It took a long heads-up battle but we've finally crowned a Queenstown Snowfest champion with Dave Allan overcoming illness and a tough heads-up opponent in Ken Demlakian to claim the title.
Close to two hours ago, Demlakian looked across the table at Allan and chirped, "You're not enjoying this are you?"
"Not really. I'm pretty sick, mate," came the blunt reply.
Allan was visibly spent at the table. Clearly sick with the flu that has been hanging around some of the players, Allan seemed physically and emotionally drained, after a long week, and another long day, of poker.
Yet he was able to maintain his composure throughout the heads-up battle to weather the storm that was Ken Demlakian.
Allan played small-ball throughout the heads-up match, preferring to limp most buttons and use his experience advantage post-flop. He avoided risks and didn't make too many moves or bluffs, but instead, waited to connect with the board and chip away at his opponent's stack.
For Demlakian, he steamrolled his way to the final table, talked the talk and, for the most part, he was able to walk the walk. But eventually Allan wore him down and the chips swung in the other direction.
Allan got a key double up with top pair on a flop of 7♠3♣5♣. Allan shoved all in with 7♦6♦ for top pair and a straight draw, with Demlakian making the call with K♠5♦ for middle pair. The T♦ turn and J♦ river completed the board to see Allan back in control.
Demlakian's stack dwindled before the final hand saw Allan limp the button and Demlakian check his option. The flop landed 8♦3♠7♠ and both players checked. Demlakian led for 50,000 on the Q♣ turn card and Allan made the call as the 4♠ completed the board. Demlakian fired another 60,000 before Allan raised to 170,000. Demlakian sighed, waved his arms in the air and announced all in for a few hundred thousand more. Allan gave a grunt of his own before calling with T♠6♠ for a rivered flush which was too good for Demlakian's 7♥3♦ two pair.
Demlakian picked up NZ$70,400 for a fantastic tournament as Allan grabs his first major live tournament victory and NZ$110,600 in prize money!
Earlier in the day, we were licking our lips at what may lay ahead with a stacked final table line up that was sure to provide an entertaining day of poker.
We lost the two short stacks of David Evans and Ivan Zalac in the early stages of play, before Team PokerStars Pro Bryan Huang departed. It's the second time Huang has made the final table of this event, but when he shoved pocket sevens and ran into Jordan Westmorland's pocket kings, Huang had to be content with 7th place.
Matthew Wakeman was unable to get much going, but he picked up the largest score of his live poker career when he was eliminated in 6th place, before play entered into an epic stalemate five-handed.
Dave Allan was on the short stack as he and Ricky Kroesen waited patiently for their moment to strike, while Jordan Westmorland and Ken Demlakian tangled for the chip lead.
Allan found a crucial double up through David Zhao with ace-ten against ace-eight, to leave Zhao in the danger zone. Zhao was the only non-PokerStars qualifier or sponsored player at the final table, and was certainly a tough nut to crack, but eventually bowed out in 5th place. Zhao found one double up, but he couldn't make it two when he ran his pocket threes into the pocket tens of Westmorland.
Zhao was soon followed by Ricky Kroesen in 4th place after Kroesen got short and pushed A♥T♥ into Westmorland's pocket queens.
Jordan Westmorland had been responsible for the last four eliminations and was challenging for the lead, but found it tough with Ken Demlakian playing plenty of pots and hitting a ton of flops to his direct left. Eventually Westmorland decided his best approach was to gamble as he pushed all in with a flush and straight draw, but Demlakian couldn't be budged as he made the call on the flop with just a gutterball before hitting top pair on the turn. That top pair would be enough as the river bricked out to end Westmorland's run in 3rd place.
Ken Demlakian held the chip lead entering heads-up play but in the end it was Australia's Dave Allan who secured victory. In his post-match interview, Allan commented that he'd always said that live variance often made it tough to get results, but now with this win under his belt, the monkey is off the back, so he'll be seeking some guidance from fellow "live grinder" Dan Neilson to discuss "live poker strategy".
Congratulations to Dave Allan and all of the Queenstown Snowfest prize winners!
2012 Queenstown Snowfest final table results
1st Dave Allan (Australia) (PokerStars qualifier) - NZ$110,600
2nd Ken Demlakian (Australia) (PokerStars qualifier) - NZ$70,400
3rd Jordan Westmorland (Thailand) (PokerStars qualifier) - NZ$41,200
4th Ricky Kroesen (Australia) (PokerStars qualifier) - NZ$34,200
5th David Zhao (Australia) - NZ$28,200
6th Matthew Wakeman (Australia) (PokerStars qualifier) - NZ$23,100
7th Bryan Huang (Singapore) (PokerStars Team Pro) - NZ$19,100
8th Ivan Zalac (Australia) (PokerStars qualifier) - NZ$15,100
9th David Evans (Australia) (PokerStars qualifier) - NZ12,070
That concludes our coverage from the 2012 Queenstown Snowfest. What a week it has been! We've thoroughly enjoyed our time here. It truly is a magic town and we couldn't recommend this stop more highly for people thinking about coming to Queenstown next year.
Thanks to Kenneth Lim Photography for his assistance in snapping all of the world-class images you have seen in the blog at this event.
Also many thanks also to Andrew Gray, Toni Quedley and to all of the SKYCITY Queenstown staff for running a world-class tournament and doing it all with a smile. The hospitality has been first class.
The next stop on the local calendar is the APPT Melbourne event at Crown Casino from August 30th to September 3rd 2012. We hope to see you there!