More than meets the eye; Morvan from first out to chip lead!
In something that sounds like a film script, Romain Morvan has accomplished the ultimate comeback in Day 1A of the WPTDeepStacks Opening Event!
No chip and a chair – literally, as he had no chips after just the first hand of play today; running Ace King square into pocket Aces.
Morvan carved his way carefully through the field on his second bullet, culminating in a key hand – where he had Aces this time – to eliminate Andrej Senic, and ultimately bag up 531,000, making him the only player over half a million of the 51 remaining players from our 274 entries today.
Speaking to PokerMedia Australia at the end of day, Morvan was reserved in his assessment.
“[It’s] just another step, I have to take things nice and slow,” he said. “You can’t win the tournament on the first day. I made a big mistake on the first hand, and it does feel fantastic to have bagged up the chiplead for the day.”
Asked if he had any plans for Day 2, Morvan said that he played Day 1A for a reason. “I’m going to get some rest over the next couple of days, that was the plan with playing today instead of a different flight … the goal is just to go as far as I can!”
With two big wins in 6-Max events at both the APLPT Melbourne and APT Sydney series this year already, Morvan will no doubt be looking for a career-best score this weekend.
It was also a good day for Andrew Kitchen, who bagged 440,000, and Rob Kwan, who bagged 386,000, rounding out our top three. Other notables going through to Day 2 include David Saab, Mina Elias, Gary Benson, John Caridad, and Todd Sekli.
Today was less fortunate for Ratul Sayak, Lloyd Locsin, Andrej Senic, Brendon Rubie, Hanna Azimai, and Will Davies. They are still able to re-enter, with two more Day 1 flights to play, and we are expecting a large field.
PMA will be back tomorrow to bring you full coverage of Day 1B from buy-in to bust-out, but for now, from all of us here at The Star Sydney, goodnight and we’ll see you again soon!
Last three hands
Tournament staff have announced 3 hands remaining. Our wrap-up will be coming your way shortly!
A tale of Romain
Romain Morvan will begin and end today’s coverage – eliminated on the very first hand of play earlier on today, Morvan re-entered and has made great use of it, becoming the first player to break 500K on a recent hand.
Andrej Senic, who final tabled the PLO event at the GC Champs last month, has been grinding a shorter stack for a little while now, and jammed his remaining 105,000 all in from under-the-gun. Action folded to Morvan, who called, and then everyone else folded.
The flop dropped 2♦2♥10♥, and then Morvan turned Senic dead with the A♥. Senic joked “Heart!” as he collected his belongings, and was facing away from the table when his consolation prize – the 6♠ landed on the river to a cry from the table.
Morvan’s re-entry has now taken him to be the first player over 500,000.
Action in the last hour has been slow here in The Star Sydney poker room, but as we headed into the final level of the night, the pace has well and truly picked up, especially for Rob Kwan on Table 11.
Our reporter caught action between Kwan and Nadim Amari on a flop of J♥9♥2♥ with the pot worth around 40,000; Amari check-called Kwan’s bet of 10,000, then repeated his action after Kwan’s second shell of 20,000 on the turn of the 8♠.
Both players then checked down the river A♣; Amari tabld J♣10♦, however Kwan had rivered the bigger pair with his A♦Q♠.
Then in the very next hand, action folded to Kwan who came in with a pre-flop raise, only to then see Mo Haidary three-bet on his immediate left, forcing the others out of the way before Kwan called to go heads-up to a flop of K♠6♥J♣.
This time, Kwan check-called Haidary’s bet of 36,000, as well as his wager of 54,000 after the turn of the 3♠ before they both checked their option when the dealer peeled off the river 6♠.
Kwan quickly turned over A♦K♥, prompting Haidary to throw his hand into the muck.
Level 15: 3,000/5,000 (5,000)
Who’s your Caridad-dy?
Geoffrey Mooney jammed his remaining 51,500 under-the-gun and action folded to John Caridad in the hijack, who asked for a count. Upon confirmation from the dealer, he elected to isolate Mooney, shoving his stack all in as well.
