Martin Rowe Captures Million and APPT Grand Final Title

Martin Rowe at APPT final table
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By Jennifer Newell

It was the end of another successful season of the PokerStars-sponsored Asia Pacific Poker Tour. Of the five stops of Season 2, the final one at the Star City Casino in Sydney, Australia was the Grand Final, the season wrap that was set to award a $1 million prize to the first place finisher. For a relatively new poker tour in an area of the world that is somewhat new to the tournament scene, the final was spelling success for the APPT.

In order to make room for the players, media, and fans, the start of the APPT Sydney was split into three starting days, the first of which became an indicator that the tournament would be a solid mix of some of the world’s best known pros and amateurs looking for their first big win.

Day 1A brought names like Chad Brown, Vanessa Rousso, Tony Dunst, David Saab, and Celina Lin to the tables, though only a few of them would survive. In fact, only 48 of the original 108 would go on to the second day, with Phil Willcocks in the lead with 129,000 in chips. The rest of the top five were Steven Musca, Daniel Kowalski, David Lovell, and Greg Cook.

The field on Day 1B increased by another 172 players, among them were Gavin Griffin, Raymond Rahme, Terrence Chan, Mark Vos, Jamie Pickering, Jason Gray, Jeff Lisandro, Billy Argyros, and 2007 APPT finale champion Grant Levy. By the end of play, a number of high profile players had substantial stacks, and Gray had the most with 185,000, followed by Griffin, Andy Meldrum, Vos, and Sam Korman.

An additional 197 players came out for Day 1C, which put the total number of players for the event at 477. Names in the crowd that day drew even more fans to the rail, as Joe Hachem, Chris Moneymaker, Peter Eastgate, and John Juanda sat down to play. In addition, the four Season 2 APPT winners - Edward Sabat, Yoshiro Tasaka, Daniel Craker, and Van Marcus - registered for the event. Though none of them were in the top five when play ended, Manish Sansi was happy to take that top spot with 103,600 chips. The rest of the top five were Patrick Carron, Wang Che Jung, Dory Zayneh, and Jay Huxley.

Day 2 began with all of the 217 first day survivors gathering to play toward the money, but big names like Chan, Dunst, Moneymaker, Marcus, Vos, Griffin, and Lee Nelson wouldn’t make it there. They all busted before the money bubble. And at the end of the night, it was David Sanis who took the risk with ah 8c, but he was called by Tim English and his pocket queens. The board did nothing for the short stack when it produced 8s qc 9c ts 3h, and Sanis was the bubble player, eliminated in 49th place.

The 48 in-the-money players returned on Day 3 to play to the final table, and it ended up being a surprisingly quick day. Jimmy Wong led the way by being the first elimination of the day in 48th place, which was worth $8,400. Other notables finishing in the money as the day progressed were Wang Che Jung in 31st place, Shane Dye in 29th, Jamie Pickering in 22nd, Phil Willcocks in 21st, and Eric Assadourian in 20th.

Finally, it got down to the wire, and with the elimination of Lisa Delellis in 11th place, there was only one to go before play ended with the final table in place. Michael Guzzardi certainly didn’t want to be the final table bubble player but was having a hard time surviving. He lost a big pot, but the crippled player, all-in from the small blind, tripled up to stay in the game. But soon after, he pushed again, this time with td 3h against Hai Bo Chu and Antonio Fazzolari. When the board showed 7c ad 4d jc 2s, Chu showed pocket sixes for the win, and Guzzardi had to settle for tenth place and $28,000.

The final table was set for the following day, and the chip counts were:

Seat 1: Martin Rowe - 995,000
Seat 2: Jason Gray - 1,188,000
Seat 3: Tony Basile - 863,000
Seat 4: Timothy English - 945,000
Seat 5: Daniel Kowalski - 959,000
Seat 6: Frank Saffioti - 790,000
Seat 7: Tom Rafferty - 1,101,000
Seat 8: Antonio Fazzolari - 1,775,000
Seat 9: Hai Bo Chu - 781,000

Chip leader Fazzolari began the action with the same momentum that got him into the chip lead. And when Tom Rafferty wanted to play, Fazzolari saw no reason to stay away. When the flop came td 2c ac, Rafferty put out a bet, Fazzolari raised it to 270K, and Rafferty pushed all-in with kc 5c. Fazzolari called with ad :10c. The turn of 9s and river of 7d brought no clubs for Rafferty, and Fazzolari’s two pair took it down. Rafferty was the first to go from the final table, and ninth place was worth $39,200 for him.

Chu wasn’t a particularly short stacked player, but when he got involved with Martin Rowe and Fazzolari, he felt the need to push. It was after the ts 2h 7d flop that Rowe began the begging, and when Fazzolari folded, Chu got it all-in with jc 8d. Rowe called with pocket queens, and Chu needed a save. The 8c on the turn helped, but the ah on the river eliminated Chu in eighth place with $53,200.

There was one player who hardly got involved during final table action. Kowalski stayed out of the fray until going to see a flop with Frank Saffioti and Fazzolari. It came 4h ac 7d, followed by a 2s on the turn. Kowalski bet out, and Saffioti check-raised all-in. Fazzolari got out of the way, but Kowalski called all-in with as 9c. Saffioti showed ad qc for the better kicker, and the ah on the river couldn’t save Kowalski from going out in seventh place, which was worth $72,800.

Saffioti couldn’t keep up the momentum, however, and started the downturn when Rowe took a significant amount of chips from him. Jason Gray doubled through Saffioti as well, and though Saffioti then doubled through Rowe to stay alive, he tangled with Rowe again on a flop of ac 6s 7s. Saffioti pushed all-in with as qs, and Rowe called with pocket sevens. The trips held up as the qc and 9d came out on the board, and Saffioti was ousted in sixth place with a $100,800 prize.

With that elimination, Rowe took the role of massive chip leader with 4.4 million, and it was Tim English who was the short one with 650K. He doubled through Fazzolari to play another hand, but he then got involved with the on-a-roll Rowe. Rowe started with a raise, English made a reraise to 350K, and Rowe called to see the 9h tc 4c on the flop. English moved all-in with ah kd, and Rowe called with qh jh. A jack on the turn gave Rowe the lead in the hand, and a 4h on the river sent English packing in fifth place with $140,000.

Fazzolari, rested from the dinner break, took a risk with all of his chips against Rowe and was able to double, but he then took the risk again. Fazzolari was all-in for 470K with ah 2s preflop, and Rowe called with the dominating as kc. The board came 7c 5h jh 8s ts, and Fazzolari was eliminated in fourth place to collect his $182,000 in prize money.

Having been the low-key player at the table, Tony Basile finally made a move with ad kh preflop, but it was Rowe that woke up with pocket kings and made the call. The dealer gave them jd 4c 9h 6c qc, and it was over for Basile in third place, which was good for $266,000.

The two final players entered heads-up with the following:

Martin Rowe    7,805,000
Jason Gray        1,595,000

Gray was able to double up to gather a few more chips, and though he eventually accumulated a stack of more than 4 million, he could not take the lead away from Rowe. The final hand began with Gray limping in, but Rowe wasn’t going to let it happen that easy and raised it. Gray reraised all-in for nearly 2 million in chips with 9h 5h, but Rowe called easily with ac qh. The board ran out as qc 5s 9s 3s, and Gray was gone in second place. He was awarded $476,000 for the effort.

Amateur player Martin Rowe took the title of APPT Sydney Grand Final champion, along with the coveted trophy and amazing $1 million prize.

(Thanks to PokerStars blog updates and PokerNews live updates for hand and chip count information.)