The 2011 Australia New Zealand Poker Tour has been an incredible ride as we've ventured to new locations, seen some amazing highlights and unearthed some of the brightest poker talent in the region.
From Octavian Voegele's dominant win in Adelaide to Grant Levy's epic victory in Perth. Lee Nelson's win for the ages in Melbourne and the ultra-consistency of Jesse McKenzie, Leo Boxell and Player of the Year Danny Chevalier. And now 28-year old Queenslander Jack Drake adds his name to the record books as our newest ANZPT champion.
Drake was impressive throughout the ANZPT Darwin Main Event across the four challenging days of poker inside the SKYCITY Darwin Casino. While many of his better-known counterparts threw uppercuts and hooks to attempt to land a knockout blow, Drake was content to throw jabs from the outside and rarely had his tournament life in jeopardy. It was a mature, composed exhibition of poker and perhaps the start of something even bigger in his blossoming career.
At the start of the day, Drake would have been relieved to see the early eliminations of Aaron Benton and Danny Chevalier - the two most experienced players at the table. Benton played four pots and lost them all while Chevalier had his pocket aces unfortunately cracked by Jamie Hill who rivered trips.
Following his elimination, we had a chance to catch up with Chevalier for his thoughts on the ANZ Player of the Year award...
"In the last month when it became a realistic possibility, I was very, very keen to achieve it. In fact, I became very single-minded about it. When I came here to Darwin, I had just one intention and that was to make the points. It was a very exciting finish with Jesse and Leo and it was a relief when Jesse busted as I had second place at least. I just concentrated on my game - surviving. I knew what I had to do so I just kept at it."
"Coming into the final table I was very relaxed. I was just happy to be there. Making the points yesterday was my final table. No matter what happened today I was happy."
Chevalier plans to use his POTY prize to head to the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in January as well as play the APPT and ANZPT events next season.
As play continued, the short-stacked Glenn Parry fought back well from being crippled on the bubble to collecting a nice payday for his seventh place before Jamie Hill was jacked by Drake when Hill's A♦4♥ was outflopped by Drake's J♦5♥ when a jack hit the flop. It wouldn't be the last time we would see that happen.
New Caledonian PokerStars Qualifier Jonathan Dangio looked dangerous throughout the final table, especially early on when a burst of big cards, including pocket aces three times within the first two hours, saw him climb to the chip lead. However the aces failed him when Fotios Manolakos turned a straight and rivered a sweet king-high straight flush.
From there Dangio was on the short stack and couldn't recover. He three-bet shoved his pocket threes and Drake was again the destroyer as his K♥9♠ paired both cards on the board.
However it wasn't all smooth sailing for the Queenslander as he exchanged chips back and forth in a titanic struggle with local Mark Taylor. Drake doubled up the short stack with his A♣Q♥ falling to Taylor's K♠J♥ before Drake got some revenge moments later with his 6♦8♣ catching a pair against Taylor's A♣3♥. It was one of the rare moments that Drake needed some luck and, crucially, he found it.
At the dinner break, Brett Dannevig was the chip leader but with stomachs satisfied the pace of play picked up following the break.
Fotios Manolakos found some luck when he rivered a three-outer when his K♣9♠ caught a nine-ball against Mark Taylor's K♠Q♦, before Taylor's defiant run came to an end in fourth place. Taylor had doubled up on numerous occasions throughout the day, and would never say die, but the good run ended when his 6♥6♠ fell behind the Q♠J♠ of Jack Drake when a jack appeared on the flop.
Maybe there's something in a name as Jack Drake's love affair with the knave continued soon after when he called the all-in bet of Fotios Manolakos on a flop of 6♥J♥5♠. Drake had once again paired the jack with his K♠J♣ as Manolakos was drawing with his 8♦7♦. The turn and river bricked to eliminate Manolakos and leave us heads up for the title.
Jack Drake held a massive chip lead over Brett Dannevig, but that all changed around very quickly as two double ups flipped the advantage. The second double was an astonishing three-outer river after the two got their chips in on a 7♦7♣T♣ flop with Drake's J♠T♠ in front of Dannevig's T♦8♦. The turn was the 5♣, leaving nearly half the deck for Drake to win the title. Even a chop would've been ok, but the 8♣ river was the only card Drake didn't want to see as his world had just been turned upside down.
However Drake stuck to his task and also stuck a flop when his K♦T♣ got paid off on a 2♣5♦T♦ flop against Dannevig's A♥5♣. That put Drake back in front and he finished the job when he moved all in with A♦4♦ and Dannevig called with K♥9♥. The board ran out Q♣Q♥2♣5♦5♣ and the title had been decided as Jack Drake was crowned the ANZPT Darwin champion!
Final Table Results
1st Jack Drake (Australia) - $36,480
2nd Brett Dannevig (Australia) - $24,960
3rd Fotios Manolakos (Australia) - $16,640
4th Mark Taylor (Australia) - $12,800
5th Jonathan Dangio (New Caledonia) (PokerStars Qualifier) - $10,880
6th Jamie Hill (Australia) - $8,960
7th Glenn Parry (Australia) - $7,040
8th Danny Chevalier (Australia) - $5,760
9th Aaron Benton (Australia) (PokerStars Qualifier) - $4,480
That wraps up our time here in Darwin and for Season Three of the Australia New Zealand Poker Tour. It's been an incredible journey throughout 2011 and it's been a pleasure being part of it.
I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Tony & Kiri Jackson, Rich Mifsud and all of the SKYCITY Darwin staff for their wonderful hospitality during the week. The dealers did a wonderful job and it's great to see the Poker Zone really starting to prosper with four locals reaching today's final table.
Many thanks to the PokerStars staff, particularly Danny McDonagh, Sam Dawson and Luke Lichtenstein for their tireless efforts throughout the year working behind the scenes to ensure every event is of the highest quality and the players are well looked after. Also thanks to Kirsty Chick for her assistance with the final table photography this afternoon and throughout the ANZPT this season.
We're here to tell you that the ANZPT will be back again next year so keep an eye on PokerStars for further announcements and online satellites to the first event of Season Four. Until then, the next major event on the local calendar is the Macau Poker Cup Championships which kick off Tuesday at the Grand Lisboa Casino in Macau. Maybe I'll see you there? If not, make sure you follow PokerStars Blog for all the live updates!