NEWS: Successful WSOP campaign for Australian poker

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

The recent World Series of Poker (WSOP) International Circuit Series held at The Star in Sydney can only be described as a major success and positive for poker in Australia. The partnership between Star Poker and the WSOP saw record fields enter various tournaments across the Series and 11 WSOP rings awarded. Many of the events were sold out and the Main Event attracted over 1000 entries, building a prize pool well beyond its $1 million guarantee.


It all began back in September when The Star announced the exciting news of a WSOP series headlining the usual Summer Series set of tournaments held each year in November and December. The new poker room had just opened after the popular Sydney Poker Championships and satellites would then begin in earnest. Would the WSOP brand attract more players to the last Series of the year? Would the allure of winning a WSOP encrusted ring create a demand for seats? As we look back now, it was no surprise to many that indeed far more players were attracted. However, not many expected such large numbers. It was a nice problem for Star Poker to have.


The Opening Event began the onslaught of attendees, selling out with 1200 entrants and a prize pool of almost $500,000. The buy-in was only $400 so historically it’s an event that most aspiring poker players can afford. And if you manage to go deep, the pay packet can be decent. The eventual winner, George Psarras, took full advantage of the large prize pool, winning $90,000 for his efforts and his first WSOP ring.


The second event on the schedule was the Ladies re-entry event. A well-supported 168 entries was reached and it was the ever-popular and talkative Suzy Khoueis who would triumph over Loretta Atkinson and Amanda Wong. Khoueis would continue her efforts in the Main Event, running deep to make the final table, eventually busting in 6th place for a well-deserved $72,981 payday.


The $5000 re-entry High Roller event was another that set record fields, reaching a total of 234 entries. Historically across other major series this event has attracted closer to 100 entries, so there was a bit of a mad scramble as players continued to enter on the first day of the tournament. There was also a supposed cap on entries, which was later removed, to allow the field to grow beyond 220. Never-the-less, the use of alternates instead of seating players was one area of conjecture for some players that is sure to be addressed by tournament organisers in any future series. The eventual winner, Luke Edwards, had no such issues, outlasting a tough final table and heads-up battle against Brendon Rubie, to claim the title and $277,875.


The signature tournament of the Series, the Main Event, would cap off a brilliant few weeks by almost doubling the guaranteed prize pool. Over 1000 entries would generate a prize pool of almost $1.975 million across the three day 1 flights, and set a first prize of over $350,000. There were a mix of pros, celebrities, star poker regulars and newcomers, all vying for a place on the final table. Some of the notables included Jeff Lisandro, David Gorr, Rory Young, Grant Levy, Gary Benson, Luke Lewis, James Obst, Jonathan Karamalikis, Billy ‘the croc’ Agyros and Bryan Huang.


Unfortunately for the notables, all would fail in their bid for a final table birth. In a topsy-turvy tussle in front of an eager final table rail, Brad Hawkins would take a significant lead before losing a few big hands and crash out in 4th place. Mahn Tran would regularly take his time in making big decisions, also taking the lead before busting in 3rd place. And then the heads-up battle between Darin Lai and former Sydney pro Joel Dodds (pictured), would also see both players take significant leads before the aggressive Dodds would overcome Lai in a long battle that ended in the early hours of Tuesday morning. In what marks a spectacular return to tournament poker, it was Dodds who claimed the first place prize of $360,364, a prized WSOP ring and entry into the WSOP's 2017 Global Championship.

It was also Dodd’s best live tournament result and one he was over the moon with after his win. “It’s incredible. I was fortunate enough to achieve quite a bit during my professional career but a major live victory always eluded me. To have achieved this finally is a tremendous feeling and to have done it in the casino that gave me my start, taught me so much about the game and allowed me to pursue a dream is extremely special.”


Main Event Final Table Payouts
1st       Joel Dodds - $360,364
2nd      Darwin Lai - $222,575
3rd       Mahn Tran - $165,392
4th       Brad Hawkins - $124,440
5th       Manuel Hansimikali - $94,785
6th       Suzy Khoueis - $72,981
7th       Michael Seymour - $56,888
8th       Andrew Starr - $44,843
9th       Michael Tran - $35,740


Christine Hia was another success story of the Series. She won two events – the Pot Limit Omaha and Mixed PLO/NLH - and was crowned the ‘Casino Champion’ for accruing the most points based on her performances across the 11 official WSOP ring events on the schedule. For that achievement she will join Main Event winner Joel Dodds at the 2017 WSOP Global Casino Championship – an official WSOP gold bracelet event at the start of the WSOP Series in Las Vegas that boasts a guaranteed US$1 million prize pool.


Overall, the WSOP brand was an obvious draw card. As Main Event winner Joel Dodds said, “(My win was) made extra special by the fact that the tournament fell under the WSOP banner. WSOP is the biggest brand in the sport, it is the event that everyone wants to win and without it I would not have taken up the game to begin with.”


The Star has a great new room adding to the experience for players and fans, but it’s clear that Australians hold the WSOP as the ultimate in tournament poker. While we understand there are no guarantees for a second Series, we can add our vote of confidence and hope that The Star and the WSOP can find a way to make this a regular on the Australian poker calendar each year.



