LIVE REPORTING: 2022 Star Sydney Champs $5K High Roller Day 2

Congratulations Nurlan Boobekov ($180,843*), 2022 Star Sydney Champs $5K High Roller Champion!

It’s one that’s certainly appeared many times throughout the course of over coverage this year, and also on the Sydney Champs honour roll after winning the Opening Event back in 2017.

But after registering a podium finish in the Opening Event this year, Boobekov has gone all the way in the $5K High Roller to pocket more than $180,000 in prize money and one of the last trophies on offer in this series!

Nurlan was absolutely rapt to have taken it down and was only too happy to share the glory with his extended poker family.

“It feels so good to get it, you know?” Boobekov said to PMA in the wake of his victory. “I love that I’m here with all of my friends to celebrate. Toby and Rehman … they’re my mates, so it was awesome to get it done and share it with them.”

Ever the life of the party, Boobekov was quick to rush off with the crew to officially kick off the celebrations, and after what has been an epic 13 days here at Star Poker Sydney, they’re absolutely well deserved! From all of us at PMA, congratulations Nurlan!

This also concludes our coverage of the 2022 Star Poker Sydney Champs. On behalf of the entire team, we’d like to thank you all for your continued support, and trust you’ve enjoyed our live updates as much as we have bringing them to you.

We’d also like to take a moment to show our appreciation to Star Entertainment’s Martin Coughlan, Brett Carter and the entire Star Poker Sydney crew in giving us this opportunity to showcase what has been a fantastic series from start to finish.

Finally, on behalf of everyone at PMA, we’d like to give very special thanks to our original PMA Protege: Josh Emerton, who has once again been a driving force through the course of this, his final series behind the laptop (at least for the foreseeable future).

From the moment Josh began his reporting journey with us last year, it was clear that he had the talent, enthusiasm, in-depth knowledge and expertise in delivering high-quality poker content, upon which the foundation of PMA is built upon.

Throughout his time with us, Josh has always been a consummate professional, going out of his way in helping our team every step of the way in what can be a time-sensitive, high-pressure environment.

Naturally, it’s these skills and attributes that have landed him his dream job as an air traffic controller, which will see him move to Melbourne in September to commence training, and we want to take this opportunity to thank him for everything and wish him all the very best.

And no matter where you may be – in Australia, New Zealand, or around the world – the team here at PMA will keep bringing you the latest news and Live Reporting coverage from buy-in to bust-out.

So, until next time … from all of us here Star Poker Sydney, thanks again for joining us and we’ll see you again real soon. ‘Bye for now!

Toby Giles eliminated in 3rd place ($115,409*); Rehman Kassam eliminated in 2nd place ($137,168*)

Our remaining three players took a short comfort break; when they returned, they confirmed with PMA that an ICM deal had been agreed upon before all the money went into the middle in the first hand back.

Toby Giles turned over 96, ahead of Rehman Kassam’s 74, but Nurlan Boobekov had them both covered with his K7.

Giles and Boobekov both paired up on the flop of K9A, but the turn and river bricked out 2, 10 to confirm the double KO and bring the $5K High Roller to an end.

Rehman KassamBUSTED!
Toby GilesBUSTED!

Wai Au eliminated in 4th place ($50,151)

Shortly after having a chunk of his stack taken by Rehman Kassam, Wai Au ripped in the rest of it with A5, only to see Nurlan Boobekov wake up with AJ.

Boobekov then hooked up another Jack on the flop of 64J, but although the 2 appeared on the turn, the dealer produced the K on the river, enough to send Au straight out.

Nurlan Boobekov10,900,000
Rehman Kassam3,950,000
Toby Giles2,300,000
Wai Au

Double for Kassam

Rehman Kassam has scored himself a crucial double through Wai Au as action continues here in The Star Sydney Champs $5K Challenge.

Kassam got the last of his stack in good pre-flop with QQ against Au’s KQ, but although Kassam’s pair held up across the board of 62108J, dropping Au down to less than 2.5 million.

Rehman Kassam3,650,000
Wai Au2,350,000
Rehman Kassam

Level 26: 75,000/150,000 (150,000)

Tom Rafferty eliminated in 5th place ($38,698)

A short-stacked Tom Rafferty pushing his 1,040,000 into the middle, hoping to steal the blinds and antes or pinch a double-up, but with 106, he was in a spot of bother after being called by Wai Au’s 99.

The board of KA86Q sealed the deal and sent Rafferty on his way.

Wai Au5,500,000
Tom RaffertyBUSTED!
Tom Rafferty

Daniel Hachem eliminated in 6th place ($32,068)

Just as the blinds were about to tick over, Daniel Hachem peeled his last two hole cards for the night, shipping his 920,000 remaining chips from the button and finding a caller in Wai Au.

