2012 Sydney Championships – Main Event ($1650) NLHE / Day 1 / Flight 1

3.00am: Day 1a complete; John Caridad leads

A big opening day of the 2012 Sydney Championships main event has come and gone here at The Star with eight one hour levels enough to see almost two-thirds of the field hit the rail.

A total of 149 players took their seats on Day 1a but in the end just 59 will return on Saturday as they look to be crowned the latest Sydney poker champion.

Leading the way is John Caridad (pictured above) who slipped under the radar for much of the day before enjoying a heater in the final two levels of the day to finish with 169,850.

He is closely followed by Dominic Galati with 133,350, Dave Allan on 104,875 and Alex Lee with 103,250.

A number of notables progressed to Day 2 including Team Asia pro Bryan Huang, Haibo Chu, Gary Benson, Grant Levy, Andrew Hinrichsen, David Allan, Joel Dodds and Alec Smith.

Not so lucky, however, were Daniel Neilson, Michael O’Grady, Jai Kemp, Jason Pritchard, Didier Guerin, Milan Gurung, Rhys Gould, Sam Capra, Terry Tserdanis and Andy Lee.

Day 2a commences later today with another eight one hour levels scheduled and a host more big names set to hit the felt here at The Star.

Check back in with us at PokerMedia Australia as we bring you all the live action from 12.30pm.

2.35am: The end is nigh

We have exactly 30 minutes remaining in Day 1a of the 2012 Sydney Championships main event and the players are starting to think about bagging and tagging at the end of the night.

This means good news for the big stacks who can start to steal the blinds and antes of those just looking to survive through to Day 2.

They don’t need to wait long – the floor staff has just announced they will be calling final three hands when the clock hits the 15 minute mark.

2.30am: Caridad climbing

John Caridad boasts an enviable tournament record here at The Star and he is looking ominous after taking the chip lead in the past half hour.

Most recently Caridad flopped a straight holding 5-6 on a 7-8-9 flop against an opponent’s pocket 7s and he has his table backpedalling with his constant aggression in almost every pot.

He is up to 135,000 and counting.

2.00am: Last Level

The clock has ticked over and we’re into our final level of the day. Blinds are now at 400/800 with a 75 ante.

1.50am: Nice try Mr. Burns

Kahle Burns has soared into the overall tournament chip lead although he has just taken a bit of a hit at the hands of Joel Cohen to slip back under the 100,000 mark.

Cohen opened to 1,500 in the cut-off and was called by Burns on the button, who had close to 120,000 at that point.

The flop came Kd-5d-3d and Cohen checked to Burns who bet 1,200. Cohen called.

The turn brought the As and this time Cohen led for 1,000. Burns tanked briefly before making the call.

The river was the 4c and Cohen again led out small for 2,000. Burns thought for around a minute before announcing he was all-in.

Cohen snap-called, prompting Burns to say incredulously “Have you got the nuts?” Choen promptly showed the Ad-Jd with Cohen announcing he held pocket 2s as he mucked.

Standing on the rail nearby, Michael O’Grady yelled “I knew you’d flopped it! I knew you’d flopped it as soon as you min-raised!”

1.20am: A quiet read


In between hands, we’ve noticed a number of players flicking through the latest edition of Australia’s newest poker and lifestyle magazine The Real Deal, which can be picked up throughout The Star poker room.

In this issue we examine two of the biggest announcements in Australian poker history – the 2013 WSOP APAC at Crown and the announcement that a trial of online poker is being considered as part of reform of the country’s out-dated interactive gaming laws.

You’ll also find all the details of the 2013 Aussie Millions, a rundown of the latest results from across the region and all the latest news from the poker world including our regular pub poker feature including details of the next MAIN EVENT and NPL500.

Our cover story features the stunning victory of Antonio “The Magician” Esfandiari in the biggest buy-in tournament ever played – the $1 million Big One for One Drop.

In our Upgrade section, we feature the stunning new resort of former Aussie Millions champ Lee “Final Table” Nelson and take a stroll through the wineries of Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula.

Meanwhile in Sportsbook, former ANZPT Player of the Year Tony Hachem chats with his good mate and AFL champion Gary Ablett jnr, our Ultimate Sports Tour features the men’s 100m at the Olympic Games while we go Beyond the Back Page with Australian harness racing’s own Facebook legend, Come On Frank!

Make sure you pick up a copy if you’re at The Star this week or check out our online edition here on PokerMedia Australia.

