LIVE REPORTING: 2022 Star Sydney Champs Opening Event Day 1A

Nurlan Boobekov leads after Day 1A; that’s a wrap!

Nurlan Boobekov finds himself in a familiar position after Day 1A of The Star Sydney Champs Opening Event, sitting almost 200,000 in chips clear of our next biggest stack.

Based on unofficial counts, 29 of the 224 total entries will proceed to the second day and Boobekov will come back with 646,500, almost triple the average stack. This is not new territory for our chip leader, with Boobekov having won this event almost five years ago to the day, collecting $84,735 in prize money.

Boobekov was all smiles as we snapped some shots of him at the feature table, but stressed to PokerMedia Australia that it wasn’t as easy as it looked.

“Day 1A and 1B are the toughest days you can play,” Boobekov said. “[Typically on] Wednesdays and Thursdays, there aren’t as many recreational players.”

And when our intrepid reporter asked whether he took a different approach to his strategy than usual: “Not really, I just played solid poker!” he replied, “Though I would like to think that I’m a better player every time I play.”

In our short few minutes chatting with Boobekov, it’s clear he loves his poker, and he hopes others around him enjoy themselves at the tables.

The PMA Live Reporting team will certainly be keeping our eyes peeled for Boobekov on Day 2, and you may well catch him in action again on the feature table stream at

In the meantime, we’ll be back here tomorrow for our continued coverage, with Day 1B of The Star Sydney Opening Event from 2:30pm AEST. See you then!

LoRusso on a high

Just before the floor staff called for the final three hands, a big three-way all-in pot played out on Table 11, which included Nick LoRusso and Farnaz Bahrehbar.

All the chips were over the line before the flop; the shortest of the three stacks held A9, but was well behind Bahrehbar’s 88, which trailed the KK of LoRusso.

All players finished up with two pair after the dealer spread the board 7J975, but LoRusso’s Kings gave him the scoop, taking out the unknown adversary whilst Bahrehbar was left with 50,000, which she managed to double in the very next hand.

Nick LoRusso210,000
Farnaz Bahrehbar100,000

And with that, Day 1A of the Star Sydney Champs Opening Event has come to a close, and emerging as the overall chip leader is Nurlan Boobekov, having gone on an absolute tear after being moved to the feature table!

We’ll have our wrap-up of today’s proceedings coming your way shortly.

Logan’s run ends

Ian Logan has also been sent packing at the hands of Cooper Feltham, getting the remainder of his stack in pre-flop with QJ.

Feltham’s AA, however, held all the way down all streets across the 36K94 board to move Feltham’s stack up to 200K.

Cooper Feltham195,000
Ian LoganBUSTED!

Assadourian departs

Eric Assadourian been amongst the latest to have hit the rail as we approach the end of Day 1A of the Star Sydney Champs Opening Event.

Assadourian moved the last of his chips in pre-flop with A7, however he ran face first into the 1010 of Andre Dowling.

Despite hitting top pair on the flop of AJQ, Dowling turned Broadway with the K before the river J completed the board.

Andre Dowling90,000
Eric AssadourianBUSTED!

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

The Psarras blues

Michelle Psarras’ chances of taking down successive opening events at The Star Sydney have been dashed (for now) after being eliminated at the hands of Jai Cui over two hands.

Earlier, Psarras got all her chips in with KQ, but ran into Jie Cui’s JJ, which went on to river quads on the board of J585J.

Down to 45,000 in chips, Psarras jammed it in a short time later with K4, however Cui’s A9 hit the better two pair on the KA2QQ board.

Not the best night for the ‘Harbour City Queen’, and nor was it for her beloved Blues, who lost tonight’s Origin decider. Sadface.

Jay Cui200,000
Michelle PsarrasBUSTED!

Tambouras goes bye-bye

Steve Tambouras has met his demise at the hands of a flip in the closing stages of Day 1A.

After a player in middle position opened the action to 10,000, the hijack called before Tambouras moved all in for 94,000 from the cut-off.

Ashor Shlemon woke up in the big blind with AK and moved in over the top. The action folded back to Tambouras, who showed down QQ.

Despite not pairing his Ace or King, Shlemon found a four card flush on a board of 86452 to send Tambouras to the rail.