Au: AQ
Hachem: KQ

Board: 9Q243

The field is reduced to five, and with $529,269 remaining in the prize pool, the pressure is certainly building!

Daniel Hachem

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

Positive signs for poker

To say that this year’s Star Sydney Champs has been a huge success would be an understatement, with a Main Event prize pool worth almost $2.3 million along with huge numbers across all 10 events, including the $5K High Roller and the $440 Mega Freezeout Finisher, which was locked out at 306 entries.

Amongst them were two of Star Poker Sydney’s regular tournament players: Phillip Debs and Zisimos Jordan, who came up to the PMA hot desk to let us know that he had registered a min-cash in the series finale.

It comes off the back of the young Sydneysider’s runner-up finish in last night’s NSW Deaf Poker Championship, which was held at the Tollgate Hotel in Parramatta – a tournament that his father Daryl has already won twice.

Zisimos is also the 2017 Australian Deaf Poker Champion, and has already confirmed that he will be back at The Star Sydney later this year for the return of the Deaf Poker Australia (DPA) Championship, the full schedule for which was released today.

Running from 6-9 October, the 2022 DPA Championship series promises to be the biggest and most accessible ever held, with RFID feature table live streaming being provided for the DPA State of Origin and DPA Championship Main Event, as well as social media and Live Reporting coverage courtesy of PokerMedia Australia.


Thu 6 Oct6:15pm1 | Auslan Poker Open BountyOpen$175 ($100 + $50 + $25)
Fri 7 Oct12:30pm2 | DPA State of Origin VIIExclusive$1,000 ($840 + $160)
6:15pm3 | Pairs Tag Team NLHOpen$300 ($270 +$30)
Sat 8 Oct12:30pm4 | 2022 DPA Championship Main EventExclusive$200 ($170 + $30)
6:15pm5 | 15/15/15 Hyper Turbo Action ClockOpen$150 ($125 + $25)
Sun 9 Oct12:30pm6 | $675 6-Max NLHOpen$675 ($600 + $75)

For more information, including upcoming events and results, log onto or follow Deaf Poker Australia on Facebook.

Daniel Gan eliminated in 7th place ($27,728)

With his friend, and WPTDeepStacks 2022 Main Event Champion, Mark Fester nervously pacing along the rail in support, Daniel Gan has unfortunately joined him at the hands of Toby Giles.

Giles opened from UTG to 200,000. Gan woke up with K10 in the hijack and ripped all of his 1,200,000 into the middle. Giles quickly called, turned over his JJ with an opportunity to land another pay jump.

The flop of 10A5 was as nerve-racking as could be for Jacks against Gan’s holding, though the runout 8,9 set Giles’ at ease to hold and chip-up.

It marks the end of a stellar tournament for Gan, cashing for one of the best results in his poker career so far!

Toby Giles5,400,000
Daniel GanBUSTED!
Daniel Gan

Level 24: 50,000/100,000 (100,000)

Break time!

Our final seven players are now on a 10-minute break. This allowed us to get a new round of counts. Back shortly!

Toby Giles3,175,000
Nurlan Boobekov3,160,000
Rehman Kassam2,745,000
Daniel Hachem2,155,000
Daniel Gan2,070,000
Wai Au2,055,000
Tom Lafferty1,775,000

Zhihao Chen eliminated in 8th place ($24,264)

Zhihao Chen has departed in eighth after being taken out at the hands of Wai Au.

From the +2 position, Chen raised to A2 pre-flop; action then folded around to Wai Au who jammed from the small blnd with QQ before Chen called short.

 Chen picked up top pair after the flop of A65, however Au turned a set with the Q, which held after the 9 came down the river.

Wai Au2,000,000
Zhihao ChenBUSTED!
Zhihao Chen

Pair of ones, no good?

Daniel Hachem has managed to dodge bullets as play continues eight-handed at this final table.

Just before the blinds went up to 40,00, action Rafferty min-raised from under the gun with AA and action folded to Hachem who defended his big blind holding 75 to go heads-up to a flop of 78Q.

Hachem checked over to Rafferty who led out for 100,000; Hachem called, then both players checked after the dealer produced the 10 on the turn before Hachem led out for 375,000 on the river 6.

Rafferty glanced over at Hachem with a puzzled look as he thought it over, but then elected to let his hand go.

Daniel Hachem3,200,000
Tom Rafferty1,700,000
Daniel Hachem

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

Gang Zhu eliminated in 9th place ($21,121)

From under the gun, Gang Zhu open-shoved for 705,000 with and action folded to Tom Rafferty, who asked for a count before moving all-in over the top, forcing the others out of the way before going to showdown.

Zhu: JJ
Rafferty: AQ

The flop of AK7 brought with it top-top for Rafferty, but also a flush draw for Zhu.

