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Poker News | Casino Poker | Tournament Reports

Aaron Benton Becomes APPT Sydney Grand Final Champion

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The third season of the PokerStars.net Asia Pacific Poker Tour was finally set to wrap with its grand finale of the tour in Sydney, Australia. Beginning on December 1, players gathered at the Star City Casino for three starting days of the poker extravaganza that would lead to a new grand champion of the APPT.

Day 1A brought 81 players to the tables for the first flight of the tournament, and Joe Hachem did the honors of starting play with the “shuffle up and deal” command. Among the names at the tables were Tony Dunst, Jason Gray, Dennis Waterman, Eric Assadourian, Lee Nelson, Graeme Putt, Jamie Pickering, and Peter Aristidou. But when the day ended with an estimated 50 players, it was Dunst who held the lead.

The second starting day saw 109 competitors registered for the event, and included in that group were David Steicke, Wooka Kim, and reigning APPT grand final champion Martin Rowe. Not many left as the end-of-day counts looked to have 89 remaining, and Leo Boxell was the chip leader with approximately 148K.

And the last day for registration in the APPT Grand Final brought a solid number of 209 players to the tables, and with some adjustments in the first two day totals, the entire field was comprised of 396 players, and the prize pool steadied at 2,376,000 AUD with 594,000 of it reserved for the eventual winner. The Day 1C group included Peter Eastgate, Celina Lin, Joe and Tony Hachem, Emad Tahtouh, Jeff Lisandro, Stewart Scott, Mark Vos, and Grant Levy. About 120 of the players made it through, and David Campbell took top spot on the leaderboard.

Day 2 brought together 226 players who survived the first days of the tournament, but the number dwindled quickly as play progressed. Some of those who didn’t make it through included Nelson, Dunst, Vos, Steicke, Casey Kastle, and Billy Argyros. But of the 66 who made it through and ever closer to the money, it was Tom Grigg who had a strong day and ended with 598,600 chips.

Day 3 took the field from 66 toward the money bubble, at which time a hand developed with David Saghabi pushing all-in preflop and Justin Tazelaar calling for his tournament life with pocket queens. Saghabi turned over pocket aces, and the board brought no help for the shorter stack with {7-Diamonds}{5-Hearts}{3-Spades}{9-Clubs}{3-Hearts}. Tazelaar was eliminated in 49th place on the bubble. That made way for others to cash, like Grant Levy in 37th place and Eric Assadourian in 24th place. With the eventual elimination of Panayotis Flourentzou in 11th place, there needed to be only one more to end the night.

During nine-handed play, Andrew Hiscox doubled through Barry Forrester. But it was a big hand that took down one of the favorites. The preflop action started with Forrester and Tom Grigg limping, but Jarred Graham raised it from the big blind. Forrester came back with an all-in move holding {Q-Diamonds}{9-Diamonds}, Griff got out of the way, and Graham called for his tournament life with pocket tens. The board came {Q-Hearts}{8-Hearts}{7-Clubs}{A-Hearts}{K-Diamonds}, and the popular Graham was gone in tenth place with $30,888. And with that, the final table was set as follows:

Seat 1: 
David Formosa
856,000
Seat 2:
Thomas Slifka
758,000
Seat 3:
Wayne Carlson
1,114,000
Seat 4: 
Andrew Hiscox 
848,000
Seat 5:
Leo Boxell
1,236,000
Seat 6:
Barry Forrester
1,087,000
Seat 7:
Aaron Benton 
1,790,000
Seat 8: 
Tom Grigg
1,950,000
Seat 9:
Ernst Hermans
2,048,000

Action began with well over two hours of play but no eliminations. Hiscox started the action by taking down the first hand of the table, but it was Benton who first began climbing and took the lead away from Grigg. Slifka doubled through Boxell to stay alive, but the latter came back to double through Slifka. Boxell then took another hit when Carlson doubled through him.

It was Slifka who went on to make another double-up attempt, this time pushing all-in from the small blind with {6-Spades}{4-Hearts}, but his attempt to steal the pot was foiled by a call from Carlson in the big blind with {A-Hearts}{J-Spades}. The board came down {K-Hearts}{Q-Hearts}{2-Spades}{9-Clubs}{A-Diamonds}, and it completely blanked for Thomas Slifka, who was eliminated in ninth place with $47,520.

