Ari Engel, Tony Dunst atop Aussie Millions Main Event Final Table; Samantha Abernathy, Kitty Kuo Also in Mix
The final table is set for Aussie Millions Main Event and it looks like it will be a battle between two men. Chip leader Ari Engel and Day 3 chip leader Tony Dunst will head to the final table on Sunday 1-2 in the counts, with Samantha Abernathy and Kitty Kuo among those in the pack who will be looking to hunt them down.
It promised to be a long Friday for the players at the Crown Casino in Melbourne, Australia, as 40 players came back to battle for the final table. Dunst, after finishing off Day 3 with a nearly 500K lead over James Obst and Abernathy, was content to watch as the field contracted in the early going. Engel, in trying to get something going, instead would double Joseph Sandaev after Sandaev flopped an Ace for his Big Slick against Engel’s pocket Kings. Abernathy would also have a misstep as she shipped some chips to Jessica Dawley when Dawley rivered a King that matched her K-J against Abernathy.
Within an hour of play, the field of 40 had been whittled down to 36 and the tables redrew into six six-handed tables. Fortunes for Engel changed at this point as he doubled up through Sinan Aydogan to 838K in chips and other challengers began to mount their charge against Dunst. Martin Rowe, in eliminating Stephen Chidwick from the tournament, cracked the 1.4 million chip mark; Dylan Honeyman, in the Top Ten at the start of the day, got healthier in taking a sizeable pot from James Ong; finally, Abernathy exploded to 1.8 million in chips in winning a 600K-plus pot against Yuki Ko.
Abernathy’s time at the helm of the Aussie Millions was short-lived, however. Kuo was moved to a new table to balance them out and, on the very first hand, she popped the action up from the button. Ong made the call from the small blind and, after a Q-8-7 flop, Ong would check-call a bet out of Kuo. When a six came on the turn, Ong suddenly sprung to life in moving all in but he chose the wrong moment to bluff; Kuo immediately called and tabled her 10-9 for the nut straight, leaving Ong drawing dead with his A-K. Once the formality of the river was dealt, Ong was out and Kuo assumed the lead with her 2.35 million stack.
It was Dunst, however, who took the tournament back over by the dinner break. After opening the betting from first position, Derek Wolters three-bet him from the button and the blinds got out of the way. Dunst popped Wolters back with a four-bet and, after pondering for a moment, Wolters decided to make his stand. Now it was Dunst’s turn in the tank and, with a nonchalant, “Yeah, I call,” turned up pocket Queens to Wolters’ pocket Jacks. A Queen on the flop virtually sealed the hand for Dunst and, after an innocuous four on the turn, Wolters’ fate was sealed in 17th place as Dunst rocketed to four million in chips. By the time the dinner break came with 12 players left, Dunst had added another 430K to the mountain of chips in front of him.
Following some sustenance, the Dunst Steamroller kept mowing down opponents. He busted Cankai Zhang in 12th place to crack the five million chip mark, his pocket Aces standing over Zhang’s pocket tens, and carved some chips off of Alexander Lynskey also. Engel, who had been hovering in the two million range, began to grab some traction in eliminating Obst in 11th place and jumped close to three million in taking almost 600K off of Bobby Zhang when Engel’s J-10 was good on a 3-6-J-4-8 board. He would join Dunst over the four million mark by forcing K. C. Wong to fold to him on his all-in river bet for a 635K pot.
After Bobby Zhang was eliminated in tenth place, the field continued to play on two tables, forcing an increase in the action. It was a surprisingly big hand between Engel and Ko in the short table situation that pushed Engel into the lead, with both men playing a 9-2-5-10 flop and turn before getting the chips in the center. Engel’s pocket Aces delivered a cooler to Ko’s pocket Kings and the six on the river didn’t change anything; once Engel vacuumed up Ko’s chips, he cracked the six million barrier and took a lead he wouldn’t let go of for the remainder of the evening.
Still, eliminating that final player before the final table proved to be difficult. Abernathy doubled up through Dunst to get healthy and the twosome would joust with each other frequently over the next three hours of play. When Engel was able to finally eliminate the eighth place player – Wong, whose pocket sevens couldn’t withstand Engel’s A-8 on an A-Q-Q-10-5 board – he solidified his lead and brought an end to the night’s action.
1. Ari Engel, 8.155 million
2. Tony Dunst, 5.99 million
3. Samantha Abernathy, 2.485 million
4. Alexander Lynskey, 2.39 million
5. Kitty Kuo, 1.005 million
6. John Apostolidis, 960,000
7. Dylan Honeyman, 885,000
Both Engel and Dunst have tremendous experience and skills in poker and have closed out big tournaments before. Abernathy has been a true breath of fresh air in this tournament as she has been fearless in tackling anybody that stands between her and chips on the table. If she were to get on a bit of a rush, there is no reason that she couldn’t win the Aussie Millions. Lynskey is also an intriguing figure in that he has lurked around the top of the leaderboard for much of the event but hasn’t exactly drawn a great deal of attention to himself, making him dangerous. Kuo, Apostolidis and Honeyman have to have some early lightning strike to get themselves back in the event.
The Aussie Millions final table will take the day off on Saturday as the $100,000 Challenge final table takes the main stage. The seven players will return on Sunday to play down to the champion, who will take home the prestigious Aussie Millions championship and a $1.6 million (Australian) payday that goes along with it.
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