No love though with the 8 on the turn, nor the river 10, and with that, Zhu was confirmed as our ninth-place finisher.

Tom Rafferty1,800,000

Gang Zhu

First blood to Kassam

Rehman Kassam has found a double-up Toby Giles in the very first hand of the $5K High Roller final table.

After Giles raised to 125,000 from under the gun, action folded around to Kassam who shoved for 1,715,000 from the big blind.

Giles called and tabled AK and found himself flipping against Kassam, who was at risk with JJ.

Kassam’s hand held up though, as the board ran clean 43264.

Rehman Kassam3,580,000
Toby Giles1,425,000
Rehman Kassam

Star Sydney Champs $5K High Roller final table

1Nurlan Boobekov3,455,000
2Rehman Kassam1,775,000
3Toby Giles3,120,000
4Zhihao Chen960,000
5Gang Zhu705,000
6Daniel Hachem2,965,000
7Daniel Gan1,720,000
8Tom Rafferty920,000
9Wai Au1,510,000

Hold up!

Our players have been sent on an extended break, with Star Poker Sydney staff confirming that the final table of the $5K High Roller will now be streamed on Twitch, commencing from 9:45pm AEST.

To ensure game security and integrity, PMA’s live updates of this tournament will now be aligned in stream time (30-minute delay).

Agresta annihilated

Whilst Campbell was being eliminated on Table 34, “All in and a call!” from Table 36.

It was a clash of two sizable stacks in a crucial cooler. Roy Agresta versus Daniel Hachem.

Agresta: KK
Hachem: JJ

Hachem took the lead on the J610 flop, and whilst Agresta turned a gutshot to Broadway with the A, the 2 on the river changes nothing, to quote Norman Chad.

Agresta confirmed as the 10th place finisher and we’re moving to the Star Sydney Feature Table for the 2022 Star Sydney Champs $5K High Roller Final Table!

Daniel Hachem2,965,000
Roy AgrestaBUSTED!

Campbell crushed

It all went in on the next hand – Ashton Campbell open shoved for 655,000 and found a caller in Toby Giles on the next seat before the blinds scarpered.

Campbell: 66
Giles: KQ

The race was ran before it really started – in the window for Giles as the board ran out 94K4J and Campbell was gone in 11th place.

Toby Giles3,065,000
Ashton CampbellBUSTED!
Ashton Campbell

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

Campbell crippled

Picking up the action on a flop of 854, we saw a check from Nurlan Boobekov first to act, then Daniel Gan bet 100,000 into the pot of approximately 320,000.

Ashton Campbell called, then Boobekov upped the ante; a backraise to 355,000. Gan got out of the way and Campbell called once more to see the 3 hit the turn.

295,000 the bet from Boobekov, called again by Campbell. The 3 hit the river.

Several moments past, and when it came, the “all in” was quiet from Boobekov, with a glance at the dealer at the same time. Campbell asked for a count – 855,000.

A full two minutes later and Campbell called – only to muck when Boobekov tabled [invalid notations], having flopped a straight whilst defending his blind.

Nurlan Boobekov3,500,000
Ashton Campbell655,000
Nurlan Boobekov

Hassan heaped

Idris Hassan shoved his short stack of 180,000 from the button. Wai Au, in the small blind, min-clicked to 310,000.

Daniel Hachem then shoved from the big blind to an instant fold from Au.

Hachem: AK
Hassan: QJ

After a brief pause to figure out the chips, seeing as Hachem would win some of Au’s bet immediately, both Hachem and Hassan both insisted to just ‘run it’. As Hassan correctly pointed out, “If he wins, he takes it all anyway.”

The 354 almost comical at first considering the high cards in both players hands, but after the Q paired Hassan, Hachem was certainly thankful for the 2 on the river.

Wai Au1,560,000
Daniel Hachem1,475,000
Idris HassanBUSTED!
Idris Hassan

Derias deprived

Toby Giles opened to 110,000 UTG and both Sherif Derias and Ashton Campbell defended their small and big blinds respectively.

Both Derias and Campbell then checked the QA9 flop, prompting Giles to continue for 160,000. Derias called, Campbell folded.

Derias checked again on the 9 turn, and Giles fired a second barrel worth 225,000. Derias appeared to tank, then shoved for 625,000 – to an absolute SNAP call from Giles.

Giles: QQ
Derias: 96

The board completed with the 5 on the river, ending the run of Derias.

“A one out sweat is about as good as it gets!” laughed Giles with his rail.

Sherif DeriasBUSTED!

From the rafters

Rehman Kassam opened to 100,000 from the small blind and was immediately 3-bet to 270,000 by Tom Rafferty. Kassam shoved for 950,000 and Rafferty taaaaaaank called.

