The beginning of a new era for the Australian poker industry is officially underway after the first running of The MAIN EVENT at Crown Casino in Melbourne.
The MAIN EVENT marked the first time that players representing three of Australia’s premier pub poker brands – the 888Poker League, the Australian Poker League and Pub Poker – sat side-by-side in pursuit of a prestigious national title under the combined banner of the Full House Group.
Although this was a new tournament, the MAIN EVENT carried on a proud tradition of qualification-only major events offering hundreds of thousands of dollars in prizemoney dating back to the earliest days of the industry more than six years ago.
The first major test of the merged entity passed with flying colours when a massive field of 559 players converged on Crown Melbourne in pursuit of a slice of the $559,000 prizepool, which included a $15,000 Aussie Millions package plus a magnificent ruby-encrusted $8000 championship bracelet.
After three testing days of deep stack poker, Wollongong’s Nathan Gauci (pictured left) etched his place in Australian poker history as the inaugural MAIN EVENT champion.
A polarising figure in the pub poker community, no-one could deny Gauci’s claim to the title after positioning himself among the chip leaders (along with Steve Halliday and Jim O’Bryan) throughout the final day before crushing the final table in impressive fashion.
The key hand came seven-handed after a pre-flop raising war between Gauci and O’Bryan in seventh ended with Gauci snap-calling O’Bryan’s all-in and slamming down A-K. O’Bryan showed pocket eights, and turned away from the table to listen to the call of the cards. The flop came 6c-Kc-3s, turn 4h and Jd to send O’Bryan on his way. That gave Gauci more than half the chips in play.
Gauci’s stack grew more after KOing Halliday in third (A-Q versus A-2) to set-up a heads-up duel with popular Sydneysider Marion Fisher. Holding a 7:1 chip lead, Gauci weathered several all-ins from Fisher then, on the 17th hand of heads-up play, Gauci limped before Fisher again announced all-in. Gauci considered a call and, for the first time during the heads-up contest, he called. Fisher revealed Qd-6d, then Gauci smashed his As-8s on to the table.
The flop of Ad-9s-7c put Gauci firmly in the lead, but the turn 2d gave Fisher a flush draw. It didn’t eventuate, with the 3s sending Gauci tearing out of the tournament area to kick-off celebrations with his mates.
“Most of that money will be going to my kids," he said. "I have an 18- month-old daughter, Imogen and eight-year-old son Taj. The names of both children are inked onto his body – Imogen prominently on his forearm.
Gauci said he was surprised by the aggression showed by Marion Fisher during the heads-up battle. “I guess she had to be aggressive because I had six times the chips she did, but still she did a good job."
This win was the biggest of Gauci’s poker career but despite the success, the 28-year-old, has no plans to quit his job as a chef.
Gauci, who continues a proud tradition of champion poker players from Wollongong, wins a $120,000 prize package that includes a $15,000 TeamAUSSIEMILLIONS package plus an $8000 MAIN EVENT bracelet. Fisher was more than happy to sign the payout sheet to secure her $85,000 package, meaning she’ll join Gauci, Steve Halliday and Keith Walker in the 2013 Aussie Millions Main Event.
The MAIN EVENT results (559 players; $559,000 prizepool; 60 players paid)
1 Nathan Gauci (NSW) $120,000 inc. $15,000 Team AUSSIEMILLIONS package
2 Marion Fisher (NSW) $85,000 inc. $15,000 Team AUSSIEMILLIONS package
3 Steve Halliday (NSW) $55,000 inc. $15,000 Team AUSSIEMILLIONS package
4 Keith Walker (NSW) $40,000 inc. $15,000 Team AUSSIEMILLIONS package
5 Sean Henderson (Qld) $25,000 inc. $2000 AM Opening Event package
6 Elise Brown (NSW) $22,000 inc. $2000 AM Opening Event package
7 Jim O’Bryan (Vic) $19,000 inc. $2000 AM Opening Event package
8 Adam Agresta $16,000 inc. $2000 AM Opening Event package
9 Sam Sainsbury $14,000 inc. $2000 AM Opening Event package
10 Jason Hamilton QLD $12,000 inc. $2000 AM Opening Event package
11 Blaze Scott-Hutchinson (NSW) $8000
12 Shane Slack (NSW) $8000
13 Manoj Kapoor (NSW) $8000
14 James Kavanagh (NSW) $6000
15 Alex Falon (NSW) $6000
16 Daniel Skelton (NSW) $6000
17 Kwun Tsang (NSW) $4250
18 Leslie Cairns (Vic) $4250
19 Richard Ehlers (Vic) $4250
20 Terrance Waterhouse (NSW) $4250
21 Daniel Smith (NSW) $3000
22 Shivan Abdine (NSW) $3000
23 Sean Cartlidge (Vic) $3000
24 Paul Sayers (Vic) $3000
25 Glen Swettenham (Vic) $3000
26 Paul Rowley (NSW) $3000
27 Con Stikas (NSW) $3000
28 Matthew Luketic (Vic) $3000
29 Gary Byrnes (Vic) $3000
30 Kemal Alpkaya (Qld) $3000
31 Matthew Jackson (NSW) $2400
32 Paul Watts (NSW) $2400
33 Veronica Barwick (NSW) $2400
34 Graham Davies (Qld) $2400
35 Donald Davies (WA) $2400
36 Kim Griggs (WA) $2400
37 Willie Schroeter (Qld) $2400
38 Alec Luke (Qld) $2400
39 Charles Cairns (WA) $2400
40 Steve Gilmore (NSW) $2400
41 Riki Singh (SA) $2000
42 Cherie Marnell (Vic) $2000
43 Rick Nayar (Vic) $2000
44 Jason Ross (Qld) $2000
45 Jay Macapagal (NSW) $2000
46 Scott Meani (NSW) $2000
47 Graham Hein (Vic) $2000
48 Rob Forward (WA) $2000
49 Danny Burke (Vic) $2000
50th Trevor Broadbent (WA) $2000
51 John Haddad (NSW) $1800
52 Glenn Gunn (Vic) $1800
53 Warren Rich (NSW) $1800
54 Deb Styles (Qld) $1800
55 Mursel Yildirim (NSW) $1800
56 Wendy Peni (Qld) $1800
57 Matt Winter (Vic) $1800
58 Mitch Oates (NSW) $1800
59 Renay Murray (NSW) $1800
60 David Murrin (SA) $1800