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
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)
No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em, buy-in: $400, entrants: 1200, prize pool: $480,000
Ladies Event (Re-entry)
No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em, buy-in: $200, entrants: 168, prize pool: $33,600
No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em, buy-in: $400, entrants: 359, prize pool: $143,600
|4th||James P. Rann||$11,049|
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|
No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em, buy-in: $250, entrants: 718, prize pool: $161,550
Mixed PLO/NLH (Re-entry)
Pot Limit Omaha/No Limit Hold’em, buy-in: $500, entrants: 182, prize pool: $91,000
6 Max (1 x Re-entry)
No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em, buy-in: $1000, entrants: 326, prize pool: $326,000
Pot Limit Omaha (Re-entry)
Pot Limit Omaha, buy-in: $500, entrants: 245, prize pool: $122,500
High Roller (Re-entry)
No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em, buy-in: $4750, entrants: 234, prize pool: $1,111,500
Main Event (Re-entry)
No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em, buy-in: $1800, entrants: 1097, prize pool: $1,974,600
No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em, buy-in: $500, entrants: 355, prize pool: $142,000
|4th||Kah Boon Teh||$10,925|