Kassam: KK
Rafferty: 1010

Neither player improved on the 385J5 board and Kassam doubled through.

Rehman Kassam2,150,000
Tom Rafferty855,000


Your remaining players in order of chip count!

Daniel Gan2,165,000
Tom Rafferty1,905,000
Toby Giles1,850,000
Ashton Campbell1,820,000
Nurlan Boobekov1,490,000
Roy Agresta1,485,000
Daniel Hachem1,400,000
Sherif Derias1,175,000
Wai Au980,000
Rehman Kassam930,000
Gang Zhu885,000
Zhihao Chen730,000
Idris Hassan350,000

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

Break time!

The remaining players have departed for a 10-minute break.

We will reach the final table in the next stanza of play.

Full counts to come.

Badaoui busted

Ray Badaoui shoved all in UTG+2 and action folded around to Tom Rafferty in the big blind, as the tournament clock ticked into the break.

Rafferty called, tabling 66 against the K10 of Badaoui.

Badaoui threw his hands in the air, uttering “Ridiculous!” as the flop spread 4A6, middle set for Rafferty basically flopping Badaoui dead.

The board completed 3, 7.

Tom Rafferty1,825,000
Ray BadaouiBUSTED!
Ray Badaoui

Zhu zonked

Nurlan Boobekov opened to 80,000 and Zhengmin Zhu decided the time was now, shoving for his last 265,000. Action folded back around to Boobekov, who made the call after getting a count.

Boobekov: 33
Zhu: A7

After a flop of 1064, Zhu let out an audible “Ahhh…” when the 3 peeled on the turn.

Drawing to a five and five only, the J capped Zhu’s run today.

Nurlan Boobekov1,480,000
Zhengmin ZhuBUSTED!

Guerin goneski

Didier Guerin shoved his last 375,000 UTG+1. Nothing but folds around to Daniel Hachem in the small blind, who iso-shoved forcing the player in the big blind out of the pot.

Hachem: 88
Guerin: QJ

Another numbers-only board (271046) secured the second knockout in succession for Hachem.

Daniel Hachem1,880,000
Didier GuerinBUSTED!


Daniel Hachem opened to 80,000 and saw Robert Kwan jam for 450,000 effective.

Hachem made the call, leaving himself just 10,000 behind.

Hachem: KK
Kwan: AQ

Some love for Kwan on the 389 flop, a flush draw giving him some extra opportunity to stay in the game.

The 9 turn and 10 river did not help one tiny little bit, though, and just like that, Robert Kwan has busted.

No more kwality puns, sorry!

Daniel Hachem1,010,000
Robert KwanBUSTED!

Zhu beast

Gang Zhu moved all in, then Zhihao Chen shoved over the top to isolate.

The blinds got out of the way, and it was Zhu’s KQ flipping against the 1010 of Chen.

Again, a fantastic flop for the over cards in this race, as the board ran out 8Q552.

Gang Zhu1,140,000
Zhihao Chen375,000

Hachem finds life

A short stacked Daniel Hachem was all in for his last 280,000 and at risk to the 88 of Idris Hassan.

Hachem tabled KQ and, flipping for his tournament life, smashed the flop of 10QJ, holding on through the 5, 10 run-out to double up.

Idris Hassan1,810,000
Daniel Hachem660,000

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


Roy Agresta opened to 60,000, and was shoved on by Wai Au in late position. Action folded back around to Agresta, who snap-called.

Agresta: AA
Au: 55

Agresta needed no help as the board ran out K4779 to double through.

Roy Agresta1,245,000
Wai Au470,000

Hassan heist

We picked up the action on a full board showing 51010K4 where Idris Hassan had wagered 350,000 and everyone was waiting on Wai Au to act.

After several minutes, Au announced a call. Hassan tabled Q10 and Au counted out 350,000 and passed them directly to Hassan before mucking his cards.

Idris Hassan2,000,000
Wai Au1,020,000

Pericleous pounded

Didier Guerin opened to 60,000 from UTG+1. A couple of folds later and Wai Au shoved from the cut-off for around 1.1 million.

Alex Pericleous hit the tank in the small blind, gave a big sigh, and eventually put all of his chips in one big tower and slid it forwards to short-call and put himself at risk.

That put Guerin in the tank as well. Guerin asked for a count of Pericleous’ stack so he could work out what the side pot would be, then thought it over for a minute or so before folding.

Au: 1010
Pericleous: AQ

Au backdoored into a flush on the J8JK6 board to eliminate Pericleous.

Wai Au1,500,000
Alex PericleousBUSTED!

Death by Kwads!

Dylan Kehoe hit the all-in button, shoving for his last 200,000 and found a caller in Robert Kwan.