The cut-off, button, and small blind folded, but before Ali Ghezelbash could act in the big blind, Mooney pre-emptively tabled his Q♣10♣. He quickly covered them up again when he realised his error.
Ghezelbash and Caridad shared a brief laugh, with Ghezelbash commenting that if he’s calling, he’d have Mooney’s hand beat regardless, so it really wouldn’t affect his decision.
Ghezelbash peeled his cards baccarat style … before tossing them into the muck where they belonged.
The board ran out 5♦7♦K♣K♦9♠, with Mooney already on his feet well before the river dropped.
Level 14: 2,000/4,000 (4,000)
Andre goes Dowling flames
Midway through the blind level, action folded around to Andre Dowling who made it 6,500 to go. David Hirst defended in the small blind and they went heads up to a flop of 10♣A♠3♦.
Hirst checked the flop, Dowling lead for 15,000, and Hirst put him to the test with a check-raise all-in effective.
Dowling eventually made the call and tabled A♣5♣ to discover he was out-kicked by Hirst’s A♦J♦.
The runout of 2♠, 6♣ proved no help to the underdog, and gave Hirst a solid total of 121k as we say goodbye to Andre.
Level 13: 1,500/3,000 (3,000)
Final break and chip counts
Players have departed on their final break of the day. They return in 10 minutes for the last three levels of play. Todd Sekli has “sale’d” clear of the field into the break.
A-more for Amari
Action aplenty on Table 12! Mo Haidary min-clicked UTG to 5,000, called by Nadim Amari in middle position, called again by Jeremy Steele in the small blind, before the big blind jammed.
The big blind’s jam was for 7,500 total, which qualifies as the exact minimum raise required to re-open the action. Haidary seized the day, jamming for approximately T40,000. Amari called, then Steele rejammed for 85,000 total. Amari again made the call.
Opponent (BB): 9♠9♦
The board completed 4♥A♠8♣6♦, and then a 10♦ river changed the course completely, with Haidary and Amari splitting the main pot and first side pot, with the larger still second side pot going to Amari.
Saab wheels back in to contention
David Saab asked tournament staff when play would wrap up tonight. After working out that it was another three hours plus away, he jammed his remaining 36,500 from UTG+2.
Action folded around to Tom Hulley in the small blind, who snap-called.
“8.5%” said Saab, “I’m in trouble here”. Trouble it wasn’t, as the board ran 2♦5♦7♦4♥10♣, Saab cracking Hulley’s Aces.
“Should have folded mate” remarked Hulley’s railbird.
Level 12: 1,500/2,500 (2,500)
Kang, saw and conquered
Hyunku Kang found himself in the centre of a monster three-way all-in, waking up with 9♥9♠ in the cut-off.
When the UTG+1 player opened to 3,600 with A♥Q♥, Kang decided to flat-call, only to have the small blind jam for 21,900 with A♦J♥.
UTG+1 called and Kang went all in over the top for an additional 48,500. The three hands went to battle, but it was all but over after Kang flopped a set on a board of 10♠9♣7♣3♣J♠, taking his stack to a monstrous 166,000.
Level 11: 1,000/2,000 (2,000)
O’Grady gets through
Travis O’Grady found himself deep in a pot against the reigning APL Million Champion Kia Arbabi; after an UTG min raise, O’Grady decided to flat his A♣4♣ on the button hoping to see a flop.
Arbabi had other ideas, bumping up the price to 7,500 from the small blind. The UTG folded and O’Grady came back in with a raise of 19,000. Arbabi called and the flop came 5♣6♠J♦. Arbabi check-called O’Grady’s bet of 15,500 to see a turn of 3♥.
Arbabi then checked his option to O’Grady, who moved all in for 46,600. Arbabi thought heavily but eventually folded, moving O’Grady’s stack count to a healthy 101,500.