Ashor Shlemon222,000
Steve TambourasBUSTED!

No voodoo for Toolooa

Flopping top set with pocket Jacks has not proved favourable in today’s flight, as an opponent of Ajay Toolooa found out the hard way.

Action folded to Toolooa in the cut-off, who made it 9,000 to go. The unknown adversary in the big blind three-bet to 25,000 with JJ and Toolooa made the call.

After the flop of J97, the big blind checked it over to Toolooa who moved all-in with Q10. The big blind called and the board ran out 8, 10, to give Toolooa a straight and send his opponent to the rail.

Ajay Toolooa246,000

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

The Cui comeback

Having been moved onto Michelle Psarras’ table with just 50,000, Jay Cui has now run that up to almost six times that much during the course of this level.

After securing an earlier double-up, Cui got his money in again, this time with 88 against Adnan Oda, who was flipping for his tournament life with KQ.

Cui hit top set on the flop of 847, but although Oda hit his flush with the 4 on the turn, Cui was best with his full house, with the river 4 purely a formality.

Jay Cui293,500
Adnan OdaBUSTED!

Milinkovic slips

Neb Blanusa continues to apply the pressure, taking a chunk of change off Vera Milinkovic.

Our reporter picked up the action heads-up into a pot worth about 40,000 on a flop of 342, Milinkovic led out for 10,000, but Blanusa responded with a raise worth 31,000.

After a couple of minutes, Milinkovic made the call, then checked her option on the turn of the 2.

“All in,” Blanusa said as he moved in his remaining 105,000.

Milinkovic leant in for a closer look at Blanusa’s chips, glanced back at her stack and then thought better of it, electing to fold her hand.

Neb Blanusa203,500
Vera Milinkovic165,000

Assorted chip counts

Just three more levels until we bag and tag! Yang Lei leads the way, but Malcolm Trayner has now thrown his hat into the ring, moving into second position on our counts.

Yang Lei362,500
Malcom Trayner212,500
Michael Canturi205,000
Neb Blanusa203,500
Glenn Marsom184,000
Leo Boxell183,000
Vera Milinkovic165,000
Kiavash Arbabi147,000
Eric Assadourian116,000
Sandi Sandi113,000
Farnaz Bahrehbar112,000
Hedley Fung108,000
Vahe Hovagimian65,500
Ian Logan56,000
Nick LoRusso50,000
Dylan Desmarchelier50,000
Xavier Mangano31,500
Romain Morvan20,000

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

Break it down

Our 70 remaining players are now on their final 10-minute break of the night.


Adrian Pacheco’s day has come to an end at the hands of Glenn Marsom.

Moving in with KQ from the hijack for 40,000, Marsom woke up with AK in the big blind and held safely on a board of 24668. That’ll do it.

Glenn Marsom155,000
Adrian PachecoBUSTED!

Chop-portunity knocks

Over on Table 6, the player in the UTG+1 position opened to 6,000 and got calls from a player in middle position, as well as Nick LoRusso and Neb Blanusa in the small blind and big blind respectively, to go four ways to a flop of 7J10.

The blinds checked it to the pre-flop raiser who made it 9,000. The middle position got out of the way and both the blinds called again.

On a turn of 7, Lo Russo checked his small blind to Neb Blanusa who moved all in, covering the table. The UTG+1 eventually let his hand go and LoRusso called.

LoRusso: 97
Blanusa: 97

The river came through a 6 to lock up the chop.

Neb Blanusa215,000
Nick LoRusso74,000

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

Blanusa gets the double ton

Neb Blanusa has now been sighted as the first player past 200K after taking a huge chunk of change off Sandi Sandi.

Our reporter picked up the action three-handed to a flop of J610; a player in early and Blanusa checked their option to Sandi who opened for 9,000. The EP and Blanusa check-called, then checked again after the dealer produced the turn of the 8.

Sandi led out again for 17,000, the EP folded and Blanusa called, making it heads-up to the river Q, which both players checked, but after Blanusa tabled his Q10, Sandi shook his head before mucking his hand.

Neb Blanusa208,400
Sandi Sandi75,300

Lei up

WPT Prime Gold Coast Main Event Champion Yang Lei is now on a stack worth more than five times the starting stack after taking down a sizeable pot.

