The final nine gathered in the Crown Poker Room this afternoon for the climax to the APPT Melbourne Main Event. It was a talented line up but at the end of the day just one man would remain standing. Or in this case, it was one crocodile.
Australian Poker Hall of Famer Billy “The Croc” Argyros has defeated a field of 309 entrants to secure the APPT Melbourne Main Event. After an enthralling three-way contest, the heads-up battle was a brief one. Before heads-up play commenced, Argyros and Bowdy Tolhopf did another deal for the remaining $29,500. It would be $14,500 for Argyros, $10,000 for Tolhopf and $5,000 in the middle for the winner, and that extra $5,000 would quickly end in the hands of “The Croc”.
After winning the first couple of pots, Argyros extended his advantage before Tolhopf moved all in preflop with A♣10♥ and Argyros made the call with 8♣8♦. The board bricked out 4♣9♦3♣6♦3♠ and the APPT Melbourne title was snapped up by “The Croc”!
“I can’t believe it! I can’t believe it!” exclaimed an excited Argyros. “I haven’t won a poker tournament since Cleopatra was water skiing down the Nile!”
Argyros then quickly jumped on his phone to tell his wife of the great news in a moment that we were all lucky to share.
Earlier in the day, things started off at a rapid rate with four eliminations in the first hour of play. The short-stacked Jazz Mathers was unable to find a double up to be the first to go, and he was soon followed by Ravi Maravar who lost most of his chips in a brutal cooler when his Q♦Q♥ ran smack into David Yan’s K♣K♦.
They were soon followed by Phi Luu, who jammed with Q♣9♣ but couldn’t get past Billy Argyros’ A♦J♥, and then 2013 Aussie Millions runner up Joe Cabret. Holding pocket eights, Cabret open-shoved all in and David Yan made the call with A♣Q♠. The board would be spread 7♠5♦A♥3♥K♣ to see Cabret out in 6th place as suddenly we were down to just five players.
It was the same hand that brought Robert Damelian undone in 5th place. He three-bet all in with pocket eights and Bowdy Tolhopf made the call with A♠7♦. The board ran out A♦9♠5♦Q♣J♦ to pair up Tolhopf’s ace for the knockout blow.
While the first five eliminations were pretty frantic, it was a little tougher to remove our 4th place finisher. In the end, it was the UK’s Ashley Mason who succumbed. He entered the final table as the chip leader, but couldn’t get much going today. When Mason found Q♣Q♦ he moved all in and Billy Argyros made the call with A♥K♥. Argyros reached into the belly of a wind-up crocodile soft toy he had brought to the table, and when he wound it up, the critter rolled around on the table laughing. It was a sign of what was to come as the board ran out 9♥8♥4♠6♦K♦ to see Argyros spike a king on the river to take it down.
Mason picked up $58,400 for 4th place in an impressive week on the Crown Poker felt.
The three remaining players then took the opportunity to lock up some cash as they struck a three-handed ICM deal. Bowdy Tolhopf took the biggest pay day as chip leader, but there was still $30,000 left in the middle and, of course, the APPT Melbourne title to play for.
And that title obviously meant a lot to our final three players as they entered into a fierce war of attrition. The short stacks survived on multiple occasions and the chips were passed round and round the table.
It would take over four and a half hours between eliminations, but the cards would ultimately fall against New Zealand’s David Yan.
Yan was all in with A♥K♣ against Bowdy Tolhopf’s A♠9♠ but a devastating nine-ball appeared on the river on the 8♣5♠3♥2♦9♣ board to see Yan out in third place.
It would leave Argyros and Tolhopf to duke it out for the title with Argyros winning the coin flip that mattered to claim a mighty victory. It was a great tournament for Tolhopf who was able to collect the lion’s share of the prize pool after holding the chip lead when the first deal was struck. We’re sure to see more of him on the local circuit in future.
In the end it was the larger than life Billy “The Croc” Argyros who has written another chapter in one of Australia’s most decorated poker careers. It’s the modern-day major poker title that Argyros had been craving for some time, and you could tell just how much this meant to him. Congratulations Crocky!
APPT Melbourne Final Table Results
1st Billy Argyros – $134,500**
2nd Bowdy Tolhopf – $166,000**
3rd David Yan – $133,000*
4th Ashley Mason – $58,400
5th Robert Damelian – $45,900
6th Joe Cabret – $37,550
7th Phi Luu – $29,200
8th Ravi Maravar – $22,920
9th Jazz Mathers – $16,650
* denotes three-handed ICM deal
** denotes heads-up deal
That wraps up our coverage from the APPT Melbourne Main Event. Well done to Danny McDonagh and the PokerStars team for another successful event and also a big thanks to Jim Preston, Joel Williams and all of the Crown Poker team for their hospitality at the home of poker in Australia.
Also thanks to Ken and Long from Kenneth Lim Photography for their brilliance behind the camera lens throughout the week.
The next event on the Asian poker calendar is the ACOP Platinum Series in Macau which starts September 12th in the lead up to the Asia Championship of Poker which runs from October 18th to November 3rd. Until then, so long from Melbourne!
Photos provided by Kenneth Lim Photography
Heath “TassieDevil” Chick is a Freelance Contributor for the PokerStars Blog.