WSOP Sydney Results (top 9)


Opening Event

No Limit Texas Hold 'Em, buy-in: $400, entrants: 1200, prize pool: $480,000


1st             George Psarras                  $90,000

2nd            Nathan Susnig                    $57,000

3rd            Hauman Darbani                 $38,000

4th            Ashish Gupta                       $26,000

5th            Andrew Miller                       $20,000

6th            Matthew Pongrass               $15,600

7th            Salvatore Lucisano              $11,400

8th            Jason Rix                             $9,840

9th            Chris Diamantopoulos         $8,184



Ladies Event (Re-entry)

No Limit Texas Hold 'Em, buy-in: $200, entrants: 168, prize pool: $33,600


1st            Suzy Khoueis                        $9,072

2nd            Loretta Atkinson                   $5,606

3rd             Amanda Wong                     $4,036

4th            Alisha Wormald                     $2,958

5th            Kimberley Manning               $2,206

6th            Denise Pelsley                      $1,674

7th            Socheatta Kung                    $1,292

8th            Teresa-ann Natoli                 $1,014

9th            Yvonne Pollock                     $807


Turbo (Re-entry)

No Limit Texas Hold 'Em, buy-in: $400, entrants: 359, prize pool: $143,600


1st            Peter Dykes                           $32,628

2nd           Sam Capra                            $20,418

3rd            Michael Mihelakis                  $14,896

4th            James P. Rann                      $11,049

5th            Mathew Rolfe                        $8,323

6th            John Kim                               $6,366

7th            Hussain Hassan                    $4,940

8th            Tae Park                                $3,889

9th            Ismail Sahin                           $3,104


NLH Teams

No Limit Texas Hold 'Em, buy-in: $450, entrants: 180, prize pool: $81,000


1st            M & G Psarras                       $21,870

2nd            D & M Pham                         $13,516

3rd            Martin P Sawtell                    $9,729

4th            Sheng Ye                               $7,130

5th            Gregory Togias                      $5,318

6th            George Blazeski                    $4,036

7th            Jymmi Briggs                         $3,115

8th            Jamal Ishac                           $2,445

9th            Paul Murray                           $1,949


NLH Accumulator

No Limit Texas Hold 'Em, buy-in: $250, entrants: 718, prize pool: $161,550


1st            Frank Geibler                         $32,939

2nd            Peco Stojanovski                  $20,520

3rd            Andre Moracchini                  $15,052

4th            Craig Blight                            $11,193

5th            Ali Khouiss                             $8,437

6th            Stan Levitin                            $6,443

7th            Sean Dorgan                          $4,986

8th            Michel Bouskila                      $3,908

9th            Anju Abroi                              $3,103


Mixed PLO/NLH (Re-entry)

Pot Limit Omaha/No Limit Hold’em, buy-in: $500, entrants: 182, prize pool: $91,000


1st            Christine Hia                          $23,665

2nd            Sami Chamoun                     $14,616

3rd            Bernie Stang                          $10,553

4th            Todor Kondevski                    $7,750

5th            Jeffrey Lisandro                     $5,790

6th            Walter Holt                             $4,400

7th            Marko Piper                           $3,399

8th            Toan Nguyen                         $2,669

9th            Matthew Konnecke                $2,129


6 Max (1 x Re-entry)

No Limit Texas Hold 'Em, buy-in: $1000, entrants: 326, prize pool: $326,000


1st            James Broom                         $81,500

2nd           Michael Fraser                        $50,171

3rd            Mark Betts                              $34,947

4th            Luis Arrilucea                          $24,548

5th            Davor Derek                            $17,441

6th            Aidan Hildebrandt                    $12,551

7th            James Camilleri                       $9,127

8th            Alan Casas                              $9,127

9th            Tu Tran                                    $6,716



Pot Limit Omaha (Re-entry)

Pot Limit Omaha, buy-in: $500, entrants: 245, prize pool: $122,500


1st            Christine Hia                           $30,013

2nd            Khac Tran                              $18,544

3rd            Dylan Honeyman                    $13,398

4th            David Campbell                      $9,860

5th            Andrew Ciurleo                       $7,387

6th            Chuyue Cui                             $5,628

7th            Aaron Tran                              $4,360

8th            Rohit Bhasin                           $3,433

9th            Daniel Cohen                          $2,745


High Roller (Re-entry)

No Limit Texas Hold 'Em, buy-in: $4750, entrants: 234, prize pool: $1,111,500


1st            Luke Edwards                         $277,875

2nd            Brendon Rubie                       $171,749

3rd            Jan Suchanek                         $125,000

4th            Bryan Huang                           $92,445

5th            Petros Aristidou                       $69,435

6th            Antonis Kambouroglou            $52,963

7th            Ismail Ismail                             $41,014

8th            Najeem Ajez                            $32,233

9th            Vincent Wan                            $25,709


Main Event (Re-entry)

No Limit Texas Hold 'Em, buy-in: $1800, entrants: 1097, prize pool: $1,974,600


1st            Joel Dodds                              $360,364

2nd           Darwin Lai                               $222,575

3rd            Mahn Tran                               $165,392

4th            Bradley Hawkins                      $124,400

5th            Manuel Hansimikali                 $94,785

6th            Suzy Khoueis                           $72,981

7th            Michael Seymour                     $56,888

8th            Andrew Starr                            $44,843

9th            Michael Tran                            $35,740


Bounty (Re-entry)

No Limit Texas Hold 'Em, buy-in: $500, entrants: 355, prize pool: $142,000


1st            Andrew Ryland                        $32,659

2nd           Steve Pappas                          $20,191

3rd            Robert Damelian                     $14,730

4th            Kah Boon Teh                          $10,925

5th            Todor Kondevski                      $8,230

6th            John Yacoub                            $6,295

7th            Steve Tupua                            $4,885

8th            John Conomos                        $3,845

9th            Isaia Fetineiai                          $3,070



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