When the day started at the PokerStars.net APPT Melbourne Main Event, we knew we were in for a cracking final table. In fact, we knew that three days ago when we looked around the field of 260 players and realised how stacked this field truly was. APPT champs, ANZPT winners, Aussie Millions gold rings and WSOP bracelets. Whoever would win this event was going to have to earn it.
So it’s fitting that the man to rise above them all is a man who has a decorated poker career that is the envy of most players in the Australasian region. While Leo Boxell is definitely part of poker’s old guard, his last 18 months have produced some incredibly consistent results as he continues to defy the trends of the modern game to keep the Internet whizz kids under control.
There was certainly a new school versus old school feel to this final table, as well as an intriguing Trans-Tasman rivalry between Australia and New Zealand.
In the thick of both wars was Phil Willcocks who was a dominant force throughout the final table, whether it was pounding on the blinds of Steve Bouya and Leo Boxell, or three-betting the youngsters in Jackson Zheng and Will Jones.
However it was Van Marcus who drew first blood when he doubled up with A♦A♥ against the Q♦Q♣ of Julius Colman. Unfortunately for Colman he just never got out of the blocks and when his 9♠9♥ ran into the K♠K♣ of Will Jones, Colman was first to the cashier in 9th place.
Will Jones and Steve Bouya were the early movers with some big cards, while Jackson Zheng and Phil Willcocks slipped down the chip count leaderboard. Zheng would be next to go when he three-bet shoved his K♣Q♥ to find himself racing with Willcocks’ 4♦4♣. Zheng couldn’t pair up and he was eliminated in 8th place.
The big-ball strategy of PokerStars qualifier Eddie Mascardi saw him come unstuck in 7th place when he ran his A♥8♦ into the A♠A♣ of Will Jones, while Michael Frydman’s similar game plan saw him shove his 9♠9♥ into Leo Boxell’s 10♦10♥ to bust out in 6th.
As the dinner bell tolled, it was Will Jones who held a narrow lead over the final five, but the deadlock couldn’t be broken for some time as play became tight and intense.
Eventually it was Van Marcus who would be first to crack as fell just short in his quest to become the first player to win two APPT titles. Marcus committed his short stack on a Q♥K♥5♥ flop with K♣J♦ but a sneaky Phil Willcocks had laid the perfect trap with his A♥A♦. Willcocks improved to a flush on the turn to leave Marcus drawing dead and departing in 5th place.
Tasmania’s Will Jones was also gunning for a unique double as he was seeking his second trophy of the week after being part of the successful Tasmanian State of Origin team earlier in the series. He may have picked up the nickname “Willy Lowball” in that event for his Razz prowess, but he proved that No Limit Holdem is his true calling with a strong showing on this final table. In fact, he was unlucky to be eliminated in 4th place in one of the key hands on the final table.
The action flop was 9♠K♦5♠ as Willcocks let out for 175,000. Steve Bouya folded but Jones raised it to 425,000 before Willcocks moved all in. Jones insta-called with 9♥9♦ for a set but Willcocks was far from gone with his 7♠6♠ combo draw. Willcocks made his straight on 8♥ and rubbed salt into the wound with the 3♠ river.
It was the difference between elimination and a monster chip lead as Willcocks set out to pound on his last two foes. He was the most aggressive player, but he was left as merely a bystander when Steve Bouya shoved all in with 9♦9♠ on a J♦5♦2♣ flop. It backfired when Boxell called and opened A♠A♣ as the turn and river bricked out.
Bouya had to be content with 3rd place as Boxell nabbed the chip lead entering heads-up play. From there it was a titanic two-hour struggle where both players had chances to win it all.
After shoving all in preflop on the very first hand of heads-up lay, Boxell continued to swing wildly. He regretted this approach when he shoved his 2♥2♦ into the Q♠Q♦ of Willcocks to give the Kiwi a big double up, but he quickly recovered after making a backdoor flush to trump Willcocks’ top pair.
Boxell had a chance at the title with a coinflip holding ace-king against pocket jacks but the bare board gave Willcocks another double up before it was Willcocks’ turn to sweat the trophy. The 6♠5♣7♦ flop saw Boxell call it off with 6♥3♠ for a pair and straight draw against Willcocks’ K♠K♥. Boxell spiked the 4♥ on the turn for a straight to leave Willcocks a dejected man.
Willcocks slid backwards from there until he made his final stand with a triple barrel on a board of 2♥Q♠6♦4♠J♥. Boxell deliberated before calling with 4♣2♠ for two pair which was too good for Willcocks’J♠10♥.
The rail gave Boxell a tremendous round of applause as everyone respected the incredible achievement of the future Australian Poker Hall of Famer. While the APPT trophy is his, he also grabs $330,000 in prize money and the lead in the ANZ Player of the Year race. Congratulations Leo!
Final Table Results
1st Leo Boxell (Australia) – $330,000
2nd Phil Willcocks (New Zealand) – $207,600
3rd Steve Bouya (Australia) – $116,000
4th Will Jones (Australia) – $88,600
5th Van Marcus (Australia) – $73,300
6th Michael Frydman (Australia) – $58,000
7th Eddie Mascardi (Australia) (PokerStars Qualifier) – $45,800
8th Jackson Zheng (New Zealand) (PokerStars Qualifier) – $36,700
9th Julius Colman (Australia) – $27,500
That’s a wrap from the Crown Poker Room. Well done to all of the cash winners as well as those who won events during the week.
Many thanks to Jonno, Christian and all of the Crown Poker Room staff for running another superb series, and thanks to Shannon Morris for his world-class photographic talents.
The next event on the local calendar is the APPT Snowfest event in Queenstown, New Zealand which kicks off August 23rd. This is one you won’t want to miss, so make sure you qualify now on PokerStars!
Until then, thanks for following along at home and we look forward to your company again on the PokerStars.net Asia Pacific Poker Tour!