Elias set for the river
Picking up the action on the Feature Table, which is being streamed on a 30-minute delay, Mina Elias might be playing with less cards than he’s used to. The grinder recently won his first major PLO title at the GC Champs, along with a pay day of $13,080, in a truly dominant performance where he eliminated the entire final table but for one player.
In this hand, Elias check-called a bet of 4,000 from Michael Kanaan on a flop of 4♦10♥4♠.
Both players checked the 9♥ turn before Elias led out for 5,000 on the 8♠ river.
Kanaan reluctantly called, and then looked to the heavens in frustration as Elias tabled 8♦8♥ for a rivered full house.
Also seated on the Feature Table is Brendon Rubie, who PMA readers may remember from his interview with us this time last year. Rubie has an impressive poker resume including two Aussie Millions championship rings, a victory in the $5K Challenge here in Sydney at WSOP APAC, and two WSOP final table appearances in Las Vegas.
Level 10: 800/1,600 (1,600)
The numbers are in for today’s Day 1a flight of the WPTDeepstacks Opening Event, confirmed at 344 entries, which includes 70 re-entries – a very solid start to what will no doubt be a huge two weeks of action here at The Star Sydney.
Speaking of numbers – here’s a few more notable chip counts for your perusal. Enjoy!
Kevin Shu was in action again, this time against Andrew Starr, on a board of K♣10♣8♠ when our Live Reporter walked past.
There was approximately 10,000 already in the pot and Starr had checked across to Shu, who bet 6,000. Starr responded with a raise to 16,000 and Shu considered his options for a minute or so before 3-bet shoving.
Starr asked for a count and the dealer broke it down to be “28,000 more”; a total of 44,000. After thinking about it some more, Starr made the call and the hands were tabled.
The board completed with a glimmer of hope for Shu with the K♠ turn, but the 6♣ river missed everyone, and Shu walked.
Level 9: 600/1,200 (1,200)
Our Opening Event players are now on a 10-minute break.
Shu ties the score
The book of battles between Kevin Shu and Weihao Ma had a new chapter.
Ma opened the action from the cut-off to 3,400 and play folded to Shu in the big blind, presumably out for revenge after being bluffed by Ma with six high earlier in the tournament.
Shu 3-bet to 7,000, Ma called and we saw a flop of 2♦9♦K♣. Shu fired a continuation bet of 6,000, Ma took his time but made the call.
On a seemingly innocuous turn card of 9♠, Shu announced he was all in for a total of 37,500. Ma, with only 29,000 behind, would have had to risk his tournament life if he made the call. However, he eventually folded, only to find out that Shu had got one back on him, showing 7♥3♣. Seven high!
Chi Au-Yeung open jammed his remaining 19,500 UTG and action folded all the way around to Neng Zhao in the small blind. Zhao re-jammed and the big blind quickly. folded.
The seven on the river not much consolation to Au-yeung, who was already drawing dead after Zhao flopped top pair, top kicker.
Saab drives off Wong
Tat Wong jammed his remaining 12,000 under-the-gun and David Saab made the call from the cut-off. Lloyd Locsin folded his button, and both blinds got out of the way after both tanking briefly.
“You’re in front” announced Wong, tabling Q♣9♣. Saab tabled A♦10♣.
The dealer spread a flop of 5♥4♥3♣ then a turn of A♣ prompted a premature fist pump from Saab. “Always a sweat!” said Locsin. “Oh yeah! Sorry, sorry” apologised Saab, before the dealer peeled the 9♠. “Bad luck, very close” remonstrated Saab as Wong took his leave.
A few hands later, that “always a sweat” would go the other way, as Saab had Andre Dowling all in and at risk for Dowling’s last 13,500.
Saab flopped top-top on a board of 7♦Q♠10♦ before the J♠ turn. “Always a sweat!” again from Locsin before the 5♠ river sent the pot Dowling’s way.
Level 8: 500/1,000 (1,000)
Locsin on the up
Lloyd Locsin, crippled in an earlier hand, open jammed from the lojack, before Andre Dowling rejammed from the cut-off. Everyone else got out of the way.
