LIVE REPORTING: 2022 Star Sydney Champs Opening Event Day 3

Congratulations Sean McKenzie, Sydney Champs Opening Event Champion! ($101,161)

Sydney’s Sean McKenzie has emerged victorious in the Opening Event of the Sydney Champs after a 10-year hiatus from the game.

Speaking to PokerMedia Australia after his win, he said he was “relieved it’s over, was very tiring, especially throughout Day 2, playing the whole day was exhausted by the end. Of course I’m happy, it’s great to win a trophy; it’s actually my first trophy since high school!”

Sean McKenzie with his shiny new trophy

On his hiatus from the game, McKenzie said that he used to play a bit some 10-15 years ago, and that his previous best result was actually on PartyPoker for about US$5K. He said he hadn’t changed his strategy much since then, and that the “structure of the tournament was really great, plenty of play but not too slow. All the staff were fantastic, especially Alice [final table dealer]!”

Proving that sometimes you need a little luck, McKenzie was all in and at risk earlier in the tournament in a bad spot. “All the money went in and it was Aces versus Queens … I had the Queens. Queen on the flop. Spun it up from there!”

Meanwhile across the room, Hauman Darbarni took down Event 2 $660 Big Bounty for $20,462. In an amazing coincidence, the two tournaments finished at almost exactly the same time!

Hauman Darbani

McKenzie had no idea what he’s planning on doing the with prize money which he never expected to win, but said he’d be back to play the Main Event, and might even be tempted to fire in tomorrow’s PLO event.

Nicholas Roth eliminated in 2nd place ($70,897)

Sean McKenzie completed in the small blind, prompting a check from Nicholas Roth with 105.

Both Roth and then McKenzie checked the 956 flop, and Roth happily check-called a 500,000 bet on the 5 turn from McKenzie with his trip fives.

On the K river, Roth elected to lead out for 2,500,000 and McKenzie announced all in. A call from Roth and Roth saw the bad news; he [McKenzie] had flopped the nut straight, tabling 87.

Nicholas RothBUSTED!

Level 35: 250,000/500,000 (500,000)

Opportunistic Roth

Nicholas Roth took his first chance to have Sean McKenzie all-in and at risk as soon it appeared. Roth limped his button, McKenzie raised to 1,300,000, Roth 3-bet to 2,800,000.

McKenzie hit the tank, but eventually shoved and Roth snap-called.

McKenzie: K10
Roth: Q3

All in and at risk, McKenzie was, but certainly not behind, and stretched further ahead on the 5J9 flop, leaving Roth drawing to a non-club Three in order to win.

The 8 on the turn quickly ended things followed by the meaningless J river.

Sean McKenzie13,925,000
Nicholas Roth11,775,000

All in, call

Sean McKenzie shoved his big stack from the button and Nicholas Roth peeked, then snap-called for 5,850,000 total.

Roth: JJ
McKenzie: 44

Roth stayed ahead the whole way on the 36A98 board.

Sean McKenzie14,000,000
Nicholas Roth11,700,000
Sean McKenzie

Heads up play has begun

With the button on Nicholas Roth, cards are in the air for Level 34.

Level 34: 200,000/400,000 (400,000)

Dinner break

Our final two players have left on a dinner break, which is scheduled for 30 minutes in length.

2Sean McKenzie15,850,000
8Nicholas Roth9,850,000

Nurlan Boobekov eliminated in 3rd place ($45,815)

Sean McKenzie opened from the button to 600,000. Nurlan Boobekov 3-bet shoved out of the blinds and Nicholas Roth quickly folded.

McKenzie, haven gotten a count for Boobekov on the hand immediately prior, didn’t need a count this time round and snap-called.

Boobekov tabled A5 and let out a rueful “Oh noooo!” when he saw the AQ of McKenzie.

The board ran out 7106K2, and just like that we lost the Day 1A chip leader in 3rd place as the clock ticked over into the dinner break.

Nurlan BoobekovBUSTED!

The wrath of Roth

A short stacked Nicholas Roth is a dangerous thing, it turned out.

Roth jammed three hands in a row just before; first from the small blind for 2,750,000 and getting a call from big blind Sean McKenzie.

