LIVE REPORTING: WPTDeepStacks Sydney Opening Event Day 1B

Fayad bags Opening Event Day 1B chip lead; that’s a wrap!

Day 1B of the WPTDeepStacks Sydney Opening Event is now in the can!

From our starting field of 375 entries, 65 players have survived through to Day 2, with Khal Fayad topping the charts after today’s flight with 448,000. Fayad told PokerMedia Australia that this event was something he’d been looking forward to since he began playing poker 35 years ago.

“I was waiting for something like this to come to Sydney,” Fayad said. “I’ve watched lots of WPT on television and online, hoping to see it here one day. Now it is here finally and I am really loving it!”

When Fayad was asked about performance throughout the course of the day, the 57-year-old businessman was frank in his appraisal.

“I don’t think I could have done much more, honestly,” he said. “I made a couple of mistakes, but after that I was able to focus and play safe.”

“Sometimes you do have to take risks – that’s poker – but overall I am happy with how I played.”

Finishing second overall was Cyprus Poker Club’s own Chuck Caris who bagged 280,000, while Chad Awerbuch (254,000), Michael Levy (253,000) and Peter Moore (249,000) round out our top five.

Other notables to have made it through to Day 2 including Ratul Sayak, Zac Duce, Sam Capra, Travis Endersby, Richie Samia, Anthony Cierco, Michelle Psarras and Suzy Khouiss.

And while we are now a couple of hours into April Fools’ Day, there’s no question that Day 1C of the Opening Event will be strictly business, so be sure to join us again from 12:30pm AEDT as PMA brings you all the action. Until then, it’s ‘bye for now!

Bag ’em and tag em!

And just like that folks, Day 1B is done and dusted!

With no significant action after the clock was paused for the last three hands, we can confirm that Khal Fayad is today’s overall chip leader, taking a small hit at the end to finish with 448,000.

The Star Poker Sydney team and the PMA Live Reporting Crew are now in the process of wrapping up today’s proceedings – stick around and we’ll be right back!

Fayad fires up

Khal Fayad has now become the first player to move past the half-million chip mark, taking out a player leading up to the last three hands of the night!

Fayad’s moment came after he called off an unknown player pre-flop holding JJ and held all the way against their AK down a board of 42786.

Khal Fayad535,000
Khal Fayad

Suzy’s big steal

Suzy Khouiss found herself a nice chip-up at the expense of Jeremy Steel.

Khouiss opened with her KJ to 11,000, Steel called and we saw a flop of J59.

Khouiss continued for 18,000, Steel moved all in and was quickly called, seeing that his KQ was in bad shape.

The board ran out 4J and Steel was sent packing.

Suzy Khouiss181,000
Jeremy SteelBUSTED!

Level 15: 2,500/5,000 (5,000)

Evans sent off

John Thompson opened A10 from middle position, and Matt Evans defended K9 in the big blind.

Flop came JA10 and Evans went all in for 24,000 total, Thompson quickly called and it was all over with the A on the turn sealing the deal before the K on the river.

John Thompson196,000
Matt EvansBUSTED!
Matt Evans

Nio nixed

Trevor Saunders found himself under the gun with AK. After he opened to 10,000, Monica Nio made the call to go heads-up to a flop of 98A.

Saunders fired a continuation bet of 15,000, which was met with a quick call by Nio. The turn card was the K, and Saunders checked before Nio lead out for 30,000.

The river came a 6 and Saunders checked once more, allowing Nio to move all-in for 75,000.

Saunders pondered, but eventually found the call to see Nio’s 109 was no good against his two pair.

Trevor Saunders255,000
Monica NioBUSTED!

Level 14: 2,000/4,000 (4,000)

A rose by any other name …

Although action throughout the room has slowed somewhat, that hasn’t stopped our players having a bit of fun with the PMA Live Reporting Team along the way.

Earlier in the day, our newest recruit approached Chad Awerbuch to confirm his identity and grab a few snaps for the blog. Naturally, he was only too happy to assist, but it didn’t take long for the rest of the crew to realise that there was something afoot.

