LIVE REPORTING: WPTDeepStacks Sydney $440 PLO Day 1

‘Ali G’ leads after Day 1 of the $440 PLO; that’s a wrap!

Well folks, it’s been one helluva day here at The Star Sydney, and from 365 total entries, we’re now down to our final 27. Leading the charge is Sydney poker veteran Ali Ghezelbash, who bagged up 591,000 in chips after going on a tear on the feature table and on his third bullet for the day.

Ghezelbash will no doubt be looking to add a WPT title to his lengthy poker CV, which includes a WSOP International Circuit ring from 2018 and deep runs in the 2015 APPT Sydney and Melbourne Main Events.

In second chip position is Al Josue (584,000), who was also gifted with a pure run and is now determined to reach the summit after making the final table of the Opening Event earlier this week.

Rounding out our top five are Matt Pongrass (506,000), Roland Foster (447,000) and Paul Rhodes (391,000), while Chuck Caris, Con Angelakis, Lloyd Locsin and Daniel Laidlaw were just some of the other notables to have bagged, along with two members of Australia’s ‘First Family of Poker’: Anthony and Daniel Hachem.

PokerMedia Australia will return tomorrow from 12:30pm AEST to bring you the conclusion of this event, coinciding with the feature table stream over at

Join us again as we find out who will become our next WPTDeepStacks Sydney Champion – but until then, from all of us here at The Star Sydney, it’s ‘bye for now!

Level 16: 3,000/6,000 (6,000)

Yu blue

Our reporter caught up with WPTDeepStacks Opening Event third-place finisher Chen Yu, who looked forlorn as she made her way out of the main tournament area, but she was kind enough to share with us the details of her elimination.

With the blinds at 1,500/3,000 (3,000), all the money was in the middle after a flop of A59; Yu had it in good, having hit top set with her AAK9, up against AJJ8 and QJ104, but the turn and river came running Q, K to send her straight out.

It was a different story for Louie Srour, who took out Conrad Wolfbrahm in the final hand of the night out on Table 14.

After a late double-up for Chuck Caris in the penultimate hand, Wolfbrahm jammed after the flop of 6QK holding Q1075, but needed help against Srour’s AA63.

However, Srour tripped him up with the case 6 before the river K completed the board. How the mighty have fallen.

And that concludes our coverage of Day 1 of the WPTDeepStacks Sydney $440 PLO – we’ll be back shortly to wrap this up!

Louie Srour188,000
Conrad WolfbrahmBUSTED!

Level 15: 3,000/5,000 (5,000)

Double trouble

Table 13

Massive action over on Table 13 with K.T. Heng scoring a big double, but it was Roland Foster who got an even bigger one as we approached the bubble.

Earlier, K.T. Heng scored a knockout after an unknown player moved the last of his chips into the middle with AQ83, but Heng left them out to dry after he called with Q10109 which rivered a boat on the board of 510484.

Then just after the field was reduced to 48 players, a massive three-way all-in scenario came about out between Heng, David Sebesfi and Roland Foster.

Sebesfi: KKJ7
Foster: QQ84
Heng: 101092

Board: 78QAQ.

Just quads for Foster, who now joins Al Josue in the 500K club – and with Mina Elias confirmed as the stone bubble over on the Star Poker Sydney feature table, we are officially in the money!

Roland Foster560,000
David SebesfiBUSTED!

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

A steep learning curve

Table 14

“Hey! Where’s that reporter? Get him over here!”

That was a direct quote from David Saghabi, who is now close to 300,000 in chips after taking out another player on Table 13.

“I swear to you, I’ve only ever played 30 minutes of PLO in my life!” Saghabi said to the PMA Live Reporting Crew, “but have a look at this would ya?”

Saghabi motioned to the board, confirming that he had taken out another player after getting his money in with 8664 and flopping the world on a board of 5975Q. That’ll do it!

Meanwhile, WPTDeepStacks Opening Event Champion Michelle Psarras is also back in action, along with third-place finisher Chen Yu. Although Yu is renowned as a PLO specialist, the ‘Harbour City Queen’ decided to have a crack in an attempt to bolster her lead in the Player of the Festival race.

However, she took a hit against Chi Au in a hand we caught on Table 11. After Au raised to 10,500 from under the gun, action folded to Psarras who called from the button, as did the player in the big blind to see a flop of Q48.