Action folded around to Jane Howard who raised to 3,500 from the button before the flop; Lei defended his the small blind, as did the big blind to go three-handed to a flop of 396.

Lei and the big blind checked and Howard opened for 4,500, but Lei was the only caller, making it heads-up to the turn of the K, which both players checked.

Lei then fired out a bet of 8,500 after the river 9, which was enough to force a fold from Howard.

With that, Lei moved up to 163,000 in chips and closer to tablemate Hedley Fung, who is now on almost 165,000.

Hedley Fung164,400
Yang Lei163,000
Jane Howard37,100

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

Canturi cruising

Michael Canturi has spearheaded a double knockout to end the tournament lives of Elisa Onay and Mark Leslie.

The action opened with an open-shove from Leslie for 11,200. Canturi flat-called, but Onay then put all of her 28,100 in chips on the line. Canturi called again and turned over 77, up against Onay’s A10 and Leslie’s KJ.

The board proved favourable for Canturi as it came down 8Q522, and with that, we lost two more.

Michael Canturi145,000
Elisa OnayBUSTED!
Mark LeslieBUSTED!

Younan survives

Zac Younan has managed to double through Geoff Milner as the action continues at Star Poker Sydney in this Opening Event.

Having stared down Younan intently, it appeared that Milner had sensed a shove was coming and so decided to limp with his AK pre-flop.

His Spidey senses were right on the money, as Younan jammed with 97; Milner obliged with a call, but the runout of A8256 saw Younan spike a backdoor flush to remain in the tournament.

Zac Younan27,000
Geoff Milner42,000

Level 10: 800/1,200 (1,600)

Big stacks building

Plenty of action over on Table 11, with Michael Canturi and Farnaz Bahrehbar emerging as some of the larger stacks in the room as we head into Level 10.

Action folded to Bahrehbar who raised to 2,400 from the cut-off; she found three callers in Canturi (button), Xaiver Mangano (small blind) and Elisa Onay (big blind) to make it four-handed to a 22J flop.

Mangano checked, Onay led out for 5,200 and Bahrehbar folded and Canturi called before Mangano check-raised to 17,000 total. Mango and Onay both called, only to then check-fold after Mangano’s bet of 15,000 on the turn of the 6.

Farnaz Bahrehbar129,000
Michael Canturi106,000
Xavier Mangano61,500
Elisa Onay51,000

Arbabi roasts Doughty

Kiavash Arbabi has all but felted Hayden ‘Doug’ Doughty in one of the first hands after the dinner break.

Action folded to Doughty who open-shoved from late position with QJ, only to be called out of the blinds by Arbabi who tabled A7.

No change to either hand after the flop of 669, but although the turn of the 8 brought Doughty some home, the 2 bricked out on the river, leaving Doughty with just 2,500, which he relinquished a short time later.

Kiavash Arbabi37,200
Hayden ‘Doug’ DoughtyBUSTED!

Assorted chip counts

Stan Levitin169,000
Yang Lei124,800
Neb Blanusa123,000
Steve Tupua118,000
Cooper Feltham111,500
Andrew Slan100,500
Eric Assadourian98,000
Ian Logan95,500
Vera Milinkovic75,200
Michelle Psarras68,100
Tom Hulley56,300
Geoff Milner49,500
Vahe Hovagimian44,000
Romain Morvan16,200
Sheldon Mayer15,000

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

Let’s eat!

Our players are now on a 30-minute dinner break. We’ll be back with some chips for you soon!

Boxell bags one

Although there’s quite a few people overseas right now in Las Vegas – more on that a little later – there’s no shortage of big names here in this tourney, including Alex Lee, Eric Assadourian and Australian Poker Hall of Famer Leo Boxell.

‘The Mechanic’ is still well and truly in the mix though, having just taken out a player in the moments leading up to the break; with the board reading Q4K710, Boxell checked to his opponent who moved all-in with AK.

“I have too many outs – I call,” Boxell said before turning over 65.

The river 10 was indeed one of the outs he was looking for, and thus we lost one more.

Leo Boxell67,100

Milner and Slan jam

Geoff Milner and Andrew Slan are now each heading into the dinner break with above average stacks as action continues in Day 1A of the Star Sydney Champs Opening Event.

