LIVE REPORTING: WPT Prime Gold Coast $5K Challenge Day 2

Congratulations Gavin Best, WPT Prime Gold Coast $5K Challenge Champion! ($119,174*)

Gavin Best has defeated a field of 86 runners to emerge victorious at The Star Gold Coast, pocketing $119,174 after a heads up deal with local crowd favourite Lucho Vargas.

It’s the sweetest taste of success for Best, who came agonisingly close with 2nd here in the Gold Coast in the GC Summer Series Main Event late last year.

Best took the time to speak with PokerMedia Australia after the tournament, and said the first thing he was going to do was get a celebratory drink with his rail, who had held the fort over the course of the final table with some of the loudest cheering of the series.

Asked about his lengthy heads up battle with Vargas, Best was all compliments for the Colombian “It was a great battle … I was actually on a table all tournament with him, last night and this morning … couldn’t get away from him!”

Best confirmed he would be attending the APLPT Adelaide series at SkyCity this week.

Congratulations once again, Gavin Best, WPT Prime Gold Coast $5K Challenge Champion!

Gavin Best

Lucho Vargas eliminated in 2nd place ($90,000*)

A few hands later, on Hand 38, with the button on Gavin Best, it was all over.

Best opened to 250,000 and preflop and Vargas made the call. Both players checked the 844 flop, and Vargas checked for a second time on the 3 turn.

Best fired a delayed continuation bet of 225,000 and Vargas called.

Vargas then led out for 400,000 on the 2 river, and Best announced all in after a short delay. Vargas made the call in short order.

Best: 88
Vargas: K4

It was an absolutely brutal cooler for Vargas, his trips running smack bang into the flopped full house of Best.

Lucho VargasBUSTED!
Lucho Vargas

A deal is struck

Between hands both players asked for the clock to be paused for a comfort break.

When they came back, both players shared that they had agreed to a deal that effectively changed 2nd place to $90,000 – taking $90,000 each and playing for the remainder.

Best rivers one

On Hand 32, with Gavin Best on the button, Best raised preflop to 250,000. Vargas wasn’t going anywhere, making the call to see the 7103 flop.

Both players checked the flop, and Vargas checked the A turn as well. Best fired for 175,000 and Vargas made the call.

Vargas checked again on the K river, and Best checked back, having picked up some showdown value as he tabled his K9, enough to beat Vargas.

Gavin Best6,225,000
Lucho Vargas2,175,000
Gavin Best

Level 25: 60,000/120,000 (120,000)

Vargas takes one

Fast forward to Hand 21, with the button on Lucho Vargas. Vargas completed his small blind and Best checked his option this time, with both players then checking the 82A flop.

The 3 turn prompted a 125,000 bet from Best, with Vargas making the call to see the J on the river.

Best opted to check the river, and Vargas announced a bet of 350,000. Best made the call before any chips were even moved, then promptly counted out some chips to give to Vargas as Vargas tabled AJ for top two pair.

Lucho Vargas

Top pair Best

Play moved on to Hand 14, with the button on Gavin Best. Best completed the small blind and Vargas checked his option to see a board of 384. Both players checked, then Vargas checked again on the 10 turn.

Best decided the time was now, firing 135,000, and Vargas made the call a short time later. Vargas then checked the 7 river and called the 350,000 barrel from Best.

Best tabled 105 to a muck from Vargas and a cheer from his rail.

Gavin Best6,595,000
Lucho Vargas1,805,000

Vargas mounts a challenge

On the 7th hand of heads up play, Lucho Vargas jammed and forced a fold from Gavin Best to chip up to 2,250,000.

Two hands later, on Hand 9, Vargas called from the button and Best checked to see a flop of 823. Both checked, then Best checked again on the A turn. Vargas fired for 100,000 and Best called.

On the 6 river, Vargas continued to the tune of 300,000 after Best checked, forcing a fold.

Vargas wasn’t done there, using his button again on Hand 11, opening to 200,000. Best called and the flop spread 684 to a check from Best. Vargas continued for 100,000 and Best responded with a check-raise to 325,000.

Vargas wasn’t a believer, shoving all in and forcing yet another fold from Best.

Gavin Best5,425,000
Lucho Vargas2,975,000

Heads up in the WPT Prime Gold Coast $5K Challenge

And then there were two.

One on side, Gavin Best. Pride of Adelaide, Best finished 2nd at the 2021 GC Summer Series to November Niner Alex Lynskey for $65,859, his best career cash to date. Whether he wins or loses this tournament, this will take over as his best career cash. At the moment, Best holds a commanding chip lead.

On the other side, Los Parceros Lucho Vargas. Lucho has been dominating the tournament circuit over the last year. Vargas also made the final table of the same GC Summer Series that Lynskey won last year, finishing 5th. Vargas then followed that up with a QPC Main Event Championship, good for $37,000, then 4th at the Opening Event of the 2022 GC Champs for $14,468. He wasn’t done there, finishing 20th in the WPTDeepStacks $5K Challenge in Sydney for $13,824.

For either player, this result will be their biggest tournament cash ever. And for either player, it would be their first Tier One title should they become Champion.