Roth: AK
McKenzie: AJ

McKenzie expressed some surprise when he saw Roth’s hand, and shipped over some chips after the 42679 board didn’t help him any.

Roth then shoved his button, getting two folds and adding the blinds and antes to his stack.

On the next hand, Nurlan Boobekov looked at his hand in the small blind and immediately addressed Roth.

“How much did you just double up to?” he enquired, before limping. Roth promptly shoved again, earning both an eye roll and a fold from Boobekov.

Sean McKenzie11,250,000
Nicholas Roth6,850,000
Sean McKenzie

Roth getting short

Nicholas Roth opened from the button to 600,000 and action folded to Nurlan Boobekov.

Boobekov hit the maximum button, shoving to put pressure on Roth, who was by this time the table short stack. Roth folded.

Sean McKenzie13,175,000
Nurlan Boobekov8,550,000
Nicholas Roth3,650,000
Nurlan Boobekov

Three handed, four bet

Nurlon Boobekov opened his button to 600,000 on the first hand of Level 33. Nicholas Roth, in the small blind, didn’t take kindly to it, 3-betting to 1,200,000 to put some pressure on.

No pressure to Sean McKenzie though, who 4-bet shoved from the big blind. Both Boobekov and Roth’s hands found the muck.

“Nooo! Nick! What are you mucking around with?” exclaimed Boobekov after Roth folded behind. “I need my fans at home to tell me!”

They’ll find out – in 30 minutes when the hand is streamed on Twitch.

Nicholas Roth

Level 33: 150,000/300,000 (300,000)

Seat shuffle

The players have been moved around by tournament staff to even out the seating arrangements, as the table was very heavily weighted to one side!

1 2Sean McKenzie8,650,000
2 5Nurlan Boobekov6,100,000
3 8Nicholas Roth10,950,000
Are there weights on that end?

Jackson Hardy eliminated in 4th place ($33,880)

Nurlan Boobekov opened his button to 500,000 and Nicholas Roth made it 1,050,000 to go from the small blind.

Short stack Jackson Hardy decided now was the time to take a stand, jamming from the big blind for 1,550,000. Action folded back around to Roth, who made the call to put Hardy at risk.

Roth: 88
Hardy: K10

No love for Hardy on the A22 flop, but then he picked up a flush draw on the 4 turn to go along with his over cards.

The Q river wouldn’t do it though, and Hardy has been eliminated.

Nicholas Roth10,550,000
Jackson HardyBUSTED!
Jackson Hardy

Roth back into it

Sean McKenzie opened under-the-gun to 500,000 and found an immediate 3-bet on his left from Nurlan Boobekov, this time to 1,650,000.

Nicholas Roth then jammed from the small blind, forcing folds from both Jackson Hardy and Sean McKenzie, and finding a snap call from Boobekov.

Roth: AK
Boobekov: A7

No help for Boobekov as he tried to reduce the field by one, the board running out 310994 to get Roth back into the action.

Nurlan Boobekov6,750,000
Nicholas Roth6,600,000
Nicholas Roth

That’s the game!

Nicholas Roth iso-shoved from big blind after a button open to 500,000 from Sean McKenzie was met with an all-in from Nurlan Boobekov in the small blind.

McKenzie quickly got out of the way and we went to showdown.

Roth: QQ
Boobekov: A10

“There it is.” lamented Roth as the flop spread 27A, bad news in the window for his pocket pair.

The board completed K, 2 and Roth shipped 4,400,000 across to Boobekov saying “That’s the game we play!” as he did so.

Sean McKenzie11,250,000
Nurlan Boobekov9,550,000
Nicholas Roth2,800,000
Nurlan Boobekov

Level 32: 150,000/250,000 (250,000)

Nice round numbers

Sean McKenzie opened his button to 400,000 and was called by both Nurlan Boobekov and Nicholas Roth in the blinds.

On the 79J flop, Boobekov checked and Roth slid out a bet of a nice sounding “one million”.

McKenzie called, and Boobekov smartly got out of the way. Both Roth and McKenzie checked the 7 turn.

Roth turned it up on the 6 river, firing again this time for 2,000,000. McKenzie laid it down.

Nicholas Roth7,925,000
Sean McKenzie7,625,000
Nicholas Roth

Want to watch “live”?

