Sydney mortgage broker Matt Pongrass outlasted a quality field of 258 starters and survived an epic three-handed battle that lasted well over three hours to win the $5K Challenge at WPTDeepStacks Sydney on Monday night.
Pongrass found himself in a back-and-forth battle with Ken Demlakian and Dylan Wayne that began before midnight before eventually sealing the deal at 3.30am local time after reaching a deal with heads-up opponent Wayne.
It was a sweet victory for the Sydneysider, with his best mate Mark Fester winning the WPTDeepStacks Main Event just hours earlier.
Combined with his $276,178 first prize in the $5K Challenge, Pongrass also had a 25% stake in Fester’s $413,006 Main Event win, making it a particularly profitable few hours.
“I’m stoked,” he told PokerMedia Australia shortly after sealing victory.
“The title was important to me because my best mate won the Main Event so it was going to be a nice story for me to win the $5K on the same night. The money is always good too but I wanted to win this one.”
Asked about his epic three-way battle with Demlakian and Wayne, Pongrass said, “I’m exhausted. The ICM was pretty strong – the pay jumps were massive – so I was putting on a lot of heat early and it should have been over.
“I got into a few interesting spots and I had 18 million (of the 26 million chips in play} there at one stage. It was very swingy.”
Pongrass attributed his victory to being more financially stable and playing less often than in his younger days, noting that playing was much easier as a result.
He also plans to take a break in the coming weeks with a trip to the United States planned before returning in time for the next WPT event on the Gold Coast in June.
The $5K Challenge was one of three events to reach their conclusion at WPTDeepStacks Sydney on Monday, with the $440 Freezeout won by another well-known local in Brendon Rubie for a little over $33,000 in prize money.
WPTDeepStacks Sydney $5K Challenge final table payouts (258 entries, 33 places paid):
|1st||Matt Pongrass||$276, 178|