Advantage, Best, for now.

Gavin Best6,025,000
Lucho Vargas2,550,000

Leo Boxell eliminated in 3rd place ($49,009)

Gavin Best opened to 215,000 from the button, and Leo Boxell called from the small blind.

Both players checked through the board of 6436, and then Boxell shoved on the J river with J8 – but Best could barely utter the word “call” fast enough as he tabled 66 for quads!

That was certainly more than enough to end the run of Australian Poker Hall of Famer in third place.

Leo BoxellBUSTED!
Leo Boxell

Sammy Haddad eliminated in 4th place ($33,144)

After having copped a couple of big hits against Gavin Best, action folded around to Leo Boxell who ripped it in from the button before Sammy Haddad called short from the small blind.

Lucho Vargas folded his big blind before the cards were tabled.

Boxell: 66
Haddad: A9

Boxell then flopped a boat on the board of 6KK83, ending Haddad’s run in this tournament in third place.

Sammy HaddadBUSTED!
Sammy Haddad

Haddad drops two

Sammy Haddad has come off second best after clashing twice with Gavin Best as action continues at the final table of the $5K Challenge.

Earlier, action folded to Best who raised to 175,000 from the button; Haddad defended his big blind and then checked his option after the flop of 1086.

Best opened for 140,000, but he then moved all-in after Haddad’s check-raise of 350,000 to force the fold.

“I gotta show it to ya – I hit top two,” Best said as he rolled up 108 before raking in the pot.

After the buck was passed around one orbit, Best came out with another button raise and again Haddad defended before both players checked down the flop and turn of 84710.

Haddad then fired out a bet of 250,000 on the river 2; Best grimaced, but eventually called him down and showed K2.

“Good fold,” muttered Haddad as he mucked his hand.

Gavin Best4,450,000
Sammy Haddad340,000

Benoit Yick eliminated in 5th place ($25,263)

Gavin Best opened from the cut-off to 175,000 and Benoit Yick immediately shoved his remaining 350,000 from the button.

Action folded to Sam Haddad on the big blind, who took a moment before asking how much Best’s original raise was for. After getting confirmation of the amount, he released his hand. Best, however, snap-called.

Yick: 55
Best: A9

Best’s rail was again making some noise as the board spread out Q283, then turned up the volume some more as the river A handed the elimination to Best.

Gavin Best3,930,000
Benoit YickBUSTED!
Benoit Yick

Haddad getting involved

Sam Haddad raised to 200,000 under-the-gun and was called by Gavin Best on the button.

Both checked the 42K flop, and Haddad fired a delayed continuation bet to the tune of 125,000 on the 2 turn. Best made the call.

The A river brought a check from Haddad, and after a short while, Best applied pressure, betting 350,000. Haddad quickly called and Best announced “Ace Queen”, tabling the AQ.

Haddad could match that though, tabling his own AJ to chop the pot with the King on the board playing as the kicker for both players.

On the next hand, action folded to Leo Boxell in the small blind, who raised to 240,000. Haddad made the call, only to fold when Boxell shoved on the 572 flop.

Gavin Best3,250,000
Leo Boxell1,680,000
Sam Haddad1,185,000

Level 23: 40,000/80,000 (80,000)

Break time!

The remaining players have a brief reprieve in the form of a 20-minute break.

Here are up to date chip counts.

4Gavin Best2,805,000
5Benoit Yick1,135,000
7Leo Boxell1,290,000
8Sam Haddad1,430,000
9Lucho Vargas1,895,000

Vargas fights back

Lucho Vargas completed the small blind and Gavin Best continued his aggression, raising to 170,000 on his option.

Vargas came along, and the pair saw a flop of 7K10. Vargas then check-raised to 400,000 after Best continued for 160,000, and after a short tank taking us into the break, Best let it go.

Gavin Best2,805,000
Lucho Vargas1,895,000

Raph Tenenbaum eliminated in 6th place ($20,210)

Leo Boxell opened the action under-the-gun, raising to 110,000, before action folded around to Raph Tenenbaum in the cut-off. Tenenbaum ripped it, shoving for his remaining 845,000.

Gavin Best made the call from the button, then both the blinds and Boxell got out of the way.

Best: JJ
Tenenbaum: J9

Dry for both players on the Q56 flop, and Tenenbaum got to his feet. “Ten for a sweat!” called Best’s rail, but no Ten for Tenenbaum (no pun intended) as the 3 dropped to turn Tenenbaum dead before the meaningless 5 on the river.

Gavin Best2,785,000
Raph TenenbaumBUSTED!
Raph Tenenbaum

Yick bests Best

Gavin Best pulled the trigger preflop from the small blind against the short stack of Benoit Yick in the big blind. Yick made the call to find that he was on the right end of a blind versus blind cooler.

Yick: AQ
Best: AJ

The flop of 569 missed both, but the Best rail certainly got lively as the turn 3 gave Best a host of additional outs.

The 9 river did nothing for either player, however, and Best shipped some chippies across.

Gavin Best1,800,000
Benoit Yick1,790,000

Level 22: 30,000/60,000 (60,000)

Yor Ecobiza eliminated in 7th place ($16,774)

Yor Ecobiza opened to 110,000 UTG+1 and found a caller in Leo Boxell from the next seat over. The remaining players including both blinds folded.

