LIVE REPORTING: WPTDeepStacks Sydney $1,100 NLH Freezeout Day 1

Ken he do it?

Wow. What a day we have had here at the WPTDeepStacks Sydney at The Star. As the Opening Event field compressed to its final twelve runners, the rest of the poker room buzzed with a grand total of 352 entrants for the $1,100 NLH Freezeout, far exceeding expectations and seating capacity. 

We were graced with the presence of some well known faces, some known well even outside of the world of poker. AFL legend, Adam Goodes bounced in to the action and made his mark, and he was also joined by 2005 WSOP Main Event Champion, Joe Hachem. 

Cards were in the air from 3:30pm and play concluded shortly after 11pm, in between were the usual coolers, bad beats, runner-runners, four-card flushes and everything else that makes poker so exciting and unpredictable. You can read up on a few of these below in our live reporting feed.

As play drew near to a close, the team here at PMA glanced around the 73 remaining entrants trying to find a chip leader. Dylan Garland put up a good case with a stack of 315,000, more than double average stack. Other notable stacks include Ong Dingxiang with 271,500, Matthew Bennett with 264,000, Jerome Tan with 277,000, Milan Stojkovic with 315,000, Michael O’Grady with 362,000 and Joseph Antar with 293,000.

We had Garland on standby for a photo, until we saw Ken Demlakian emerge as a clear victor for the day, with a whopping 414,000 in chips for him to carry through to Day 2. A monster hand within the final ten minutes of play saw Demlakian river a flush as his opponent made their straight, all the chips went in and Demlakian jumped straight into pole position.

Demlakian spoke to PMA after bagging his chips, telling us how after what he described as being a “horror six months”, he’s relieved to starting finding some form on the felt again.

Demlakian is no stranger to big finishes in big tournaments, recently taking down the APLPT QLD Jackstar Super High Roller in June 2021, and having strong success in consistently making final tables.

Ken hopes he can carry this run into Day 2 here tomorrow and, along with 72 other returning players, run deep and come away with a piece of the $352,000 Prize Pool.

We look forward to resuming our coverage of the $1,100 NLH Freezeout, as part of what has been a phenomenal start to the WPTDeepStacks Sydney. We’ll see you on Sunday at 12:30pm AEDT for the start of Day 2!

$1,100 NLH Day 1 Chip Leader, Ken Demlakian

Jason his losses

One of the final hands of the day was action packed. Jian Long opened from the hijack to 10,000, Suzy Khoueis re-raised to 25,000 from the small blind with KK. Jason Pritchard called from the big blind, only to have Long re-reaise once more to 100,000. Khoueis and Pritchard both called (Pritchard all in for 93,000 total). The flop came A82, Khoueis checked the flop and then folded when Long moved all in.

Jian Long: QQ
Jason Pritchard: A10

Turn: 4
River: 2

Jason Pritchard283,000
Suzy Khoueis180,000
Jian Long215,000

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

Za-lacking some luck

Jayden Zalack found himself coolered twice in the space of ten minutes as we drew nearer to the close of Day 1. Waking up with KQ, he was please to call the all in of Michael Tran… until he saw the bad news. Tran had KK, completely dominating Zalack.

Board: 8Q4J4

Left with barely two big blinds, Zalack got the rest of his chips in just two hands later. Accepting defeat, Zalack didn’t mind losing the hand so he could have an early night. However, in flopping two pair, it appeared he’d stay in the fight a little longer. Zalack’s opponent, Dylan Garland, flopped a gunshot draw and, on Zalack’s request, a “ten!” finished the job.

Zalack: A2
Garland: KQ

Board: 2AJ810

Michael Tran290,000
Dylan Garland305,000
Jayden ZalackBUSTED!

Steve granted his levy

Steve Panourakis lucked out against Grant Levy in a big hand. Action involved a short stacked player all in pre, before both Levy and Panourakis got it in on the flop.

Levy: A8
Panourakis: Q8

Board: 8338Q

Steve Panourakis160,000
Grant Levy120,000

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

Hachem vs Joe, but not Joe Hachem

Anthony Hachem and Joe Antar were seated next to each other, and were top two stacks at their table. Things got intense when they battled for three seats.

Hachem over-limped from the small blind, Antar raised from the big blind, and it folded back to Hachem who called. Hachem check-called Antar’s bet on the flop of A94. Hachem checked once again on a turn of 5, Antar overbet for 50,000, Hachem called. They both checked down the river of A.

Antar: A10
Hachem: K9

Joe Antar330,000
Anthony Hachem240,000

Visal signs are good

Visal Kim got a nice chip up in a cooler of a hand. His opponent had a flutter of hope of survival with the window card showing would would be a winning pair, but the rest of the runout had another path in mind.