We checked in with the bona fide Awerbuch and pointed out his alleged namesake.

“Oh, that’s Matt Rolfe!” Awerbuch laughed, before heading over to introduce us.

“Mate, I heard you’ve taken my name in vain!” he said to Rolfe.

“Yeah, of course!” Rolfe replied. “Who doesn’t want to be Chad Awerbuch?”

It’s a fair point – especially when you’ve got more than USD $630,000 in tournament winnings to your name, including victory in last year’s $5,000 buy-in Super High Roller at the Poker Palace.

Identity crisis … averted!

Big chippies

Plenty of big names at the top of the pops right now, including Anthony Cierco, Sam Capra and Chad Awerbuch, but chalk one up for the Queenslanders, as Chuck Caris is now in pole position as we head into our final 90-minute stanza for the night!

Chuck Caris345,000
Anthony Cierco290,000
Michael Levy254,000
Sam Capra240,000
Chad Awerbuch230,000
Richie Samia220,000
Ram Lakshimanasamy214,000
Chuck Caris

Level 13: 1,500/3,000 (3,000)

Hang 10

The remaining 86 players are now on their final 10-minute break. Back soon with the big stacks – stay with us!

Samia surges

A huge triple-up for Sydney grinder Richie Samia now puts him well into our top counts as we head into the final break of the night.

Our reporter caught up with the action just as Samia, Perry Peng and Mark Yazbeck were heading to showdown.

Peng: JJ
Yazbeck: A4
Samia: J10

Yazbeck picked up the nut flush draw on the flop of 9108, but Peng and Samia both picked up the straight with the Q on the turn – only to then have Samia win it outright with the A on the river!

No eliminations as a result, but Samia is now sitting behind a stack worth 196,000.

Richie Samia

Finger given the flick

German poker wunderkind Martin Finger, who now calls Australia home, has been felted over the space of two hands.

In action prior to the start of Level 11, Finger opened from early position to 4,000 pre-flop; Michelle Psarras called and Raphael Tenenbaum defended his big blind, making it three-handed to a flop of 2710.

Tenenbaum checked his option to Finger, who led out for 8,000. Psarras folded, but then Tenenbaum check-raised all-in for 37,500. Finger snap-called.

Finger: JJ
Tenenbaum: 107

Tenenbaum then turned a full house after the board completed 10, 4, leaving Finger with just 1,500, which he moved into the middle in the very next hand.

Both Psarras and Fletcher Smith came along, with Smith then opening into the sidepot on a flop of 387, only to fold after Psarras’ raised to 28,000.

Psarras: 88
Finger: K5

Another turned boat as the board completed 3, 5 to give Psarras the scoop.

Raphael Tenenbaum85,000
Michelle Psarras77,000
Martin FingerBUSTED!
Martin Finger

Level 12: 1,500/2,500 (2,500)

Saunders ends the Salha saga

Although there were signs of life for Sammy Salha, it all came crashing down at the hands of Trevor Saunders just before the start of Level 12.

The PMA Live Reporting Team were alerted by Saunders who was trembling with joy as he stacked his chips.

“Mate, I need your help – I don’t even know how much is there!” Saunders exclaimed as he pointed to his stack, “but I need to give you the details first!”

As Saunders recalled, Salha had moved all-in with AA after a flop of 10-X-X with two hearts, however Saunders had him crushed with pocket tens for top set.

Although there was a bit of a sweat with another heart opening up the backdoor flush draw, the river was a brick and thus brought an end to Salha’s story.

Trevor Saunders136,000
Sammy SalhaBUSTED!

Endersby and Kassam clash

Westralian Twitch aficionado Travis Endersby has been getting busy against Star Gold Coast Big Bounty Champion Rehman Kassam as action continues in the WPTDeepStacks Sydney Opening Event.