Just a little reminder, Star Poker Sydney are streaming this final table on a 30-minute delay over on Twitch!

The one-of-a-kind casino installation of an RFID table and camera set-up allows for full cards up coverage all day, every day.

You can follow along at

Quick heads-up (pun intended) if Jowell’s your dealer; cooler city!

Nathan Sawyers eliminated in 5th place ($25,758)

After being crippled down to 500,000 on the previous hand, Sawyers 3-bet all-in from the small blind following a Sean McKenzie UTG open to 400,000.

Jackson Hardy, in the big blind, got out of the way, and McKenzie snapped.

McKenzie: AJ
Sawyers: 65

“Five! In the window!” called out Sawyers, praying for some help from the poker gods.

“Yes!” he yelled as the flop came down 269 to give him the lead. He would then add a straight draw on the 3 turn.

McKenzie, however, took the elimination as the J gave him the superior two pair to end Sawyers’ run.

Sean McKenzie6,925,000
Nathan SawyersBUSTED!
Nathan Sawyers

Level 31: 100,000/200,000 (200,000)

Break counts

The remaining 5 players have departed on a 10-minute break and it’s all even at the top with three players between 6.5 million to 7 million.

Nathan Sawyers continues his spin up from starting the day as the short stack, whilst Jackson Hardy has had a hard time so far on the final table.

1Sean McKenzie6,525,000
2Nurlan Boobekov6,975,000
3Nicholas Roth6,625,000
5Nathan Sawyers1,600,000
7Jackson Hardy3,975,000
(L-R) McKenzie, Boobekov, Roth

Suzy Khouiss eliminated in 6th place ($20,492)

Nicholas Roth opened to 300,000 from the button, then called after Suzy Khouiss jammed from the big blind for 1,000,000.

Khouiss: AQ
Roth: K6

Khouiss’ rail, led by the WPTDeepStacks Opening Event Champion Michelle Psarras, immediately started making noise; but they were momentarily quietened after the flop spread 8K7. The 10 on the turn renewed their interest though, as they called loudly for a Jack to give Khouiss Broadway.

Not to be; the 9 on the river giving Roth a straight instead to send Khouiss to the rail as the remaining players left for the first break of the day.

Nicholas Roth6,625,000
Suzy KhouissBUSTED!
Suzy Khouiss

Making moves

Nurlan Boobekov opened his button to 300,000. Nicholas Roth relinquished his small blind and Nathan Sawyers entered the tank on the big blind.

After a few moments, Boobekov felt obliged to speak. “I’ll show you if you fold.” he said to Sawyers.

Sawyers had a choice response ready; “Oh, I’m not folding.”

“You’re not folding? Make a move!” exclaimed Boobekov.

Sawyers flat-called after another minute and then check-called a bet of 150,000 from Boobekov on the K32 flop. Both players checked the 7 turn.

Sawyers fired 325,000 on the repeat 7 river and Boobekov called, triumphantly tabling K10 after seeing the AQ of Sawyers.

Nathan Sawyers1,525,000

Hardy keeps pot small

Jackson Hardy opened to 300,000 from the cut-off and Nicholas Roth elected to defend his big blind.

Both checked the 726 flop and Roth led out for 475,000 when the A hit the turn. Hardy flat-called, then Roth checked the J river.

Hardy mulled his options over but settled on a check back, tabling his winning KK after seeing the Q2 of Roth.

Nicholas Roth5,350,000
Jackson Hardy4,000,000
Nicholas Roth

Khouiss double

Nurlan Boobekov had Suzy Khouiss all-in and at risk, but it was Khouiss with the goods.

Khouiss: JJ
Boobekov: 109

Boobekov found a pair but not enough to eliminate Khouiss as her Jacks held on the complete board of AK108A.

Nurlan Boobekov4,900,000
Suzy Khouiss1,550,000

Jiapeng Yang eliminated in 7th place ($16,960)

Jiapeng Yang opened with a min-click UTG to 300,000, and Sean McKenzie immediately upped the ante from the next seat over, 3-betting to 775,000.

Action folded all the way back around to Yang, who announced a 4-bet to 1,650,000, then snap-called the shove of McKenzie.

McKenzie: AA
Yang: KK

The ultimate cooler on the ultimate stage as Yang was crippled after the board ran out A96Q9.

