James Chen Leads After Day 1
Melbourne, Australia. Sunday 22 January 2017. The year couldn’t have started any better for James Chen from Taiwan. Coming from a High Roller win in the Macau Poker Cup September last year, he was heading for Australia with a good feeling and some cash in his pocket. He played the $2,500 H.O.R.S.E. event last week and won it for AUD$39,700 ($29,322). He parlayed that win into a ticket for the $25,000 Challenge and turned it into a straight out win worth a massive AUD$861,840. His name will go into the record books as the winner of the biggest ever $25,000 poker tournament on Australian soil, with 133 players.
The second day of the $25,000 Challenge at the 2017 Aussie Millions saw 25 players out of 133 entries return to the poker room at Crown Melbourne. With just 14 players finishing in the money, it promised to be an exciting day. The day lived up to the highest of expectations with plenty of action right from the get go when the tournament director announced the shuffle up and deal at 2:30 p.m.
Dan Shak, Jason Pritchard and Sam Higgs were just some of the early exits. Another player to head to the rail well before the money stage of the tournament commenced was defending champion Chance Kornuth. He got it all in with ace-three against ace-king and did not get any help from the board.
As familiar high rollers like Stephen Chidwick and Martin Kozlov hit the rail, the money bubble got closer and closer. Cate Hall found herself getting short and made several short trips to other tables to see if there were others with just as few chips. Every time, she returned to her seat disappointed as no one was in such dire straits as she was.
But help sometimes comes from unexpected sources, and for Hall it was Claas Segebrecht who brought solace. The German player jammed for 26 big blinds over Antoine Saout’s small blind open. Big stack Saout had been active and him raising didn’t necessarily mean much of anything, but the Frenchman had kings this time and wasn’t laying them down. Segebrecht had ace-seven and was drawing dead on the turn as Saout hit a king on the flop. The ace on the river only added insult to injury for Segebrecht who was officially the last one to go before the cheques were getting handed out. “stonecold bubbling 25k’s isnt fun” tweeted Segebrecht who’s twitter handle fittingly is ‘@livetourneysfml’.
Local favorite Jeff Rossiter was the first to go in the money, busting with ace-king to Nick Petrangelo’s pocket kings. Rossiter, who announced his retirement from poker a couple of months ago and might be playing his last tournament series here in Melbourne this week, took home a cash worth AUD$63,840.
Cate Hall had been patient but ended up on the rail for the same AUD$63,840 Rossiter had just collected. She got her last chips in with jack-ten against queen-jack and did not find a miraculous escape.
Manig Loeser (12th, AUD$79,800), David Yan (11th, AUD$79,800), Rajkumar Ramakrishnan (10th, AUD$95,760), Tomas Jozonis (9th, AUD$95,760) and Pratyush Buddiga (8th, AUD$119,700) followed in quick succession to get the event down to a final table of seven.
Ryan D’Angelo pulled off his very-own Houdini act after getting his chips in with top pair and top kicker against the set of James Chen. D’Angelo made a flush with the two remaining cards. Chen, however, won those chips back when he busted Mustapha Kanit with queens to Kanit’s jack-ten. Kanit, had to settle for seventh place, worth AUD$119,700.
Nick Petrangelo followed him to the rail just eight minutes later as he hit a flush on the river and moved all-in with it. Unfortunately for him, Brandon Adams had rivered a full house with queen-five and Petrangelo went to the pay-out desk for his sixth place money (AUD$143,640).
Five-handed play lasted for quite some time. Ryan D’Angelo was chip leader for some time but went out in fifth anyway after some pots that didn’t go his way. In the end, it was ace-queen against ace-king that did him in. The player known as ‘g0lfa’ online collected AUD$207,480 for his fifth place finish.
John Juanda followed not much later. The poker veteran was short for quite some time and had to go with it when he got ace-eight suited. He got most of his opponents to fold but big blind James Chen had nines and called. A nine on the flop resulted in Juanda drawing dead on the turn and he had to settle for AUD$287,280.
Three-handed play lasted for well over 3.5 hours. Antoine Saout would eventually be the next to go as he got short and made a move with ace-nine. James Chen was once again the executioner, this time holding ace-king and turning a king. Saout, third in the WSOP Main Event back in 2009, now third in the $25,000 Challenge for AUD$383,040 – the second biggest score of his poker career.
The heads up between Brandon Adams and James Chen lasted another two hours. Adams, who’s last two cashes have been in the WSOP Main Event in 2016 and 2015, and Chen both were in the lead multiple times but could never hold it for long. After some 90 minutes of heads up play, Adams’ momentum seemed gone. He started bleeding chips and Chen nibbled on his stack, grinding him down bit by bit.
In the last hand of the tournament, Adams made a move with jack-four suited being down 5-to-1 in chips. Chen called with ace-three and despite Adams picking up a ton of outs on the flop and turn, the river blanked and Adams had to settle for second place. Adams’s deep run was worth AUD$590,520, by far the biggest score of his career.
The Aussie Millions Ring, designed by ANTON Jewelers, and AUD$861,840 went to James Chen. His last three cashes are wins now, let’s see if he parlays this win again and signs up for the $100,000 Challenge tomorrow.
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