In a hand that we caught towards the end of Level 10, action folded to Endersby who raised to from the cutoff pre-flop; Kassam was the only caller from the button, so it was heads-up to a flop of A7K.

Endersby opened for 2,500 and Kassam called, then both players checked the turn of the 7 before Endersby forced Kassam to muck after firing out 12,000 on the river 8.

“Good fold, sir!” Endersby said.

“I’m not sure if you were actually good there,” Kassam replied.

“Maybe not, but I know that I had you beat this time!” quipped Endersby.

Travis Endersby85,500
Rehman Kassam111,000
Travis Endersby

Level 11: 1,000/2,000 (2,000)

Duce duped

Charles Ingram has eliminated Harrison Duce on Table 31 as we head into the 11th level of play.

As Ingram recalled, he and Duce got it all in after an A-X-X flop, with Duce at risk with A-5, however Ingram had him covered every which way with his A-Q.

Ingram then improved to two pair with a queen on the turn before a six bricked out on the river.

Charles Ingram62,700
Harrison DuceBUSTED!
Charles Ingram

Number crunchin’

With Day 1B locked out after the start of Level 9, the Star Poker Sydney team have kindly updated us with the latest figures, and they’re looking very, very good indeed!

A total of 375 entries – compiled of 295 uniques and 80 re-entries – came in for today’s Opening Event flight, taking our running total up to 719.

That means that the prize pool now stands at $485,325 and puts us well on track towards the estimated $750,000 total.

To get there, there needs to be at least 393 entries tomorrow, but with plenty of interstate and potentially international interest bubbling and brewing, that number is all but assured and then some!

Level 10: 800/1,600 (1,600)

Zmukic’s cryin’

The end of Vesko Zmukic’s story was not as pleasant, having just been busted at the hands of Troy McLean.

Zmukic moved his last 14,400 in from middle position pre-flop with AQ, but although he was ahead of McLean’s K9, the dealer spread a board of 724JK to give McLean a rivered pair and the K.O.

Troy McLean65,000
Vesko ZmukicBUSTED!

Salha’s laughin’

Sammy Salha’s story continues with a brand new chapter that he thoroughly enjoyed.

An open from the cutoff from Matt Evans with pocket sevens saw a snap-shove from Josh Norvock with A10, Salha quickly called with 88 and Evans swiftly folded.

The board ran out KJ835, sealing Norvock’s fate.

Sammy Salha65,000
Josh NorvockBUSTED!

Assorted chip counts

Ratul Sayak120,000
Brendon Rubie114,700
Trevor Saunders88,000
Chad Aberwuch86,000
Suzy Khouiss81,000
Tony Kambouroglou71,000
Ehsan Amiri70,000
Josh Norvock48,000
Harry Basle47,000
Vesko Zmukic41,000
Anthony Cierco40,000
Michelle Psarras36,000
Ken Demlakian26,000
Sammy Salha23,000
Andrej Setnic21,000
Yita Choong20,000
Hari Varma18,000

Level 9: 600/1,200 (1,200)

Break time

Time for another 10-minute break! We’ll be back with another round of counts very soon.

Blight’s alright!

Over on Table 31, Craig Blight shot up out of his chair and waved down the PMA Live Reporting Team.

“Mate, you gotta come and see this!” Blight shouted excitedly.

Our reporter rushed over to see Blight beaming as he scooped in a sizeable pot after the dealer had spread a board of 976J2 and it wasn’t hard to see why.

Song Yu: KK
Opponent: QQ
Blight: JJ

Now that’s a triple-up with style!

Craig Blight64,000
Song Yu57,000

Rubie rolls Warnke

After having a big pot taken off him earlier, Brendon Rubie has exacted the ultimate revenge against Dylan Warnke.

Although Warnke had moved up more than 75,000 in chips before the first break, Warnke copped a huge hit to his stack after his pocket nines lost out against an all-in opponent’s A-Q which flopped an ace.