Action checked to Psarras who fired 26,000; the big blind folded, Au snap-shoved and Psarras called.

Psarras: KK76
Au: A1082

Turn: 3

River: 8. Ouch.

David Saghabi280,000
Michelle Psarras73,000
Chi Au62,500

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

Birdle’s the word

Table 14

Action across the felt has slowed considerably between our 62 remaining players, however Birdle Ilbray has just taken out Charlie Haitch as we approach the break of the night.

All the money was in the middle after the dealer had produced a flop of Q25; Haitch had spiked middle pair with his 7654, but Ilbray was ahead having tabled KK43 for the overpair.

The 8 on the turn opened up more outs for Haitch, but the river K completed the board to give Ilbray the set to move into the break with almost 170,000 in chips.

Birdle Ilbray166,000
Charlie HaitchBUSTED!

Time for a quick stretch and then it’s time to bring it home! We’ll be back in 10 minutes, but in the meantime, be sure to follow along with all the action on the Star Poker Sydney feature table over at!

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

Fast money

With the tournament now being locked out, and the field down to 88 runners, we’re pleased to reveal the full payouts for this event! From a total of 365 entries – made up of 211 uniques and 154 re-entries – the WPTDeepStacks $440 PLO has generated a tasty $146,000 prize pool.

Top 46 players will be paid out, while our winner tomorrow will be taking home a tidy $30K and change.

DEEPSTACKS SYDNEY $440 PLO – PAYOUTS (365 entries, 46 players paid)

*Full payout information available at

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

Laying down the Laidlaw

Table 3

A massive hand between Daniel Laidlaw and Zac Vigar has resulted in the 2013 Sydney Champs Main Event winner moving beyond the quarter-million chip mark!

Action folded to Laidlaw who limped in from the button before the small blind potted it to 6,400; after the big blind got out of the way, Laidlaw three-bet it to 18,000 and the small blind called before potting again after the flop of KJ3.

Laidlaw moved all-in and the small blind short-called.

Small Blind: KK84
Laidlaw: AJ104

Although the villain was in great shape with top set, Laidlaw flushed him out as the turn and river came running 2, 7!

Daniel Laidlaw265,500

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

Bluffin’ business

Table 12

Al Josue is all smiles, now holding almost 140,000 in chips and getting frisky on Table 12 against Bassam Habib.

We picked up the action four-handed to a flop of Q26, which all the players checked before the dealer produced the 7 on the turn. Action checked through to the player on the button who fired out a bet and Josue called before the others got out of the way before the riverK.

“Sorry boys, I have to bluff for the cameras!” Josue laughed as he jammed a small stack of yellow T5,000 over the line. The player on the button folded.

“How is that fair? I didn’t get to see the bluff!” Habib said with a smile.

Bassam then put on a show of his own, calling after a UTG raise of 2,500 before both Josue and Yita Choong called from the small and big blinds respectively. The big blind then raised to 15,000 before action went back to Bassam.

“Re-pot,” Bassam said to the dealer.

Josue and Choong both mucked and the big blind thought about it for a minute before laying his hand down.

If that ain’t workin’, that’s the way you do it: money for bluffin’ and your chips for free!

Al Josue138,000
Bassam Habib96,500

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

Get on the Ban wagon!

Action across the felt is now at ludicrous speed as we approach the end of the final level and the rebuy period, with Conrad Wolfbrahm and Ban Tran both raking in huge pots just before the next 10-minute break.

As we saw Geoff Milner heading to the exits, Chuck Caris quietly alerted us to a huge pot brewing on Table 8, where a player in middle position limped in before Wolfbrahm potted it up from the button. The MP called, then fired on all streets to end up all-in on the river with the board reading 25107A.

Wolfbrahm called him down the whole way and then tabled A962 for two pair; the MP stood up, fanned his hole cards towards his face, slapped them with the back of his hand twice and then slammed them face-down into the muck before walking away.

Our reporter then quickly turned around as a commotion went up on Table 11, where we saw a huge three-way all-in post-flop showdown between Tran, Ali Ghezelbash and William Xiao.

Ghezelbash: KK82
Xiao: 9952
Tran: AQJ10

Board: 5K9Q3

“Look at this … that was a limped pot pre-flop, can you believe that?” Tran exclaimed. “I’ve got nothing to worry about now!”