On the flop of 6Q9, Ecobiza checked his option and Boxell took the initiative, betting 150,000. Ecobiza sprung his trap, shoving for 700,000 effective. Boxell called in short order.

Boxell: A8
Ecobiza: KQ

Ecobiza found himself ahead but needing to fade a lot of cards; then found himself in trouble immediately as the A hit the turn before the J signed his exit to the nut flush of Boxell.

Leo Boxell1,305,000
Yor EcobizaBUSTED!
Yor Ecobiza

Yick pulls on the yoke

Benoit Yick shoved his last 350,000 preflop from the cut-off and Yor Ecobiza hit the tank from the button.

After a minute or so, Ecobiza made the call; both blinds folded and cards were tabled.

Yick: AJ
Ecobiza: KQ

Yick hit the board of 37A3J hard and ascended up the counts.

Benoit Yick700,000
Yor Ecobiza495,000

Haddad hands some over

Sam Haddad raised to 125,000 from UTG+1. Gavin Best 3-bet to 300,000 from the button when action folded to him, and Haddad came along after both blinds got out of the way.

The flop of 3103 was met with a check-fold from Haddad after Best’s 200,000 continuation bet.

Gavin Best2,525,000
Sam Haddad1,370,000

Level 21: 25,000/50,000 (50,000)

Ken Foo eliminated in 8th place ($14,147)

Gavin Best opened to 80,000 from UTG+1 and was called by Benoit Yick next to him before action folded to Ken Foo in the big blind.

Foo called as well and the three went to a flop of 5104. Foo checked, Best continued for 100,000, and Yick’s cards found the muck, before Foo announced all in for 550,000.

Best snap called, tabling AA, at the time ahead of the Q10 of Foo.

All that would change on the Q turn as Foo took the lead, prompting Best’s rail to scream for a Four to give Best a better two pair.

Not to be – but the 5 on the river certainly had the same effect and as Best claimed a second scalp in as many hands, he couldn’t help but grin.

Gavin Best2,275,000
Ken Foo

Qais Shanasa eliminated in 9th place ($13,035)

Qais Shanasa opened to 85,000 from the ‘lo-jack’, leaving himself around 220,000 behind, and Gavin Best wasted no time in putting enough chips in to put Shanasa all in. Action folded back around to Shanasa, who hit the tank for a minute or so before calling off.

Best: AK
Shanasa: K10

Best held firm through the 27J35 board to more cheers from his rail.

Qais ShanasaBUSTED!
Qais Shanasa

The Best rail

Raph Tenenbaum opened the action to 80,000 from middle position, and Gavin Best took a stand, shoving for 455,000 from the cut-off.

Benoit Yick then announced all in from the button, prompting everyone else with cards to run for the hills.

Best: 33
Yick: AQ

“Three ball!” came the cry from the rail behind Best.

“Three, three!” … the flop spread 835 … “THREEEE!” as the rail erupted.

The board completed 6, 10 and Best doubled through.

Gavin Best1,090,000

Boxell punches up

Yor Ecoziba opened to 85,000 from the cut-off, only to see Leo Boxell shove all in from the button.

Sam Haddad then announced all in as well from the small blind, and action fell to Lucho Vargas in the big blind, who went deep into the tank … or so we thought.

A minute or so later, Vargas realised he had cards in front of him, and folded comically to the amusement of everyone in the vicinity.

Ecoziba folded as well, and Boxell and Haddad tabled.

Boxell: QQ
Haddad: AK

No help for Haddad on the 836J7 and Boxell goes back up over a million.

Leo Boxell1,025,000
Sam Haddad990,000

Shanasa sinks

Raph Tenenbaum raised to 80,000 UTG+2, before Qais Shanasa, in the next seat, 3-bet to 300,000. Action folded back around to Tenenbaum, who announced all-in.

Shanasa asked for a count, which equated to 780,000, before making the call.

Tenenbaum: AK
Shanasa: AQ

Tenenbaum needed no help as the board ran out 8J75J to double through Shanasa.

Raph Tenenbaum1,660,000
Qais Shanasa335,000

Level 20: 20,000/40,000 (40,000)

Break time!

A 10-minute break for our remaining players before action recommences.

Tenenbaum takes some

Lucho Vargas opened the button to 60,000 and Raph Tenenbaum was having none of that, 3-bet jamming for 375,000 from the big blind. Vargas made the call.

Tenenbaum: AQ
Vargas: A9

Tenenbaum held all the way through on the board of 467A7.

Two hands later, Vargas 3-bet to 180,000 over the UTG open from Benoit Yick. Yick made the call, then led out for 100,000 onto the 6J4 flop.

Vargas held down the accelerator, raising to 300,000. Yick took a few moments, gave Vargas a stare, but eventually folded.

Lucho Vargas1,395,000
Benoit Yick970,000
Raph Tenenbaum795,000

Squeezy Sammy

Qais Shanasa was straight back into the action, raising from the lojack a few hands later. Leo Boxell called from the small blind and Sam Haddad saw value, completing from the big blind to see a flop three ways.

