Brabin Wins First APAC Gold, Benson Leads Stacked PLO Field

Gary Benson

Gary Benson chasing WSOP bracelet number two in the Pot Limit Omaha Event (Photos courtesy of Poker Asia Pacific)

The first bracelet of the 2014 World Series of Poker Asia Pacific was awarded on Sunday afternoon with Australian Luke Brabin carrying his overnight chip lead all the way to the gold.

Australia had already locked up its first bracelet of the series when the final table recommenced, with all ten remaining players representing the host nation.

Brabin was able to stay out of trouble before a key double up three-handed through Daniel Murphy catapulted Brabin into an eight-to-one chip lead against youngster Didier Guerin.

Guerin battled valiantly but when his 89 failed to improve against Brabin’s KQ, it was all over with Brabin crowned champion to take the top prize of $131,365.

Luke Brabin

Luke Brabin

Premature end for Event #2

Two other WSOP APAC events were running in the Crown Poker Room with 31 players returning for the continuation of Event #2, the $2,200 No Limit Hold’em Event.

Former WSOPE bracelet winner Andrew Hinrichsen had his aces cracked to be the first elimination of the day, with Nathan Gubieski, Jeff Gross and Kitty Kuo also busting short of the money for the top 24 players. Kuo in particular would be disappointed after starting the day well-placed, only to run her AK into Michael O’Grady’s AA.

When Steven Zhou’s pocket jacks fell to the suited ace of Aik-Chuan Nee, the bubble had popped and everyone had locked up a minimum AU$3,969.

Russell Thomas was first to visit the cashier in 24th place. The former Octo-Niner moved his short stack in with KT but Tien Pham made the call with a dominant KQ which held through the board of A2889.

The other big name of the final three tables was Dan Heimiller, with the two-time WSOP bracelet winner backing up his cash in WSOP APAC Event #1 with another deep run in Event #2. Heimiller looked set for a final table berth until his pocket aces were cracked by the flush of Aik-Chuan Nee to see Heimiller on the short stack.

A short time later, Heimiller moved all in with JJ against the AQ of Martin Kozlov. The flop of AQK gave Kozlov two pair, but Heimiller’s Royal Flush draw saw him with plenty of outs. However the turn and river bricked to eliminate Heimiller in 11th place for AU$8,050 in prize money.

The players redrew for the unofficial final table of ten and planned to lose one more player before calling it a day, but things we halted a little prematurely.

In a rather unusual end to the day, play was halted after Aik-Chuan Nee started to feel unwell before the official final table of nine could be reached. Nee complained of a tight chest and was clearly anxious as he walked away from the table on several occasions to catch his breath. WSOP Tournament Director Jack Effel was called in and informed Nee that paramedics were on the way and his health was the most important factor.

Effel explained the situation to the table and the remaining players were more than happy to call it a day and let Nee get some treatment for his health before returning tomorrow to play it out.

Event #2: $2,200 No Limit Hold’em Final Table Chip Counts
Feng Zhou – 241,500
Junzhong Loo – 205,500
Martin Kozlov – 155,100
Samuel Ngai – 153,000
Aik-Chaun Nee – 149,500
Luke Spano – 106,000
Sam Ruha – 103,000
Peco Stojanovski – 102,500
Michael O’Grady – 44,500
Fred Chaptini – 18,000

Feng Zhou would claim the chip lead with 241,500 while Martin Kozlov is lurking close behind in third chip position. With multiple Main Event titles in Australia, including the 2010 ANZPT Melbourne, and worldwide results that feature final tables at EPT London and WSOP Europe, Kozlov is arguably the best-credentialed player at the final table.

Martin Kozlov

Martin Kozlov

“I feel amazing. What else can I say? It’s the World Series!” exclaimed Kozlov after bagging up his chips.

“I’ve been here before and failed many times. Let’s hope I don’t fail this time!” he added.

So is this Kozlov’s chance at redemption?

