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

Rabie El Hage leads after Day 1B; that’s a wrap!

Day 1B of The Star Sydney Champs is now in the can!

Leading at the end of today’s flight was Rabie El Hage, who bagged up 500,000 straight after going on a tear in the lead-up to his appearance on the Star Poker Sydney feature table.

The 39-year-old Sydneysider was rapt with how things went, particularly after his fortune changed after coming back during the final three levels of the night.

“I came back after the break with 30K,” El Hage told PokerMedia Australia. “I got lucky with Jacks, up against Queens and rivered a Jack, and then four hands later I doubled up with Ace-King.”

“Probably my biggest hand though was [when I got] pocket fours and flopped a book … someone else had turned a flush and I got paid off. Not a bad day out!”

El Hagi was quick to shout out to his mate Jimmy for keeping him on track throughout the day, but affirmed that when it comes to maintaining his composure on the felt, El Hage draws on his real-world experience.

“I work at Sydney Airport, out on the ramps moving luggage and all that,” El Hagi explained. “I also train children in rugby league, and all of that requires a lot of hard work and patience.”

As for his plan of attack on Day 2: “I’m just gonna take it as it comes, you know? Whatever happens, happens, as long as you enjoy it!”

According to the clocks, a total of 51 players survived from the total 283 entries that were brought in today. No doubt that we’ll see plenty of our familiar faces – and then some – return tomorrow for Day 1C, which kicks off at 12:30pm AEST.

Tomorrow’s gonna be a busy day, and PMA will be with you all the way, so until then, thanks again for joining us and we’ll see you again soon. ‘Bye for now!

Three more and we’re done!

Star Poker Sydney floor staff have instructed the dealers to complete three more hands, and our crew can now confirm that Rabie El Hagi has emerged as the overall chip leader, narrowly pipping David Sebesfi and Jackson Hardy!

We’ll have more on Rabie’s story shortly. Stay with us!

Golden hand for Goldingham

Our Star Poker dealers left the best hands ’til last for two lucky players.

Josh Baraba is a name we’ve seen quite a bit throughout today’s coverage, however it would be remiss to not mention his royal flush, his very first.

In another hand against Jian Long, Baraba and Long both had 10-9, sharing a straight on the QJ2AK board, but the 10 in Baraba’s hand was more than enough to take down the pot.

Then over on Table 9, an open-jam for 66,000 from under the gun was seen as an omen for Brett Goldingham as he looked down at 66 and promptly called.

Goldingham’s opponent showed down AQ, which looked to have all the outs in the world as the flop came 10K2.

urn and river ran out as the 6 and 6, the rivered nut flush falling well short of Goldingham’s quads.

Brett Goldingham197,000

Vasiliou vanquished

Billy Vasiliou has just been eliminated in the final level of play after clashing with Thomas Chong and Karam Bahi.

Chong raised pre-flop from the cut-off with his AK and Bahi flat-called from the small blind. Billy Vasiliou made his move from the big blind and pushed all-in, only to be snapped off by both players.

Vasiliou turned over AQ, trailing against Chong, however both players were in even worse shape against Bahi’s AA.

The board was spread 952K4, ensuring a second triple-up for Bahi in a short space of time, and ending the night for Vasiliou in the process.

Karam Bahi210,000
Thomas Chong85,000
Billy VasiliouBUSTED!

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

Bahi on a high

Karam Bahi has picked himself up a big triple as we head into the final level of play for the night.

Sean McKenzie came out of the +1 position with a pre-flop raise of 8,000 before action folded around to Pete Moore who three-bet it to 22,000. Bahi flatted from the cut-off, as did McKenzie to make it three-handed to a flop of 483.

McKenzie and Moore checked to Bahi, who ripped in his remaining 4,000. McKenzie and Moore called him off, then checked down both the turn of the 3 and the river 10 before going to showdown.

Moore: AQ
McKenzie: KJ
Bahi: 109

Nothing but the nuts for Bahi, who moved up to almost 90,000 after that hand.

Karam Bahi88,000
Pete Moore107,000
Sean McKenzie230,000

A Long time in the tank

“What do you have?”

