By Jeremy Coleman
Talking with the five remaining PartyPoker.com players this morning, all were relaxed, comfortable and looking forward to this key day in the main event. Today the tournament will play down from the current 69 players to the final table of just nine. However, with the top 27 players cashing there was much to play for.
For low stacked players like Fedor Matviv and Daniel Haglund, they knew they had to make a move this morning; with the blinds at 600/1,200 with a 200 ante it was getting very expensive to just sit and watch the action.
It did not take long for the first player to hit the rail. I saw three guys leave their tables within the first few minutes but luckily none of them were part of our team.
One of the big surprises was the early departure of David ‘Chino’ Reem. He raised a pot in late position but was called by Norihito in the big blind who then check raised a 5-4-A flop containing a club up to 6,100. The turn and river brought two more clubs and although Chino pushed all in, Suzuki had Ac-8c for the nuts flush.
The first Partypoker.com player to hit the rail was Daniel who did well to last over an hour. Obviously loving his Manila experience, Daniel immediately signed up for the Pot Limit Omaha side event.
Tim Kaufman built his stack up nicely but then got tangled in a nasty pot with Susumu Toge. On a board reading 7-5-J-6-5 featuring three hearts and two spades Toge moved all in. This caused Tim to sit for a long time as he considered making the call, thus putting his tournament life at stake. Eventually he folded and asked to see Tog’s hand. Toge refused and did not reveal even one card. Tim shrugged and mumbled, ‘So sick’ as I gave him an encouraging smile. Although he managed to build his stack up again he crashed out an hour later.
Fedor was keeping his short stack in the game far longer than anyone could have imagined but he also hit the rail when facing a pair of kings. With Fedor holding only a marginal hand he needed a miracle. The dealer took forever and there was no happy ending: Fedor was quickly moving in the direction of the bar for a cold San Miguel.
John O’Shea was on a huge poker rollercoaster, even moving into the chip lead at one stage with 190,000 chips. During a 15-minute break I asked him if he was going to slow down now and just make sure he cashes. John, though, only has one style of playing and that is to be hyper aggressive; eventually it cost him dearly. Three big hands brought him crashing down to earth and he was shipping chips like crazy. He finally came unstuck when his jacks faced queens. One minute I was expecting him to be the APT champion, the next he was out.
On the other side of the tournament room the friendly PartyPoker.com Sit & Go started at 4pm with nine of the PartyPoker.com players joining me for a friendly 2,000 peso (approx $25) game. There was much laughter at this table and we had a few railbirds enjoying the less than serious action. Miika from Finland was dominating the table in the early stages and knocked out three players as he sat in front of about 40 per cent of the chips. Slowly, the other players started fighting back and Miika lost big hands against me and Stuart before Julian sent him to the rail, accompanied by a friendly cheer.
One player who was still doing well in the main event was Erik Backlund who doubled up against Nam Le at one stage by rivering an ace high straight to beat Nam’s set of 10s. At this stage Erik was on about 47,000 chips and looking good to creep into the money.
Friend of PartyPoker.com Eddie Hearn from Matchroom Sport was still in a good position and keeping a good stack of chips in front of him as he kept his table amused with his banter. Eddie was proudly wearing his PartyPoker.com badges so I had my fingers crossed he would get to the final table.
Play was slowing down now and we were stuck on 28 players for a long time as no one wanted to be the bubble boy. Eventually the bubble burst and Erik had made the money.
Back at the PartyPoker Sit and go we reached our final three players. Jason from England, Julian from Argentina and I were in the money. However, we all had one eye on the clock as the FHM Asia party would be starting soon and no one wanted to miss that. Once Jason hit the rail Julian and I played heads up for a while with the chip lead changing almost every hand. Eventually, we split the cash. In the interest of pride and bragging rights though we had a look at our final hands, Julian flipped over Q-2 while I had Q-9. With a nine and a queen coming on the board my two pair won and we all rushed off to the party.
I stopped by Erik’s table to see him leave in 25th place and collect $6,000 for his tournament. Erik’s A-Q was up against the K-J of Vicente Pena but a jack and a king on the flop sent Erik to rail and he rushed straight upstairs to join us at the FHM extravaganza. Daniel Haglund also had a smile on his face, having cashed for 30,600 pesos in the Pot Limit Omaha side event.
The FHM party by the pool was very exotic. With beautiful models everywhere and free food and drink, it was a great way for the players to unwind after a week of intensive poker action.
Eddie was still in the main event but came and had a drink with us during the dinner break. I promised to come and watch him shortly but was slightly distracted for a while due to the fun going on around me. As I entered the tournament room an hour later I saw Eddie walking towards me. ‘Sixteenth,’ he said. I think he was a little relived as he wanted to get back to the party, plus he had an early flight in the morning.
A short while later we had our final table:
Seat 1: Ron Kluber (USA) 310,000
Seat 2: Cicurel Didiwe (Switzerland) 182,000
Seat 3: Steven Yea (Korea) 754,000
Seat 4: Vesa Leikos (Finland) 94,000
Seat 5: Neil Arce (Philippines) 377,000
Seat 6: Kim Tae Hyung (Korea) 168,000
Seat 7: Susumu Toge (Japan) 102,000
Seat 8: Liz Lieu (USA) 144,000
Seat 9: Casey Kastle (Slovenia) 503,000
Alas, no PartyPoker.com players but a final table that promises plenty of excitement in revealing the new champ.