On a day where the world's biggest sporting event kicked off, Billy "The Croc" Argyros dropped by our blogging desk before play to talk about his favourite subject - tournament structures.
"Less than six levels, guaranteed!" exclaimed the Australian Poker Hall of Famer in reference to how long he thought today would last. It sounded like a nice short day for us, so we were happy enough to agree, despite some doubt lingering in the pit of our stomachs.
Yet here we are, bringing you our daily wrap of today's play which has now concluded with our field of 31 reduced to a star-studded final table of nine after just four-and-a-half levels. Sweet as bro!
It was an entertaining day with the chips flying from the get-go as the short stacks took their shot at recovery. Some succeeded, but some failed, with the likes of Joel Feldman, Kristina & Mark Griffiths, Ben McLean, Richard Lancaster, Gary Retallick, Yvo Molin, Craig Blight, Aaron Benton and Billy Argyros among those who played three days of poker, only to go home unrewarded.
Argyros' elimination was particularly painful. His pocket jacks were racing with David Zhao's ace-king, and fell behind on the 6♦6♥A♦ flop. Argyros called for a jack and got it when the J♦ appeared on the turn for the two-outer, but the emotional rollercoaster ended when an A♣ river delivered Zhao a bigger full house and sent Argyros to the rail.
The pain didn't end there.
Michael Kanaan had been a dominant force all tournament, but a set-over-set clash with Ken Demlakian saw him crippled. Kanaan was battling on the bubble with a short stack, and prepared to take a chance to play for the win as opposed to several others who were blinding their tournament away in the hope of a min-cash.
In the end, it backfired for Kanaan after he shoved with ace-jack from under the gun and found two callers. Kanaan managed to spike two pair on the flop, but again Demlakian was his nemesis as he caught a set on the river holding pocket sixes. Kanaan was out in 16th place to miss the money as the remaining 15 were relieved to make a profit in Queenstown.
From there, the short stacks found their gamble to try and reach the final table. Jason O'brien (15th), Tatjana Zizic (14th), Michael Fadersen (13th), David Wonson (12th) and Stewart Ballard (11th) were quickly dispatched to the cashier before the effervescent Chiu Yeung Lee ended the day in one of the more entertaining moments of the day.
Lee five-bet shoved Q♠Q♦ and Jordan Westmorland made the call with J♣J♥. Lee was anxiously pacing around the room as the T♥2♥9♥ flop brought a real sweat with Westmorland holding the only heart. The 8♣ turn made things even more interesting as Westmorland added an open-ended straight draw. The dealer burned a card and revealed the Q♣ to see Lee give off a roar of delight after hitting his set, as he failed to realise that it gave Westmorland his straight. Oops! Lee was out in 10th place as the final table line up was set!
Queenstown Snowfest final table line up
Seat 1: Matthew Wakeman (Australia) (PokerStars Qualifier) - 165,000
Seat 2: Jordan Westmorland (Thailand) (PokerStars Qualifier) - 523,500
Seat 3: David Evans (Australia) (PokerStars Qualifier) - 95,000
Seat 4: Ken Demlakian (Australia) (PokerStars Qualifier) - 529,500
Seat 5: David Zhao (Australia) - 511,000
Seat 6: Bryan Huang (Singapore) (Team PokerStars PRO) - 263,500
Seat 7: Ricky Kroesen (Australia) (PokerStars Qualifier) - 191,000
Seat 8: Ivan Zalac (Australia) ( PokerStars Qualifier) - 92,500
Seat 9: Dave Allan (Australia) (PokerStars Qualifier) - 393,500
With seven PokerStars qualifiers and Team PokerStars Pro Bryan Huang among the final nine, Danny McDonagh has said that David Zhao won't be allowed to play tomorrow since he's not representing PokerStars (in jest of course). Zhao was extremely strong all day today and will be a real threat to break the PokerStars dominance tomorrow.
Matthew Wakeman and Dave Allan will be looking to get the live poker monkey off the back, Ricky Kroesen is lurking in contention, while Thailand-based American Jordan Westmorland closed in on the chip lead after that last hand of the day.
However the chip lead goes to Day 1b chip leader in Sydney's Ken Demlakian who ran red-hot all day to lead the final nine into battle tomorrow.
We'll have player profiles for our Queenstown Snowfest final table line up for you later this evening.
The final table kicks off at 12:30pm (GMT+12) tomorrow where we'll crown our 2012 PokerStars.net NZPT/ANZPT/APPT Queenstown Snowfest champion! We look forward to your company then!
Nicky Pickering and Andrew Gray once again bring you all the latest news from the Queenstown Snowfest in the Nightly Notables: