It was starting to look like it would be a clean American sweep in the five bracelet events at the World Series of Poker Asia-Pacific, but Aaron Lim stopped that trend, becoming the first Australian to win a bracelet in Melbourne as well as the first Autralian bracelet-winner since 2011.
He defeated an impressive collection of pros from throughout the Pacific region, eventually defeating Andy Lee after a dramatic heads-up battle that, for the second straight day, made up the majority of the play at the final table. This is the culmination of an impressive run for Lim, which also includes a third place finish in the Partouche Poker Tour Main Event and a win in the Main Event at APPT Seoul.
“When you run hot, you run hot,” said Lim. “Any poker player that wins a tournament is going to say that. That was a breakthrough for me, winning a big, major tournament, and this tops it off. It’s been an incredible month for me.”
After quickly getting down to heads-up play at the final table Lim and Lee battled back and forth for quite some time. They traded the lead several times, with Lim coming from behind the first time he was all-in, holding the second time, and not being fully at risk again for the rest of the tournament. Neither would yield an inch until the final hand, which saw Lee opened to 40,000, Lim three-bet enough to put Lee all-in, and Lee calling for his last 462,000 with A Q. It looked as if there’d be another double-up and a continuation of the match as Lim’s K 5 stayed behind on the J 6 3 flop and 8 turn. The river, though, was the 5, as Lim won his third of four all-in confrontations at the final table to seal his first career bracelet.
“Andy’s a terrific player,” said Lim, “And I think he played extremely well. It’s hard to tell who had the better of each other because we can’t see the cards. A few coolers here and there, and I just run like god during the all-in parts. I feel sorry for him, if you can’t win all-in pots, you’re not going to win a tournament.”
Even after a long Day 2, the field could only reach the unofficial final table of seven by the end of play on Wednesday, requiring one additional player to go out before “final table” play actually began. Australian Poker Hall of Famer Jason Gray would be that casualty, getting his chips in with J 9 on an A T 9 only for Brendon Rubie to call with Q T. The 7 turn and A river changed nothing, making Gray the seventh place finisher.
Then came a flurry of action unlike anything seen thus far at WSOP APAC. It took just 31 hands to reduce the field from six players down to two, with the first casualty coming at the hands of Lim, the early chipleader. Billy Seri open-shoved his last 46,000 and was called by both Lim and Lee, bringing a 9 3 3 flop. Both players checked, the turn was the 7, and Lim bet Lee out of the pot as the hands were turned up. Seri had a piece of it with K 7, but he was in dire straights as Lim flopped trips with J 3. The river was no help, and Seri made an early exit in sixth.
Sam Higgs, the other short stack coming into the final table, would be the next to fall on the eighth hand of the day. Lim opened to 24,000, Jan Suchanek three-bet to 55,000 and Higgs cold four-bet all-in for a total of 205,000. Lim got out of the way, but after thinking it over for a few moments Suchanek elected to call, tabling A J. He was well-behind Higgs’ A Q, until the J 8 3 flop flipped the script. The 9 on the turn gave Higgs outs to a straight, but the K river left Higgs without any chips as he was eliminated in fifth place.
Rubie, who fell just short of a bracelet when he finished second in the first ever Four-handed No Limit Hold’em event at the 2012 WSOP, would also not get his first bracelet on this day. Lim opened to 24,000 from the button, Suchanek flat-called on the button and Rubie three-bet all-in over the top. Lim four-bet all-in over the top and Suchanek got out of the way, setting up a confrontation between Lim’s A Q and Rubie’s A 8. The J 6 2 J 3 runout would give Lim a flush and eliminate Rubie in fourth, leaving the field three-handed after only 16 hands at the final table.
Suchanek would continue to slip down the counts, until he was the shortest stack of the three by a fair margin. Lee opened to 27,000, Suchanek three-bet to 60,000 and Lee called, bringing a K J 5 flop. Suchanek bet 85,000, Lee called, and the turn was the 6. Suchanek quickly went all-in and Lee all but beat him into the pot, tabling K 8 which had Suchanek drawing stone-dead with T 4. The Q was the river, officially bringing Suchanek’s tournament to an end in third and, quite suddenly, leaving Lim and Lee one player away from their first bracelet.
It nearly came to an end just as quickly, with Lim getting all-in with the worst of it on the fifth hand of heads-up play holding A 2 against Lee’s T T, but an A on the flop gave Lim a big double-up and a commanding lead in the match. But neither player would yield over the course of 50 hands. When the final card of the tournament fell, though, it was a game changer, as Lim claimed the pot and the title.
Here are the final table payouts for Event 4 at the World Series of Poker Asia-Pacific.
- Aaron Lim – $233,800
- Andy Lee – $144,530
- Jan Suchanek – $103,766
- Brendon Rubie – $74,590
- Sam Higgs – $53,615
- Billy Seri -$38,545
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