Luke Martinelli came into the final day of play as the chip leader in the $20,000 High Roller at the World Series of Poker International Circuit The Star Sydney and while he had an up and down battle, moving from the top to the bottom of the chip counts and back up, he was able to finish on top. In the end, Martinelli took down the 50 entry tournament and locked up the first place prize of $356,250.
"It's pretty good," Martinelli said about winning. "It's the highest buy-in I've ever played in my life so it's nice to win that one."
Martinelli sold a bit of action to his friends to get into this tournament and with just one bullet he was able to pull far and away from the pack on Day 1 and ride that to a victory on Day 2. Martinelli played a few satellites for the event as well, but couldn't find a seat in any of those either.
"It's a really good tournament," Martinelli explained, discussing why he tried so hard to get in. "I got to play with some really really good players."
Fighting For the Money:
Nine returned for Day 2 of this $20,000 High Roller but with only 5 making it into the cash, it was a mad dash for the money. Several short stacks returned for Day 2 with the shortest two being Robert Spano and Jason Pritchard. They would be the first two out on Day 2 as well. Spano got in trouble after calling down with a flush draw and missing. He would get his money in just a few hands later with queen-six suited in a multi-way pot, but Qiang Fu flopped two pair and would send Spano home as the first to go.
Pritchard fell not long after, dropping to Martinelli. Martinelli called a raised from Gautam Dhingra before Pritchard moved all in holding ace-queen from the cutoff. Dhingra got away quickly but Martinelli called with pocket eights. Pritchard couldn't catch up through the flop, turn or river, so he would be the eighth-place finisher, taking home no money.
Falling in seventh was Michael Egan. Egan found himself on the short stack and rode it for most of the day. In the hand where Egan lost most of his chips, Martinelli called down a big river bluff, holding top pair with a weak kicker against Egan's busted straight draw. Egan would be cut down to under 100,000 chips and he never really recovered from that mark. He busted after shoving his king-ten into Dhingra's ace-king and failing to catch up, putting the remaining six players on the stone bubble.
The remaining players battled it out for nearly a level without any bloodshed, but in the end it was Sosia Jiang who would be the last player out without taking home a cash. In her final hand, Jiang moved all in holding pocket tens over a raise from Ebon Bokody. Unfortunately for her, Bokody was holding pocket kings and he had her in a deep hole. He snap called and when she couldn't catch a ten, she was sent to the rail, putting the final five players into the money.
From the Bottom to the Top for Luke Martinelli:
Once the money was reached, Martinelli found himself near the bottom of the chip counts, just ahead of Gautam Dhingra. He quickly found himself even closer to the bottom after Ebon Bokody cracked his kings and took a big pot off him holding jack-nine. But Martinelli quickly doubled back up through Dhingra with aces against king-nine then got paid with two pair against Bokody's top pair to move back to the middle of the pack. Martinelli then doubled through Jan Suchanek on a five-high board with a pair and flush draw against Suchanek's worse flush draw, putting him near the top, for a big swing.
"It was getting a bit dicey there especially when I was an equal short stack right on the direct bubble after being the chip leader for pretty much the whole day," Martinelli said. "But you can't really do much except play the cards in front of you. You can't worry about whether you're gonna bubble or not. I just tried to play the best that I could and it ended up working out."
The first to fall after the money would be Dhingra. Dhingra got it in with ace-ten, but Qiang Fu woke up with tens and when Dhingra couldn't catch up, he was sent to the rail. Suchanek would go next after four-bet bluffing all in with eight-seven suited into Bokody's kings. Suchanek flopped a pair but found nothing more and headed to the rail in fourth place.
Martinelli caught a big break when he called Qiang Fu's all in just a bit after. Fu shoved with pocket threes and Martinelli found the heart to call with king-queen suited for most of his stack. He flopped a flush draw then improved to a pair of kings on the river to bring himself into heads-up play.
"Obviously I ran pretty well through the whole tournament, like you need to win a tournament, especially one that's this tough," Martinelli explained. "But I think I just played my game and maybe the cards fell my way and I ended up winning."
While the two started relatively even, Martinelli pulled away quickly by calling down Bokody's bluff and just outflopping him in some big spots. In the final hand, Bokody moved all in with two pair on a ten-high turn, but Martinelli had flopped trip sixes and it was enough to earn him the victory when Bokody couldn't catch another seven on the river.
"He was a very aggressive opponent," Martinelli said of Bokody. "He wasn't afraid to pull the trigger. He was definitely putting me in some spots earlier on, but I pretty much had the nuts every time, so he kind of ran into it there. But I've seen him do it with other player and put them in the cage. So he's a very tricky opponent and it was good to battle him."
With that, Martinelli locked up the win, his first World Series of Poker Circuit ring, 50 points towards the race for Casino Champion, and $356,250.
Final Table Results:
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