These were the words Jian Long directed to Josh Baraba in the midst of a total of seven minutes in the blender.

On a board of Q4A29, Long had checked her option out of the hijack position to Baraba in the cut-off, who poured 65,000 into an already large pot.

An incorrect call would have left Long with 70,000 in chips on the brink of Day 2. After a few minutes of thinking, Baraba initiated some friendly conversation, asking his opponent what she had.

“Do you have a Queen? What’s your kicker?”


Whether this speech-play influenced the final decision is not known, however, after another two minutes in the tank, Long made a crying call.

Baraba turned over A10 and, with a huge sigh of relief, Long showed A9 to claim the pot.

Jian Long275,000
Josh Baraba140,000

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

Way to go, Ito!

Kenta Ito is now well and truly up there, close to 300K after taking out Frank ‘The Tank’ Mezzasalma.

Our reporter picked up the action on a board of 6K107 into a pot worth about 35,000; Mezzasalma led out for 9,000, only to see Ito raise to 25,000.

Mezzasalma called, and then elected to open-shove on the river 2. Ito snap-called, rolling up K10 for two pair, well ahead of Mezzasalma who tabled Q10.

Kenta Ito285,000
Frank ‘The Tank’ MezzasalmaBUSTED!

Another set for Kassam

Rehman Kassam has picked up another big set to win a crucial three-way all-in pot as we head into the final stanza of Day 1B.

Our reporter caught the action as the cards were being tabled; Kassam had showed down QQ, putting him well ahead of Paul Hoang’s 99 and another player’s A6.

Kassam then flopped a set of queens and held all the way across the board of K10Q62 to triple up.

Rehman Kassam44,500
Paul Hoang20,400

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

Break it up!

Our players are now on their last 10-minute break of the night. When we return, we’ll be playing through three more levels before we bag and tag.

Tsai sacked

Charles Tsai has now hit the rail in the lead-up to the final break of the night, eliminated over the space of two hands.

Earlier, Tsai ran his AJ into the AK of his unknown adversary, with neither hand improving on the board of 328107,

Down to 2,000 in chips, he flicked them into the middle in the very next hand holding A7, but fell to Toby Giles’ J10 which rivered second pair on the board of 846K10.

Toby Giles55,000
Charles TsaiBUSTED!

Yazbeck cut back

Mark Yazbeck has taken a couple of big hits to his stack as we head into the 12th level of play in this Opening Event.

Earlier, Yazbeck managed to get his money in good after a flop of J104 with A3, but Korissa Naicker’s J9 caught a runner-runner full house after the turn and river came down 9, J.

Yazbeck then found himself going toe-to-toe against Daniel Franks a few hands later; after calling Franks’ pre-flop raise, Yazbeck check-called Franks’ bet of 4,500 on the flop of 9J3 before leading out for 8,000 on the turn of the 7.

Yazbeck then check-called again following Franks’ bet of 12,000 after the river 2, only to muck after Franks showed down QQ for the overpair.

Daniel Franks125,000
Mark Yazbeck102,000
Korissa Naicker42,000

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

It’s a Long way to the top

We captured some blind versus blind action on Table 11, with Travis O’Grady making a move on a relatively shallow-stacked Jian Long.

Action folded around to O’Grady in the small blind who put enough chips in the middle to cover Long. Waking up with A7, Long made the call to try and claw back into contention, and was pleased to see she was a favourite against O’Grady’s A2.

A clean run-out of 1047A5 ensured Long doubled through.

Jian Long76,000
Travis O’Grady110,000

In Liu of any luck

It was two quick beats in short succession that drew Ling Liu’s Day 1B to a close here at The Star.

Much attention surrounded the table as her AA got in pre-flop against David Ly’s KK.

The runout of 6K9104 was a brutal beat, leaving Liu with 24,600.

Moments later, those chips were in the middle of the table once more, this time against Joonas Aavik’s AK, well ahead of Liu’s A10.

The board ran out KQKQ2 to send Liu packing.

Joonas Aavik145,000
David Ly81,800

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

A winning Han

Tim Han found himself on the good side of a classic coin flip against Po Hu.