Both Boxell and Haddad checked the Q10Q flop, and Shanasa continued the line, firing for 75,000. Boxell flat-called and Haddad hesitated, then upped the ante, check-raising both players to 195,000.

Shanasa and Boxell both folded, and Haddad chipped up into a commanding position.

Sam Haddad1,460,000
Qais Shanasa1,200,000
Leo Boxell530,000

Shanasa straightens out Boxell

Leo Boxell opened to 70,000 UTG+1 and action folded to Qais Shanasa on the button. Shanasa flat-called before Gavin Best and Benoit Yick relinquished their blinds.

Boxell led out for 105,000 on the 364 flop, and Shanasa wasted no time moving all in for 535,000 total.

Boxell asked for a count, then announced call, moving a stack of blue T25,000 chips forwards.

Boxell: 99
Shanasa: 55

Shanasa watched as the 10 turn fell and couldn’t help but say “Deuce or a seven…” before the 2 hit the river, causing Shanasa to punch the air triumphantly.

Qais Shanasa1,285,000
Leo Boxell740,000

Level 19: 15,000/30,000 (30,000)

Ladies and gentlemen, your $5K Challenge final table!

The Final Table of the WPT Prime Gold Coast $5K Challenge has been set, and it’s none other than Australian Poker Hall of Famer Leo Boxell leading the way!

He’s followed closely by QPC Main Event Champion Lucho Vargas, while Raph Tenenbaum

1Ken Foo1,040,000
2Raph Tenenbaum360,000
3Qais Shanasa625,000
4Gavin Best845,000
5Benoit Yick995,000
6Yor Ecobiza1,170,000
7Leo Boxell1,345,000
8Sam Haddad915,000
9Lucho Vargas1,310,000

Mehrdad Mousapour eliminated in 10th place ($12,126)

Lucho Vargas opened from the button to 60,000 and Sam Haddad folded the small blind. Mehrdad Mousapour put up a defence, however, shoving all in from the big blind for approximately 300,000.

Vargas made the call to put Mousapour at risk on the final table bubble.

Vargas: QJ
Mehrdad: AJ

Domination nation for Vargas, with no help on the 24610 board until the Q hit the river, eliminating Mousapour and setting us up for our final table.

The players have left on a 10-minute break before being broken onto their final table.

Kuru Whiston eliminated in 11th place ($11,318)

Kuru Whiston shoved all in over the 60,000 open from Yor Ecobiza. Benoit Yick then re-shoved from the blinds.

Ecobiza took a moment, but let his hand go. Whiston immediately tabled A10, and, after a short delay, Yick tabled AA to a cry of “Slow roll!” from Whiston.

The board rained hearts on Yick as it ran out 104QK8 to eliminate Whiston.

Benoit Yick1,045,000
Kuru WhistonBUSTED!

Haong, drawn and quartered

A massive three-way all-in pot has resulted in Paul Hoang bursting the bubble in the $5K Challenge!

Action folded around to Hoang who raised all-in from the cut-off for 205,000; Ken Foo called from the button, as did Gavin Best to go head-up to a sidepot of 558.

Best checked his option to Foo who ripped in his remainder.

“What are you doing?” Best exclaimed as he threw his hands up.

He then shrugged his shoulders before flicking in the chips to call.

Best: QQ
Foo: AK
Hoang: A4

The turn and river came running 9, 9; after the chips were cut down, Best scooped the lot and sent Hoang out the door.

Ken Foo1,095,000
Gavin Best860,000
Paul HoangBUSTED!

Ecobiza applies the pressure

Yor Ecobiza raised from the small blind to 75,000 against only the big blind of Kuru Whiston. Whiston made the call and the pair saw a flop of Q68.

Ecobiza check-called a bet of 40,000 from Whiston, then both players checked the 4 turn.

Ecobiza then applied maximum pressure, jamming all in on the 4 river.

A wry smile from Whiston as he nudged Ecobiza and said “Check!” before folding his cards.

Yor Ecobiza1,130,000
Kuru Whiston320,000

Level 18: 15,000/25,000 (25,000)

Richardson stonks go up and down

Ben Richardson shoved from the button and, after Gavin Best folded his small blind, Yor Ecobiza hit the tank.

Ecobiza asked for a count of Richardson’s chipstack – 425,000 – but eventually let it go after a couple of minutes.

On the very next hand, Richardson shoved again, this time for 475,000, and again, Best folded, and Ecobiza hit the tank.

This time, the similarly stacked Ecobiza would find a call after a couple of minutes, and the two went to showdown after the big blind got out of the way.

Ecobiza: 99
Richardson: 33

Neither player hit on the 7Q82K board, with Ecobiza’s superior holding … holding.

With that elimination, there are 12 players remaining and the tournament switches to hand for hand play after the tables are balanced. Ken Foo has been moved across to Table 15 to balance the tables to six players each.

Yor Ecobiza1,015,000
Ben RichardsonBUSTED!
Ben Richardson

Mousapour dodges disaster

Mehrdad Mousapour shoved UTG+1, and action folded through to Leo Boxell on the button. Boxell made the call, sending Lucho Vargas into the tank in the small blind.