Kehoe, Kwan, only fair they had a King each as the cards were tabled.

Kehoe: AK
Kwan: KJ

Kehoe was in a ‘favourable spot’ as some would put it – until the flop came JJJ!

Eliminated in style!

Robert Kwan805,000
Dylan KehoeBUSTED!

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

Sandaev spun out

Joe Sandaev moved all in under the gun for his last 310,000 and everybody who hadn’t put any chips in yet folded.

Small blind Sherif Derias tank-called and Zhihao Chen released his big blind.

Derias found himself in a dominant position, tabling K10 and miles ahead of the 109 of Sandaev.

And after the flop spread 10QK, two pair for Derias and just needing to fade a Jack to claim the scalp.

The 7 hit the table on the turn and Sandaev uttered a hopeful “Jack!” before the 6 hit the river to end his day.

Sherif Derias2,060,000
Joseph SandaevBUSTED!

No love for Lukas

Darren Lukas shoved his remaining chips in from middle position and it folded all the way around to Zheming Zhu in the small blind. Zhu iso-shoved and Rehman Kassam hit the tank in the big.

Kassam’s rail, having seen his cards, went nuts when Kassam folded – “I’d have been in there without thinking!” we heard Will Davies exclaim, as Lukas tabled AQ.

That was quickly followed though, by Hasan Onay yelling “He’s a wizard!!” as Zhu tabled KK. We assume that Kassam must therefore have folded a lower pocket pair.

No love for Lukas on the 86544 board saw Lukas sent to the rail with a min cash for his efforts.

Zheming Zhu1,200,000
Darren LukasBUSTED!

Campbell doubell

Robert Kwan opened and action folded around to Ashton Campbell, who cut out a 3-bet to put Kwan to a decision.

Kwan made one alright; four-bet-jamming to put maximum pressure on Campbell. Campbell made the call and it was off to the races.

Campbell: JJ
Kwan: AK

An entire board below Ten (107967 saw the pocket face cards take down the classic flip on this occasion.

Ashton Campbell1,105,000
Robert Kwan350,000
Ashton Campbell

Matt Maks eliminated; bubble burst

The bubble has officially burst in the 2022 Star Sydney Champs $5K High Roller!

Action folded around to Nurlan Boobekov, who shoved on short stack Matt Maks.

Maks called off – with 25,000 representing 1/6th of his stack on the ante it was for 125,000 effective and found himself in front.

Maks: J9
Boobekov: 54

Boobekov saw diamonds at the end of the tunnel immediately as the flop spread Q7A whilst Hasan Onay rushed over to rail with Maks.

Boobekov added even more outs on the 3 turn – a double gutshot to add to his flush draw, and his cards still live to boot.

Not many safe cards left for Maks, and the 6 spelled the end – Boobekov hitting both a straight and a flush (but not a straight flush) to move our entire remaining field of 22 players straight into the money!

Nurlan Boobekov1,100,000
Matt MaksBUSTED!

Counts at the break

Table 36

1Tom Rafferty1,210,000
2Robert Kwan990,000
3Nurlan Boobekov1,000,000
4Matt Maks150,000
5Toby Giles1,145,000
6Ashton Campbell610,000
8Dylan Kehoe335,000
9Raman Shaqiri405,000

Table 37

1Zheming Zhu765,000
3Rehman Kassam545,000
4Sherif Derias1,790,000
6Darren Lukas130,000
7Zhihao Chen990,000
8Joseph Sandaev240,000
9Daniel Gan1,310,000

Table 38

1Gang Zhu740,000
3Idris Hassan1,525,000
4Wai Au905,000
5Ray Badaoui785,000
6Daniel Hachem370,000
7Alex Pericleous630,000
8Roy Agresta300,000
9Didier Guerin235,000
Gang Zhu

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

Who’s hungry?

The players have been sent on a 30-minute dinner break – cruelly, perhaps, as 22 players will make the money and there are 23 players left!

King Kassam

Rehman Kassam has been a short stack in this tournament for a while, and with the money bubble fast approaching, jammed his last 285,000 all in preflop.

Zhihao Chen took up the challenge, trying to eliminate Kassam and bring everybody one closer.

Kassam: AK
Chen: KQ

Top pair for both on the 98K92 board but Kassam’s superior kicker kept him alive.

Zhihao Chen990,000
Rehman Kassam590,000
Rehman Kassam

Jiang jousted

Daniel Gan and Hong Jiang clashed once more, with Gan opening to 40,000 preflop and Jiang defending his big blind.

Jiang check-raised Gan on the JA9 flop after Gan continued for 35,000, sliding out a 100,000 raise.

Gan asked to see how much Jiang had behind; then shoved, covering Jiang barely.