“Nah man. I don’t think like that,” said Kozlov. “I just take it as it comes. That’s it. One hand at a time.”

The final table will restart at 12:10pm local time on Monday afternoon with the Aussies again well represented with six of the final ten players, but if you ask Kozlov what he thinks the result will be, then it appears the news has already been written.

“I’m feeling really confident. I think I’m pretty much a lock to win!” said Kozlov with tongue firmly in cheek. “You can print that today and tomorrow the news will be true!”

Four-card fun

The final event of the WSOP APAC Day 4 schedule would see a field of 123 players hit the tables at 4:10pm local time for Event #3: $1,650 Pot Limit Omaha.

A chance for the four-card players to shine, the field with stacked with talent as the bracelet hunt continued in Melbourne. Jonathan Duhamel, Jeff Madsen, Jonathan Dimmig, Brandon Shack-Harris, Roy Bhasin, Daniel Negreanu, George Danzer, Phil Hellmuth, 2005 World Champion Joe Hachem and reigning World Champion Ryan Riess were just some of those to come and go during the early levels of play.

After a full eight levels it would be Australian Poker Hall of Famer and WSOP bracelet winner Gary Benson who emerged as the day’s chip leader.

“I couldn’t be happier,” remarked Benson at the close of play. “The chip lead is obviously the best position to be in, but with 22 players left there’s still a lot of water to go under the bridge tomorrow.”

Benson recalled a key hand with double-suited aces against double-suited queens as the defining moment of his day.

“We both had spades so he was really just drawing to the queen. Fortunately he didn’t find it. I doubled up to take the chip lead and that set me up for the rest of the day.”

Perhaps it was just meant to be for Benson today who had ditched his usual black pants and jacket to adorn the colours of the South-Sydney Rabbitohs — a rugby league club who today won the grand final in the National Rugby League which is the pinnacle of the sport in Australia.

“I’m not a big fan but I’ve been backing them all year to win the premiership and I had a big result on them if they won today,” laughed Benson. “Their win put me in a good mood, and I’ve been playing well, so it’s been a good day all around for poker and football!”

However Benson did have a few words to say in regards to play coming to a halt just six places from the money.

“We only played eight levels today, so it’s not a lot of poker,” explained Benson. “I just thought we could’ve played another level or two tonight, or at least played down to the money. There’s six guys who are going to come back tomorrow and miss the money and also miss out on playing the start of the next tournament. It would’ve made sense to me to play down to the money.”

Benson bagged up 71,200 for the chip lead ahead of fellow Australian Poker Hall of Famer Jeff Lisandro. Jason Gray, Oliver Gill, Ami Barer, Van Marcus, Mel Judah, Edison Nguyen and Mike Watson are just some of the big names in contention in what shapes to be a stacked final table.

Event #3: $1,650 Pot Limit Omaha Top Ten
Gary Benson – 71,200
Jeff Lisandro – 60,400
Paul Mac – 38,600
Zane Ly – 37,200
Jason Gray – 34,500
Ismael Bojang – 27,000
Stephen Woodhead – 26,800
Oliver Gill – 26,300
Vadim Pinsky – 25,900
Ami Barer – 25,600

Not just another manic Monday

Monday morning is traditionally the day for Australian online grinders to wake up before the birds to play online majors, but we’re guessing they may have something different in mind this Monday with another huge day in store at the World Series of Poker Asia Pacific.

The final table of the $2,200 No Limit Hold’em Event will headline the day as we crown a second WSOP APAC champion for 2014. That one will recommence at 12:10pm. Day 2 of the $1,650 doesn’t look like being a long one as they’ll play towards the money and then the final table from 12:30pm. Meanwhile Event #4 will get under way at 2:10pm local time with a big field expected for one of the more popular formats in Australia – the $1,650 No Limit Hold’em Terminator Event.

The 2014 World Series of Poker Asia Pacific (WSOP APAC) runs from October 2-18 at the Crown Poker Room in Melbourne, Australia.

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