Vargas eventually let it go, and Sam Haddad quickly folded behind.

Mousapour: QQ
Boxell: 88

Vargas let out an “Argh!” as the flop spread A75, and Boxell was unable to find anything on the 5, 2 run out to double up Mousapour.

“I had sevens,” lamented Vargas. “I was calling him, but when [Leo] calls … I can’t!”

Leo Boxell1,375,000
Mehrdad Mousapour620,000

Mladen laid to rest

After copping a huge hit in the last hand before the break, Mladen Strinovic was quick to get the last of his money in, ripping it in from the button with pocket tens.

Ken Foo called him down from the big blind with pocket sevens, which then turned a set on the Queen-high board, reducing our field down to 13.

Ken Foo1,140,000
Mladen StrinovicBUSTED!
Mladen Strinovic

Level 17: 10,000/20,000 (20,000)

Break time!

Although Lucho Vargas and Mladen Strinovic used half their break still at the table, the remainder of the players got a full 10-minute break.

Here’s a full list of chip counts for our remaining 14 players – 11 players make the money, so the bubble will be a huge consideration for all of them after the break.

Leo Boxell1,640,000
Lucho Vargas950,000
Ken Woo925,000
Kuru Whiston740,000
Benoit Yick695,000
Sam Haddad500,000
Raph Tenenbaum390,000
Mehrdad Mousapour380,000
Qais Shanasa370,000
Ben Richardson355,000
Mladen Strinovic325,000
Charlie Hawes275,000
Yor Ecobiza190,000
Paul Hoang150,000


After doubling earlier in this level through Corey Kempson, Lucho Vargas found himself involved in a huge pot right at the end of the level, as the field broke for a break.

With a flop showing J910, Leo Boxell led out for 75,000 and Vargas hit the accelerator, shoving for 380,000. Mladin Strinovic then re-shoved from the next seat over, and action folded back around to Boxell.

“That’s thrown a cat amongst the pigeons, hasn’t it?” sighed Boxell, as he thought about it for a few seconds. “I’ll let you two fight it out” he continued, mucking his hand and watching as the other two tabled their cards.

Strinovic: KK
Vargas: 87

“HOLD!” called the rail of Vargas, consisting of a number of Los Parceros including Jeison Berdugo.

The turn A changed nothing, and when the J hit the river it was a deafening “VAMOS!” from Vargas as he raked in a massive pot going into the break.

Leo Boxell1,640,000
Lucho Vargas950,000
Mladen Strinovic325,000

A couple of doubles

Qais Shanasa and Paul Hoang have both managed to secure a timely double up as action continues here in the $5K Challenge.

Earlier, action folded to Ken Foo who raised from the button with QQ, who then called off Shanasa after he shoved from the big blind with A6.  Shanasa then doubled through after flopping trips on the board of J6654.

Hoang then got the last of his money into the middle with QQ dominating the 88 of Ben Richardson which held after the board ran out 279K10.

Kempson KO’d

Raph Tenenbaum opened the action to 33,000 from the ‘lojack’ only to see Leo Boxell immediately 3-bet to 75,000 from the next seat over.

Action folded to Corey Kempson, who fired a 4-bet out of the blinds for 180,000 to a fold from Tenenbaum. Boxell made the call.

Kempson led out with a down-bet of 130,000 on the 41010 flop and Boxell dropped the hammer, shoving with Kempson well covered. Kempson made the call.

Kempson: KK
Boxell: K10

The board completed A, Q and with that, overnight chip leader and previous winner of this event Corey Kempson has been eliminated.

Leo Boxell1,796,000
Corey KempsonBUSTED!
Corey Kempson

Vamos Vargas

Lucho Vargas shoved from the button for 172,000, and found a caller in Corey Kempson defending his big blind.

Kempson: A8
Vargas: K10

Vargas came up trumps on the J10778 board to score a full double up through Kempson.

Corey Kempson651,000
Lucho Vargas384,000

Elias eliminated

Mina Elias called off his short stack in the big blind after Yor Ecobiza jammed from the button.

Elias: 1010
Ecobiza: K8

Straight to the party bus for Ecobiza, hitting his King on the flop as the board ran out KQ5Q3. Back to the island!

Yor Ecobiza813,000
Mina EliasBUSTED!
Yor Ecobiza

McCully McCorey’d

Corey Kempson has been continuing his aggression throughout the day, opening to 32,000 from the cut-off just before and then calling the button shove from Josh McCully.

McCully: AQ
Kempson: A9

McCully just needed to avoid a nine, but whilst it wasn’t in the window, it was right underneath as the flop spread 292. Needing to hit his own kicker to survive, he was unable to as the board completed A, K and overnight chip leader Kempson claimed another scalp.

Corey Kempson852,000
Josh McCullyBUSTED!
Josh McCully

Agresta aggression hits a wall

It was blind versus blind as Yor Ecobiza opened from the small blind and Roy Agresta defended his big.

Ecobiza check-called a bet of 30,000 from Agresta on the 58J flop, then checked again as the 4 dropped on the turn.