Jiang called off, tabling J9 and ahead of Gan’s AQ for now. No change on the 3 turn either, with a crucial river for either player to come.

Audible gasps from the table as the Q dropped, giving Gan a superior two pair and eliminating Jiang from the tournament just short of the money.

Hong JiangBUSTED!
Hong Jiang

Big fold Boobekov

Ashton Campbell shoved his last 230,000 on a board showing 4A4J2.

Nurlan Boobekov, who has found himself repeatedly featuring in PMA‘s live reporting this series, was sent deep into the tank.

Apparently agonising over it, Boobekov eventually folded.

“Big fold!” exclaimed Campbell, spinning the 4 face up in Boobekov’s direction.

“Three times I’ve made big folds and been bluffed this week, man!” laughed Boobekov.

Pericleous for Hachem

Daniel Hachem defended his big blind from an Alex Pericleous 40,000 UTG open to see a 264 flop.

Both players checked, then Hachem led out for 50,000 on the 5 to be called by Pericleous, before repeating the action on the J river. 50,000 again, called again.

Hachem tabled 1010 but found himself miles behind the A3 of Pericleous and dropped further below the average stack.

Alex Pericleous910,000
Daniel Hachem380,000

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

Rafferty rising

Tom Rafferty got straight back into the action after his previous hand – raising to 45,000 whilst still stacking new chips.

Rehman Kassam bumped it up to 100,000 and Rafferty made the call.

Rafferty check-called 80,000 on the Q74 flop, then checked again on the 5 turn.

Kassam fired a second barrel of 170,000. Rafferty shoved for 448,000 and Kassam snap-called.

Ultimate cooler time – AA for Rafferty, KK for Kassam. Ouch!

The river a repeat Q not changing a thing but Kassam will need some help to come back from the brutal beat.

Tom Rafferty1,296,000
Rehman Kassam52,000
Rehman Kassam

Half a chance

Ashton Campbell opened to 40,000 and Raman Shaqiri shoved his short stack from the blinds. Campbell made the call to put Shaqiri at risk.

Campbell: JJ
Shaqiri: KQ

The dealer spread a flop of 337, then the turn K brought out an “Aiyaa!” from Campbell before the 8 awarded the double to Shaqiri.

“Nice that you had Jacks actually, gave me half a chance!” chuckled Shaqiri.

Raman Shaqiri435,000
Ashton Campbell390,000

Chiha cut down

Tom Rafferty min-clicked to 32,000 from the hijack, Charles Chiha defended his big blind, and then both players checked on the 54J flop.

Chiha then led out for 40,000 on the 8 turn. Rafferty matched the bet.

The river in question was a harmless and inconsequential looking 3. Chiha fired 75,000 and Rafferty shoved all in for 230,000 effective.

Chiha made the call with 85 but Rafferty had him crushed, having flopped top set with JJ.

Tom Rafferty628,000
Charles Chiha203,000
Charles Chiha

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

Straight up

Picking up the action on a board showing JQ5, we saw Zhihao Chen check across to Joe Vinecombe on the button. Vinecombe continued for 30,000 and Chen made the call.

The A hit the turn and Chen checked once more. 60,000 from Vinecombe and Chen paused for thought. After a minute or so, Chen raised to 150,000, called by Vinecombe.

Chen slowed down and checked the 5 river and it was Vinecombe’s turn to pause.

“All in” said Vinecombe.

Chen threw his arms up, then scattered a few chips in, tabling K10 and saying “You have a full house?”

“No, no, two pair” laughed Vinecombe, showing the AQ and cutting out the 317,000 to pay Chen.

“I kept thinking if the board paired I’m in trouble!” laughed Chen, stacking his new chips as the blinds kicked over.

“Still called me though…” muttered Vinecombe, to laughter.

Zhihao Chen1,050,000
Joe Vinecombe436,000

Jiang jousting

Daniel Gan opened to 25,000 from the cut-off and Hong Jiang 3-bet jammed from the small blind. Stan Levitin tanked for a moment before giving up his big blind and ante.

Action back on Gan, he asked for a count – 142,000 it was – before chucking out a single T25K chip to call.

Jiang: A10
Gan: A8

The flop of 929 brought with it a flush draw just in case for Jiang but some chopportunities for Gan. Neither the 7 or 5 made any difference though, Jiang pipping Gan to the pot.

Daniel Gan818,000
Hong Jiang308,000
Daniel Gan

Back-to-back Boobekov

After knocking out a player with pocket sevens, Nurlan Boobekov got straight back into the action the very next hand, raising to 24,000 UTG and getting three callers.

The flop of 107A saw a continuation bet of 36,000 from Boobekov jammed on by the player in middle position, forcing the other callers out before Boobekov called to put yet another player at risk.