With a triple-up like that, it’s hard to disagree!

Conrad Wolfbrahm170,000
Ban Tran119,700
Ali Ghezelbash44,800
William Xiao36,300

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

Pause and effect

Midway through the previous level, the clock was paused as floor staff handled a dispute over on Table 14, which involved WPTDeepStacks Sydney Opening Event final tablist, Al Josue.

According to Star Poker Sydney management, Josue was under the impression that he had been eliminated, despite actually hitting a straight with his hand.

As Josue made his way out of the room, the dealer awarded the pot to Josue’s opponent, but fortunately the other players at the table pointed out the error before the new hand had commenced.

The tournament was then brought to a standstill as staff checked with surveillance as to how much was to be returned from the opponent’s stack, which took approximately five minutes. Josue, however, didn’t get that much back and was felted a short time later.

The pause also gave the PMA Live Reporting team the opportunity to get an update on the all-important WPTDeepStacks Sydney Player of the Festival leader board, which confirms that Opening Event Champion Michelle Psarras currently in pole position.

$2K NLH and $1,100 NLH Freezeout winners Franceso Losi and Stephen Tambouras are tied for second, while $330 NLH Freezeout and Opening Event runner-up Todd ‘The Salesman’ Sekli are equal fourth.


1stMichelle Psarras750
eq. 2ndFrancesco Losi600
eq. 2ndStephen Tambouras600
eq. 4thGeorge Lewkowski550
eq. 4thTodd Sekli550
eq. 6thChen Yu450
eq. 6thEmad Moaref450
eq. 6thTravis O’Grady450
9thPatrick Barba425
eq. 10thGary Benson375
eq. 10thZhihan Neo375
eq. 10thGavin Ogilvy375
*Top 10 positions shown. More information and T&Cs available at

Level 7: 400/800 (800)

Thil’s up

Table 10

Our reporter spotted APT Ambassador Mike Maddocks over at Table 10, sitting behind a much healthier stack after being eliminated on the Star Poker Sydney feature table earlier in the day.

Josh Thil has also rocketed up the counts after he took out WPT League QPC Super High Roller Champion Tim McDonnell, who has fired his second bullet and now seated over at an adjacent table.

As Thil recalled, McDonnell came in with a pre-flop raise before both the small blind player and Thil called to se a flop of 9-6-5. McDonnell then jammed, the small blind folded and Thil called him off, tabling Q-8-2-2 and blocking hard against McDonnell’s T-7-4-2 and held after the rest of the board bricked out.

That was all before action folded to Ratul Sayak, who came in with a pre-flop raise from the hijack; Michael Dai then moved the last of his money into the middle from the button, forcing the blinds out of the way.

Dai: AJ109
Sayak: 10985

Dai then proceeded to turn two pair on the board of QA4104 and doubled through.

Mike Maddocks110,500
Josh Thil86,500
Michael Dai14,000
Ratul Sayak12,000
Tim McDonnell20,000*

Level 6: 300/600 (600)

Noja gets nutty

Table 13

Our reporter caught a three-way all-in between Brad Newman, Ali Ghezelbash and Daniel Noja on Table 13 just as they were going to showdown.

Newman: KKQJ
Noja: KK75
Ghezelbash: Q854

Board: 102634

“Nut-nut!” said Noja as he pushed up the seven and five to accentuate that he had hit the straight – and with that, Newman and Ghezelbash were both eliminated.

Then in the very next hand, Noja went heads-up with the Philippines’ Emmanuel gayfilo Derechio to a flop of 5A10. There was a bet from Derechio and a call from Noja, but then both players checked the turn and river before tabling their hands.

Derechio: AK102
Noja: A1095

With the turn and river improving neither hand, there was no nut-nut this time, just a chop-chop.

Emmanuel Derechio118,500
Daniel Noja38,000
Ali GhezelbashBUSTED!
Brad NewmanBUSTED!

Level 5: 300/500 (500)

Big stack for Higgs

Table 24

Just before all our players headed out for first break of the day, we picked up a couple of hands over on Table 24, headlined by Patrick Barba, who finished runner-up in last night’s $330 NLH Freezeout against George Lewkowski.

The player in the UTG+1 position raised to 1,400 and action folded around to Andrew Horowitz in the cutoff who made the call, as did Sam Higgs from the button before a three-bet came out of the big blind. The +1 player folded, Horowitz shoved and Higgs folded.

