Salter and Leah Lead WSOP APAC Final Tables

Jack Salter

Jack Salter carries the chip lead into the WSOP APAC Main Event FT (Photography courtesy of Poker Asia Pacific)

The 2014 World Series of Poker Asia Pacific has rounded the corner and is into the home straight. The finish line is in sight as the last two bracelet events of the schedule both reached final tables on Thursday.

The day started off with 18 players returning to the Crown Poker Room for Day 4 of the WSOP APAC Main Event and it didn’t take long for the action to erupt.

Sean Winter was quickly dispatched in 18th place before things went sour for WSOP Player of the Year contender Brandon Shack-Harris. First a lost coin flip against Angie Italiano would leave Shack-Harris short before he moved all in with pocket jacks against Frank Kassela’s ace-nine. Kassela would make two pair on board to see Shack-Harris eliminated in 17th.

Shack-Harris required a top two finish to reclaim the number one spot in the WSOP POY, so he quickly ran over to jump in the $25,000 High Rollers Event where an early elimination left George Danzer to secure the 2014 WSOP Player of the Year honour.

The players redrew for the final two tables before Joachim Chia (16th) and Gary Benson (15th) were sent to the rail. Benson’s last stand came with the nut flush draw against Jason Giuliano’s top pair but the board bricked out, leaving Benson to depart and climbing Giuliano to the top of the chip counts.

AJ Antonios had already won one bracelet at the WSOP APAC series and made a great run at a second in the Main Event but when his pocket fours ran into Angie Italiano’s pocket kings, he was out in 14th place.

With three female players in the top 13, it was a rather high percentage of ladies making a run at the final table, but sadly two of them fell in quick succession.

JJ Liu’s 30th WSOP cash wouldn’t result in a final table as she pushed her A6 into Jack Salter’s KK to exit in 13th place, and moments later it would be Australia’s Jackie Glazier who committed her short stack with pocket threes only to lose the coin flip against Jason Giuliano’s AJ to depart in 12th place That would leave Angie Italiano as the last woman standing to take on the boys!

After a bit of a stalemate it would be Baden Logan (11th) and Eiji Matsumura (10th) who would miss out on the unofficial final table of nine which was formed just before the dinner break with Kyle Montgomery and Jason Giuliano out in front.

Jason Giuliano

Jason Giuliano

“I feel very happy. It’s been a long grind,” said Giuliano at the long break. “On Day 1 I was down to 4k in chips and then four spots from the bubble I was down to 10k in chips when the average was 250k! So I’m very happy just to be here at the moment.”

Giuliano went on to explain that it wasn’t the big hands that helped him get to where he was, but rather, the big folds.

“I’ve made some massive folds that have saved me,” explained Giuliano. “I folded queens twice to aces preflop and folded two pair to a set. It’s hard to make those folds, but I think they have saved me more than anything else.”

However following the dinner break, the tide would turn for the chip leaders.

Henry Szmelcer was bounced out in ninth place before the boat started to rock for Giuliano. First Scott Davies would double up with kings against Giuliano’s ace-king, then Henry Wang would join in the party with pocket queens on a baby flop against Giuliano’s pocket sixes.

The exclamation point on Giuliano’s fall from grace would be when his pocket kings ran smack into Frank Kassela’s pocket aces and just like that, he was out in eighth place.

One more elimination was required before the TV table of six would be set, and it was Victor Teng who would be the one to fall. Teng five-bet jammed pocket jacks into Jack Salter’s pocket kings and that was all she wrote. The two players who had dominated for the majority of the last two days had missed out on the televised final table.

It has left an eclectic group of six to battle it out for the WSOP APAC Main Event title. There’s the former WSOP Player of the Year in Frank Kassela, and fellow Americans Scott Davies and Kyle Montogmery. We have Henry Wang representing Taiwan and Angie Italiano as the last female and the last Australian standing.

However they are all trailing young UK pro Jack Salter who bagged up the chip lead.

“Coming into the final table as the chip leader is always great for the confidence,” said Salter at the end of play. “It’s amazing. I just want to be the last one standing. I would love to win that bracelet.”