Hu opened the action from the hijack to 3,900 before Han fired a three-bet worth 14,000. After a moment of thought, Hu four-bet all in, covering Han. Han called with JJ to find himself up against Hu’s AK.

Board: 764J8

The set on the turn more than enough to give Han the double, and relegate Hu to short stack status.

Tim Han82,400
Po Hu10,400

Gan you believe it?

Josh Baraba has been given a gift from the poker gods, doubling-up through Daniel Gan out on Table 3.

Gan opened from middle position pre-flop to 4,200, the cutoff called, and Baraba defended his big blind with 109 to see a flop of 5310.

Baraba then checked it over to Gan who sustained his aggression with a bet of 6,000, the player in the cutoff called before Baraba raised to 16,500. Gan was the only caller, making it heads-up to a turn of 2, which saw Baraba move all-in for 67,800.

Gan made the call with AA and found himself ahead.

“The nine’s coming,” Baraba said, matter-of-factly.

And wouldn’t you know it … the dealer peeled the river 9 from the shoe to give Baraba two pair!

Josh Baraba188,000
Daniel Gan60,000

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

Shabtay’s big payday

Over on Table 12, there was some big pre-flop action between Joomas Aavik, Terry Yuan and Ronnie Shabtay before they went three-haded to a flop of 1097.

Aavik opened for 18,500 into a pot worth about 40,000; Yuan then shoved for the last of his stack and Shabtay thought about it for almost two minutes before going all-in over the top. Aavik snap-called.

Aavik: AA
Shabtay: 77
Yuan: KQ

Shabtay was all set and held strong after the turn and river bricked 5, 4, and after the chips were cut down, Aavik raked in a small sidepot and Yuan was left with nothing.

Ronnie Shabtay174,500
Joomas Aavik89,000
Terry YuanBUSTED!

Hay there!

Our reporter stopped by Table 9, where we witnessed Justin Layden score a timely double-up, his A9 flopping trips on the board of 99287 and cracking his opponent’s 1010.

Andrew Hay was quick to chime in with a story of his own.

“Wanna hear about the world’s best run-out?” Hay asked, nodding down to his stack.

As he recalled, Hay raised pre-flop to 3,000 with A-J suited, then his victim moved all-in for his last 19,000 with A-Q. Hay found himself in worse shape after the flop came down Q-8-3, but incredibly, the 10 on the turn and the nine on the river gave him the runner-runner straight!

That was more than enough to reduce the player count by one and increase his stack to more than 90K.

Andrew Hay93,000

More chips, please

Plenty of the nation’s finest now in the mix here in this Opening Event, which according to the tournament clock has us up at 283 total entries. Amongst those now at the tables include Ling Liu, George Psarras and Sean Zammit, who is now in action at the Star Poker Sydney feature table.

Chi Truong133,000
Romain Morvan129,000
Mark Yazbeck101,000
Adrian Pacheco98,500
Justin Capra95,000
Rehman Kassam78,500
Daniel Franks75,500
Frank ‘The Tank’ Mezzasalma70,000
Travis Endersby51,500
Toby Giles48,500
Joseph LoRusso48,000
Elias Mansour47,500
Daniel Sebesfi45,000
Al Josue42,500
Lewis Murray38,000
Ling Liu35,000
Yu Chen31,000
Geoff Milner27,000
Omer Silajdzija23,500
George Psarras18,500

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

Dinner time!

All this talk of food has gotten us hungry … time to eat! See you back here in 30 minutes.

Yuan’s gotta lotta chippies

Over on Table 10, a big hand played out into the dinner break that had minds (and stomachs) churning.

With nearly 20,000 in the pot pre-flop, we caught the action from the flop of 4107.

Terry Yuan bet 7,500, sending Frank Mezzasalma into the synonymous tank, eventually declaring “I’m folding a very big hand!” as he sent his cards into the muck. Ryan Lee then deliberated for close to two minutes before making the call.

Yuan then fired 20,000 after the turn of the 5, which was worth around about half of what Lee had behind. After another four minutes, Lee laid his hand down.