Left with just 550,000, Yang then folded his big blind after some preflop action the next hand. On the next hand, Yang put out the rest of his 250,000, short-calling a Nurlan Boobekov open. McKenzie flat-called to create a small side pot, and the trio saw a 1052 flop.

McKenzie check-folded to a 225,000 bet from Boobekov; then Yang and Boobekov went to showdown with the same pair.

Boobekov: A5
Yang: K5

Unable to catch up on the 7, 8 run-out, Yang bowed out of the Sydney Champs Opening Event in seventh.

Sean McKenzie9,075,000
Nurlan Boobekov6,450,000
Jiapeng YangBUSTED!
Jiapeng Yang

Level 30: 75,000/150,000 (100,000)

TV time

Nurlan Boobekov opened to 250,000 UTG, and Suzy Khouiss flat-called from the button.

Jiapeng Yang then squeezed, raising to 1,500,000 from the big blind to force Boobekov out of the pot and send Khouiss into the tank.

“You bluffing me?” enquired Khouiss. “You trying to pull a Nurlan here and show off for the coverage?”

“You fold, I’ll show you now.” responded Yang.

“I think you’re trying to show off…” muttered Khouiss, but her cards found the muck.

Jiapeng Yang4,950,000
Nurlan Boobekov4,050,000
Suzy Khouiss2,175,000

Daniel Zhou eliminated in 8th place ($13,491)

Nurlan Boobekov opened to 250,000 and Daniel Zhou elected to defend his big blind, both players seeing a flop of 4JQ.

Zhou checked, Boobekov continued for 125,000 and Zhou check-raised to 500,000.

After a moment, Boobekov slid out a 3-bet to 925,000, Zhou announced all in, and Boobekov snap-called.

Boobekov: QJ
Zhou: Q4

Two pair for both players, and Boobekov turned Zhou dead on the J turn, with the A completing the board.

The very next hand, Boobekov again opened to 250,000 under-the-gun, and action folded to Zhou in the small blind, who shoved for his last 350,000. Sean McKenzie called in the big blind and Boobekov jokingly made a fold-like motion before throwing in a single T100K chip to call.

On the KQ6 flop, McKenzie check-called a bet of 125,000 from Boobekov. Both players checked the 10 turn, then McKenzie led out for 125,000 on the 4 river, quickly called by Boobekov.

McKenzie tabled KJ, good enough to take down the pot and eliminate Zhou, who had A-3 offsuit.

Nurlan Boobekov4,200,000
Sean McKenzie3,825,000
Daniel ZhouBUSTED!
Daniel Zhou

Khouiss lets it go

Suzy Khouiss min-clicked from the small blind and Jackson Hardy completed from the big blind to see a flop of JQ10, which both players checked.

The turn 7 attracted a bet of 150,000 from Khouiss, called by Hardy, before Khouiss checked the 6 river. Hardy slid out a bet of 550,000 and Khouiss’ cards hit the muck.

Jackson Hardy4,550,000
Suzy Khouiss1,675,000
Suzy Khouiss and Jackson Hardy

The Adventures of Nathan Sawyers

“All in, call!” called the dealer on Star Sydney’s Feature Table as Nathan Sawyer was all in and at risk against Jackson Hardy.

Hardy: AK
Sawyers: AQ

“Queen!” called Sawyers.

Sure enough, the flop spread 97Q.

“Oh clubs too, nice. Club!”

Instant bink, as the K rolled off to turn Hardy dead, followed by an extra 2 on the river.

Jackson Hardy5,000,000
Nathan Sawyers3,650,000
Nathan Sawyers

Level 29: 75,000/125,000 (125,000)

Rabie El Hage eliminated in 9th place ($10,114)

Rabie El Hage shoved from the small blind and was called by Nathan Sawyers in the big blind, who had doubled up twice before this hand.

El Hage: AJ
Sawyers: KQ

El Hage flopped top pair as the board spread 610A, though Sawyers had a gutshot draw to Broadway. Sawyers picked up extra outs to a diamond flush on the 5 turn, and got there on the 9 river to eliminate Day 1B chip leader El Hage.