Earlier, a player in the UTG position moved all-in for their last 7,800 and found two callers – the player on the button and Milner in the small blind – before both players checked into a dry sidepot on a flop and turn of 3K3J.

Milner then flicked out a bet of 5,000 after the river 9 which forced the button to fold; Milner then showed down J9, which prompted the UTG to fling his cards into the muck before quickly exiting the tournament area.

In the very next hand, Slan got his chips in on the turn with the board reading 68104 and found a caller in Steve Tupua, who rolled up A7 for a double gut-shot straight draw.

“Steve! Dude! I told you I was gonna flop the nuts … and I did!” Slan exclaimed as he slammed down 97.

Drawing thin to a chop, the river 5 completed the board and secured Slan’s double.

Steve Tupua101,000
Andrew Slan73,600
Geoff Milner50,700

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

Hulley rallies

Tom Hulley has now moved up to almost 120,000 in chips after winning a three-way all-in on Table 6.

As Hulley recalled, he opened the action to 6,000 with KK and was met with two all-ins in response.

Up against AQ and 66, Hulley’s Kings held firm on the board of 91042K, sending one to the rail and crippling another.

Tom Hulley117,500


A huge cooler over on Table 11 has resulted in a big double-up for Xavier Mangano against Elisa Onay.

Action folded to Mangano who opened to 1,800 from the hijack; Onay called from the cut-off and they went heads up to a flop of J109 where Mangano led out for 2,100.

Onay called, and then Mangano check-called Onay’s bet of 6,000 on the turn of 5 before and Mangano moved all in for 26,600 after the river 8.

Onay thought a for a moment before calling down with her JJ for a flopped top set, but was pipped by Mangano’s flopped straight with KQ.

Xavier Mangano75,000
Elisa Onay110,000

Level 7: 400/800 (800)

Romain run-good, one time?

Comeback king Romain Morvan has had his stack decimated after making a crying call pre-flop against Nick LoRusso.

After the UTG+1 player opened the betting to 1,500, there was another call from middle position before LoRusso bumped it up to 3,800 from the button.

Morvan responded with a four-bet of 11,100 from the small blind, forcing the others out of the way before LoRusso shoved for 41,900, sending Morvan into the tank for about two minutes before he made a crying call.

LoRusso: AA
Morvan: JJ

LoRusso scored the crucial double after the board ran out 261099, but although Morvan is now down to less than half the starting stack, we’ve seen the Frenchman run it up from less … watch this space!

Nick LoRusso87,000
Romain Morvan13,000

Tambouras goes bang!

Steve Tambouras, who won the WPTDeepStacks Sydney $1,100 NLH Event earlier this year, found himself amongst the action early at Table 13 after registering before the start of the second stanza.

The UTG player opened the action to 1,400 and Tambouras was one of two callers before the player in the cut-off moved all in for 14,100. Tambouras was the only caller.

Tambouras: 77
Opponent: AJ

No change to either hand after the board ran out 106635, resulting in Tambouras’ stack moving north of 40K.

Steve Tambouras46,100

Level 6: 300/600 (600)

One helluva sweat

“Man, this is the longest sweat of my life!”

That was a direct quote from Justin Capra – fresh off the plane from Vegas – as the PMA Live Reporting Team approached Table 29, where a large crowd had gathered to witness him all-in against Taeil Park and Vera Milinkovic after a flop of 685.

It appeared there was some confusion surrounding the bet amounts, however, which had resulted in the clock being paused for approximately 15 minutes as Star Poker Sydney floor staff worked with surveillance to reconstruct the action, as follows:

After a player in early position limped in pre-flop, Park raised to 1,500 from the lojack before Capra called from the hijack. Milinkovic then three-bet it to 3,500 from the cut-off, the EP folded and Park called, as did Capra, who confirmed that he verbally announced a call before putting in a yellow T5,000 and five black T100 chips, in order to receive 2,000 in change.

After the flop, action then checked to Milinkovic who opened for 7,000; Park short-called for 13,500 and Capra went over the top, forcing the short-call from Milinkovic.

Milinkovic: QQ
Park: 77
Capra: A4

“46% favourite!” Capra said as he flashed the odds calculator app to the rail.

