PUB POKER: Nichols celebrates second East Coast Poker Champs title

By Christopher Murphy

Newcastle’s Brenton Nichols (pictured left) conquered the largest field in East Coast Poker Championship history to claim the first prize of $9000 along with an $1800 package to the WSOP APAC at Crown Melbourne next April.

Hosted by Southern Cross Poker every three months with a buy-in of $220 and boasts a guaranteed prizepool of $25,000. But on Sunday, November 4, at Mayfield Diggers a record setting 210 runners took their seats to battle for a prize pool of $37,800, smashing the guarantee.

After a long afternoon, the field was reduced to the bubble of 19 with blinds at 8000/16,000 with an ante of 1000. John McGowan was the unlucky bubble finisher after his A-K lost a race against an opponent’s pocket queens while James Sidebottom fell one spot short of the final table, finishing 10th for $800.

The final table comprised:

Seat 1: Michael Tran (chip leader on approximately 1.1 million)
Seat 2: Brenton Nichols (chasing his second ECPC title)
Seat 3: Stuart Burnham (needed to finish sixth or better to claim the Player of the Year crown)
Seat 4: Josh Griffiths
Seat 5: Susan Kendall (last remaining female in the tournament)
Seat 6: David Munsie
Seat 7: Rodger Lu
Seat 8: Ryan Rogers
Seat 9: Gary Bourke

With blinds at 20,000/40,000 and an ante of 4000, the first elimination occurred when short stacked David Munsie moved all-in for 114,000 and was called by Stuart Burnham. Munsie held A-4 and was trailing against the A-K of Burnham. The board ran out 5-5-J-Q-K to eliminate Munsie in ninth for $1000.

After doubling-up, Susan Kendall moved all-in for 196,000 holding pocket kings and was called by Rodger Lu who showed pocket aces. The board showed 3-5-8-6 with three diamonds, leaving just one out for Kendall outs to just one, as Lu held the Ad. The river Kd gave Susan a set of kings but Lu made his ace-high flush. She finished in eighth place worth $1200.

There were three eliminations during the next level (25,000/50,000 with an ante of 5000). Burnham raised to 125,000, Ryan Rogers shoved all-in for 335,000 with Burnham making a reluctant call with 9h-10h to trail the Ad-5d of Rogers. But a brutal board of 5-4-J-Q-K made Burnham a straight to send Rogers out in seventh ($1500).

Lu looked in good shape to double-up after his A-4 paired the flop of 4-3-Q against the A-7 of Michael Tran. But the turn A and river Q made a better two-pair for Tran leaving Lu on his way to collect $1800 for sixth.

Gary Bourke was the all-in player with A-8 against Josh Griffiths (A-J), and the board of 3-9-Q-8-10 made a straight for Griffiths. Bourke took home $2100 for fifth.

The increase in blinds to 50,000/100,000 (ante 10,000) marked the end of Tran, who shoved his last 640,000 with K-Q and found his hand marginally behind that of Nichols (A-2). The flop of J-2-2 was enough for Nichols as Tran finished on the WSOP APAC package bubble but still took home $2500.

The heads-up combination was decided when the K-10 of Griffiths connected the board of Q-4-7-10-Q against the A-K of Burnham, who was confirmed as the Player of the Year to go with $3000 in cash and a 2012 WSOP APAC package.

The heads-up battle between Josh Griffiths and Brenton Nichols started with discussions of a deal arose, but Nichols eventually declined saying, “let’s just play it out.” Action was back and forth with Nichols slowly chipping away at Griffiths.

Eventually, Griffiths open-shoved first to act and Nichols snap-called. Griffiths showed A-6 off suit but his hand was dominated by Nichols’ A-K off. The board ran out K-2-2-9-6 and Brenton Nichols was confirmed as the ECPC winner for November 2012.

• The next major Southern Cross Poker event will be the Central Coast Poker Championship on January 19-20 at the Mingara Recreation Club in Tumbi Umbi.

ECPC November 2012 payouts

1 Brenton Nichols (Newcastle) $9000 + $1800 WSOP APAC package
2 Josh Griffiths (Hunter Valley) $5000 + $1800 WSOP APAC package
3 Stuart Burnham (North Coast) $3000 + $1800 WSOP APAC package
4 Michael Tran (Sydney) $2500
5 Gary Bourke (New England) $2100
6 Rodger Lu (Sydney) $1800
7 Ryan Rogers (Central Coast) $1500
8 Susan Kendall (Port Stephens) $1200
9 Dave Munsie (New England) $1000
10 James Sidebottom (Newcastle) $800
11 Tim Ayers (Newcastle) $700
12 Howard Frizelle (Newcastle) $700
13 Billie Mosman (Hunter Valley) $600
14 James Gray (Central Coast) $600
15 Aaron Blanch (New England) $500
16 Bryn Trenter (Newcastle) $500
17 Nick Tzikoukis (QLD) $450
18 Paul Brown (Newcastle) $450

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