Jason Gray has been crowned the inaugural champion of the PokerStars ANZPT Canberra. It wasn’t like he strolled to the title, forced to contend with some strong opponents on the final table, but Gray proved his class and added the ANZPT title to a string of impressive e career achievements.
15 players returned to the felt and they were quickly down to the final nine, with Chris Kittos, Phillip Batticiotto, Antonis “Toothpick Tony” Kambouroglou, Hugh Cohen, Luis Pampliega, and the last woman standing Selina Bodel all falling within the first two hours of the day to set the last nine.
The final table was bursting at the seams with star-power. Among the combatants was 2009 APPT Sydney Champion Aaron Benton, 2010 ANZPT Adelaide Champion Rennie Carnevale, 2008 APPT Sydney runner-up Jason Gray, 2010 ANZPT Adelaide runner-up Andrew Scarf, and 2010 ANZPT Sydney final table member John Maklouf.
Amazingly Wollongong is emerging as the “Adelaide” of live poker, with three final table representatives – Benton, Carnevale, and Adam Cameron all from the Illawarra region. Maybe JK was onto something when he suggested that all members of his Australian poker team would have been picked from Wollongong or Adelaide.
The final table would lose local Martin Rodwell and Aaron Benton in quick succession to start the action, while the chip leader at the start of the final table Western Australian Michael Chon continued to strengthen his chip advantage moving out to have over half of the chips in play.
Alan Al-hantosh’s elimination left six in the tournament, and Andrew Scarf’s hopes would be cut short in sixth place, after his failed to improve against Michael Chon’s . It would be Rennie Carnevale’s elimination in fifth that would prove the pivotal pot of the final table.
Up until that point Michael Chon had been dominating the action, and looked like headed towards a wire-to-wire victory. Carnevale open pushed from the button for 120,000, and Jason Gray re-raised. It was what happened next that would have sweeping ramifications for the fate of the championship. Michael Chon shoved all-in over the top and Gray brought the snap call for his own stack. Gray tabled to Chon’s . Carnevale paled into insignificance. The board effectively bricked out, with the case Ace hitting on the river to improve Gray to a set.
That would send Carnevale out fifth. Chon then doubled up Adam Cameron to move from first to worst with four remaining. The Western Australian would not recover and his descent was complete after Cameron took another sizeable portion of his stack and John Maklouf finished the job.
Three handed, the race for the title was wide open with the stack sizing very even. While Gray fell behind early, he fought his way back and doubled through both of his opponents in back-to-back hands to get back into the chip lead.
Adam Cameron’s elimination from the short-stack left Gray and Maklouf to do battle for the title. Gray would start with an almost two-to-one chip advantage but Maklouf chipped away to reverse the advantage. They would go toe-to-toe over the next two hours until finally the deadlock was broken with Gray getting Maklouf’s stack in the middle preflop and holding up. The final hand would see Gray holding against Maklouf’s and the board blanked out to give Jason Gray a well earned title.
In all 21 players were paid out as follows:
Rennie Carnevale and Andrew Scarf have most certainly done their ANZPT Player of the Year hopes no harm with strong showings in this event. Still we’re not even halfway through the extended eight event season, so it is a wide open race. But on behalf of all at PokerNetwork we congratulate Jason Gray on becoming the 2010 ANZPT Canberra champion.