Horowitz: AKQ3
Big Blind: AQ105

The villain was subsequently busted after Horowitz flopped two pair on the board of 33K78.

Then in the very next hand, action folded to the player in the hijack position who limped in before Higgs three-bet it to 1,500 from the cutoff. The hijack called, then both players checked the flop of 385 before Higgs folded to the hijack on the turn of the 7.

“Nice hand man, you got me.” Higgs muttered as he threw his hand into the muck.

A small hit to Higgs’ stack, who is well in excess of 100,000 as we take a 20-minute breather. Back soon!

Sam Higgs131,000
Andrew Horowitz30,000
Patrick Barba25,500

Level 4: 200/400 (400)

Chia chopped out

Table 1

Our reporter caught up with Charles Chia, who was seen heading to the rego desk to reload after being eliminated at the hands of Jarred Graham, who is sharing space with Travis Endersby and David Saab.

As Chia recalled (with help from a screenshot of his poker odds calculator on his phone), action folded to Endersby who limped in from the button; the small blind player completed and Chia checked his big blind to go three-handed to a flop of 579.

Action then checked to Endersby who bet pot for 1,000 and the small blind called, but Chia then check-raised to 3,500. Endersby returned fire with a re-raise worth 12,500, the small blind folded and Chia shoved over the top. Endersby snap-called.

Chia: AJ75
Endersby: K865

Endersby’s straight held and Chia was crippled the turn and river ran out 8, J. Chia then moved the last of his chips in during this level with Q-J-T-9, but whiffed on the A-2-4-3-3 board against Graham’s K-K-T-2.

Travis Endersby34,500
Jarred Graham29,000
David Saab24,000
Charles ChiaBUSTED!

Level 3: 200/300 (300)

Pavlakis pads his stack

Table 12

As the dealers and floor staff began to bring in the unoccupied stacks, we caught some early action on between Dale Marsland, Bassam Habib, Reygnna Fry and Andrew Pavlakis.

There was betting on all streets between Marsland and Pavlakis on a board that read 26789; Marsland tabled AQJ8 for a turned pair and a busted flush draw, but Pavlakis had him beat with KK92 for a rivered two pair.

Habib and Fry then went heads-up to a flop of Q106; Fry bet 500 and Habib called, then the action repeated on the turn of the 8 before both players checked the river 4, with Habib’s KQJ4 hitting two pair to scoop the pot.

Andrew Pavlakis36,000
Reygnna Fry18,500
Bassam Habib17,000
Dale Marsland9,000

Level 2: 100/200 (200)

Photos to go

A quick round of pics which also gave us a chance to see who’s who in the zoo – and as predicted, there’s plenty of poker superstars amongst the 134 entries currently seated, including one of Australia’s all-time greats: Jarred flopnutsonyou Graham, who flew in from Melbourne recently along with Daniel ‘The Wolfman’ Gabriel.

And as predicted, Mike Maddocks is now in action here at The Star Sydney and seated opposite Team PMA‘s Russell Fogarty on the Star Poker Sydney feature table!

Away we go!

The order has been given and we’re now underway in the $440 PLO!

All entrants will start with 20,000 in tournament chips and we’ll be playing through 16 levels of 30 minutes’ duration, or down to our final table of nine, whichever comes first.

Late registration and multiple re-entries are available until the start of Level 9 (7pm AEST) tonight.

LevelSmall BlindBig BlindBB Ante

Level 1: 100/100 (100)

Go with the PLO

Hello everyone, and welcome back to The Star Sydney and PokerMedia Australia‘s continued Live Reporting coverage of the WPTDeepStacks Sydney series!

Today, we’ll be switching things up with the $440 buy-in Pot Limit Omaha event, which is sure to bring in plenty of the country’s best and brightest for what will no doubt be a hectic day of action across the felt.

Word on the street is that we have more interstaters already en route to The Star, including none other than the Canadian-Aussie mindset guru himself: 2021 WPTDeepStacks Sydney runner-up Mike Maddocks, who is no stranger to success in this form of the game, having won the WPT League Gold Coast QPC PLO 6-Max last June.

The dealers are now cutting out the stacks and loading their shoes, so stay with us here on the PMA Live Reporting blog and follow the feature table streaming over at Best of luck to all our players today, and of course, may the flop be with you!

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