Reporting by Ben Blaschke
The final table of the $1100 Sydney Special No Limit Hold’em event was barely an hour old before play became three-handed with five players brutally dispatched by overnight chip leaders Eddie Saade and Nhon Ta.
Although they entered heads-up play almost dead-even in chips, Ta made light work of his younger rival as he went about dismantling his stack before finishing the entire job within three hours. On the final hand of the event, Saade shoved with K-9 and was snap-called by Ta’s A-8. The board blanked and 33-year-old Ta was $21,450 richer (and with a shiny new trophy to match).
“I’m very happy. I played very well today. He (Saade) liked to protect his blinds and I was very aware of that so I picked my spots against him and tried to get it in good. I wanted to wear him down and that’s what I did,” he said.
While most of the final table combatants went down without a fight, special mention must go out to sixth place finisher Honglin Jiang who got it in good with Queens against Ta’s A-10 early in the day only for an Ace to appear in the window. Jiang boasts quite a record at the Sydney Champs with a win in last year’s $1100 six-handed event for $19,600 and a third-place finish in the Main Event – good for another $48,461. He added another $3630 for his efforts over the past two days.
$1100 Sydney Special NLHE results
1 Nhon Ta $21,450
2 Eddie Saade $13,860
3 Nicholas Wright $9900
4 David Sanis $6600
5 Trudie Sultana $4950
6 Honglin Jiang $3630
7 David Menz $2970
8 Wei Zhu $2640
• While Ta was getting the job done on one final table, mixed game specialist Minh Nguyen was on his way to scoring his second live trophy in similar fashion as he smashed his way to victory in the $550 Sydney Championships Omaha event.
Not to be confused with the two-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner of the same name, Nguyen at least did his best to match his namesake’s feats as he added to the Mixed Game title he won at APPT Sydney in 2009.
Running well when it mattered most, Nguyen demolished the final table, building a monster stack as play went five-handed then eliminating his four remaining rivals within the space of 30 minutes.
“It’s definitely good to get another win. I ran pretty well at the final table to take it down. When it was five-handed I really started ramping up the aggression and everything just worked out well,” he said.
Nguyen chipped up early in the day when he flopped a big draw and an opponent over-played his Aces, then took control of the final table when he rivered the nut straight with four remaining and managed three streets of value from big stack Greg Cook.
On the final hand of the tournament, the pair went to the races with Nguyen holding K-Q-3-3 to Cook’s 5-9-9-10 with the flop of 3-8-8 just about sealing the deal.
“I’ve made a number of final tables over the years and some good cashes but it’s always good finish the job,” Nguyen said.
A live tournament pro – having decided to focus on playing poker full-time in 2011 after previously studying Pharmacy – Nguyen’s list of deep runs includes consecutive final table finishes at the Melbourne Championships (second in 2010 and fourth in 2011) for a combined $120,000, fourth at the 2008 Victorian Championships and third in a $500 No Limit Hold’em event at this year’s Aussie Millions.
The Omaha specialists were out in force yesterday with ‘Toothpick’ Tony and Graeme Putt among the 79 starters although neither reached the final table. Nguyen picked up $12,838 for his win.
Sydney Championships $550 PLO results
1 Minh Hau Nguyen $12,838
2 Greg Cook $8097
3 Neil Mortimer-Fox $5333
4 Martin Poytress $3752
5 Zhixin Yao $2963
6 Anthony Kanaan $2567
7 Michael Mariakis $2173
8 Michael Cook $1777
• For all information and results from the 2011 Sydney Poker Championships, click here