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