Agresta applied maximum pressure, moving all in, and Ecobiza called to put Agresta at risk.

Agresta: J10
Ecobiza: 54

Top pair no good for Agresta, as Ecobiza had turned bottom two pair to take the lead, and he would hold on the K river to eliminate Agresta.

Yor Ecobiza623,000
Roy AgrestaBUSTED!
Roy Agresta

Level 16: 8,000/16,000 (16,000)

Luck for Hawes

“I knew throwing that crystal away would bring me good luck!” laughed Charlie Hawes as he raked in some new chips.

Hawes had shoved pre-flop once again, and had again been called by none other than Josh McCully from the next seat over, with everyone else getting out of the way.

Hawes: 99
McCully: AJ

Hawes needed to avoid the over cards to stay in the tournament, and turned McCully dead, hitting a set on the 25K98 board.

Charlie Hawes320,000
Josh McCully56,000

Mina Elias gets a much-needed double

Mina Elias shoved for his remaining 60,000 and found a caller in Corey Kempson.

Elias: A9
Kempson: A2

Looking to eliminate the short stack of Elias, Kempson came up short on the 34KKQ run-out and Elias doubled up.

Corey Kempson725,000
Mina Elias150,000

Kempson wards off Ward

Corey Kempson opened to 25,000 and was met with a 3-bet shove from Martin Ward on the button.

Action folded back through to Kempson, who called immediately to put Ward at risk.

Kempson: AK
Ward: AJ

Ward flopped best on the J4Q flop, but still needed to avoid the King or the Ten to double through the overnight chip leader. The turn 2 changed nothing, but Kempson spiked the K on the river to eliminate Ward.

Corey Kempson760,000
Martin WardBUSTED!
Martin Ward

McCully takes a haw-l

Charlie Hawes shoved from the hijack and Josh McCully under-called for 99,000 total from the cut-off to put himself at risk. Both blinds folded and cards were tabled.

Hawes: 66
McCully: A7

Hawes held the pockets in this race, but McCully would turn it around on the 841078 board to haul some chips his way.

Josh McCully228,000
Charlie Hawes178,000

Morvan mauled

Rehman Kassam opened the action to 25,000 from middle position and Ken Foo flatted on the button. Romain Morvan was having none of that on his big blind, putting out a 3-bet to 105,000.

Kassam quite literally couldn’t have folded any quicker, but Foo considered his options for a few moments before flat calling a second time.

Morvan continued on the 997 flop with a down bet of 70,000, and again, Foo called after a short pause.

The 2 on the turn looked harmless enough, but it was met with an all in from Morvan, for a total of approximately 390,000; there was no time to count it as Foo chucked in a single chip to signify a call before Morvan had even moved his chips forwards.

Foo: AA
Morvan: AK

The turn had given Morvan a flush draw, and he would need to hit it to survive, but the 5 river changed absolutely nothing and Foo eliminated the current Player Of The Festival leader, meaning no points for Morvan today. We’ll have to wait to see if the 800 points he’s accumulated thus far is enough to land him the title.

Ken Foo1,204,000
Romain MorvanBUSTED!
Ken Foo

Grube goneski

Taylor Grube was getting short, and shoved his remaining chips in from the cut-off.

Ken Foo isolated Grube, re-shoving from the next seat over, and both blinds folded to see the two go to showdown.

Foo: 66
Grube: A7

Needing to hit either one of his over cards to win the flip, Grube missed everything as the board ran out 9105Q3 and was eliminated.

Ken Foo496,000
Taylor GrubeBUSTED!
Taylor Grube

Level 15: 6,000/12,000 (12,000)

Maximum value

With over 250,000 in the pot already, Benoit Yick shoved first to act against Chi Truong, with a board showing J5378.

Truong tanked for several minutes, with our Live Reporter actually getting full hands from other tables while waiting for the decision. After an eternity, Truong made the call – only to see Yick table 64 for a straight, more than enough to beat his 99.

Benoit Yick833,000
Chi TruongBUSTED!
Chi Truong

Hoang out to dry

Paul Hoang opened to 20,000 UTG+2 and action folded to Gavin Best on the button.

Best shoved for his remaining 104,500, and after both blinds folded, Hoang made the call.

Best: KQ
Hoang: Q9

Best had the best kicker, and the best hand after the board completed 10824A to double through Hoang.

Gavin Best234,000
Paul Hoang111,500

Ginn to the bar

Matt Ginn opened the action to 20,000 from middle position, then current Player of the Festival leader Romain Morvan 3-bet to 55,000 from the cut-off. Action folded back around to Ginn, who made the call.

On the flop of QJ7, Ginn check-called a 45,000 continuation bet from Morvan. Ginn then led out for 80,000 on the 9 turn.

Morvan pulled the trigger, shoving, and Ginn tanked briefly before calling off to put himself at risk.

Morvan: AA
Ginn: KJ

Needing a King, Jack, or Ten to double through Morvan, the 3 didn’t come close, and Morvan stacked his chips into his own.

Romain Morvan736,000
Matt GinnBUSTED!

Boxell’s a millionaire

Leo Boxell, in the hijack position, called the 20,000 open from Raph Tenenbaum to his right, before Sal Fazzino jammed for his remaining 133,500.

