After getting spoilt yesterday with a rather short day, we always knew we were going to have to buckle in for the long road ahead in the Jupiters Poker Room today. It was Day 3 of the ANZPT Gold Coast Main event and the objective was simple. Much like a deck of playing cards we had to shuffle our 52 players and see what was dealt out for our final table of nine.
There were a few aces contained in the deck and well, we hate to speculate if there were any deuces, but in the end we're pretty happy with the hand we've been dealt. A previous ANZPT champion, a Kiwi prodigy, a legend of Australian poker, and a sprinkling of local talent should produce a thrilling finale tomorrow afternoon.
It was an interesting ride to reach this point, with many twists and turns throughout the day as the discards fell one by one.
Justin Cohen, Harris Pavlou, Andrew Scarf, Daniel Laidlaw, Mike Ivin and Greg Shillig were amongst those who failed to reach the final 27 and the money stage, as three days of toil went unrewarded. However the hardest luck stories went to Darryl "Dazzler" Lanyon and Danny Andrews. Lanyon is a true pioneer and a rare character of the game in Australia, and it would've been great to see him reach the cash, but Dazzler couldn't find a spot and was blinded down before eventually falling in 29th place.
He was then followed by Danny Andrews who claimed the unfortunate title of "bubble boy" as our 28th place finisher when his Q♦J♥ couldn't pair up to overcome Kamel Bekhaled's 3♥3♦. It was the start of a great run for Bakhaled as he moved towards the chip lead, as the players slowly headed to the cashier.
Jesse McKenzie left the door open in the ANZ Player of the Year race when he was eliminated in 25th place ($4,510), but his major competitors Oliver Grujic (21st - $5,640), Octavian Voegele (19th - $5,640) and Danny Chevalier (18th - $6,760) all fell shortly afterwards to ensure that McKenzie would maintain his position as top dog on the ANZPT.
Overnight chip leader Tim O'Shea (22nd - $5,070), Billy Jordanou (20th - $5,640) and Michael Pedley (17th - $6,760) were notable casualties while Ricky Kroesen's quest for repeat ANZPT Gold Coast final tables fell agonizingly short in 15th place ($7,890).
Kroesen lost most of his chips to good mate Tom Grigg who was prominent for much of the day. It appeared that Grigg's rags-to-riches fairytale was coming true after he was down to just 4,000 chips in the first level of the tournament when his pocket aces were cracked by pocket kings. Grigg recovered, but today was another of the infamous rollercoaster rides that he seems to thrive on. Grigg was down, but never out, on several occasions but eventually used up all of his nine lives to fall in 13th place ($7,890) when his ace-king fell to Leo Boxell's queen-jack on a board of 3♥5♠6♣Q♠6♠.
The final few players didn't go easily as the short stacks fought valiantly to stay alive and reach the coveted final table. When Michael Fadersen fell in 11th place ($9,020) we found ourselves on the final table bubble, but little did we realize that it would be non-existant as Aussie Millions champion David Gorr was simultaneously all in on the other table.
Kamel Bekhaled had limped from the button before Gorr moved all in for his last 37,000 in the small blind. Leo Boxell made the call in the small blind and Bekhaled called as well. The two live players checked down the board of Q♥7♣K♥A♣2♦ as Boxell's A♠9♦ was good enough to take the pot as Gorr showed J♦9♣ for just jack-high. Gorr departed in 10th place ($9,020) in another fine tournament result as our ANZPT final table was set!
The final table contains a lineup who have many interesting stories of their own.
ANZPT Queenstown Julian Cohen rivered an ace to stay alive in the early stages of the day, before he was crippled on the bubble and appeared set to miss the money. However he went on an incredible heater, including a huge pot with pocket aces against pocket kings, to storm up the chip count leaderboard. He'll be back tomorrow in good shape with a mission to become the first dual ANZPT champion in history.
While New Zealand's Paul Hockin and New Caledonia's Kamel Bekhaled will be flying the International flag, and Australian poker stalwart Leo Boxell adds another major final table to his incredible poker resume, there is a strong local flavour for this final table. Five Queenslanders will be fighting to keep the title on home soil, including the last woman standing in Norah Greer and the overnight chip leader in Peter Matusik.
Here's how they will lineup for the ANZPT Gold Coast final table:
Seat 1: Kamel Bekhaled - 850,000
Seat 2: Norah Greer - 84,000
Seat 3: Paul Hockin - 674,000
Seat 4: Blain Robertson - 267,000
Seat 5: Julian Cohen - 460,000
Seat 6: Savvas Zenonos - 384,000
Seat 7: Leo Boxell - 923,000
Seat 8: Peter Matusik - 1,001,000
Seat 9: Anthony Grange - 128,000
The final table will recommence at 12:00pm tomorrow (GMT+10) as we look to crown a new, or possibly a repeat, ANZPT champion! We look forward to your company then!