“Run it out!” cried a player from an adjacent table.

Turn: 6

River: 10

With Milinkovic dodging a wealth of outs, she effectively tripled up and left Capra running on fumes as Park departed.

Vera Milinkovic141,000
Justin Capra9,400
Taeil ParkBUSTED!

Assorted chip counts

The field for today’s Day 1A flight has now swelled to 200 total entries, with Steve Tupua now on top of the counts along with Natalie Segon and WPT Prime Gold Coast $1,100 NLH Champion, Romain Morvan, but just as we had finished our first round of counts, the tournament clock was paused in order to check the cameras after major all-in action on Table 29. We’ll have more details on that for you shortly.

Steve Tupua141,500
Dylan Desmarchelier86,000
Elisa Onay80,500
Glenn Marsom64,500
Geoff Milner54,000
Michelle Psarras53,000
Natalie Segon36,500
Lewis Murray30,500
Romain Morvan29,000
Adrian Pacheco22,000
Vahe Hovagimian19,000

Level 5: 300/500 (500)

Break time!

The Opening Event players are now on a 10-minute break.

Door Slan-ned shut

Andrew Slan has found himself eliminated early in the tournament, after a bluff-catch went wrong against Shunki Shimoe.

With action on the river on a board of Q5A2K, Shimoe placed an overbet of 22,000 to put Slan all-in. After some deliberation, Slan made the call with K7 and was met with bad news as Shimoe showed A7.

Shunki Shimoe92,000
Andrew SlanBUSTED!

Pay day for Ray

Over on Table 14 Adrian Chiu opened the action for 1,500; action then folded to Ray Badaoui who three-bet to 4,800 out of the big blind. Chiu responded with an all-in and Badaoui snap-called before they tabled their cards.

Badaoui: KK
Chiu: AQ

The board ran out 8783J, handing Badaoui a healthy double-up to be amongst the chip leaders in the early stages of this Opening Event flight.

Ray Badaoui92,000
Adrian Chiu40,000

Level 4: 200/400 (400)

Good, better, best

It’s no secret that the Star Entertainment Group are the market leaders for Tier One events in this country, but as anyone that’s been in the game long enough will tell you, the key to long-term success is the ability to take on feedback, adapt, improve and overcome, irrespective of which level and facet of the industry you’re in.

The Star Poker Sydney team have certainly put that into practice after the success of their WPTDeepStacks series; most notably, they’ve introduced a secondary tournament registration desk in the cash game area, aimed to ease the burden on the staff at the main desk during peak periods.

There’s now also a dedicated bar in the main tournament area that in turn will help to streamline table service, and there’s even more on offer for our players in this year’s Sydney Champs Main Event, as this year’s winner will also score themselves a WPT World Championship package valued at AUD $15,000!

Check out for more information, including the full Sydney Poker Champs schedule, as well as their regular weekly tournament schedule and upcoming series.

The blue man scoop

Our reporter spotted some river action over on Table 9 with Ming Zhu deep in the tank. Zhu’s bet of 5,000 on a board of 24573 was raised by Geoff Milner to 11,000.

After a tense few minutes, Zhu open folded KJ, earning himself gasps from the table. In good spirit, Milner showed Zhu that it was a good fold, flashing the A to confirm he had the steel wheel before raking in his chips.

Milner has always proved to be one of the most likeable and popular players on the circuit and is also renowned for his flamboyant threads, which today matches the colour palette for the Star Sydney Champs, including the balloons decorating the LED archway to the poker room. Camouflage, perhaps?

Geoff Milner70,000
Ming Zhu13,800

Level 3: 200/300 (300)

Desmarchelier mashes Onay

The PMA Live Reporting Crew caught up with a very happy Dylan Desmarchelier, who has almost tripled his starting stack after eliminating Hasan Onay in the previous level.

“I couldn’t believe it – it was only the third hand of the day!” Desmarchelier exclaimed.

As he recalled, the player under the gun raised to 300 pre-flop before action folded to Onay who three-bet to 900.  Desmarchelier defended his big blind, the UTG folded and Onay called, making it heads-up to a flop of 478.