Tenenbaum let it go, but Boxell punched out the chips for a call and the two went to showdown.

Fazzino: 77
Boxell: AJ

The flop of A8J was good for Boxell, but the turn of J even better, turning Fazzino dead as he gathered his bags and exited stage left, not even seeing the river 2

Leo Boxell1,109,000
Raph Tenenbaum652,500
Sal FazzinoBUSTED!
Sal Fazzino

Level 14: 5,000/10,000 (10,000)

Break time!

Our remaining 29 players have departed on a 10-minute break.

Payouts have been confirmed as well. From 86 total entries, 11 places will be paid. A min cash is worth $11,318, while our eventual winner will be taking home $130,355!


Confidence play

Martin Ward opened to 16,000 from the hijack and Josh McCully defended from the big blind to see a flop of 5103.

McCully checked, and Ward continued with a down-bet of 9,000. McCully went to apply some pressure, check-raising to 23,000, only for Ward to announce all in in short order. McCully’s cards hit the muck.

“Now THAT was a bluff!” said Ward, tabling the AQ.
“Pfft. Semi bluff, maybe” responded tablemate Charlie Hawes.
“I didn’t have anything” laughed Ward
“Mate, you had blockers to aces AND queens!” interjected Mina Elias, laughing.
“Yeah and probably the best hand” laughed Hawes.

Ward continued to stack his chips as the conversation swirled around him before this gem: “Value bet jam? I think it was a value bet jam” Hawes continued to laughter from McCully.

Martin Ward229,000
Josh McCully176,000

Dipper dips out

Chris “Dipper” Zenonos jammed his short stack of 74,500 from the button over the 14,000 UTG+1 open from Joseph Vinicombe.

Australian Poker Hall of Famer Leo Boxell made the call from the small blind, prompting Vinicombe to enter the tank for a minute or so before Vinicombe called as well.

After the flop spread Q72, Boxell immediately shoved, with Vinicombe very quickly folding behind.

Zenonos: 33
Boxell: QJ

Boxell had found a queen on the flop and Zenonos could not catch up on the 5, 10 run out, and found the rail.

“I didn’t know you were in the pot!” exclaimed Boxell to Vinicombe after the hand, continuing “If I’d known you were in the hand, I’d have shoved [preflop]! You gotta remember us old deaf … , gotta help us out!”

Leo Boxell591,000
Joseph Vinicombe118,500
Chris ZenonosBUSTED!
Leo Boxell


Martin Ward jammed for his remaining 69,000 after Mladen Strinovic opened to 16,000 from middle position.

Action folded back around to Strinovic, who asked for a count, then made the call.

Ward: QQ
Strinovic: 77

Ward’s superior pockets held through the 3K6104 run out to double through.

Martin Ward158,000
Mladen Strinovic153,500

Mogens gone

Over on Table 15, all the money went in the middle pre-flop between Gavin Best, who rolled up 98 to find himself flipping against Mogens Hansen who was at risk with 66.

Hansen, however, was obliterated after Best flopped trips on the board of 39937. That’ll do it!

Gavin Best162,000
Mogens HansenBUSTED!

They’re Yor chips now

After a pre-flop raise from the player in the hijack position, Yor Ecobiza re-raised all-in from the button with JJ and was called off by Charlie Hawes who tabled A6.

Although the nut flush draw came down on the flop of 83Q, Ecobiza improved to two pair after hitting another 3 on the turn before the river 6 completed the board.

Yor Ecobiza233,000
Charlie Hawes121,000

More for Mousapour

Our reporter caught action heads-up between Sal Fazzino and Mehrdrad Mousapour in a raised pot to a flop of 526; Fazzino checked from middle position before Mousapour announced he was all-in from the button for his last 153,000.

After about three minutes of deliberation, Fazzino elected to call.

Mousapour: KK
Fazzino: 106

No change after the turn and river of Q, J, which resulted in a big double for Mousapour.

Mehrdrad Mousapour372,000
Sal Fazzino108,500

Level 13: 4,000/8,000 (8,000)

Best hand Best

Gavin Best shoved his short stack over the preflop open from Chi Truong. Truong made the call for a total of 60,500 to put Best at risk.

Best: AA
Truong: QJ

Only a four card straight for Truong on the 63103K run out, not enough to best Best’s best hand.

Gavin Best136,000

Agresta gets one

Joseph Vinecombe check-raised Roy Agresta’s 10,000 bet to 45,000 on the flop of QJJ, and Agresta took a moment before making the call.

On the 3 turn, both players slowed down and checked, before Vinecombe fired another 45,000 on the J river.

Agresta gave a little say then announced “call” – Vinecombe’s cards spun face down into the middle of the table before Agresta could put the chips in, however. Agresta tabled Q10 for the full house to take the pot.

Roy Agresta308,000
Joseph Vinecombe154,000

Zeberjad zilched

Raph Tenenbaum opened to 13,000 from the button, and Ali Zeberjad elected to defend his big blind to see a flop of K32 heads up.

Zeberjad led out for 6,000 and recieved a call from Tenenbaum, before both checked the Q turn.