“A fair fight!” exclaimed Locsin, to laughter from the table. Perhaps unfairly to Dowling, he hit his overcard in the window and then improved again on the turn as the board spread 3♣4♣10♣J♥K♦.
David Saab has just been moved to the table, seated to Locsin’s immediate right.
Sayak needs a kayak
Ratul Sayak has been having a torrid run today, earlier getting eliminated with pocket aces by pocket threes and was recently again up the proverbial creek without a kayak.
Michael Soumelidis raised to 1,600 and Sayak 3-bet to 6,600. Both blinds ran for cover and action folded back around to Soumelidis, who jammed for 44,400.
Sayak made the call and the hands were tabled.
Premium holdings again for Sayak but this time, he had run into the very best of Soumelidis’ range. The board ran out 2♥7♣K♥2♠3♣, no help to Sayak who has been cut down and will have to grind back up.
Level 7: 400/800 (800)
Trayner gives Locsin a lesson
Malcolm Trayner check-called a bet of 4,000 from GC Champs overnight chipleader Lloyd Locsin on a board showing A♠8♦3♣6♥, and then checked again on the Q♥ river.
Locsin fired 10,000 and got some bad news when Trayner jammed for 21,300 total. Locsin pondered the decision but eventually called.
Top-top not good enough for Locsin, who dropped down the chip counts dramatically. Another Alize!
Enhao does he get there?
Harry Basle woke up with A♥A♣ UTG and made it 1300 to go.
Ken Demlakian clicked it to 3600 with Jacks from middle position, only to have Enhao Wang move all in from the cut-off for 16,900 with K♦K♣.
Basle jammed over the top and Demlakian got out of the way, letting the top two best starting hands go to battle.
A runout of 5♣Q♦9♣10♦J♦ saw Wang bink the rivered straight and double up, leaving Basle with just18,500 after a near-perfect opportunity to be amongst the big stacks of the tournament.
Level 6: 300/600 (600)
Bautista spurs up the counts
Jordan Bautista has been on a charge lately. In a series of recent hands, Bautista raised to 2,500 from the blinds and recieved four callers, before continuing through the board of 7♣3♦7♥7♦J♠, firing 7,500 on the flop, 12,500 on the turn, and 18,000 on the river. He was called down, showed K♦K♠, and earned a muck from his opponent, who was left with just 2,800.
That 2,800 went straight in on the next hand, called by Robert Fitzgibbon and Yazan Haddad. Haddad then shoved his remaining chips in on the flop of 3♣A♠K♥ and Fitzgibbon got out the way. Haddad’s A♥3♥ was up against the J♦J♠ of the all in opponent and held through as the board completed 4♠, 7♠.
Shortly later, Bautista was in the action again. On a board showing 2♥9♥7♥, Marco Perri fired 10,000, Bautista gunned it to 25,000 from his immediate left and pushed everyone out the way before Perri reluctantly called off.
The board completed 4♥, 10♣, and Perri was left to ponder firing a second bullet today.
George Karageorge opened the action to 2,000 and Michael Tran called from the small blind, laughing as he did so: “I can’t fold twice in a row!”
He wasn’t laughing for long, as Kia Arbabi 3-bet to 6,500 from the big blind. Karageorge 4-bet to 22,000, Tran quickly got out of the way, and Arbabi snap-called for his remaining 13,500 total.
The animated Karageorge was all smiles as the board came down 8♠8♣5♦K♠, calling for a spade. It wasn’t to be, with the 6♣ river sealing the full double for Arbabi.
Perth grinder Travis Endersby has also seated on Table 13, and certainly had a few characters to deal with!
The stars come out to play
Together, we’ll be bringing you comprehensive coverage of every event from start to finish over the next two weeks.
It also marks the first time that a full media contingent of this nature has been employed for a major poker event since the 2020 Aussie Millions – a true testament to the both the strength of the Australian poker industry and two of the nation’s leading poker brands in PMA and Star Poker.