Nathan Sawyers2,175,000
Rabie El HageBUSTED!
Rabie El Hage

Sydney Champs Opening Event final table set

The final table of the Sydney Champs Opening Event has been decided. Day 1A and 1B chip leaders Nurlan Boobekov and Rabie El Hage headline the field, while it’s Jackson Hardy who has the chip lead right now after starting the day as a short stack.

1Sean McKenzie3,200,000
2Nurlan Boobekov3,525,000
3Nicholas Roth3,900,000
4Rabie El Hage1,075,000
5Nathan Sawyers400,000
6Suzy Khouiss2,100,000
7Jackson Hardy6,150,000
8Jiapeng Yang4,525,000
9Daniel Zhou825,000

Shu Lin eliminated in 10th place ($8,300)

Picking up the action on a board showing 3QK2, Shu Lin checked it over to Jackson Hardy, who fired out a bet of 375,000 to a call from Lin.

Lin checked again on the 8 river and Hardy pulled the trigger, shoving for 900,000 effective.

Lin made the call only to give a sigh of exasperation when Hardy tabled KK, miles ahead of his own Q7.

Jackson Hardy6,150,000
Shu Lin

Hardy double doubles

Jackson Hardy shoved under-the-gun on the next orbit, called only by Jiapeng Yang on the button before both blinds got out of the way.

Hardy: 44
Yang: A9

Yang once again trying to take us down to 9, but missed completely on the 83K8 board before Hardy boated up on the 4 river.

Immediately on the next hand, it was Yang’s turn to open to the tune of 250,000 and action folded around to Hardy, who shoved from his big blind for 1,900,000. Yang mulled it over and called to put Hardy at risk two hands in a row.

Hardy: A4
Yang: KQ

The board of AKA34 was all Hardy and he doubled once more.

Jiapeng Yang4,525,000
Jackson Hardy3,950,000
Jackson Hardy

Boobekov doubles immediately

All-in preflop action as Jackson Hardy opened UTG to 200,000, called by Jiapeng Yang on the button before Nurlan Boobekov squeezed all-in from the big blind.

Hardy got out of town, but Yang thought it over before slamming some chips down to make the call; a total of 1,525,000 in Boobekov’s stack.

Boobekov: A10
Yang: J8

Trying to bring us down to our final table immediately, Yang hit the flop of 785, improved to two pair on the 7 turn … only to see Boobekov get out of trouble with a 10 river to double through.

Jiapeng Yang6,000,000
Nurlan Boobekov3,400,000
Nurlan Boobekov

Play underway

Sean McKenzie had not yet taken his seat as play kicked off in Level 28. Players will be playing 45-minute levels today all the way down to a winner.

Level 28: 50,000/100,000 (100,000)

Another big finale awaits

Good morning and welcome back to PokerMedia Australia’s continued coverage of The Star Sydney Champs Opening Event!

It’s already been a big morning at PMA HQ; along with the rest of the poker world, all eyes were glued onto screens both large and small as the final three contenders in the WSOP Main Event battled it out for the game’s ultimate prize, including Australia’s own Adrian Attenborough (more on that story later today).

But now our focus turns back to the final 10 players remaining in this tournament, where we’ll be playing down to a winner tonight, who will earn themselves a tidy $101,161 for their efforts. All our players returning today are guaranteed a minimum of $8,300.

Leading the way is Jiapeng Yang, who holds roughly 30% of the chips in play, but there’s plenty of locals backing in Nurlan Boobekov, who won this tournament back in 2017, along with Suzy Khouiss, who will no doubt have plenty of support on the rail, including her best friend Michelle Psarras, who won the WPTDeepStacks Sydney Opening Event back in April.

In any case, today’s a great day for poker and we look forward to bringing you all the action alongside the Star Poker Sydney feature table stream on Twitch, so keep your browsers locked and refreshed here on PMA from 12:15pm AEST and right through until the final river falls. See you soon!

Day 3 seat draw

Feature Table

3Shu Lin1,625,000
4Nurlan Boobekov2,275,000
5Jackson Hardy1,325,000
6Rabie El Hage1,825,000
8Jiapeng Yang2,300,000

Table 31

1Suzy Khouiss4,075,000
2Nathan Sawyers2,550,000
4Daniel Zhao650,000
5Sean McKenzie7,750,000
8Nicholas Roth1,325,000

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