1.10am: The big stacks

84,000 – Dave Allan
80,000 – Bryan Huang
77,000 – John Caridad
75,000 – Steve Buchanan
70,000 – Alex Lee

1.05am: New Level

We’ve entered Level 7 with blinds at 300/600 and an ante of 50. Our original starting field of 148 has almost been halves with 80 players remaining.

Tournament staff are now in the process of breaking down the final table from the main poker pit which means that all remaining players are now seated under the big screen in the Sports Theatre.

1.00am: Shove, shove, shove … rail

There was plenty of action on Table 2 in the lead-up to the final break of the night with one player deciding it was time to live by the sword and die by the sword with a series of open shoves.

And so it was that he did so seven times in eight hands – the blinds and antes he won enough to chip him up from 12,000 to 25,000 – but when he over-shoved his newly found 25,000 stack one too many times he was finally called in not one but two spots.

First the small blind, Jazz Mathers, took a stand by shoving over the top with A-10 and then Steve Buchanan (pictured above) did the same after waking up with A-K in the big.

Our over-shover turned over 8-3 in a truly bizarre display of tilt, while Steve Buchanan looked good for the huge pot until the board ran out 2-5-5-9-2 for he and Mathers to split it up.

Buchanan now sits with a healthy 75,000 heading into the final two levels of the evening.

12.25am: Contrasting fortunes

Over on Table 8, Team Asia pro Bryan Huang (pictured above) has been steadily climbing and now sits behind the biggest stack in the room at just a touch over 100,000. But it hasn’t been quite such an enjoyable evening for Grant Levy.

Levy is now back to his starting stack of 20,000 although he will be pleased that he is as high as he has been since running a set of 2s into a set of Kings on his third hand of the day.

11.55pm: Blind rise

We’ve just started Level 6 with blinds at 200/400/50.

11.30pm: Prize pursuits

It’s common practice during major events for the host casino to leave a small gift on the table of each entrant to collect when they take their seat. They can include anything from a hat to a card protector or even some sort of souvenir representing the country in which the event is being played.

At The Star this week, players have been given a lovely black hoodie (pictured above) with Sydney Championships 2012 emblazoned on the back. As we look around the room we can see that quite a few are already wearing their gift as they navigate their way through this Day 1 field.

11.10pm: Action Allan

Dave Allan (pictured above) won his first live major just a few weeks back when he topped a field of 149 players to win APPT/ANZPT Queenstown Snowfest for around $110,000 and his good form has continued early on today.

Allan has been gradually chipping away this evening and just won a healthy pot to push him up to around 67,000 in chips.

Having followed the lead of his table mates and limped in near the button, he called a bet of 500 on a J-2-2 flop. The turn put another 2 on the table and Allan again called the small blind’s lead, as did one other opponent.

On the 10 river the small blind checked and the player next to act bet out1,300. Allan raised to 4,500 which forced a fold from the small blind, but his other curious opponent made the call.

Allan showed 10-2 for turned quads to scoop the pot and continue on his merry way.

10.55pm: Cards are back in the air

We’re back from the dinner break and ready for the action to heat up over these next few levels. Blinds are now at 150/300 with a 25 ante.

We’re set to play four more one hour levels before we bag and tag for the night.

10.30pm: Dinner break

The players are now on a 20-minute dinner break with 117 players still in contention. We are exactly halfway through the evening’s proceedings with play to run through until around 3am.

10.10pm: Peco flexes his muscles

Peco Stojanovski just pulled off an outrageous bluff against Sam Khouiss to bump his stack back over the starting mark.

After an UTG raise (to 400) found two callers including Khouiss, Stojanovski looked down at pocket 8s and popped it up to 1,200. The UTG raiser folded but the other two called.

The flop came A-K-2 and it was checked around to Stojanovski who bet 2,000. The first caller folded but Khouiss re-raised to 5,000.

Stojanovski looked at Khouiss and said “Really? You flopped a set Sam?” Then after a brief pause he shoved all-in for another 6,500 on top.

Khouiss tanked for a full two minutes before eventually folding A-2 face-up.

Stojanovski showed the 8s, telling Khouiss “I wouldn’t try that move on anyone else!”

9.40pm: Level up

We’ve just entered our fourth level of the day with blinds at 100/200 and an ante of 25. There are currently 132 players remaining of the 148 that started the day.

9.10pm: Chip counts

Man of Mystery – 84,000
Alex Lee – 54,000
Teresa Natoli – 46,000
Dave Allan – 40,000
Bryan Huang – 30,000
Haibo Chu (pictured above) – 29,000
Sam Capra – 26,000
Joel Dodds – 24,000
Andy Hinrichsen – 19,000
Daniel Neilson – 15,000
Didier Guerin – 10,000

8.45pm: Even God would love to run like this

We’ve only played two levels so far but already we have a massive chip leader with a mystery punter rocketing up to 84,000 after starting the day on 20,000.

