One of the fastest growing tours on the world poker tournament circuit is the PokerStars.net Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT), and it kicked off its third season in style in Macau. The Grand Lisboa Casino hosted the main event, which launched with three starting days for those willing to pay the $5,160 buy-in and compete for well over $1 million in prize money (organizers anticipated $2 million).
On Tuesday, August 25, Day 1A brought out 119 players for the seven levels of action, with names like David Steicke, Eric Assadourian, Grant Levy, Johnny Chan, Mansour Matloubi, and Vivek Rajkumar included in that number. But when play wrapped at the end of the day, there were only 60 players left, and Brandon Demes was the chipleader with a stack of 102,200 chips. Steicke was in the second spot with 82,300.
Day 1B saw 125 more players sign up for the event, and the recognizable faces were many, including Chris Moneymaker, Ray Rahme, Young Phan, Casey Kastle, Andrew Chen, Steve Yea, and Van Marcus. When the play stopped and chips were bagged, Kristoffer Myhre was the leader with 183,400 chips, followed by Peter Nielsen and his stack of 141,500, both dominating the previous day’s top spots.
Day 1C attracted 185 additional players, making the grand total for the tournament 429, which was down more than 100 players from the previous year, though the buy-in was higher in 2009. The prize pool came to $2,081,000, which exceeded the APPT’s expectations and gave the players quite a bit of money to play for. Poker pros in the field on the last starting day included J.C. Tran, Chino Rheem, Yevgeniy Timoshenko, Lee Nelson, David Saab, Carter Gill, Joe and Tony Hachem, Bertrand Grospellier, and Theo Tran. At the end of the evening, only a fraction of the field remained, and Wei Cheng Chiang held the lead with 124,800 and was followed by Tom Hall with 120,700.
All in all, there were 196 players who returned for Day 2 action, but less than half of them would be gone quickly, and only the top-finishing 48 would make the money. That bubble moment didn’t happen until much later in the day, but during hand-for-hand play, Preetinder Bhayana and David Paananen got involved to see a flop. Bhayana bet, Paananen raised, and Bhayana came over the top all-in with , but the bluff was met by pocket threes from Paananen. The set looked good until the came on the turn and the on the river made the straight for Bhayana. That gave Paananen bubble boy status.
That move allowed Sungling Li to be the first to cash in the APPT main event, which was worth $6,244. Several others left during that level, with Aaron Lerner being the last of the day before play was stopped for the remaining 42 players to bag their chips. Suen Kit Cheong was the chip leader when all was said and done with 577,500 chips, and the aforementioned Bhayana sat with 507,000.
Day 3 sought to bring the final table players to the fore, and it proved to be a long road to get there. The day saw names like Dan Schreiber exit in 40th place, Theo Tran in 34th, Van Marcus in 32nd, Tom Hall in 18th, and David Chiu in 16th. When Michael Collins was eliminated in 11th place, only one more was needed to determine the final table, which finally happened when Dane Lomas pushed all-in preflop with pocket sevens and his short stack. Daoxing Chen called with , and the board brought a king as the first card of the flop. Lomas lost the race and accepted $22,887 for tenth place.
With that, the final table was set for the next day as follows:
Seat 1: Dermot Blain 507,000
Seat 2: Michael Kim 1,653,000
Seat 3: Daoxing Chen 1,747,000
Seat 4: Brandon Demes 578,000
Seat 5: Stefan Hjorthall 454,000
Seat 6: Dbinder Singh 696,000
Seat 7: Darkhan Botabayev 1,455,000
Seat 8: Jicheng Su 778,000
Seat 9: Pontus Kers 491,000
As soon as the action began on August 30, Botabayev took a pot from Su that enabled him to claim chipleader status. But aside from that play, there was little in the way of all-in movement during the first 30 minutes of the final table.
Soon enough, though, as the initial short stack found himself chipped down to 250K, Hjorthall decided to push all-in preflop with pocket nines, and he ended up in a race with Kers and his . The flop of hit Kers right away, and the turn and river ended the tournament for Stefan Hjorthall, who took home $31,222 for the ninth place finish.
Next up was Brandon Demes, who made the all-in move with less than 500K in his stack. Blain was there with pocket kings, and Demes’ was in a bit of trouble. The board blanked with , and Demes was gone in eighth place with $41,621.
And playing on, Singh was the next to make an attempt at a double-up, and he did it with a substantial hand of pocket queens. But Blain was there with , and the flop was good to him when it came . The turn was a and river a , ending Dbinder Singh’s run in seventh place, for which he received $52,033.
The last six players found Botabayev hanging on to a slight chip lead over Daoxing Chen and Jicheng Su gripping a short stack. Su pushed those last chips holding , but Chen was there with and the call. The miracle card never came on the , and Su left in sixth place with $74,923.
It was soon after that the tables turned in the tournament. A 2-million chip pot between Botabayev and Blain was won by the latter, pushing Blain to more than 3 million chips and the sudden lead, while Botabayev was left with some work to do to regain his status at the table.
Meanwhile, Pontus Kers was down to 360K and moved all-in preflop holding . Botabayev was looking for anywhere to chip up, and he decided to risk it by calling Kers with . Luck was on his side, though, when the board ran out , which sent Kers to the rail with $114,464 for fifth place.
Botabayev moved up to second place on the leaderboard with that move, but Chen took a few pots to jump from third back into the chip lead. And Botabayev was hurting even more when Kim doubled through him, putting those two players close to even and sharing dibs on last place.
Play continued for quite some time before Botabayev had been relegated to a stack of 1 million and pushed all-in from the big blind with . Unfortunately for him, Chen called with from the small blind, and the board came an uneventful . Darkhan Botabayev was eliminated in fourth place with $166,497.
Three-handed play wasn’t going for very long before Blain and Chen - the two larger stacks at the table - got involved on a flop. Blain bet out, but Chen check-raised to more than 1 million. Blain responded by moving all-in with , and Chen called with . The on the turn and on the river changed nothing, and Daoxing Chen was ousted in third place with $239,327 for his troubles.
Heads-up action began with the following counts:
Dermot Blain 7,390,000
Mike Kim 920,000
And it only took four hands. The first three never even went to a flop, but the fourth started with Kim pushing all-in from the small blind. Blain called with , and Kim showed the dominated . The dealer slowly but surely dealt the flop, the turn, and the river, which eliminated Mike Kim in second place, for which he received a substantial prize of $385,000.
Dermot Blain became the first champion of the third season of the APPT, and for winning the Macau Title; he received a trophy and $541,089.