108 players started the day, but some like Rousso and Brown wouldn’t finish it.
In the lead of the 48 survivors was Phil Willcocks with 129,000 in chips, followed by Steven Musca, Daniel Kowalski, David Lovell, and Greg Cook to round out the top five.
There were 172 more players who came out for Day 1B, including pros Gavin Griffin, Raymond Rahme, Terrence Chan, Mark Vos, Jamie Pickering, Jason Gray, Jeff Lisandro, Billy Argyros, and 2007 APPT defending champion Grant Levy. And as tournaments go, especially first days, less than half the field made It through. Of those eliminated, Argyros, Levy, Lisandro, and Rahme were among them.
At the end of it, some big names sat atop the leaderboard. Jason Gray led the pack by quite a lot with 185,000 with Gavin Griffin in a solid second place with 130,000. Andy Meldrum, Mark Vos, and Sam Korman took the other three spots in the top five.
Day 1C saw the biggest turnout of any of the starting days yet with 197, making the total number of players in the APPT Grand Final 477. Among the recognizable faces in the field were three WSOP world champions in Joe Hachem, Chris Moneymaker, and Peter Eastgate, as well as WSOP Europe reigning champ John Juanda. Four Season 2 APPT winners - Edward Sabat, Yoshiro Tasaka, Daniel Craker, and Van Marcus - were in attendance as well. It was certainly a day for poker fans on the rail, despite seeing the pain of elimination set in for pros like Hachem and Eastgate.
When all was said and done, it was Manish Sansi in the lead for the day with 103,600 chips, though he was behind the other two starting day chip leaders. Second in chips was Patrick Carron, then Wang Che Jung, Dory Zayneh, and Jay Huxley to finish out the top five.
All of the 217 remaining players gathered together on Day 2, and as they got to know one another, they got to eliminate each other as well. It was a rough day for players like Terrence Chan, Tony Dunst, Chris Moneymaker, and Van Marcus, all of whom took to the rail early in the day. Lee Nelson, Mark Vos, and Gavin Griffin also left before the money bubble hit and were left to plan the rest of their day in Sydney sans a poker tournament.
Once the bubble approached, play became tense with several all-in moves that didn’t pan out. But finally, David Sanis pushed his short stack in with , and Tim English called with pocket queens. The board came on the side of English with , and Sanis became the tournament’s money bubble player, out in 49th place.
The remaining 48 players left for the day with visions of payouts and the potential of a final table in their heads. Frank Saffioti was the chip leader with 619,000, followed by Brendan Edmonds at 508,000, then Phil Willcocks, Marlon Goonawardana, and Jamie Pickering all in the upper 300K range.
Returning on Day 3, the final 48 had the task of playing down to the final nine, and they did so with a quickness that wasn’t expected. Jimmy Wong was the first to go in 48th place with $8,400. Other eliminations of note included Wang Che Jung in 31st place, Shane Dye in 29th, Jamie Pickering in 22nd, Phil Willcocks in 21st, and Eric Assadourian in 20th.
With the ousting of Lisa Delellis in 11th place, the search for the final table bubble player began. It was Michael Guzzardi who had the roughest time, as he lost pot after pot to find himself crippled in a crucial position. He was all-in from the small blind on the next hand and tripled up to stay alive, but he was soon all-in again, this time against Hai Bo Chu and Antonio Fazzolari. Guzzardi had , and the board came to leave him with no hand, while Chu had pocket sixes to take it down. Guzzardi was out of the tournament in tenth place with $28,000.
The final table was then set with Fazzolari in the lead and Chu as the shortest stack. All of the stacks and seating assignments were as follows:
Seat 1: Martin Rowe - 995,000
Seat 2: Jason Gray - 1,188,000
Seat 3: Tony Basile - 863,000
Seat 4: Timothy English - 945,000
Seat 5: Daniel Kowalski - 959,000
Seat 6: Frank Saffioti - 790,000
Seat 7: Tom Rafferty - 1,101,000
Seat 8: Antonio Fazzolari - 1,775,000
Seat 9: Hai Bo Chu - 781,000
Fazzolari took his momentum right into the final table on the last day of play, taking down some initial pots to add to his lead. He then found a competitor in Tom Rafferty, and they both chose to see a flop of . Rafferty began the post-flop betting, and Fazzolari raised it up to 270K. Rafferty came over the top all-in with for the nut flush draw, but Fazzolari called with for top two pair. The turn and river came and , and no clubs came for Rafferty, who left in ninth place with $39,200.