Warnke then found himself all-in with A-10 and ahead of Rubie, who called him off with K-6, but despite hitting top pair on the A-K-3 flop, a repeat King on the turn was enough to seal Warnke’s fate.

“Gonna just head home I think,” said Warnke.

Brendon Rubie

Level 8: 500/1,000 (1,000)

Salha survives

“The story begins here, boys!”

That was the good word from Sammy Salha, who has just scored a timely double-up off Dave Coffey as we approach the final level of this stanza.

Salha found himself flipping for his tournament life, getting the remainder of his stack in holding 88 against Coffey’s AK, however the board ran out 32Q103 to double Salha up to 22,000 and change.

Yang goes bang

Our reporter picked up action five-handed into a limped pot on a flop of 826; Jerome Tan checked his option out of the small blind before Jiapeng Yang raised to 2,400 from middle position.

The other three got out of the way before Tan came back with a check-raise to 7,400. Tan called, then led out for 18,000 after then turn of the J. Yang made the call, but was forced into the tank after Tan open-shoved for 22,700 on the river of the J.

After some time, Yang short-called, but incredibly, his 97 was best against Tan’s 32 to score a huge double and move his stack up to 94,000!

Level 7: 400/800 (800)

Milner mauled

Geoff Milner has become the latest player to hit the rail, eliminated at the hands of Dave Coffey.

In the moments before the blinds went up, Milner open-shoved with KQ, however Coffey woke up with JJ before going on to hit top set on the board of 5J7510.

Geoff MilnerBUSTED!
Geoff Milner

Salha slips

Josh Norvock has now moved further up the counts, now up to 75,000 after taking a big pot off Sammy Salha.

Action folded around to the player in the lo-jack position who raised to 1,200 pre-flop; Norvock three-bet it to 4,000 from the hi-jack, only to then see Salha four-bet to 8,700 total. Norvock was the only caller, making it heads-up to the flop of 434.

Norvock check-called Salha’s bet of 6,600 after the flop and then both players checked the turn of the K before Norvock led out for 17,500 after the river 9. Salha went into the tank for several minutes before eventually laying his hand down.

Sammy Salha

Level 6: 300/600 (600)

Saunders on song

Trevor Saunders has now moved up to almost 90,000 in chips after taking out John Thompson.

Saunders and Thompson got all their chips in over the line after the dealer spread a flop of 96J; although Thompson had paired up with his Q9, Saunders was well ahead holding KJ.

The turn and river of 4, 6 completed the board to confirm Thompson’s elimination.

Trevor Saunders89,000
John ThompsonBUSTED!
Trevor Saunders

An Awerbuch-y ouchie

Janet Wyvil, who flew in from Queensland today along with Omer Silajdzija, has just been eliminated at the hands of Chad Awerbuch.

All the money was in the middle on the river after heavy action across a board that read 8K656; Wyvil rolled up 87, but Awerbuch had her beat with the bigger two pair holding KQ.

The PMA Live Reporting Team can confirm that that was Wyvil’s second bullet and thus abruptly ending her time here in today’s Day 1 flight.

Chad Awerbuch71,000
Janet WyvilBUSTED!

Notable chip counts

A few more new arrivals have made their way into The Star Sydney during the previous stanza, including the one and only Hari Varma, who won the WPT Australia Main Event at The Star Gold Coast back in 2019.

We can also confirm that Luke Hanna is now out of contention, getting his money in good before the break in a classic über-cooler – aces versus kings – only to then have the villain hit a set of kings on the flop. Ouch.

Dale Marsland78,000
Trevor Saunders72,000
Rehman Kassam59,000
Josh Norvock57,000
Chad Aberwuch42,000
Lloyd Locsin40,500
Fletcher Smith36,000
Vesko Zmukic32,000
Con Xenos31,000
Afa Tuionuku30,000
Yita Choong29,000
Vahe Hovagimian27,000
Michael Kanaan25,500
Janet Wyvil25,000
Martin Boersma24,300
Anthony Cierco24,000
Zac Duce21,000
Michelle Psarras19,000
Brendon Rubie18,500
Hari Varma13,800
Suzy Khouiss11,000
Luke HannaBUSTED!
Hari Varma

Level 5: 300/500 (500)

Take 20

Our players are now on a 20-minute break. Time to grab a bite and then we’ll grab some counts!

