The chips are packed up, the advertising banners have been pulled down and the dealers are off to the bar to kick up their heels as the 2011 PokerStars.net ANZPT Gold Coast Main Event has officially wrapped up for another year. And what a great event it was! A thrilling week of poker has come to a close with the title staying on home turf as local Peter Matusik has been crowned our champion.
Three days ago Matusik started out as one of 245 entrants and after four days of toil, "Chewing Gum Pete" found himself with a tray of cold, hard cash and a beautiful trophy as he posed for photographers following an arduous final table.
Winning a poker tournament is not meant to be easy, and it would be understandable for one to assume that Matusik had a smooth ride after coming into today as the chip leader. But it was certainly not a coast-to-coast win, as Matusik had a day full of frustrations. "Card dead" is what most poker players call it. But Matusik held tough and got the crucial double ups that mattered late in the day to spoil the party for Leo Boxell and claim a famous victory.
And it was certainly Boxell's party to spoil as one of Australia's great players stormed out of the blocks to grab the early lead, while many of his opponents played pretty tight as they looked to sneak up the pay jumps. Short stacks Norah Greer, Anthony Grange and Blain Robertson played an interesting game of cat and mouse as it took nearly two hours to lose our first player.
Norah Greer was the only female at the final table, and was the short stack of the field, but she managed to double up in emphatic style. In a battle of the blinds with Paul Hockin, Greer moved all in for 43,000 with Hockin calling with an above average Q♣9♣. Greer was in front with T♣T♥, until the flop landed 4♣6♣3♣ to give Hockin a flush and a near lock on the hand. We emphasize the word "near".
With mathematically less than 3% chance to win the hand, Greer watched in shock as the 3♥ turn and T♦ river completed the board to give Greer an amazing double up.
However it wasn't enough for Greer to move up the payouts, as she became the first casualty of the day when her A♣T♦ fell to Leo Boxell's K♣Q♣ on a board of 8♠K♦4♦T♥2♥.
Julian Cohen was surprisingly next to go as his quest to become the first dual ANZPT winner didn't go quite to plan. Not much went right for the 2010 ANZPT Queenstown champion today and when he pushed his J♠T♠ into Anthony Grange's A♣K♦, Cohen couldn't get the help required on the 2♣3♦K♠3♣5♠ board.
Savvas Zenonos was happy to see the back of Cohen, but he found himself next to go in 7th place when he pushed his A♣4♣ into the dominant A♦Q♥ of Anthony Grange. The board ran out J♣J♦6♠3♦A♥ and Zenonos was eliminated.
He was soon followed by Blain Robertson who fought hard throughout the final table and appeared set to jump into contention when his pocket aces held against Paul Hockin's pocket tens. However Robertson's K♥Q♥ flush draw with overcards on a T♥5♥8♠ flop couldn't get past the J♥J♣ of Leo Boxell when the A♠ turn and 6♣ river ran out to eliminate Robertson and leave us with our final five.
We saw quite a bit of passive play throughout this final table, but five-handed, things slowed to a crawl. In fact, crawling would be considered speeding when compared to the lack of action as rigor mortis virtually set in on our final five.
It took a cooler of a hand to break the deadlock as New Zealand's Paul Hockin moved all in on a flop of 3♥4♥T♠. Boxell was quick to call with 4♣4♦ for a set as Hockin was drawing with his A♥Q♥. It was a set versus a flush draw and both hit when the T♥ fell as the turn card. It gave Hockin his flush but it meant he was drawing dead as Boxell filled up to a full house! The meaningless river was the 5♦ and Hockin departed in 5th place as Leo Boxell held over two-thirds of the chips in play.
Boxell looked unbeatable. He was playing well, running well and he had a massive chip lead. The other three almost seemed resigned to defeat, but poker is a funny game and anything can, and will, happen.
A frustrated Peter Matusik moved all in from under the gun with pocket fives and doubled up through Leo Boxell's ace-ten when the board bricked out. It would prove to be a crucial race, but arguably not as crucial as the hand which unfolded moments later.
The action went down on a flop of 6♦J♦9♥. From the small blind, Matusik slid out a hefty bet of 200,000 which Boxell insta-called as the K♥ hit the turn. Matusik didn't slow down as he committed another 500,000 but Boxell immediately announced himself all in. Matusik shrugged and called off his last 460,000 with J♠T♣ as Boxell found himself speeding with 9♠T♠. The river was the 3♣ and Matusik jumped into the chip lead.
Boxell was reeling and while his opponents survived several all-in clashes, it would only take one for Boxell to somehow go from runaway chip leader to being eliminated in 4th place within the space of an hour. His last stand came with A♥8♥ against Peter Matusik's A♣J♣ as the board ran out A♠4♦T♠2♦7♠.
While there were many stagnant waters on this final table, Boxell's elimination triggered a collapse as the trophy was within reach.
Kamel Bekhaled was next to go in 3rd place when his A♠J♠ fell to Peter Matusik's 8♦8♣ on a 6♣2♥3♣7♠Q♣ board to leave Matusik with a near three-to-one over fellow Queenslander Anthony Grange.
The trophy and a plate full of cash was on the line, but the heads-up battle proved to be a short one. The final hand was a flurry of activity with Grange opening with a raise before Matusik re-raised all in. Grange made the call with A♥3♦ but he was dominated by Matusik's A♣J♠. The board arrived 5♥2♠7♣Q♦J♣ and our champion was crowned.
The man they call "Chewing Gum Pete" does it for the old guard as the newest champion of Australian poker. He collects the ANZPT Gold Coast trophy and a massive $145,100 in prize money.
Final Table Results
1st Peter Matusik (Australia) - $145,100
2nd Anthony Grange (Australia) - $92,700
3rd Kamel Bekhaled (New Caledonia) - $52,120
4th Leo Boxell (Australia) - $40,850
5th Paul Hockin (New Zealand) - $33,800
6th Blain Robertson (Australia) - $28,170
7th Savvas Zenonos (Australia) - $22,540
8th Julian Cohen (Australia) (PokerStars Qualifier) - $18,030
9th Norah Greer (Australia) - $13,520
That sadly brings us to the end of our time here on the Gold Coast. Jupiters Hotel & Casino have been a wonderful host with fantastic facilities in a wonderful location. In particular we'd like to thank Martin Coughlan and all of his fantastic team for their professionalism and hospitality as they always make us feel part of the team.
Also many thanks to Joe and Mitch for their assistance on the tournament floor throughout the week and to Kirsty for her final table photography.
The next event in the Asian region is the Macau Poker Cup with the Main Event running from June 2-5, while online satellites are already underway for the next ANZPT event in Canberra from June 10-13.
Wherever your next destination is, we wish you a safe journey, and hope to see you at a PokerStars event sometime soon. Until then, it's a final good night from the Gold Coast!