Head on over to twitch.tv/StarPokerAU to watch the action right now as it unfolds!
Feature table players and starting chip counts
|8||Eui Jung Cheong||31,900|
Level 5: 300/500 (500)
With the players on a break, PMA took the opportunity to scope a round of counts for you all at home.
Om nom Mon
Mon Chung has scored a crucial double-up after a huge three-way pot against Travis O’Grady and Robert Fitzgibbon.
All the money was in the middle after a flop of 5-6-7; O’Grady told our reporter that he had laid down pocket aces, but it was definitely the right decision as Fitzgibbon had flopped a straight with 4♣3♦, ahead of Chung who tabled 5♠5♦ for middle set.
Fitzgibbon, however, was left gobsmacked as the turn and river ran out with repeat nines to give Mon the full house. Ouch!
Logan’s not a believer
Carlos Youssef opened to 1,000 from the cut-off, with a couple of players getting out of the way before Ian Logan 3-bet to 2,500 from the big blind. Youssef called, and it was off to a flop.
The dealer spread A♥9♥6♥ and Logan quickly checked, then called after Youssef bet 1,500. He check called again on the 2♠ turn; 4,000 this time the bet from Youssef.
The river dropped 6♠ and Logan checked a third time, this time Youssef emptied the clip, firing 11,600 all in and sending Logan into a lengthy tank, re-checking his cards and shaking his head. After a couple of minutes, he spun the K♠K♣ face up into the middle.
“Are you serious?” said Youssef, “Why are you tanking for so long?”
On the same table, Australian pro Ehsan Amiri has taken a series of hits, and busted shortly after this hand. The players have left on a 20-minute break.
Clear and present danger
Just before the start of Level 4, the PokerMedia Australia Live Reporting Team were alerted by Rehman Kassam via social media to a massive hand that played out over on Table 26.
“Present for you!” quipped Kassam, along with a photo of the board.
As it turned out, it was Jimmy Kinnane that was gifted a huge pot and a bust-out with a monster hand to move up to almost 80,000 in chips.
As Kinanne recalled, there was action on all streets down the board of 3♣7♦9♦6♦8♦ with all the money going in on the river; the villain showed down 5♦4♦, but incredibly, Kinnane had him well beat with A♦10♦. Now that’s all your Christmases coming at once!
And on the subject of gifts … if you’ve got something you’d like to share with us during the WPTDeepStacks Sydney series, join us over in PMA’s Discord server and feel free to drop your hand histories in the #submit-a-hand text channel, as well as chat with your fellow members of the Aussie poker community.
Level 4: 200/400 (400)
Three’s a crowd
Our Live Reporter’s attention was drawn to a large multiway pot in the middle of the room, where three players had got all their chips in on a board of Q♦10♣3♦.
Ratul Sayak: A♦A♣
Steven Green: 3♣3♥
Hoon Kim: A♠Q♥
Sayak had an overpair to the board, Kim top-top; but Green had both firmly on the ropes with bottom set. Green also had the most chips to start the hand, meaning both Sayak and Kim were at risk.
The board completed 9♦, 9♥, improving Green to a full house and the double knockout.
Some more arrivals
We spied a few more big names on our last walk around The Star poker room.
Hanna Azimai, who final tabled the Brisbane Poker Festival Main Event in January, has made an appearance today. Sydneysider Jarrod Thatcher, fresh from a final table performance at the GC Champs Main Event, has sat down across from our PMA Live Reporting desk, and Mina Elias, who won his first PLO title at the GC Champs, has late registered and been seated on Table 30.
Playing Six Ma-x
On a complete board of 2♦4♠4♦J♠2♣, Weihao Ma shoved, putting the ultimate pressure on Kevin Shu, who had just 10,600 behind.
Shu eventually mucked – only for Ma to table 5♣6♣ for six high, effectively playing the board. Oh, Ma, Gosh.
