It was a battle of the generations.
On one side of the WSOP APAC final table sat wily Australian veteran Sam Khouiss. A man with a tongue as sharp as his poker game, he’s been around the traps for decades and seen many young whippersnappers come and go. An undeniable thirst for the game and a longevity that few in this country could match, all that his poker resume was missing was a major title.
Then on the other side we had the brash youngster Rory Young. Fresh on the poker scene but already making an impact with a confidence and fearlessness that was beyond his years.
Either way, Australia was about to crown yet another WSOP APAC bracelet winner. It’s fifth of the series – more than the nation has ever achieved at a single WSOP.
This time it would be the next generation that captured the gold with Rory Young taking it down despite a lack of experience in the Dealer’s Choice 8-Game format.
“I’ve never even played 8-game,” said Young following his victory. “This is my first-ever mixed game tournament! I’ve only played Hold’em tournaments and I think one PLO tournament.”
The event was the $1,650 Dealer’s Choice 8-Game with Young’s strategy to stick with 2-7 Triple Draw proving decisive against Khouiss.
“I think Dealer’s Choice is good because it adds a whole different strategy to the tournament. Especially when there is a game one of your opponents is weak at, you can just choose it every time and hammer away at them.”
Young found his niche and stuck with it, getting the better of Khouiss in 2-7 Triple Draw before finishing it off in Pot Limit Omaha. It was Young’s top pair and flush draw against Khouiss’ middle pair and double-gutshot straight draw. The river improved both players, but Khouiss’ two pair weren’t enough to get past Young’s set of tens.
At just 22 years of age, Young is Australia’s youngest bracelet winner as he picked up $42,720 and the gold bracelet.
Also of note from this final table was George Danzer finishing in sixth place. Danzer would need fourth or better to take the lead in the WSOP Player of the Year but fell just short, leaving Brandon Shack-Harris with a slight advantage heading into the final events of the WSOP APAC series.
Event #6: $1,650 Dealer’s Choice 8-Game Event Results
1st Rory Young – $42,720
2nd Sam Khouiss – $26,402
3rd Brian Rast – $18,482
4th David Zhao – $13,462
5th Jason Gray – $9,904
6th George Danzer – $7,399
While Rory Young was busy winning gold, there were some big waves being made in the Crown Poker Room as the great Phil Hellmuth was on a mission for bracelet number 14.
Hellmuth started Day 2 of the $2,200 No Limit Hold’em Six-Max Event as one of the big stacks with 31 players remaining. They were just four places from the cash, but Hellmuth had his sights on a much bigger prize.
Scott Reid, Henry Wang and Alan Schubert were first eliminated from Day 2, before Sang Lee’s kings were cracked by pocket eights to burst the money bubble in spectacular fashion.
Reigning Aussie Millions champion Ami Barer would be eliminated in 11th place before talented Aussies Van Marcus (10th), Brendon Rubie (9th) and David Lim (8th) were out in quick succession to leave the table just one more elimination from the close of the day.
Hellmuth had managed to stay out of trouble for most the day, playing mostly small pots but he was forced into a big pot on what would be the final hand of the day. Hellmuth called a raise out of the big blind with A9 and caught two pair on the A94 flop. He led out with a big which was met with an all-in shove from his opponent Kris Nestorovic.
“Ugh, I guess I have no choice. I call,” said Hellmuth and opened his two pair to be ahead of Nestorovic’s AQ. The turn and river bricked and Hellmuth clapped his hands in delight at eliminating an opponent to reach yet another WSOP final table.
“Today I started off not playing my best,” said Hellmuth following the day’s play. “I was trying to run over the field but they’re not just going to let you run over them these days, so I adjusted. And I never really played a big pot all day, until the final hand, which is very emblematic of the way I play.”
Hellmuth has reportedly been suffering from Asthma while here in Australia, and even at one point considered flying back home such was the discomfort. However he has been laying low and taking things slowly to try and continue his quest for WSOP glory Down Under.
“It’s satisfying to manage my health and still make a final table,” explained Hellmuth. “It’s frustrating. It’s not pain. You just get a little paranoid. You’re like ‘Oh my God, I’m having trouble breathing’ and you flip out. But you try and relax and realise it will be ok. I think things are trending in the right direction with my health.”
While Hellmuth is happy to be on the final table, it really was a true grind to even reach this point. Late on Day 1, Hellmuth was all in for his tournament life with king-queen against ace-king but flopped a flush to stay alive and from there, he powered his way to be one of the chip leaders.
“It was very frustrating yesterday for a long while and then it just exploded at the end. But I just hung in there, and hung in there, and hung in there. It just required all of my skill to even still be in the tournament. But when people play too fast I always smack them. BOOM! I always smack them!”
Of course, Hellmuth already has 13 of these gold bracelets in his collection – more than anyone else in history. So what would it mean to win number 14?
“That would be an incredible, incredible feat,” said Hellmuth looking skywards. “When I won bracelet thirteen I felt very humbled. I feel like I’m focussed and playing well. I can’t wait!”
$2,200 No Limit Holdem Six-Max Final Table Counts
Steven Zhou – 315,000
Alexander Antonios – 278,000
Michael Tran – 274,000
Yu Kurita – 269,500
Phil Hellmuth – 266,500
Bruno Politano – 65,000
Mixing it up
The final event of the day was the $5,000 Mixed Event. Play started at 2:10pm with just 14 entrants, but slowly they trickled in to see a total of 45 entrants in the final level of the day. Late registration will once again remain open until the start of play on Day 2.
Leading the charge is the UK’s Richard Ashby, but a host of big names are still lurking in contention including Brandon Shack-Harris, Daniel Negreanu, Joe Hachem, Mel Judah, Van Marcus, Dan Heimiller, Jonathan Duhamel, Ami Barer, Ismael Bojang, George Danzer and Jeff Madsen.
$5,000 Mixed Event Top Ten
Richard Ashby – 79,850
Bruno Portaro – 52,925
Brandon Shack-Harris – 51,175
Dylan Honeyman – 49,400
Mike Watson – 39,875
Jan Suchanek – 32,750
Brian Rast – 32,350
Oliver Gill – 30,500
Daniel Negreanu – 25,000
Joe Hachem – 24,375
Pros get behind a great cause
Finally up in JJs at Crown Melbourne, the 7th Annual Shane Warne and Joe Hachem Charity Poker Tournament was held to help raise money for the Shane Warne Foundation which supports sick and underprivileged children. Most of the 888poker pros were out supporting Warney along with plenty of corporate sponsors and local celebrities.
The $1,000 buy-in went directly to charity with all prizes, including a WSOP APAC Main Event seat, donated by sponsors. Money raised would be well in the six figures which is a great result for all involved.
Hellmuth goes for #14
All eyes will be on the live WSOP stream of the $2,200 No Limit Hold’em Six-Max final table where Phil Hellmuth will be going for WSOP bracelet number 14. Can he do it? We’ll have to wait and see! The action kicks off at 12:10pm local time on Saturday.
There are no new events starting on Saturday, the only other event of the day is the continuation of the $5,000 Mixed Event. They’ll play down to a final table from 12:30pm local time.
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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