The heads-up match was reminiscent of a standard All Blacks/Wallabies rugby match with Kiwi Daniel Craker cruising to victory in just two hands against his Aussie competition.
Although the day started with 11 players still remaining it didn't take long to set the final table. Edward Hurdcroft and Eric Mutrie were eliminated in less than 30 minutes.
The real final table was made up of the following players:
|1. Luke Stanford||Seat 6||$859,000|
|2. Daniel Craker||Seat 1||$447,000|
|3. Wang Che Jung||Seat 5||$373,000|
|4. Nathanael Seet||Seat 2||$348,000|
|5. Michael Mariakis||Seat 9||$262,000|
|6. Wai Kwan Yuen||Seat 3||$162,000|
|7. Dan Sing||Seat 8||$148,000|
|8. Matthew Konnecke||Seat 4||$81,000|
|9. Jani Karke||Seat 7||$49,000|
Wai Yuen was the first player to take her leave from the final table when her A-K failed against Wang Jung's Q♣ J♣. She could take solace in the fact that she became just the second woman in the history of the APPT to make a final table.
Michael Mariakis and Jani Karke would quickly follow Yuen to the rail as the rapid pace that has been the standard at this tournament continued at the final table.
It was around this time that one of the sickest hands of the tournament transpired. In the hand Jung triple-barrel bluffed on a Q♠ 8♠ 3♥ K♥ 7♦ board. With close to a million chips in the pot Luke Stanford just couldn't see how Jung could possibly be bluffing. Even though he only had $300,000 chips left behind Stanford eventually decided to lay it down.
Jung flipped over 9♥ 5♦ for the stone-cold bluff and the entire final table gasped at Jung's bold move. Stanford could just shake his head as his early chip lead disappeared.
The Singapore kid Nathanael Seet was the next player to hit the road when his Q-5 couldn't beat Stanford's A♦ T♣.
"Lucky" Luke Stanford's luck would indeed run out in the next hour of play when he Dan Sing ended his day.
You might recognize the name Dan Sing as he played the evil Ming T'ien in several episodes of Xena: Warrior Princess. Sing was a crowd favorite and put on quite a display of power poker as he worked his way from $57,000 chips at the start of the day to over $600,000.
Unfortunately for Sing and the large crowd of supporters he couldn't dodge some nasty luck in the later stages of the day. Sing got it all-in with AA to Konnecke's JJ and looked to be a sure favorite to knock the Aussie out of the tournament. Instead the poker gods frowned on Sing, and Konnecke made a straight.
Although Sing still had chips after the hand, the bad luck seemed to affect his long-term game and he was eventually felted fourth.
In his final hand Sing turned a straight on a A♥ T♣ 7♠ J♠ board with K♣ Q♣ and got Jung to call his all-in shove with J♣ T♣ two pair. Unfortunately for Sing the river would bring the dreaded J♠ to complete Jung's full house.
Action would finally slow down somewhat as the three remaining players seemed to dig in for the long haul.
Finally, after a 30-minute dinner break that seemed to encourage action, we had our third-place elimination.
Jung, who had been making bold moves the entire night, was finally caught in a wicked bluff on a 9♥ 3♣ 2♣ flop. Craker made a fairly sick call with just 8♥ 8♣. Jung could only muster K♦ 6♦ and after the board finished 3♠ and then J♣ he found himself out of the tournament.
Heads-up play would last a scant two hands as Craker would get it all-in with 2♥ 2♣ versus Konnecke's A♠ 9♠. It was the classic poker race of two overcards versus a pair - albeit for the title of APPT Auckland. As luck would have it the ducks would hold up just fine and Craker quacked himself to the $153,393 for first place.
It was the fairytale ending to the New Zealander's three-day quest to become the first champion of APPT Auckland. Stay tuned for PokerListings.com's exclusive interview with the likable Kiwi.
It was almost sad to see the final cards dealt in APPT Auckland as the tournament and the casino have been truly first rate.
We spoke briefly with Ejaaz Dean, the Skycity executive manager of table games, and he said the tournament was a huge success for the venue and they looked forward to hosting it for years to come. We have a feeling the people at PokerStars.com likely feel the same way and think that APPT Auckland could become one of the marquee events on the tour.
Thanks for tuning in to PokerListings.com's coverage of APPT Auckland and we'll see you in Manila Oct. 9-12, for the next event on the whirlwind of cash and cards that is the Asia Pacific Poker Tour.