Yuan showed his AK, and as his tablemates finally got the chance to dig into their calamari rings and chicken tenders, he collected his chips and went off for a well-earned reprieve.

Terry Yuan78,000
Ryan Lee38,000
Frank Mezzasalma77,500

Little left out to dry

Jay Little met his demise at the hands of Toby Giles over on Table 9 as we head towards the next break of the evening.

Giles raised it up from under the gun to 2,000, and Little flat-called to see a flop of 8KA.

Action checked through on the flop the turn of 4; Giles checked once more to Little who opened for 2,500. Giles called and checked once more on the river of the A.

Little move all-in for his last 10,500 and Giles called, his K10 best against Little’s QJ.

Toby Giles34,000
Jay LittleBUSTED!

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

All set!

A rollercoaster of a hand has seen Rehman Kassam eliminate another player to solidify a healthy chip stack.

Kassam was the initial raiser, making it 1,600 from under the gun; the player in the small blind then re-raised to 4,000 before Kassam pulled the trigger, putting enough chips in to cover his opponent who put himself at risk.

Kassam: KK
Small Blind: 1010

Board: 10376K

The two-outer on the river saw Kassam eliminate the player and sit at double the average stack.

Rehman Kassam76,500

Ito can play that game

Mark Yazbeck has found himself involved in another big hand, this time against Kenta Ito.

Moon Chung was the one to open the action, raising from UTG+1 to 2,000. A player in the cutoff called before Ito re-raised to 7,500 from the button. Yazbeck flatted the bet from the small blind, prompting folds from the other two before the flop was spread 1054.

Yazbeck checked it over to Ito, who made it 8,000 to go. Yazbeck then pushed all of his chips into the middle, which was enough to cover Ito, who was called short.

Ito: QQ
Yazbeck: 99

The board ran out Q, J, giving Ito a healthy double up.

Kenta Ito71,000
Mark Yazbeck51,000

Level 7: 400/800 (800)

Franks for the chips, guys

Daniel Franks now moved up the counts in a big way after coming out on top in a three-way all-in stoush before the start of Level 7.

After pre-flop raise of 1,500, Franks three-bet it to 3,400 and got a caller in late position before the intial raiser four-bet it to 9,000 neat. Franks and the LP called, but then it all went in after the flop of 8QK.

Franks tabled QQ for a flopped set, ahead of the first aggressor’s AA and the LP’s J10, and held firm after the turn and river bricked out 5, 10 to secure the double KO.

Daniel Franks89,500

Yazbeck stacks Zalac

Mark Yazbeck is now close to hitting the ton after sending Jayden Zalac to the rail.

Zalac opened for 1,300 from the UTG+1 position and action then folded around to Yazbeck who re-raised to 3,900. After the others got out of the way, Zalac jammed the rest of his chips in and Yazbeck called him off, tabling A6 to find himself up against Zalac’s AK.

Both players flopped two pair on the board of A44Q6, but Yazbeck picked up the bigger two pair to eliminate Zalac.

Mark Yazbeck96,000
Jayden ZalacBUSTED!

Level 6: 300/600 (600)

Martinez makes good

Australian Poker League founder Martin Martinez has found himself a big double through Sunny Shah as we move into the sixth level of play in Day 1B of The Star Sydney Champs Opening Event.

Martinez raised to 1,200 from early position and found two callers before Shah came out with a three-bet worth 3,100 from the cut-off. Martinez and one of the other middle position players called, making it three-handed to the flop of 965, which players checked.

On the turn of the 3 Martinez and the MP player checked again, but this time Shah opened for 8,300. Martinez then check-shoved for his last 20,800, forcing the MP out of the way before Shah made the call.

Shah: A9
Martinez: 87

Martinez had flopped the straight, but still had to dodge a club on the river to survive – and that he did, as the river ran red in the form of the 6.

Martin Martinez56,500
Sunny Shah10,600

BREAKING NEWS: Adrian Attenborough takes the chip lead in WSOP Main Event

Normally, the PMA Live Reporting Team would be buzzing around the tables to get the first round of chip counts, but at this time, we must interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to bring you a HUGE development from the WSOP Main Event in Las Vegas.