Zeberjad checked again on the 4 river, only to see Tenenbaum shove the larger stack. Zeberjad considered but under-called to put himself at risk.

Tenenbaum, however, wasn’t fazed, tabling A8 for the nuts, more than enough to best the 65 of Zeberjad.

Raph Tenenbaum610,000
Ali ZeberjadBUSTED!
Raph Tenenbaum

Filipp not flipping

Filipp Mamedov was a late entrant to this event and found himself all in and at risk at the hands of Mina Elias.

Elias: K9
Mamedov: J9

Neither player caught any piece on the 284108 board and Elias claimed the scalp.

Filipp MamedovBUSTED!

Level 12: 3,000/6,000 (6,000)

Arbabi clipped

Kiavash Arbabi shoved from middle position and was looked up by Roy Agresta out of the blinds.

Arbabi: KK
Agresta: AJ

Agresta spiked an Ace on the 4A528 board to eliminate Arbabi.

Roy Agresta269,500
Kiavash ArbabiBUSTED!

Morvan getting busy

Romain Morvan has been getting very active at the start of play today, recently going all in for the fourth time.

Morvan opened from the button and Paul Hoang elected to defend on his big blind.

On a flop of 58J, Hoang checked the action across to the raiser, and Morvan continued his aggression, betting 7,000.

That wasn’t enough for Hoang, who check-raised to 26,000 – only to see Morvan pull the trigger, shoving for 83,000 total. Hoang made the call.

Morvan: AJ
Hoang: J10

Both players had caught top pair but Morvan held the superior kicker, and Hoang could find no help on the 8, A run out.

Romain Morvan183,500
Paul Hoang252,000

Truong trumps

Chi Truong has claimed an elimination early on in today’s play, calling the all-in from a player in Seat 1. Truong tabled KJ and found himself ahead of the Q10 of his opponent.

Truong flopped top pair on the K59 flop and just needed to avoid a Jack. The turn 3 and river 8 were no help to his opponent, who found the rail.

Chi Truong269,500

Morvan needed

Romain Morvan, winner of the WPT Prime $1,100 NLH earlier this week, came into today as the short stack and definitely needed more chippies.

Morvan shoved his remaining stack from the button after a 10,000 open from Sebastian Trisch UTG+1. Both blinds folded, and Trisch made the call to put Morvan at risk.

Morvan: AJ
Trisch: A7

Morvan didn’t need any help, but caught a completely unnecessary Jack on the Q682J board to double through Trisch.

Romain Morvan88,000
Sebastian Trisch60,500

Shuffle up and deal!

Cards are now in the air for Day 2 of the $5K Challenge!

Level 11: 2,500/5,000 (5,000)

Let’s raise the stakes!

Good afternoon and welcome back to PokerMedia Australia‘s Live Reporting coverage of the WPT Prime Gold Coast series!

After the final table of the Main Event was confirmed last night, 38 players bagged up a stack in the $5K Challenge. At present, Corey Kempson is leading the way with 498,000, with Sal Fazzino (466,500), Sam Haddad (363,500), Benoit Yick (358,000), and Phuc Huang (349,500) completing the top five.

Kempson is certainly no stranger to success in this event, having won the $5K Challenge here at the inaugural WPTDeepStacks Gold Coast series in 2019, but we expect a late flurry of entries from some of Aussie poker’s biggest names, as late registration is still open until the start of Level 11.

Be sure to follow PMA for all the latest from the felt, along with the final table live stream of the Main Event, thanks to our friends at the World Poker Tour. See you soon!

Day 2 seat draw

Play will resume at 12:30pm AEST, with recommencing blinds at 2,500/5,000 (5,000). Please ensure you bring your photo ID and Star Club Card for verification purposes.

Should you have any queries regarding your seat allocation, please see Star Poker Gold Coast staff upon arrival.

Table 13

2Phuc Huang349,500
3Raphael Tenenbaum307,000
4Joseph Vinecombe239,000
5Carmen Ling159,000
6Ken Loong254,000
7Mogens Hansen149,000
8Anthony Harach72,000

Table 14

2Kiavash Arbabi100,000
3Corey Kempson498,000
4Harry Basle94,000
5Kuru Whiston206,000
6Chris Zenonos336,000
7Leo Boxell300,000
8Roy Agresta330,500

Table 15

2Benjamin Richardson222,500
3Chi Truong107,000
4Gavin Best175,500
5Lucho Vargas116,000
7Paul Rhodes165,000
8Sam Haddad363,500

Table 16

2Stefano Accardo199,000
4Rehman Kassam180,500
5Sal Fazzino466,500
6Benoit Yick358,000
7Matt Ginn194,000
8Ali Zebarjad188,500

Table 17

2Mina Elias195,000
4Qais Shanasa238,000
5Charlie Hawes295,000
6Josh McCully126,000
7Matt Pongrass48,000
8Mladen Strinovic166,000

Table 18

3Mehrdad Mousapour196,000
4Sebastian Trisch128,000
5Alex Lee236,500
6Taylor Grube76,000
7Romain Morvan46,000
8Martin Ward133,000

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