Boobekov: AJ
Opponent: 98

Boobekov needed to fade an open-ender with backdoor diamonds – the 10 on the turn bringing the diamonds very much into play – and successfully did so once the 8 on the river only served up a consolation pair to his opponent.

Nurlan Boobekov826,000

Kamiya KO’d

Idris Hassan opened to 25,000 from the cut-off, and Leo Kamiya shoved it back in his face, moving all in from the big blind for 199,000 effective.

Hassan made the call to put Kamiya at risk.

Kamiya: A9
Hassan: KQ

Kamiya found two pair on the A910 flop, leaving Hassan drawing thin to a Broadway straight.

The 5 changed nothing but Hassan spiked the J on the river to KO Kamiya.

Idris Hassan1,231,000
Leo KamiyaBUSTED!
Idris Hassan

First round of counts

Toby Giles1,209,000
Daniel Gan990,000
Idris Hassan978,000
Alex Pericleous898,000
Ray Badaoui873,000
Rehman Kassam823,000
Robert Kwan800,000
Robert Spano570,000
Stan Levitin563,000
Charles Chiha546,000
Daniel Hachem504,000

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

Break time

The players have departed on a 10-minute break.

Stadium atmosphere

A huge cry rang out across the room and we ran over to a table which was quite literally surrounded by people; add some seats and expensive drinks and it may as well have been a football stadium.

It was clear to see why – with a complete board on the table and all hands face up, we could see that what had just happened quite simply shouldn’t happen.

The players were kind enough to recall what happened from the beginning for our Live Reporter; according to them, James Broom had opened to 20,000 and Jerome Tan had flat-called. Toby Giles had then 3-bet jammed for 408,000.

Then … both Broom and Tan snap-short-called and Giles found out he could not possibly be in a worse spot.

For though Giles had QQ, he was swept aside by Broom’s KK, who in turn was in the direct sunlight of Tan’s AA.

The flop? 9108

The turn? 2.

But it was the river that caused the commotion and stadium-like roar that attracted our attention, the J giving Giles a Queen high straight.

Ok, time to put that Get Out Of Jail Free card back in the Community Chest, Giles.

Toby Giles1,050,000
James BroomBUSTED!
Jerome TanBUSTED!
Toby Giles

That’ll do it

Idris Hassan raised UTG to 18,000, finding calls in both Ted Hatzakortzian and Charles Chiha in late position.

Hassan then continued for 22,000 on the 825 flop. Hatzakortzian raised to 70,000 – leaving himself about the same behind.

Chiha then shoved to a quick fold from Hassan before Hatzakortzian tanked. Eventually he folded, Chiha flashing the 88 for top set.

Idris Hassan781,000
Charles Chiha635,000
Ted Hatzakortzian 71,000

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

Giles guillotined

Toby Giles defended his big blind from a 16,000 Idris Hassan open to see a flop 536. Giles led out for 15,000 to a call from Hassan. The A on the turn saw another bet from Giles, this time for 31,000.

Hassan raised at that point, up to 86,000, and Giles made the call, then checked the 4 river. Hassan shoved and Giles called only to see Hassan table Q9 for the flush.

Shortly later, Giles opened to 16,000 and was 3-bet by Charles Chiha to 39,000. Giles called, the flop came QJ4, and both players checked.

Chiha would then rip it on the 6 turn, sending Giles into the tank. Giles eventually found a call only to find out that Chiha just had AA, enough to best the Q10 of Giles after the 3 river changed nothing.

Charles Chiha510,000
Idris Hassan394,000
Toby Giles342,000

This is a Travis-t!

Stan Levitin opened to 18,000 and WA’s Travis Endersby shoved for 78,000 from a couple of seats over.

Action folded back around to Levitin, who snap-called. After a little drama about some missing blinds quickly sorted out by floor staff, Endersby and Levitin went to showdown.

Levitin: AK
Endersby: KQ

Endersby was on his feet immediately as an Ace appeared in the window (full board: 25A77), shaking hands with a classy “Alright guys, I deserved that, I played badly today!” as the popular Twitch streamer took his leave.

Travis EndersbyBUSTED!
Travis Endersby


Robert Kwan completed the small blind and Nurlan Boobekov raised from the big blind to 28,000. Kwan came along to see a flop of 3910.

Kwan check-called a c-bet of 18,000 from Boobekov, before both players checked the 6 turn.

The 5 then hit the river to a third check from Kwan, and Boobekov sized up, betting 75,000.

Kwan entered for tank for several minutes, long enough for us to cover an entire hand on a neighbouring table (details to come), before someone called time.

Kwan made the call before the clock had officially started, only to see Boobekov table 103.

Must be nice!

Nurlan Boobekov417,000
Robert Kwan198,000
Nurlan Boobekov

Wierd hand!