Kim: 44
Opponent: JQ

Board: J42K9

Visal Kim87,000
Visal Kim

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

Ben-NET profit

Vesco Zmukic wasn’t the only player to luck out with Ace-Queen against the favourable Ace-King, Matthew Bennett got to share in the same fortune on a runout of 3A4Q2.

Bennett: AQ
Opponent: AK

Matthew Bennett276,000
Matthew Bennett

Kwan too soon

Natalie Segon got a nice chip up at the expense of Robert Kwan. Getting it in with 88 she had Kwan at risk with his KQ.

The board doing nothing to help either party running out 322AA.

Natalie Segon83,000
Robert KwanBUSTED!
Natalie Segon

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

Thibaut slams the hammer

With the action folding around to Thibaut Klinghammer in the small blind, he thought Jack-high would be strong enough to put the big blind to the test by putting them all in. Unfortunately, Klinghammer’s J3 ran in to the big blind’s 77.

In a stroke of sheer luck, a board of 44JA5 gave Klinghammer top pair and an ugly win, knocking out the man in the big blind.

Thibaut Klinghammer105,000
Thibaut Klinghammer

Updated chip counts

Let’s go around the grounds and check in on some of the big stacks currently seated throughout the room. After his success in a double knockout, Leo Kamiya looks to be the current chip leader as we reach the final few levels of Day 1.

Leo Kamiya255,000
Anthony Hachem220,000
Suzy Khouiss185,000
Doug Barker176,000
Michael O’Grady175,000
Tanya Hill175,000
Ken Demlakian144,000
Adrian Salter139,000
Brendon Rubie135,000
Craig Blight115,000

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

The Leo Trio

Leo Kamiya found himself as the big stack in a three-way all-in. David Coffey and Bat Oji both had all their chips at risk pre-flop and hoped for a kind board, however Kamiya held them both off to challenge for the tournament chip lead.

Kamiya: AQ
Coffey: JJ
Oji: K9

Board: A10Q210

Leo Kamiya245,000
David CoffeyBUSTED!
Leo Kamiya

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

Vesco spikes it

Vesco Zmukic looked in poor shape with AQ against the all in of Malcolm Trayner with AK.

A board of 9Q2910 ensured a cooler was dealt and Trayner was sent packing.

Vesco Zmukic58,000
Malcolm TraynerBUSTED!


Hanna Azimai thought she’d take care of knocking out the table short stack, getting it in pre with A3 against Zhengyu Yao and his 108, however the flop had other ideas.

J97 gave Yao a straight, and running 3A for two pair gave no help to Azimai.

Hanna Azimai28,000
Zhengyu Yao17,200
Zhengyu Yao

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

Loung odds to lose

Francesco Losi landed the perfect spot build his stack when he looked down at AA, then saw that David Loung had raised the pot.

Losi fired a three-bet, Loung shoved and Losi snap-called. Loung held 77 and needed a lot of luck to survive an elimination that hand.

With a board of JK39Q, he got exactly what the doctor ordered, a four-card flush to cripple Losi.

In Loung’s very own words at the time, “I’m just an idiot who wanted to gamble!”

Two hands later, PMA‘s very own Josh Emerton ended Losi’s night, with his 66 being too strong for Losi’s K9 on Q8510A

David Loung68,500
Josh Emerton55,000
Francesco LosiBUSTED!

Level 7: 400/800 (800)

Adam’s got the Goodes

Over on table 26, our resident celebrity is making moves, taking down some nice pots to slowly build a competitive stack.

Midway through level 6, Darius Bucinskas opened UTG to 1400, Adam Goodes made the call from middle position, and the hijack and big blind also joined the party. On a flop of 722, Darius fired a continuation bet for 3,000. Goodes clicked it up to 8,500 and took down the pot without any resistance.

Bucinskas (L) and Goodes (R)

Qian without a trace

Andrew Qian had the opportunity to triple-up, but instead found himself sent to the rail at the hands of Toby Giles.

An UTG raise to 1,200 saw Qian flat from the hijack, Vera Milinkovic also called, then Giles bumped it up from the button to 6,000. Qian moved all in for 9,400 total, Milinkovic and Giles both called.

The flop checked through, Giles bet 5,000 on the turn and was called by Milinkovic, building a small side pot. They both checked the river and all three went to showdown.

The board was A268A.

Qian: KQ
Milinkovic: QQ
Giles: A7

Toby Giles78,000
Vera Milinkovic70,000
Andrew QianBUSTED!
Toby Giles

Level 6: 300/600 (600)

Flippin’ Francesco

Francesco Losi and Chao Duan faced off and ended up flipping to give Losi a much needed double-up.