Why is he is a mystery punter? Because he refuses to give us his name – saying only “I don’t want any publicity.”

Nonetheless, he has enjoyed one of those runs everyone dreams of in a major. He began the day by flopping trips and turning quads with 8-5 against an opponent’s A-K; hit a miracle 2 on the river to make a wheel and best TPTK; rivered another straight with an open-ender to eliminate another victim then turned trips again holding A-2 on a 10-2-8-2 board after being check-raised on the flop.

Needless to say, he could find it difficult to avoid publicity if this run continues all the way to the final table!

8.20pm: Break time

Players are on their first 10-minute break of the night, which means registration for Flight 1 has officially closed with 144 players having taken their seats.

7.35pm: More names

A few more players we’ve spotted on our travels around the tables: Joel Dodds, Haibo Chu, Grant Levy, Didier Guerin, Jai Kemp (pictured above), Terry Tserdanis, Sam Capra, Rhys Gould and Milan Gurung.

7.30pm: You called with what?

We’ve just had a bizarre hand relayed to us from the table closest to our desk. After an open to 350 and a raise to 1,050, the cut-off and button both called before the original raiser popped it up to 6,000. The next two players got out of the way but the cut-off snap-called and we saw a flop of 5-5-Q.

The raiser, holding A-K, then shoved the rest of his chips and was called by the cut-off, who remarkably flipped over 8-5 for trips! His pre-flop call was more than a little questionable but that didn’t matter in the end … and just to rub it in, he rivered another five for quads.

While our unlucky loser sits forlornly in front of his last remaining 200, at least the hand has sparked the table up somewhat with Australia’s first ever WSOP bracelet winner Gary Benson now relaying stories of some of the most remarkable hands he has seen during his many years at the tables.

7.15pm: New Surrounds

When The Star began work on its massive $870 million redevelopment back in 2008, poker was relocated away from the main gaming floor to its own room up on Level 2 where it has stayed for the past four years.

However, with construction now basically complete, poker recently returned to where it all began – the main gaming floor – and this year’s Sydney Championships is the first major tournament series to be held here since the move.

It is one that has been warmly welcomed by staff and players alike.

For this week’s main event, the tables have been split into two sections with eight being used in the primary poker area and eight more featured beneath the big screen in the Sports Theatre (pictured below with local player Michael Tran showing how much he enjoys being here).

The great news is that there is now plenty of room for spectators to rail either section.

6.30pm: Houston, we have a problem

It took just one hand for us to have our first elimination of the day, with John Houston the unlucky recipient of a massive cooler (and a huge call so early in the tournament).

On a flop of Qh-3s-4s, the chips went flying with Houston announcing all-in holding 3-4 and Teresa Natoli making the call with As-Qs.

A spade on the turn left Houston drawing to just four outs and when he couldn’t find his miracle card he was sent packing before he had even had time to settle into his seat!

6.20pm: Stacked

We couldn’t help but notice an interesting Day 1 table out on the main gaming floor featuring Daniel Neilson, recent APPT/ANZPT Queenstown Snowfest champion Dave Allen and WSOP bracelet winner Andrew Hinrichsen all sitting within a few seats of one another.

Also present in today’s field are Gary Benson, Michael O’Grady, John Caridad, Star Poker Summer Series champion Andy Lee and Peco Stojanovski who finished fourth at APPT Sydney here in 2010.

We currently have 138 players registered for Day 1a.

The 2012 Sydney Championships are underway!

Welcome to PokerMedia Australia and our coverage of the 2012 Sydney Poker Championships live from The Star in beautiful Sydney.

It’s hard to believe it has already been a full year since local amateur Errolyn Strang stunned a quality field of 313 hopefuls to win the 2011 Sydney Championships and take home the $119,542 first prize.

This year’s series has already seen record fields hit the felt during the six side events that have been run and won, but tonight signals the start of the one we’ve all been waiting for – the $1650 Main Event!

Now in its fourth year, the Sydney Championships has quickly established itself as one of the most coveted events on the local circuit and we can expect to see the cream of the Australian crop here over the next 48 hours as they look to join Jarred Graham, Andrew Capelin and Strang as winners of this prestigious event.

Tonight’s opening flight will see us play eight one-hour levels with each player sitting behind a starting stack of 20,000.

Stay tuned to PokerMedia Australia over the next four days as we bring you full coverage of the countdown to crowning the 2012 Sydney Poker Champion!


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