All hail King Karamalikis! The 22-year-old Aussie online phenom known as “xMONSTERxDONGx” is now the toast of the nation after winning the 2010 PokerStars.net Asia Pacific Poker Tour Grand Final. From the moment after the final river card was dealt, the champagne bottles started popping and the well-wishes began flooding in from all over the world on all the social networks.
His supporters on the rail were quick to kick off the celebrations, barn-storming the stage to hoist their hero high, including 2009 APPT champion Aaron Benton. Karamalikis’ victory in this event caps off what has been a phenomonal year – he scored his breakthrough live tournament victory in the Aussie Millions $1650 Bounty Event before final tabling the $100,000 Challenge, mixing it up with the world’s best.
Karamalikis then went on to ship both the 2010 ANZPT Sydney High Roller Event, the 2010 Melbourne Poker Championship High Roller Event and finished runner-up in the ANZPT Melbourne High Roller event. This is Karamalikis’ first Main Event victory and as a result of his AUD $459,510 payday, his career tournament earnings now exceed USD $1 million. He also maintain’s Australia’s perfect record of APPT Grand Final titles, but for the first time, the trophy will be heading interstate to Adelaide, South Australia.
Karamalikis’ win was just the icing on the cake for what was one of the most incredible major poker events that we’ve witnessed. Indeed, it was one of the best final table line-ups ever assembled in the southern hemisphere. Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu’s first trip to Sydney certainly wasn’t fruitless, but having come into the final table as the short stack he was always going to need some help, but he was sent to the rail in ninth place after moving his money in with Q♦10♠ on a flop of 3♣10♥6♥ but ran into Roland de Wolfe’s 3♥3♦ which improved to a full house when the 10♦ fell on the turn.
Karamalikis then took some big pots off French PokerStars Qualifier Antoine Amourette and Roland de Wolfe to take the chip lead before Amourette took a massive chunk out of de Wolfe’s stack to leave him with just 374,000 heading into the first break of the day. It didn’t take long for de Wolfe to get the last of his chips into the middle, moving all-in preflop with A♠9♦, but failed to improve against Karamalikis’ A♦Q♠ and was bowled out in eighth place.
Sydney’s Manuel Hansimikali had been the victim of a brutal beat leading up to the final table during Day 3, but he appeared uncomfortable amongst the more experienced campaigners and eventually moved in for the last of his stack with 8♠8♥, only to run into Peco Stojanovski’s Q♠Q♥ which improved to a set on the river.
2008 APPT Macau champion Eddy Sabat was a welcome addition to the tournament and put up a brave fight after being short-stacked for most of Day 3, however he was eliminated in fourth place by Karamalikis when he lost the flip for his tournament life with A♦K♠ against Karamalikis’ 9♠9♦.
Eventual runner-up Ben McLean then delivered a one-two knockout punch to French PokerStars Qualifier Antoine Amourette. Amourette moved all-in preflop for the last of his chips with 10♥9♥ but found no love from McLean’s A♠J♣, which filled up by the river, just to rub it in.
McLean then overtook Karamalikis for the chip lead and soared even further ahead after eliminating Peco Stojanovski in fourth place, improving to a set with pocket kings on the flop against Stojanovski’s pocket queens. Sydney’s last hope in the form of Ben Rafferty then fell in third place when he moved all-in A♣8♣, only to run into Karamalikis’ A♠J♦.
The chip counts were fairly even going into heads-up play and at one stage it looked as though the amateur McLean had Karamalikis on the ropes. However, Karamalikis’ experience, patience and controlled aggression wore McLean down to a seven-to-one chip deficit before McLean finally moved his last one million into the middle with A♦6♣.
Karamalikis insta-called with pocket fives and improved to a full house after the board ran out 2♠Q♠4♠2♥2♦, confirming him as our champion. That’s not to discredit McLean, as he put on a solid display of poker to finish in second place – a fine effort from the Australian PokerStars Qualifier.
Congratulations to Jonathan Karamalikis, the 2010 PokerStars.net APPT Grand Final champion!
Season 4 of the PokerStars.net Asia Pacific Poker Tour has officially come to a close and we’d like to thank poker room manager Deb Rillo, tournament director Jason Wicks and all the wonderful staff here at the Star City Casino for their hospitality throughout the week and for their ongoing support.
We’d also like to give a special shout out to Paul “The Voice” Khoury and his dedicated production team, working tirelessly behind the scenes to bring the world the live webcast. You all did an amazing job and we hope to see more APPT events being beamed to the world from you in the future.
Finally, our sincere thanks to APPT President Jeffrey Haas and all the APPT crew, in particular, tournament director Danny McDonagh and events managers Robin Lim and Luke Lichtenstein for all their support. Season 4 has been a blast and it has been a privilege to have been a part of it once again.
On behalf of my blogging partner Heath “TassieDevil” Chick, this is Landon Blackhall signing off for the last time in 2010. We wish you all the best for the holiday season and a safe and prosperous new year. Until next time, farewell from Sydney!