That’s right folks – our last remaining Aussie, Adrian Attenborough, has now taken the chip lead in the USD $10,000 No Limit Hold’em World Championship, having made what could be the call of his life against Croatia’s Matjia Dobrik!

Blinds: 300,000/600,000 (600,000)
Players Remaining: 18/8,663

Average Stack: 28,876,666

As witnessed on the PokerGO broadcast, the action folded to Dobrik who raised to 1.2 million from middle position before Attenborough called to see a flop of 103K.

Attenborough checked, which prompted a c-bet of another 1.2 million from Dobric, but Attenborough then check-raised to 4.2 million. Dobric returned the favour with a three-bet of 9 million straight and Attenborough flatted before check-calling Dobric’s open of 5.5 million on the turn of the 6.

The dealer then produced the river 2; Attenborough checked again, and after a couple of minutes to think it over, Dobric open-shoved.

A clearly pained Attenborough went deep into the tank, apologising to the table for taking so long. There was no protest from the others at the table, given the gravitas of the situation.

“Take. Your. Time.”

That he did – all seven minutes’ worth – before making the call.

Attenborough: KQ
Dobric: A4

That was a hero call for the ages … and as a result, Attenborough now holds around 15% of the total chips in play and is well on his way to the coveted gold bracelet and a top prize of USD $10 million!

Adrian Attenborough (AUS)78,900,000
Matija Dobric (CRO)40,800,000

Level 5: 300/500 (500)

Break time!

Our players are now on their first 10-minute break of the day.

Almohamed’s alright

Over on Table 26, the player in the UTG position raised to 1,200 and got a call from another in middle position, along with Al Almohamed from the hijack, the small blind player and Hayden Doughty from the big blind to make it five-handed to a flop of 458.

The small blind checked to Doughty who opened for 1,600; the UTG and MP players folded, but Almohamed raised to 5,000. Doughty called, then both players elected to check down both the turn of the A and the river 3.

“I got an eight!” Doughty said as he flashed the 8, but he quickly mucked after Almohamed tabled 99.

Hayden Doughty18,400
Al Almohamed35,000

Saab secures a double

Majid Saab has managed to score a small double-up through Richie Samia as action continues here in The Star Sydney Champs Opening Event.

Action folded to Samia who raised to 1,100 pre-flop before Saab shipped it in holding 1010. Samia snap-called and turned over QQ.

Samia went further ahead after the flop of QAJ, but Saab hit Broadway with the K on the turn before the river 4 completed the board.

Majid Saab19,500
Richie Samia61,000

Level 4: 200/400 (400)

Moon left seeing stars

Over on Table 5, John Thomson raised it to 700 from under the gun and found four callers to see a flop of 6108.

Thomson, fired a continuation bet of 1,100, and was met with a call from Moon Chung in and aonther player in middle position. Josh Baraba then fired a raise to 4,500, Thomson and Chung called, which allowed the middle position to fold.

The action then checked around to Baraba on a turn of J, who moved all-in for 12,000. Thomson let go of his hand, and Chung closed the action with a call to put Baraba at risk.

Baraba: 66
Chung: 109

The river card of K ensured Chung’s straight draw did not complete and earned Baraba a much needed chip-up.

Josh Baraba42,600
Moon Chung10,400
John Thomson37,300

A Little Hard-y to handle

Jay Little has found a double-up at the expense of Jackson Hardy over on Table 14.

Little opened the action to 800 from under the gun, and was met with a three-bet to 2,500 from Hardy. Little came back a four-bet to 8,000, prompting Hardy to move all-in, which covered Little’s stack worth 25,000.

Hardy: KK
Little: AK

The flop of QJ9 gave Little plenty of outs, and the turn was a favourable 10 to give him the lead. Hardy’s redraw to a flush didn’t complete, as the river of 5 sealed the deal.

Jay Little49,000
Jackson Hardy20,500

Better late than never

A few more big names have arrived here at The Star Sydney, including Sydney poker stalwart ‘Toothpick Tony’ Kambouroglou, as well as Joseph Lo Russo, who managed to satellite his way through last night just after his son Nicholas bagged through to Day 2.