“The day went pretty well. There was definitely some interesting hands. I made a couple of massive hero calls that were correct which was good, and one which was very wrong where I called with one pair against the nut flush. So two out of three is not so bad. I ran great in all-ins, and got lucky to cooler Victor at the end with kings against jacks.”

Salter has some experience under the bright lights of the final table after his runner-up result at the 2014 EPT Grand Final, and he’s hoping to draw on that experience at the final table on Saturday.

“I think the fact that I’ve had a lot of experience playing live in Europe is really going to help me,” said Salter. “I feel so comfortable at the table. I’m hopefully not giving too much away and I’m able to pick up some stuff on the other players.”

WSOP APAC Main Event Final Table

Jack Salter – 3,255,000
Scott Davies – 2,210,000
Henry Wang – 1,700,000
Frank Kassela – 1,250,000
Kyle Montgomery – 950,000
Angie Italiano – 510,000

Mike Leah dominates the High Rollers

The $25,000 High Rollers Event started the day with 31 survivors but a handful of late registrations boosted the total number of entrants to a very respectable 68. The top eight players would guarantee a payday of AU$50,021 while the eventual champ will pocket an even AU$600,000.

The late registrations included JJ Liu, Tobias Reinkemeier and Brandon Shack-Harris who jumped straight into the action after busting from the Main Event. Unfortunately for Shack-Harris, his time in the High Rollers was cut short when his last chips were in on a flop of QQ8. Shack-Harris had the best of it with KQ for trips against Sean Winter’s pocket aces, but an ace from space landed on the river to put an official end to the 2014 WSOP POY race.

It was a mighty battle between Shack-Harris and George Danzer, with the lead swapping hands on three occasions just in Australia alone. However with three bracelets, five final tables, ten cashes and 923.50 points, it’s George Danzer that will forever be the 2014 WSOP Player of the Year.

At the dinner break, the field had been reduced to just 15 players with overnight chip leaders Mike Leah and Andrew Hinrichsen continuing to do the most damage.

However Hinrichsen ran ace-king into pocket kings on the final table bubble to slip to the short stack as Leah continued to accumulate. He was raising the majority of hands on the bubble which made the elimination of Phil Hellmuth in ninth place even more dramatic. After Hellmuth’s aces were cracked moments earlier, he was put to a decision for the rest of his chips by Leah on a board of J987. Hellmuth wasn’t the shortest stack, and after some posturing, he called it off with JA. Leah had a set of eights and when the river bricked, a visibly steamed Hellmuth departed as the bubble boy.

Andrew Hinrichsen was pretty happy with that as he limped into the money for a min-cash of AU$50,021 and when Sam Higgs followed in seventh place, the day was brought to a close.

Mike Leah

Mike Leah

Undoubtedly the day belonged to Mike Leah. He was with the chip leaders throughout the day and once play hit the bubble, he turned on the afterburners and put his well-credentialed table to the sword. He’s now in great shape to make a run at his first WSOP bracelet at the final table on Friday.

“I like my chances of course,” said Leah. “It’s a fun line up and it makes for exciting poker. It wouldn’t be as gratifying if it wasn’t such tough opposition. If I’m going to win my first bracelet, I’m going to have to beat some great players.”

“A bracelet is my number one goal in life right now. So it would mean everything to me.”

WSOP APAC High Rollers Final Table

Seat 1: Mike Leah – 2,576,000
Seat 2: Brian Roberts – 207,000
Seat 3: Jesse Sylvia – 580,000
Seat 4: Sam Khouiss – 106,000
Seat 5: Jonathan Duhamel – 358,000
Seat 6: David Yan – 1,278,000

The penultimate day

It may be a rest day for the Main Event, but the second last day of the 2014 World Series of Poker Asia Pacific will present one of the most eagerly-anticipated final tables of the series.

The $25,000 High Rollers was always going to bring a stacked final table, and with $600,000 and the bracelet up top, this is going to be one you won’t want to miss. The action kicks off at 3:30pm local time with a live stream available on ESPN on 30-minute delay.

The 2014 World Series of Poker Asia Pacific runs from October 2-18 live from the Crown Poker Room in Melbourne, Australia.

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