Level 3: 200/300 (300)
With a board showing J♠10♠9♥9♣, a decent pot building was between Pete Robinson, Ken Demlakian, and Volodia Ivanovs. Robinson had bet 4,000 on the turn and Demlakian had called from his immediate left, then Ivanovs jammed his remaining 15,100 from across the table.
A few minutes later, Robinson called, and Demlakian immediately threw his 7♥8♥ face up into the middle, commenting “I flopped a straight, but…”
Demlakian was correct, as Ivanovs tabled 9♠10♣ for the turned boat. Robinson turned over Q♠10♥ with a sigh, and went to leave, before being called back as it became apparent he would have some change left over.
The pot was almost pushed towards Ivanovs before Demlakian pointed out that there was, in fact, one card to come – with one ten remaining in the deck to chop the pot. The dealer burned and turned the 7♣, confirming the survival for Ivanovs.
Level 2: 100/200 (200)
A quick walk around the roomed showed immediately the quality of the field, with plenty of big names from around Australia.
Among those we spotted were several who featured heavily in the recent GC Champs. These included Big Bounty winner Rehman Kassam, Will Davies, Andrej Senic; and Carlos Youssef, who final tabled three separate events in that series. Lloyd Locsin, who locked in the chiplead for Day 1A of the Main Event, is also seated close to our media desk.
We also spied tough opponents in Anthony Cierco, Josh Norvock, Troy McLean, Ken Demlakian, Martin Boersma, Angelo Schiccitano, Theo Pharma, Tyson Orth, and Chuck Caris.
Fresh back from EPT Prague was Sydneysider Ehsan Amiri, who finished 59th in the 2021 WSOP Main Event, and across the room in an eye-catching suit David Saab could be found. Saab finished 46th in the 2008 WSOP Main Event, making him the deepest running Australian after Joe Hachem’s famous victory until Alex Lynskey made the November Nine in 2018.
Romain Morvan has been eliminated on the first hand of play, at the hands of John Yacoub.
Morvan opened to 500 from the hijack, before Yacoub re-raised to 1,500 from the button. Both blinds were not seated, and with action immediately back on Morvan, he 4-bet to 4,200. Yacoub responded by moving all in, and Morvan went deep into the tank.
After a few minutes, Morvan made the call – only to immediately start collecting his bags and umbrella as Yacoub tabled his hand.
Morvan found a little hope on the flop of 10♥5♣Q♦ with a gut shot to Broadway, but the board completed 2♣, 8♠ and Yacoub doubled on the first hand of the day.
Tournament staff have announced shuffle up and deal. There are 181 entries so far; every player is limited to one re-entry per flight.
Level 1: 100/100 (100)
Due to technical issues with registration, the start of play today has been delayed to 4pm AEDT.
This will allow all players who are currently lined up waiting to register to be seated at the start of play. We’ve already spotted several big names in the line waiting to play today, which promises to be a large opening flight.
On behalf of all of us here at The Star Sydney, welcome to PokerMedia Australia‘s exclusive Live Reporting coverage of the WPTDeepStacks Sydney series!
Continuing its partnerships with Star Entertainment Group and the World Poker Tour, PMA is proud to confirm that we will be here to cover the entire series, allowing you to follow along with all the action, whether you’re here with us or from wherever you may be over the next two weeks.
Today, we kick things off with the $750 Opening Event, which features three day one flights and the ability to re-enter once each flight.
Play will commence today at 3:30pm AEDT; all players start with 25,000 in tournament chips and will be playing 30-minute levels.
The WPTDeepStacks Sydney schedule includes both NLH and PLO tournaments, plus some high-roller events including the $5K Challenge, for a total of 11 events over 13 days. The crown jewel of the series is the $1,500 buy in Main Event which will kick off on 7 April with three Day 1 flights.
For a full list of the events and PMA’s coverage, see here.
We wish all the players the very best of luck, and we will be here to bring you all the action from buy-in to bust-out!