Losi opened AK to 1,100, then Duan clicked it up to 3,500 with 99. Losi shoved for 11,000, Duan called and the board came out QA8J2.

Losi secured the double up and came close to evening the stack counts between him and Duan.

Francesco Losi23,300
Chao Duan30,000

Vanig-ing act

Joe Hachem’s stay in the $1,100 NLH Freezeout was short-lived as he found himself eliminated soon after the first break.

Hachem opened KQ from UTG, cut-off called and Vanig Kalpakian defended his big blind. On a flop of QJ10, Hachem lead for 3800, and was met with two callers.

The turn came 4 and Hachem put all of his chips in the middle. Kalpakian made the call with 98 for a flopped straight, and the river of 2 sealed Hachem’s fate and sent him packing.

Vanig Kalpakian75,000
Joe HachemBUSTED!
Vanig Kalpakian

Level 5: 300/500 (500)

McGuinness served cold

Finding yourself short-stacked means trying to find a double up and, for Tom Amir, he got the double through Dale McGuinness. Moving all-in with AK, Amir was delighted to hear the big-stacked McGuinness utter “Well I’ve got the chips to call”, and doing so with KJ

The board came 8972Q, putting a dent in McGuinness’ stack and saving Amir’s from Elimination.

Dale McGuinness16,000
Tom Amir44,000

Famous faces

Joining us in the Poker Room here at The Star Sydney are some well known figures, all hopping into the action to have a crack at what is shaping up to be a sizeable prize pool.

Joe Hachem is most notably recognised for his triumph as the first Australian to win the World Series Of Poker Main Event, outlasting over 5,600 other players in the 2005 edition of the tournament.

Adam Goodes is an AFL legend, having played 372 matches for the Sydney Swans. His accolades include two Brownlow Medals for the AFL’s player of the season, and two premiership victories with the Swans in 2005 and 2012.

Level 4: 200/400 (400)

“I’m luckier than you”

Those were the words of David Saab to Darius Bucinskas as they revealed their hands prior to the flop.

Bucinskas opened 99 from UTG+1 over a limper to 1,200, Saab three-bet with AK to 3,000. UTG called, Bucinskas then four-bet all in, Saab called and UTG folded.

Saab’s words came to fruition on a board of Q6710A giving him a handy double-up.

David Saab26,500
Darius Bucinskas32,000
Darius Bucinskas (L) and David Saab (R)

Level 3: 200/300 (300)

First victim

We have our first elimination of the $1,100 NLH Freezout, with a short stacked Mina Elias’ A6 going down to Michael Doumani’s A7 on a board of 278K10.

However, Elias lost the majority of his chips after barreling three streets with 99 against Emmanuel Derecho’s A3 on a board of A7875.

There are no re-entries of course, so that’s all she wrote for Mina Elias in Event 2!

Emmanuel Derecho50,000
Michael Doumani32,000
Mina EliasBUSTED!

Level 2: 100/200 (200)

Saab’s narrow escape

You wouldn’t have been blamed for believing that the shoe over on Table 26 was set-up to have an early knockout, with David Saab only narrowly escaping from a set-over-set situation.

Vera Milinkovic held 88 and lead out with a bet on both the flop and turn, only to be check-raised on both streets by David Saab with 44 on a board of K84K5.

Saab decided to slow down and check-call Milinkovic’s river bet, saving himself from elimination as a result of the cooler.

Vera Milinkovic47,500
David Saab12,500
Vera Milinkovic

Shuffle up and deal!

Cards are now in the air for the $1,100 NLH Freezeout for the second event of the WPTDeepStacks Sydney Series.

Entries are now over 200 and still continuing to rise as a hefty queue still lingers, giving hope to a prize pool of potentially $300,000 or more!

Level 1: 100/100 (100)

All fired up

After a fantastic start to the WPTDeepStacks Sydney series here at The Star, we’re excited to get underway with our next major event, the $1,100 NLH Freezeout!

Numbers for this tournament have already obliterated the Star Gold Coast Champs version, with 160 players registered already – yet another sign of how strong the poker market is here in Sydney and the support of the Star Entertainment Group’s ever-growing list of major events across all properties.

And with some great stories coming from the WPTDeepStacks Sydney Opening Event so far, we can only hope for some more riveting tales to come from the next two days.

Play will commence at 3:30pm AEDT; all players will start 30,000 in tournament chips. Late registration will close at the start of Level 9 and action will cease for the day after 14 30-minute blind levels, at approximately 11:10pm.

For now, it’s time to sit back, relax and enjoy as PokerMedia Australia brings you all action as it unfolds on the felt!

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