It was the third time the PokerStars-sponsored Asia Pacific Poker Tour visited the New Zealand city of Auckland, and players were more than ready for the APPT stop on the schedule. With a NZD$3,250 buy-in Main Event, equivalent to approximately $2,400, the Skycity Casino in Auckland was prepared for a solid crowd.
The first of two starting days brought 89 players to the tables, and among them were names like Vicotorino Torres, Aaron Benton, and Daniel Nielson. But more than half of them were eliminated as the day went on, and the last count of the night found 41 players holding chips. The person with the most was Noah Vogelman, who bagged 128,275 chips, and second in line was John Harman with 94,800. The rest of the top five were Tao Luo, Sam Courtenay, and Roger Harris.
The second starting day brought 129 players into the mix, making for a complete field of 218 players and total prize pool of NZD$654,000. Out of those funds, the top 24 players were to be paid for running deep and the winner was to be awarded NZD$170,000. It was interesting to note that the players in the tournament were from 28 countries and five continents, though 106 of the players were from New Zealand and 53 from nearby Australia. Some of the names in the field for Day 1B included Tony Hachem, Lee Nelson, and reigning Auckland champion Simon Watt. But when the day ended, Watt and Hachem were gone, and only 55 were left at the tables. Nauv Kashyap was the leader with 99,075 chips, followed by Koray Turker with 87,075. Others in the top five were Michael Kroger, Julius Colman, and Leo Boxell.
Day 2 brought all of the 96 survivors together at the same time, but as the day progressed, names like Lee Nelson and Raj Ramakrishnan were eliminated from the field. When the bagging process began, only 28 players had chips with which to participate, and Thomas Grigg had the largest stack with 546,300 chips. Quite a distance behind was Santi Soriano Ramos in second place with 265,300 chips, and the others in the top five were Danny Leaoasavaii, Srdjan Mitrovic, and Lance Climo.
Day 3 moved forward and thinned the field quickly from 28 players to the money bubble. It was then that Tom Grigg and Linh Tran went to see a flop. A bet from Grigg led to a check-raise all-in from Tran, and Grigg called with . Tran showed , and the turn and ended the hand to send Tran out in 25th place. Ardmore Vakalahi then exited in 24th place and took home NZD$4,271 for it, and more players followed throughout the evening. After Luke Edwards departed in 11th place, hand-for-hand play ensued at the two tables on the final table bubble. Ultimately, it was Lance Climo who moved all-in with against the of Danny Silk, and nothing about the board changed the outcome. Climo left in tenth place with NZD$8,288.
With that, the final table was set for September 18 as follows:
|Seat 1: ||Tamas Lendvai ||472,000 |
|Seat 2: ||Santi Soriano Ramos ||347,000 |
|Seat 3: ||Noah Vogelman ||576,000 |
|Seat 4: ||Tom Grigg ||616,000 |
|Seat 5: ||Ropati Toleafoa ||163,000 |
|Seat 6: ||Danny Silk ||250,000 |
|Seat 7: ||Danny Leaoasavaii ||636,000 |
|Seat 8:|| Leo Boxell ||194,000 |
|Seat 9: ||Srdjan Mitrovic || 632,000 |
It didn’t take long on the final day of action to see short-stacked Boxell put his chips at risk. A preflop raising war with Silk found Silk all-in with and Boxell not hesitating to make the call with . The flop gave Silk some hope, but Boxell remained in the lead. However, the dropped on the turn to give Silk the trip kings. The on the river ended the hand with cracked aces and Leo Boxell heading out in ninth place with NZD$11,835.
The next big hand started with Vogelman and Grigg taking in the flop. Grigg bet, and Vogelman check-raised. Grigg called, and the came on the turn, at which point Vogelman pushed all-in for his last 331K. Grigg eventually called with , and it seemed his kicker was in play as Vogelman turned over . The came on the river, and Noah Vogelman was forced out in eighth place with NZD$15,382.
Some action energized the crowd as Lendvai doubled through Silk to stay alive. And Silk did the same with a sizable double-up by way of Ramos.
And it was Ramos who was crippled and all-in for his ante chip. Silk and Leaoasavaii went along from the blinds and checked down the board. Silk turned over , but Leaoasavaii had for the better full house and took the pot, while Ramos’ was no good. Santi Soriano Ramos exited in seventh place with NZD$20,124.
Toleafoa proceeded to double through Grigg, the latter of whom held only a slight lead over the bunch during much of six-handed play. But Leaoasavaii eventually took a significant pot from Mitrovic and climbed from second place to first and became the first player to surpass the 1 million chip mark.
Toleafoa got involved again, this time with Mitrovic to see a flop of . A bet, raise, and call led them to the on the turn, at which point Toleafoa pushed his last 255K all-in. Mitrovic considered the play and finally called with for top two pair, while Toleafoa was at risk with his and flush draw. The came on the river, and that ended the tournament for Ropati Toleafoa with NZD$24,829 for the sixth place finish.
Lendvai was in trouble with a short stack but doubled through Grigg to keep going. But soon after, he pushed all-in again, this time for 366K with . Grigg was again along for the ride and showed . The two watched the board come , and nothing changed. Tamas Lendvai departed in fifth place with NZD$29,606.
Grigg doubled through Leaoasavaii to take over the chip lead. But while the two players with the biggest stacks battled for the top spot, other players were fighting for their lives.
Silk was relegated to a stack of 365K and moved it all-in with . Leaoasavaii made the call with from the small blind. The flop of brought both players a pair but Silk’s was lacking, and nothing about the turn or river remedied that. Danny Silk left in fourth place with NZD$35,506.
Mitrovic was the next to attempt a double-up and did it for 570K with from the small blind. But Grigg was able to call with from the big blind. The dealer gave them a board of , and that did nothing but eliminate Srdjan Mitrovic in third place, which was worth a NZD$43,794 payday.
Heads-up action then began with the two dominant forces at the table and these chip counts:
|Tom Grigg ||1,968,000 |
|Danny Leaoasavaii ||1,918,000 |
The battle ensued and turned into a lengthy one as the duo exchanged the chip lead several times. Leaoasavaii did lose his lead back to Grigg, and the former was losing momentum. Leaoasavaii did double through Grigg once to 1.28 million but slipped below the million mark again, only to double once more. Nearly four hours into the match, Leaoasavaii began to soar and took nearly a 2-to-1 lead over Grigg.
Grigg then went for the double-up as he pushed all-in with , but Leaoasavaii just happened to call with . The board brought a rather uneventful , and the long match finally came to an end with Tom Grigg taking second place and NZD$78,106.
Danny “Brotha D” Leaoasavaii, who is referred to as the godfather of New Zealand hip-hop music, won his first APPT tournament, and along with the title came a trophy and NZD$123,058 in prize money.