Hai Bo Chu was the next to be at risk, though the pot started innocently enough with Martin Rowe and Fazzolari going to see a cheap flop of . Rowe bet out 80K, which caused Fazzolari to get out of the pot but Chu to push all-in with . Rowe made the unwanted call with pocket queens. The on the turn gave Chu a lower pair, but the on the river only sent him out in eighth place with $53,200.
Kowalski had been the quietest and most conservative player at the final table, but he finally felt the need to make a move. He made the initial raise preflop to 50K, and Frank Saffioti and Fazzolari called from the blinds. After the came on the flop, Saffioti made a bet of 55K, and both players called. The on the turn prompted Kowalski to make the first bet, and Saffioti raised all-in. Fazzolari folded, but Kowalski called for the rest of his chips with for top pair. Saffioti turned over the , though, for the better kicker, and the didn’t help Kowalski, who took seventh place and the $72,800 that came with it.
At the first break, Fazzolari maintained his dominating chip lead over the rest of the players with over 3.1 million in chips, but Rowe was in hot pursuit, and after taking a pot from Saffioti, he climbed over the 2 million chip mark.
Saffioti went on a roller coaster ride, as Jason Gray doubled through him. Saffioti was able to double back up to 900K, courtesy of Rowe, but Saffioti couldn’t stop the madness. He got involved with Rowe to see a flop of , and all of Saffioti’s chips got pushed in with . Rowe called with pocket sevens and trips to lead the hand. The turn brought a promising for Saffioti, but the on the river sent him packing in sixth place with $100,800.
Rowe became the massive chip leader with 4.4 million, and English was the short stack with 650K. English was able to double through Fazzolari to stay alive, but it was a subsequent pot that did him in. Rowe made the initial raise, and English reraised to 350K from the small blind. Rowe called, and the two saw the flop. English pushed all-in for nearly 1 million chips with , and Rowe called with . The jack on the turn put Rowe ahead in the hand, and the ended it for English, who was eliminated in fifth place with $140,000.
After the dinner break, Fazzolari made an effort to double and succeeded through Rowe, but the two tangled again soon. Fazzolari pushed his last 470K all-in with , and Rowe called with . The dealer gave them , and Fazzolari was ousted by the dominating chip leader in fourth place with $182,000.
Tony Basile had been virtually invisible during much of the big final table action but finally took his last chips into battle with Rowe. Basile made that move with , but Rowe showed pocket kings, which was no surprise to media or spectators. The board came , and Basile was sent to the rail in third place with a well-earned $266,000 prize.
Heads-up began with the following counts:
Martin Rowe 7,805,000
Jason Gray 1,595,000
Gray took his first opportunity to double up and did so with Q-10 versus the A-J of Rowe, when the 7-9-J-8-K gave Gray the straight. He was up to 2.4 million chips but still had a way to go to take the lead. After some time of hard work, he climbed up to 4,250,000 in chips but never actually took the lead, as Rowe then switched gears and put some distance between them once again.
Finally, Gray tried to limp into a pot to see a cheap flop but Rowe raised it up. Gray reraised it to his last chips, nearly 2 million, with , but Rowe called with . The board came , and Jason Gray was eliminated in second place, which was worth $476,000 in prize money.
Martin Rowe, an amateur poker player, found himself in the winner’s circle with the title of APPT Sydney Grand Final champion, a trophy to commemorate the feat, and a $1,000,000 prize.
The third season of the APPT has yet to be announced, but be sure to be ready for all of the satellite opportunities by opening a PokerStars account now. 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.)