More for Warnke

After his success at last week’s APT Sydney series, Lismore’s Dylan Warnke is now in action here at the WPTDeepStacks Opening Event, taking a chunk of change off Brendon Rubie.

“It was a great hand too!” Warnke said. “I had pocket fives, Brendon had pocket tens, board was 5-6-3-J-Q and he check-called all streets.”

“He got me a good one!” Rubie smiled.

Dylan Warnke60,000
Brendon Rubie20,300
Dylan Warnke

Pooley behind the 8-ball

Our reporter caught up recently with Shelley Pooley, who has not had the most ideal start to her tournament run today.

“I can’t believe it!” Pooley exclaimed. “I got here after registering online and then sat down to a stack that was already blinded down by 2,500 – that’s 10% of my starting stack!”

The PMA Live Reporting Team sought clarification from the Star Poker Sydney floor manager, who explained that as per their Terms & Conditions, a player that has registered online will have their stack put into play to begin with, however if they have not arrived by the end of the first level, the original stack is removed completely before they are re-seated with a full stack.

That being said, it appears that this ruling may not have been correctly applied in Pooley’s case – and to make matters worse, she’s taken a big hit against Darren Li.

We picked up the action three-handed to a checked flop of A7J; Li then checked to Pooley after the turn of the J, who led out for 2,200. Another player in middle position called, as did Li from the button before all three players checked down the river 3

“I don’t even want to show!” Pooley laughed before eventually turning up 22.

Li couldn’t get his hand over fast enough, revealing 76 to scoop the pot.

Darren Li42,000
Shelley Pooley12,000
Shelley Pooley

Level 4: 200/400 (400)

Norvock’s gonna Norvock

Two all-ins in the space of 10 minutes has seen Josh Norvock also move up the counts in these early stages.

After finding himself down to 16,000, Norvolk moved all-in with 85 on the river, the board showing 47KA10 and was met with a call, but his opponent mucked to give Norvock the double.

Moments later, Norvock once again shoved the river on a board of 77JA5 and into a pot worth around 23,000. Mele Poulivaati put her tournament life at risk, under-calling with 55.

Norvock sunk her boat with his JJ to move up to more than double the starting stack.

Josh Norvock61,500
Mele PoulivaatiBUSTED!
Josh Norvock

Worth the wait

It’s a been a solid start for Dale Marsland, who along with Vesko Zmukic and Travis Endersby are amongst the first wave of players from WA heading to the east coast to be part of the WPTDeepStacks Sydney series.

Marsland found himself under the gun with Q10 and opened the action to 600. Action then folded around to Keanu Simpson in the hijack who 3-bet to 2,500 with AK.

Marsland called, making it heads-up to a flop of KJQ. Marsland checked it over to Simpson, who bet 2,200. Marsland then check-raised to 8,000. Simpson called to see a turn of 4, where Marsland bet 5,500, Simpson moved all in and quickly heard the word “call”.

The 9 on the river gave Simpson the ace-high flush, but was felted by Marsland’s straight flush, moving his stack up to more than 60,000. Westralia represent!

Dale Marsland62,000
Keanu SimpsonBUSTED!
Dale Marsland

Level 3: 200/300 (300)

Silver screen magic

The Star Poker Sydney feature table – the only permanently installed RFID feature table in any Australian casino – has already been fired up from the start of today’s flight, featuring one of Australia’s most charismatic players, Peco ‘The Magician’ Stojanovski.

Known for his mastery of the conjuring arts, we’ve already put in a request for his favourite $50 bill trick to be performed on stream, which you can watch right now over at

Feature table starting line-up

1Laurence Hall
2Zhixiang Ang
3Matviy Hoang
4Holly Chen
5Paul Hoang
6Tim De Pater
7Travis Hayden
8Peco Stojanovski
*Feature table broadcast on a 30-minute delay.