Soon after, it was David Formosa who got involved with Carlson preflop. Carlson made the all-in move with pocket queens, and Formosa called with only pocket threes. The cards came out with {2-Hearts}{7-Hearts}{7-Clubs}{10-Spades}{J-Diamonds} and no help for David Formosa, and he finished in eighth place with $65,340.

Those two eliminations put Carlson in solid shape, though he still trailed Hermans and Grigg.

Forrester was one of the shorter stacks and decided to make his move preflop with {A-Clubs}{Q-Diamonds} after several raises in front of him. But Hiscox was the only caller, and he dominated with {A-Spades}{K-Hearts}. The board produced {8-Spades}{A-Hearts}{3-Clubs}{8-Clubs}{2-Spades}, and Barry Forrester was eliminated in seventh place with $83,160.

Hiscox couldn’t seem to keep momentum going, though, especially when Boxell was able to double through him. Hiscox then decided to move all-in preflop with pocket sevens, but Benton was there with the quick call holding pocket aces. The board came {6-Diamonds}{6-Clubs}{3-Diamonds}{5-Hearts}{5-Spades}, and the run for Andrew Hiscox was over as he walked away with $106,920 for the sixth place finish.

The next big hand started with Grigg, Carlson, and Benton willing to see a flop that came {A-Spades}{J-Hearts}{6-Hearts}. All three players checked to the {8-Diamonds} on the turn, at which point Grigg decided to bet. Carlson folded, but Benton check-raised all-in. Grigg considered his options and finally called all-in for his tournament life holding {Q-Diamonds}{J-Diamonds} for middle pair. Benton excitedly showed {A-Hearts}{7-Clubs} for top pair, and the {6-Clubs} on the river allowed that hand to hold up. Tom Grigg was ousted in fifth place with $130,680.

The four remaining players took a break for dinner with Benton in the solid lead with 5.2 million. None of his competitors were able to eclipse the 3-million mark at that point. But after the break, Hermans and Boxell exchanged double-ups through each other, but Hermans then doubled through Carlson to really jump ahead.

It took three hours of play between the last four players before one was eliminated. The hit that Hermans put on Carlson seemed to do enough damage, and Carlson was soon ready to push all-in with {A-Diamonds}{10-Hearts}. But Hermans was there with the call and {A-Spades}{Q-Clubs}. The board blanked, and Wayne Carlson was eliminated in fourth place with $166,320.

Boxell got involved preflop with Benton to see the first cards come down {10-Hearts}{8-Spades}{7-Diamonds}, at which point Boxell decided to risk it all with {8-Hearts}{6-Spades} for middle pair and the straight draw. But Benton called with {10-Diamonds}{9-Diamonds} for top pair and the open ended straight draw. The {3-Clubs} on the turn didn’t help, nor did the {10-Spades} on the river, and Leo Boxell was then ousted in third place with $213,840.

The heads-up chip stacks were tallied as follows:

Aaron Benton    6,935,000
Ernst Hermans    4,745,000

The two players took a break to discuss a deal, and when they returned, they announced (and it was officially reported as a change of pace for PokerStars live tournaments) that each player agreed to take $475,000 with the extra $25,348 set aside to be added to the winner’s prize.

Hermans played strong and took the lead, but Benton came back to regain his leader status. Benton then took a solid pot that put him just under the 10 million mark and relegated Hermans to a stack of just less than 2 million.

Not giving up, Hermans stayed aggressive and moved up slightly before finding himself risking it all in the hopes of a double-up. The two started the pot with a {9-Clubs}{7-Diamonds}{7-Spades} flop, which prompted a bet from Hermans and call from Benton. After the {Q-Clubs} came on the turn, Hermans pushed all-in with {9-Hearts}{8-Diamonds}, but that hand was solidly beat by the pocket kings of Benton. The {6-Clubs} on the river ended it, and Ernst Hermans took $475,000 for the second place finish, though his prize was officially reported as $381,348.

Aaron Benton won the tournament, which came with $500,348 in prize money (officially reported as $594,000), a trophy, and the title of APPT Season 3 Grand Final Champion.

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