Aaron Benton Wins PokerStars.net APPT Sydney Main Event!

Posted at 11:41 2009-12-07

It’s been a whirlwind 12 months for Aaron Benton. First was a second place finish in the FTOPS Main Event mid-year, followed by a multitude of satellite successes that saw him participate on the entire Asian circuit this year. He’s just made all of that look small time by capturing Australia’s second biggest tournament – the PokerStars.net APPT Sydney Grand Final.

The New South Welshman’s victory keeps the APPT Sydney title on home turf, a record that has stood since the tournament’s inception. Both previous editions were won by Sydney based players – Grant Levy and Martin Rowe. Benton calls Wollongong home.

Benton entered the final table third in chips, and had to overcome some stiff completion that included veteran Australian player Leo Boxell, lead-up event winner Tom Grigg, Thomas Slifka an American with $60,000 worth of cashes to his name, and the chip leader Ernst Hermans who previously ran deep at the World Series of Poker.

Interestingly enough there were two former Blackjack professionals on the final table, who both had less than four years combined playing experience. Seven Australians would take their place on the final table with five of them Sydney locals, and Benton just down the highway in Illawarra.

This is how the final table looked before play got underway at 2pm local time on Sunday:

Seat 1: David Formosa - 956,000
Seat 2: Thomas Slifka - 758,000
Seat 3: Wayne Carlson - 1,114,000
Seat 4: Andrew Hiscox - 848,000
Seat 5: Leo Boxell - 1,236,000
Seat 6: Barry Forrester - 1,087,000
Seat 7: Aaron Benton - 1,790,000
Seat 8: Tom Grigg - 1,950,000
Seat 9: Ernst Hermans - 2,048,000

Final table action would be initially slow, with three and half hours of play elapsing before Thomas Slifka became the first casualty of the final table.

A reasonably short-stacked Slifka moved all-in from the small blind with {6s}{4h} after action folded to him and unfortunately Wayne Carlson was waiting in the big blind for him with {Ah}{js}. The board ran out {Kh} {Qh} {2s} {9c} {Ad} and Slifka was the first player sent to the rail. He earned just under AUD $47,520 for his ninth place finish.

In the very next hand Wayne Carlson would be in the thick of the action again, this time knocking out David Formosa.


Formosa opened the pot from the cutoff making it 150,000 to play. Action then folded to Carlson who moved all in over the top. Formosa made the call holding pocket threes and found himself in bad shape against Carlson's queens. The board then filled out {2h}{7h}{7c}{Ts}{Jd} and meaning the queens held up to take down the pot, sending Formosa to the rail in 8th place for $65,340.

Barry Forrester would be next to go, after Ernst Hermans opened the pot with a raise to 95,000 from under-the-gun and then action folded around the table to Andrew Hiscox who three-bet to 200,000 from the hijack. Leo Boxell folded from the cutoff and when the action reached Forrester on the button, he moved all in for a total of 875,000. Hermans laid down his hand, but Hiscox made the call, tabling {As}{Kh}. Forrester found himself in bad shape with the {Ac}{Qd}. The {8s}{Ah}{3c}{8c}{2s} board changed nothing and Hiscox took down the pot with two pair, aces and eights, with a king kicker. Forrester earned $83,160 in prize money for his seventh place finish.

Those chips wouldn’t stay with Hiscox for long, as his elimination came next. In his final hand Andrew Hiscox raised to 125,000 and Aaron Benton reraised to 375,000. Hiscox then shoved in and Benton snapped him off, tabling {Ad} {As}. Hiscox held {7s} {7c}. The pot would be a monster for over 4.1 million in chips and would prove key to Benton’s deep run. The board came out {6d} {6c} {3d} {5h} {5s} to send Hiscox out in sixth place. The fans on the rail got a sense of just how pivotal the pot was, with Benton’s jubilant celebrations echoing throughout the room.

Benton would claim Tom Grigg’s scalp before the dinner break to solidify his chip lead. Grigg open-raised to 125,000 from the early position, Wayne Carlson called on the button and then Aaron Benton called from the big blind.

The flop came down {As} {Jh} {6h} and everyone checked. The turn card was the {8d} and Benton checked. Grigg fired 250,000 and Carlson folded. Benton then moved all in, having Grigg well covered. Grigg went into the tank with 700,000 chips left and after some baiting from Benton he made the call with {Qd}{jd}. Benton rolled over his {Ah} {7c} to take the lead to the river. The river card was dealt the {6c} and couldn't provide a miracle for Grigg as he was sent to the rail in fifth place.

In four-handed action Benton and Hermans proved by far the most aggressive players. They would pick off Wayne Carlson and Leo Boxell in fourth and third place respectively.

In Carlson’s elimination Hermans opened the pot with a raise to 245,000 and Carlson three-bet to 500,000. Hermans then four-bet shoved and Carlson made the call tabling {Ad}{Th}, only to find he was dominated by Hermans' {As}{Qc}. The ensuing board ran out king-high with no real sweat for Hermans, who moved into the chip lead at the end of the hand.

Aaron Benton would end Leo Boxell’s run in third place. Benton raised to 450,000 with the button and Leo Boxell called out of the big blind. The flop came down {Th} {8s} {7d} and Boxell shoved all in for 1.86 million. Benton made the call. Benton held top pair and an open-ender with {Td} {9d}. Boxell held {8h} {6s} and would need a lot of help if he was going to stay alive. The turn card was the {3c}, leaving Boxell looking for his gutshot to hit. It wouldn't be in the cards for Boxell when the {Ts} hit the felt, sending him to the rail in third place for $213,840.

Going into heads up play Benton would hold a 6,935,000 to 4,745,000 chip advantage. The players agreed a deal and then played out for the title. Hermans levelled things pretty quickly but Benton showed true class to hold on for the win. On the final hand of the tournament the players took a flop for 325,000 chips each. The flop came down {9c} {7d} {7s} and Hermans led out for 375,000. Benton made the call. The turn card was the {Qc} and Hermans moved all in. Benton snapped him off with {Kd} {Kc}. Hermans held {9h} {8d}. The river card completed the board with the {6c} and completed the tournament. Hermans was eliminated in second place.

The win cements Benton as one of the rising stars on the Australian poker scene. It will be interesting to see what he can do in the next few months with yet another sizeable boost to his bankroll and the potential for some sponsorship opportunities.

Final Table Results:
1st: Aaron Benton (Australia) - $594,000
2nd: Ernst Hermans (Netherlands) - $381,348
3rd: Leo Boxell (Australia) - $213,840
4th: Wayne Carlson (Australia) - $166,320
5th: Tom Grigg (Australia) - $130,680
6th: Andrew Hiscox (Australia) - $106,920
7th: Barry Forrester (Australia) - $83,160
8th: David Formosa (Australia) - $65,340
9th: Thomas Slifka (USA) - $47,520

PokerNetwork's Lynn Gilmartin caught up with Aaron following his win:

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Aaron Benton Wins APPT Sydney Main Event! Aaron Benton Wins APPT Sydney Main Event!

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