Desmarchelier check-called Onay’s bet of 4,000, then both players checked the turn of the Q before check-calling Onay’s shove on the river 7, rolling up 99 for two pair, which was best against Onay’s 9-8o.

Onay has elected to take his single re-entry for today’s flight and has since been replaced at Desmarchelier’s table by the reigning WPT Prime Gold Coast Main Event Champion, Yang Lei.

Dylan Desmarchelier80,600
Hasan Onay30,000*

Pacheco gets one through

Over in the far corner of the room, our reporter caught Adrian Pacheco heads-up into a raised post pre-flop with the player in the lojack position to a flop of Q9Q.

The lojack player opened for 1,300 and Pacheco called, prompting the dealer to peel out the turn, which was the 7.

The lojack bet 3,600, but quickly folded after Pacheco’s raise of 8,500.

Adrian Pacheco36,800

Level 2: 100/200 (200)

Famous faces

Plenty of notables already on the felt today, including WPTDeepStacks Sydney Opening Event Champion Michelle Psarras, along with Glenn Marsom and Justin Capra (son of Sydney poker veteran Sam Capra), both fresh off their ‘Summer Camp’ experiences in Las Vegas.

Jayden Zalac, Geoff Milner, Ian Logan, Lewis Murray, Dylan Desmarchelier and Charles Tsai are also amongst the 128 entries now seated, along with 2018 Sydney Champs Main Event winner Neb Blanusa, who’s seated on the RFID feature table alongside Sheldon Mayer, Sunny Shah and Mitchell Frost.

Star Poker management have confirmed that streaming will be available for each day of the series over at, and final tables will be simulcast on the Star Poker Sydney Facebook page, with commentary and analysis from our friends at LCAPoker.

Shuffle up and deal!

The cards are now officially in the air for the 2022 Star Sydney Champs!

Today’s Opening Event flight will see our players start with 30,000 in tournament chips and play through 15 30-minute levels, with breaks every two hours before our survivors bag up at around 11pm tonight.

LevelSmall BlindBig BlindBB Ante

Level 1: 100/100 (100)

The Champs are here!

From wherever you are watching in Australia, New Zealand or around the world, hello and welcome back to The Star Sydney for the long-awaited return of the Star Sydney Champs!

As one of the country’s most popular and longest-running casino series, the Star Sydney Champs Main Event winner’s list features some of the best in the business, including inaugural winner Jarred Graham (2009), Daniel Laidlaw (2013), Martin Kozlov (2014) and Kahle Burns (2016), who between them have amassed more than AUD $25.4 million in tournament earnings.

The Star Sydney Champs also holds a special place in our hearts here at PokerMedia Australia, as our team had the privilege of reporting on the 2014 Main Event, and we are absolutely delighted to be bringing you coverage of the entire series this time around.

Along with full Live Reporting for the entire duration of the Opening Event, the Mystery Bounty and Main Event, we’ll also be bringing you the action from Day 2 of both the $1,100 NLH and $5K High Roller, and daily feature articles with results from every event over the next 13 days.


DateTime (AEST)Tournament
Wed 13 Jul2:30pmOpening Event – Day 1A
Thu 14 Jul2:30pmOpening Event – Day 1B
Fri 15 Jul12:30pmOpening Event – Day 1C
Sat 16 Jul12:30pmOpening Event – Day 2
Sun 17 Jul12:15pmOpening Event – Day 3
Mon 18 Jul12:30pm$1,100 NLH – Day 2
Tue 19 Jul2:30pm$1,000 Mystery Bounty Day 1A
Wed 20 Jul2:30pm$1,000 Mystery Bounty Day 1B
Thu 21 Jul11:00am$1,000 Mystery Bounty Day 2
12:30pmMain Event Day 1A
Fri 22 Jul12:30pmMain Event Day 1B
Sat 23 Jul12:30pmMain Event Day 1C
Sun 24 Jul11:00amMain Event Day 2
Mon 25 Jul11:00amMain Event Day 3
12:30pm$5K High Roller Day 2
*Full series schedule available at

And it all kicks off today at 2:30pm AEST with the first of three Day 1 flights for the $750 buy-in Opening Event, so stay with us right here at PMA as we bring you the action direct from Star Poker Sydney. See you soon!

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