If the first event of the 2014 World Series of Poker Asia Pacific belonged to the Australians then Event #2 most definitely was one for Malaysia as Junzhong “Jay” Loo became the first player from Malaysia to win a WSOP gold bracelet.
It had been a tough week for Malaysian poker players. One of the lowest points in the country’s poker history arrived on “Grey Tuesday” when PokerStars and Full Tilt announced they were no longer offering services to Malaysia and approximately 30 other minnow countries.
From those lows have emerged an incredible high with Jay Loo and countryman Aik-Chuan “Sam” Nee responsible for every single elimination on the final table. It was Malaysian domination, but in the end only one could triumph.
The two had played many times before. In fact Loo claimed that he “taught him how to play poker”. If it was a battle of student versus teacher, then on this occasion, it was the teacher than maintained authority.
It was a tight, tough heads-up battle that lasted fifty hands before both players were dealt pocket pairs to produce an unavoidable clash. The short-stacked Nee shoved with pocket deuces and Loo called with pocket sixes but the 534 flop produced a sweat as both caught straight draw. The turn and river bricked out to leave Loo standing alone as our latest WSOP APAC champion.
After getting his start in poker living in New Zealand through pub poker leagues, Loo surprisingly looks at this feat more as a final accomplishment in poker and an opportunity to now step away from the game a little.
“It means a lot, but I told myself that I can’t give up poker until I win something,” explained Loo following his victory. “I really worked hard for the past three months and then I got lucky today.”
Check back a little later for a full wrap of the final table action.
Event #2: $2,200 No Limit Hold’em Final Table Results
1st Junzhong Loo – $107,500
2nd Aik-Chuan Nee – $66,444
3rd Luke Spano – $48,358
4th Martin Kozlov – $35,763
5th Peco Stojanovski – $26,862
6th Sam Ngai – $20,490
7th Sam Ruha – $15,867
8th Feng Zhou – $12,470
9th Michael O’Grady – $9,946
Pot Limit Omaha plays down to six
The $1,650 Pot Limit Omaha Event started the day with 22 players in contention but only 16 to finish in the money, which meant there would be disappointment for six of those who returned for day two.
The short-stacked Danny Chevalier didn’t last long, while Aussie Millions champ Ami Barer, Tam Truong, Darian Tan and Michael Wang also missed the cash. It was last year’s runner-up in this very event, Australian young gun Edison Nguyen who would bubble this time around when he was outflopped by Jason Gray to leave the final 16 in the money with a AU$2,524 min-cash.
Van Marcus had his aces cracked to fall in 16th place, with Mike Watson (14th), Scott Davies (12th) and Mel Judah (10th) were some of those to visit the cashier as the final table of nine was formed.
With Jason Gray holding a big lead at the dinner break, play would continue through the evening until they reached the final six players.
The loud-talking Oliver Gill ran into Zane Ly’s kings to fall in 8th place before the UK’s Stephen Woodhead tangled in a blind versus blind battle with Paul Sharbanee. Woodhead couldn’t connect with the board as Sharbanee made a flush to double through. Woodhead was crippled to just 2,000 in chips and eliminated next hand to see play brought to a close for the day.
Leading the final six is Zane Ly who has backed up his sixth-place finish in the $1,100 Accumulator Event with another final table appearance at this year’s WSOP APAC.
However his journey to the bracelet won’t be an easy one with three Australian Poker Hall of Famers still alive, including Jeff Lisandro who is gunning for his sixth WSOP bracelet. Such an achievement would elevate Lisandro into the top ten of all-time WSOP bracelet winners alongside the likes of Jay Heimowitz, Layne Flack, TJ Cloutier and Daniel Negreanu.
Event #3: $1,650 Pot Limit Omaha Chip Counts
Zane Ly – 181,000
Jason Gray – 160,000
Jeff Lisandro – 69,000
Gary Benson – 68,000
Paul Sharbanee – 46,000
Paul Mac – 34,000
The final event of the day was the $1,650 No Limit Hold’em Terminator Event which kicked off at 2:10pm. A strong field of 250 players turned out for this event to confirm its popularity amongst patrons with the biggest day/flight we have seen so far this WSOP APAC series.
The top 27 players would finish in the money with the top prize set at AU$61,250.
In the final levels of the day there were several big names still in contention, which bodes well for another stacked final table come Wednesday. One of those big names was November Niner Bruno Politano.
“It’s been a good day,” said Politano on a break from play. “I had a good start to the day on an easy table and got some chips.”
Despite a growing stack, Politano was forced to make a big fold just before the final break of the day holding ace-queen. It was a good fold as both his opponents tabled pocket kings, but it could’ve been a different result if he called.
“I had ace-queen. A queen on the flop and an ace on the river! I would’ve tripled up my stack!” exclaimed Politano. “I needed to fold as the guy on my left was very tight. He played two hands an hour!”
As the only 2014 November Niner in Australia for the WSOP APAC, Politano was pretty pleased to be getting in some extra game time at the tables, while enjoying the opportunity to visit somewhere new and exciting.
“I think the other November Niners will play the EPT London,” explained Politano. “But I chose to come to WSOP APAC to represent 888poker and visit Australia. It’s my first time in Australia. I’ve come out with my girlfriend and look forward to seeing the city.”
With a number of $500 Terminator buttons already in his stack, Politano had already pocketed a little profit regardless of the result, so he spoke highly of the Terminator format.
“I like this tournament,” said Politano. “You don’t need to win the tournament to make some money. You can get your money back before you even get into the money.”
That statement would prove to be rather poetic as shortly after the break, Politano would be sent to an expectedly quick exit — via the cashier to collect a small profit for the day.
As the money bubble approached, the decision was made to play on one more level to try and remove the final two players to make the money tonight. It would take forty minutes and a nasty bad beat to reigning World Champion Ryan Riess to do exactly that. Riess was all in with pocket aces against Nick Piskopos who held pocket jacks but a board of QT39K brought a running straight for Piskopos to eliminate Riess on the bubble and leave the remaining 27 players with at least AU$2,020 for their efforts.
Other notables through to Day 2 include Darian Tan, Daniel Neilson, Tony Hachem, Mike Watson, Joe Cabret and Brandon Shack-Harris who eliminated POY rival George Danzer short of the money to ensure he will reclaim the #1 position.
Event #4 $1,650 No Limit Hold’em Terminator Top Ten
Nick Piskopos – 189,500
David Bowen – 119,100
Josh Barrett – 82,100
Darian Tan – 70,500
Nelson Maccini – 66,900
Dylan Hortin – 62,00
Yanji Ge – 51,800
Daniel Neilson – 48,000
Xue Wu – 47,100
Tony Hachem – 41,900
More gold to be won
There will be plenty of attention on the final table of the $1,650 Pot Limit Omaha Event on Tuesday with several high-profile Australians on the hunt for the bracelet and top prize of AU$51,660. Play will recommence at 12:10pm local time.
Day 2 of the $1,650 No Limit Hold’em Terminator Event will resume at 12:30pm while the new event of the day will be the $5,000 Pot Limit Omaha Event. A super-strong field is expected for that one with play kicking off at 2:10pm.
The 2014 World Series of Poker Asia Pacific runs from October 2-18 in the Crown Poker Room in Melbourne, Australia.
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