We also spotted Travis Endersby, who’s just arrived back in Oz after a solo sojourn throughout Europe; ‘The Westralian Wanderer’ managed to score himself a string of cashes during the Eureka Poker Tour Rozvadov series in the Czech Republic, including a deep run in the EUR €1,000 Main Event. Nicely done, sir!

Level 3: 200/300 (300)

Falon finds a double

Over on Table 14, the action was three-handed to a flop of 927; Omer Silajzdija checked his option out of the big blind before Alex ’42’ Falon opened for 1,600 from the lojack.

Jay Little called from the hijack position and Silajzdija mucked, making it heads up to the turn of the 10, where Falon fired a second shell worth 3,400.

Little called again, and then also called after Falon open-shoved on the river 10, but reeled after Falon turned over 109 for two pair, which was best against his J10.

Alex Falon22,000
Jay Little25,500
Omer Silajzdija26,500

Derosa drops

Heavy pre-flop action over on Table 11, where our reporter picked things up five-handed into a three-bet pot by Richie Samia to a flop of QK6.

Action checked around to Samia, who led out for 3,800 from the cut-off position; Lenny Derosa was the only caller, and he then check-called Samia’s bet of 5,500 after the turn of the 7 before both players checked the river 2.

Samia turned over KJ, and Derosa mucked his hand.

Richie Samia55,000
Lenny Derosa20,000

Level 2: 100/200 (200)

Chiha later

Hasan Onay has been felted early on Day 1B after an action-packed three-way hand on Table 25.

Charles Chiha limped before Onay raised from middle position to 300. Rabie El Hage elected to three-bet to 1,700 from the small blind, to which both Chiha and Onay called.

The three players saw a flop of 779; El Hage fired a continuation bet of 3,200, getting two callers to see a turn of 10. El Hage again made it 3,200, this time Chiha moved all-in, only to be snap-called by Onay.

El Hage folded his QQ face-up, as Chiha revealed 97, Onay threw his J8 into the muck and headed to the re-entry desk to fire his second bullet.

Charles Chiha65,400
Rabie El Hagie28,200
Hasan OnayBUSTED!

An all-star cast

Already up past 160 entries in today’s flight already, with plenty of new faces at the tables today, including Suzy Khouiss, who’s now on the Star Poker Sydney feature table, now streaming over on Twitch.

On the outer tables, we’ve spotted Richie Samia, fresh from his win in the APLPT Sydney Main Event last week, along with Marcial Dias, Andrew Scarf, Al Josue, Omer Silajdzjia, Frank ‘The Tank’ Mezzasalma and Alex ’42’ Falon.

Cards in the air!

Day 1B of the Star Sydney Champs Opening Event is a go!

Once again, we’ll be playing through 15 half-hour levels until we bag and tag at around 11pm tonight. Players also have the option of taking a single re-entry per flight, but can only take one bag through to Day 2.

LevelSmall BlindBig BlindBB Ante

Level 1: 100/100 (100)

Let’s go again!

Hello there and welcome back to PokerMedia Australia for our continued coverage of the 2022 Star Sydney Champs Opening Event!

Last night saw a total of 225 entries taken in for Day 1A, with 36 survivors bagging up for Day 2 on Saturday. Leading at the end of the night was Nurlan Boobekov, who bagged a whopping 646,500 and now is in good stead for a shot at an Opening Event double after having won the same event back in 2017.

Finishing in second chip position was Vera Milinkovic, who woke up with a monster hand during the early stages of Day 1A to finish the session with 460,000, while Steve Tupua (383,000) held his own on one of the toughest tables of the day to finish third overall. Jun Lin (375,000) and WPT Prime Gold Coast Main Event Champion Yang Lei (371,000) rounded out the top five.

Today will no doubt be another bumper day of action here at Star Poker Sydney, so be sure to keep you screens locked and refreshed here at PMA from 2:30pm AEST as we bring you every bet, bluff and bag! See you soon!

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