Usually the discussion in media row during major championship final tables drifts towards comparisons with final tables that we've covered in the past.
"This could be a short final table. Do you remember how fast Michael Kanaan won at ANZPT Sydney?"
"I've never covered a long final table. Maybe this one will be it...(sigh)"
"We're due for a long one. I hope it's not as bad as APPT Manila or the WSOP 50k HORSE"
It was one of those days where we rollercoastered along, not really knowing which direction we were going to end up. There were periods where we sped out of control and times where we thought the brakes were stuck and we'd never get out alive. In the end, we buckled in, held on for the ride and survived to tell the tale.
It started with all eyes on Antoine Amourette. He entered the day with four big blinds, and even worse, drew the big blind first hand. He folded, and folded some more, tripled up, and then found pocket kings. It would've been a comeback story for the ages, but Sameer Rattonsey held ace-king and connected with his ace to see our first casualty of the day.
Team India entered today holding the top two chip positions, and we were anticipating the birth of the next poker revolution if they could maintain those spots, but unfortunately things didn't go too well for Sameer Rattonsey and Amit Varma.
Rattonsey discovered there are no friends at the poker table when his freefall came to an end at the hands of his countryman. However Varma's run did last too much longer. He lost a game-changing coinflip with pocket jacks against the ace-queen of Michael Kanaan to shoot the Aussie into the chip lead and dump Varma on to the short stack. It was perhaps the first time in the last two days that he was not sitting in the chip lead, and he reacted by looking for a quick double up. Unfortunately his timing was astray as he jammed A♠T♠ into the K♠K♣ of Nick Wong to be bundled out in 5th place.
Kanaan was in the box seat, but such was the tone of this final table, that his meteoric rise to the top was matched by an equally devastating fall from grace. Kanaan quickly went from penthouse to outhouse after a couple of small hits were followed by his pocket tens losing a preflop race against Nick Wong's ace-queen.
Nick Wong was out in front, and with plenty of experience under his belt, it was expected that he would be tough to overcome.
However to their credit, Hoang Anh Do and Alistair Duff showed a never say die attitude in what was a dramatic three-handed war.
All three players spent time on their knees. All three recovered in glorious fashion. Hoang Anh Do in particular looked destined for third place when he was all in with J♥2♥ against Nick Wong's A♦6♦ and an ace found its way onto the flop. But Do jagged running hearts for a sensational backdoor flush to double up and stay alive.
Do then went on a mini-rush, and after three hours of three-handed play, Alistair Duff was eliminated in 3rd place when he ran his A♠T♠ into Do's A♦A♥.
This gave Hoang Anh Do a healthy three-to-one chip advantage over Nick Wong when heads-up play commenced, but the two exchanged several pots before the final hand of the tournament went down, and it was a rather unusual one at that.
Wong limped the button, and then three-bet when Do put in a preflop raise of his own. The two went to a flop of 5♦8♦5♠ where Do check-called the bet from Wong. They slowed down and tapped the table when the 4♠ hit the turn, but the A♥ river was the action card we needed. Do checked and Wong moved all in for his tournament life. Do deliberated the decision for several minutes before announcing a call.
Wong opened A♦T♥ and, after such a lengthy wait, he probably thought it was good. But it was not. Do opened A♠8♠ - the dead man's hand - for a better two pair to grab a mighty win for Vietnam.
Final table results
1st Hoang Anh Do (Vietnam) - PHP5,927,000
2nd Nicholas Wong (Hong Kong) - PHP3,732,000
3rd Alistair Duff (Australia) - PHP2,086,000
4th Michael Kanaan (Australia) (PokerStars Qualifier) - PHP1,592,000
5th Amit Varma (India) - PHP1,317,000
6th Sameer Rattonsey (India) - PHP1,043,000
7th Jacky Wang (Australia) (PokerStars Qualifier) - PHP823,000
8th Jae Kyung Sim (Korea) - PHP658,500
9th Antoine Amourette (France) (PokerStars Qualifier) - PHP494,000
That concludes our coverage from the APPT Cebu Main Event. We'd like to thank everyone involved with the tournament for their hospitality over the past week, with the Shangri-La Mactan Resort and Waterfront Hotel both providing us with a wonderful time here in Cebu. This certainly is a highlight of the Asian poker calendar, so do yourself a favour and make sure you satellite into this one next year.
Also many thanks to Ken and Long from Kenneth Lim Photography for their expertise behind the camera lens throughout the week.
If you're looking for more poker action, there's a little tournament over in Monte Carlo that you may be interested in following, otherwise we'll be making a speedy trip back to Australia as the ANZPT Perth kicks off at the Burswood Casino on Wednesday.
Until then, thanks for following, and good night from Cebu!