John Azzi (pictured left) has again stamped himself as one of the premier performers in the APL in becoming the first player to win two APL Pro Open titles after a stunning victory at Penrith Panthers last weekend.
As a result, Azzi also becomes the first player to win two TeamWSOP packages, and he’ll be back in Las Vegas this July to contest the 2012 WSOP Main Event. Incredibly, this was also the fourth time Azzi has gone heads-up for an APL Pro Open title.
A huge field of 454 players trekked to the outer west of Sydney in pursuit of a slice of the $25,000 prizepool that included a $17,000 Team WSOP package and three tickets to the MAIN EVENT, the flagship event presented by APL in conjunction with the 888PL under the management of Full House Group, scheduled for February 23-26 at Crown.
The field included 2008 Tournament of Champions winner Paul Georges and a fellow final table player Jay Hook. APL Poker Tour Gold Coast champion and October Pro Open runner-up Ben O’Connell, past TeamWSOP member Cameron Shephard and 2012 TeamWSOP members Julie “Diamond” Cosby and Danny “Vegas Junior” Milivojevic.
As always, the top 40 players were guaranteed a second shot at the title, with each player receiving a Second Chance ticket into the next NSW Pro Open scheduled to take place at Liverpool Catholic Club on January 22, as part of the next $100,000 Super Series, including the $60,000 APL NSW State Champs.
Those 40 players were reduced to 16 within about two levels of play. Spectators quickly realised John Azzi had once again fought his way through to the business end of another Pro Open, albeit short-stacked. Azzi played patient poker, with his stack dwindling, however by moving all-in on back-to-back hands he was able to recoup 300,000 in two hands. Azzi capitalised on the change in momentum, and almost doubled when he eliminated Andrew Jensen on the bubble in ninth place, sending his stack close to 1,000,000.
The first half of the final table lasted just a few hands, with John Merhi (eighth) and Ryan Latham (seventh) railed on the same hand, and Tode Popovski eliminated shortly afterwards in sixth. John Dearie was next to fall in fifth place, one short of the MAIN EVENT bubble. Before long, Joseph Bennetts and Tom Rusnak departed the final table in fourth and third respectively and it was Azzi versus Samuel Kennedy for the title.
Following an epic heads-up battle, Azzi had established a substantial chip lead over Kennedy but he looked in good shape to double-up with pocket jacks against Azzi’s pocket fours. However a fateful four on the flop of 6s 5d 4h gave Azzi the lead, and Kennedy could not improve with the 8c on the turn. The 9s sealed the deal for Azzi and he became the first ever player to win a spot on TeamWSOP in successive years.
Results: APL Pro Open December 2011 results
1 John Azzi $1900 + $17,000 TeamWSOP Package + State Champs Ticket
2 Samuel Kennedy $1275 + $1200 MAIN EVENT seat + State Champs Ticket
3 Tom Rusnak $850 + $1200 MAIN EVENT seat + State Champs Ticket
4 Joseph Bennetts $525 + $1200 MAIN EVENT seat + State Champs Ticket
5 John Dearie $1150 + State Champs Ticket
6 Tode Popovski $925 + State Champs Ticket
7 Ryan Latham $650 + State Champs Ticket
8 John Merhi $425 + State Champs Ticket
9 Andrew Jensen $150 + 2nd Chance Pro Open Ticket
10 Richard Cherry $150 + 2nd Chance Pro Open Ticket
11 Dieter Corsten $150 + 2nd Chance Pro Open Ticket
12 Taryn McCarthy $150 + 2nd Chance Pro Open Ticket
13 Steve Szakacs $150 + 2nd Chance Pro Open Ticket
14 George Adam $150 + 2nd Chance Pro Open Ticket
15 Paul Lovell $150 + 2nd Chance Pro Open Ticket
16 Daniel Deckers $150 + 2nd Chance Pro Open Ticket