Sayak scuttles Handa

Ratul Sayak is already off to a great start, eliminating Jatin Handa over on Table 10 to move up to almost 80,000 in chips.

Our reporter picked up the action three-handed to a flop of 986; Handa checked his option from the small blind, as did Sayak from middle position before the player on his immediate left opened for 3,500.

Handa flat-called, but then Sayak raised to 10,100 total, forcing the other MP out of the way before Handa shoved over the top. Sayak snap-called.

Handa: QQ
Sayak: 99

Handa was subsequently sent to the rail after the dealer completed the board with 2, 8 to give Sayak the full boat.

Ratul Sayak78,000
Jatin HandaBUSTED!
Ratul Sayak

Level 2: 100/200 (200)

Familiar faces

Day 1B of the WPTDeepStacks Opening Event is already up to 230 entries, featuring a bulk of players who were amidst the action yesterday, including Anthony Cierco, Yita Choong, Adam Kharman, Ken Demlakian and Chuck Caris.

But there’s been an influx of brand-new notables as well, including Janet Wyvil, who flew in from Queensland this morning, along with two of Sydney’s leading ladies, Suzy Khouiss and Michelle Psarras, as well as one of the all-time greats: Australian Poker Hall of Famer Leo ‘The Mechanic’ Boxell!

Leo Boxell

Shuffle up and deal!

Aaaaaaaand they’re off!

As was the case with Day 1A, our players will each start with 25,000 in tournament chips and we’ll be playing through 15 levels, each 30 minutes in duration.

A single re-entry is permitted in each flight, with late entries and re-entries available until the start of Level 9 (approx. 8pm AEDT tonight).

However, as per the Star Poker Sydney terms and conditions, players who wish to re-enter after bagging up at the conclusion of the flight can only do so by forfeiting their stack.

LevelSmall BlindBig BlindBB Ante

Level 1: 100/100 (100)

Fortune favours the brave

Good afternoon and welcome back to The Star Sydney for Day 1B of the WPTDeepStacks Sydney Opening Event!

It’s already been a huge start to this tournament, with 50 survivors bagging up at the end of Day 1A. Topping the chip counts was the French 6-Max specialist himself, Romain Morvan, who bagged more than half-a-million chips after firing another (golden) bullet and despite being felted in the very first hand at his starting table.

It just goes to show that your fortunes can change so quickly in this game, but as long as you’re prepared to put in the hard yards, anything is possible – and a fortune will certainly be there on offer for all our players, as staff are quietly confident that the prize pool for this tournament alone may well exceed $750,000!

Naturally, the most important number in relation to all of this is the number of entries – 344 of them so far and with plenty more on the way over the next two days – and it also means they each have a chance to freeroll their way into the Big Dance, thanks to the World Poker Tour and The Star Sydney!

All you have to do is head over to the WPT Twitter account and post a reply to their special giveaway Tweet with proof of entry into the Opening Event.

It can be a photo of anything from the tournament – your registration receipt, a selfie at the registration desk or even your chip stack – but once you’ve tweeted, you’re automatically in the draw to win a WPTDeepStacks Sydney Main Event seat valued at $1,500.

Be quick though, as entries close at 11:59pm AEDT this Friday!

TERMS & CONDITIONS: WPTDeepStacks Sydney Opening Event Social Media Giveaway Promotion

DISCLAIMER: This Promotion is wholly administered, endorsed and sponsored by WPT Enterprises, Inc. and The Star Sydney.

While you’re over there, be sure to also follow PokerMedia Australia and The Star Sydney Twitter accounts so you can keep up to date with all the latest on all that’s happening with us from no matter where you may be.

And of course, tune in right here from 3:30pm AEDT as the PMA Live Reporting Team bring you all the action from Day 1B of the Opening Event. See you soon!

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