Laughter from Josh McCully drew our attention to a hand playing out with a full board of 936KQ in the middle.

McCully had bet 37,000 after apparently checking twice on the flop and turn, and Andre Dowling had essentially min-clicked it back, a raise to 75,000.

McCully, while tanking, was midsentence and we caught the end of the conversation. “This is so weird.”

“Exactly my point.” laughed Dowling.

“I guess you could have that…” continued McCully (presumably referring to the Jack Ten)

Dowling referred to McCully’s bet on the river “You understand why I said that was a weird bet?”

“It was a weird bet!” McCully laughed, before pausing, going back through the action, “at least you didn’t go all in…”

Eventually, McCully gave a shrug, throwing in calling chips whilst saying “This is the weirdest hand I’ve ever played!”

J10 for Dowling. Only the nuts. Not so weird.

Andre Dowling417,000
Josh McCully107,000

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

Spano sized

Robert Spano opened to 15,000 under the gun and got 3-bet to 30,000 by Joseph Sandaev around the table. Both blinds folded and Spano 4-bet to 75,000.

Sandaev called and both players checked the 484 flop. Spano checked again on the Q turn and Sandaev took control, firing 70,000 as the blinds ticked over into Level 13.

Spano picked up three T25K chips. Then three more. And another one. Then slid out a check-raise to 175,000 and sending the shorter stack of Sandaev into the tank.

Sandaev let it go and Spano collected his new chips.

Robert Spano610,000
Joseph Sandaev211,000

Lynskey lynched

Gang Zhu opened to 12,000 under the gun, achieving folds all the way around the table until Toby Giles flat called from the small blind.

2018 November Niner Alex Lynskey then squeezed to 55,000. Zhu conceded, but Giles back-raised all in for 345,000. Lynskey, with only slightly more to start the hand than Giles, made the call.

Giles: Q-Q
Lynskey: A-K

No love for Lynskey on the 3-5-6-J-7 board left Lynskey with a lowly 11,000 after the chips were counted, which went in two hands later and Lynskey was eliminated by the hand of Idris Hassan.

Toby Giles697,000
Alex LynskeyBUSTED!
Alex Lynskey

Hoang hung, drawn and quartered

Bo Sun opened from the hijack, a min-click to 12,000 and Paul Hoang defended his big blind to see a flop of J4K.

Hoang check-raised all in following a 15,000 continuation bet from Sun, and Sun snap-called to put Hoang at risk.

Sun: AK
Hoang: K9

Top pair for both, but the superior kicker for Sun holding on the J, 4 run out.

Bo Sun289,000
Paul HoangBUSTED!

Lin goes Dowling flames

Jun Lin shoved his remaining 41,500 under the gun, and found one caller in Andre Dowling on the button. Both blinds got out of the way.

Lin: 88
Dowling: Q9

Lin saw his tournament life quickly evaporate as Dowling lit a match on the JQ5 flop, before the board completed 2, 7.

Andre Dowling184,000
Andre Dowling

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

Ready to roll

Welcome back to The Star Sydney and PMA’s coverage of the Sydney Champs $5K High Roller.

Today sees 72 of the 171 entries returning hoping to claim the trophy and a lofty $276,178 first prize.

There are notable names aplenty in the field, including Alex Lynskey, Toby Giles, Patrick Yazbeck, Najeem Azej, Ken Demlakian, Kiavash Arbabi, Elisa Onay and Daniel Hachem among others. But leading the way is Gang Zhu, who takes 798,000 into Day 2, nicely ahead of Rehman Kassam with 591,000.

We’re playing down to our winner today, so stay tuned here at for all the live reporting action from 12.30pm AEST!

Day 2 seat draw

Play will resume at 12:30pm AEST, with recommencing blinds at 3,000/6,000 (6,000). Please ensure you have your Star Club Card and photo ID for verification purposes.

Should you have any queries regarding your seat allocation, please approach one of the team at Star Poker Sydney. Best of luck to all players!

Table 34

1Alex Lynskey340,000
2Gang Zhu798,000
3James Broom380,000
4Idris Hassan490,500
6Ted Hatzakortzian 235,500
7Charles Chiha148,000
8Cole Swannack98,000
9Toby Giles260,000

Table 36

1Matt Maks195,000
2Darren Lukas240,500
3Patrick Yazbeck403,500
4Spiro Maroulis77,500
5Ray Badaoui516,000
7Zhifan Ye206,500
8Roy Agresta234,000
8Najeem Ajez152,500
9Didier Guerin94,000

Table 37

1Ken Demlakian131,000
2Andrew White313,500
3David Ly162,000
4Stan Levitin271,000
5Robert Spano296,000
6Travis Endersby214,500
7Zhihao Chen107,000
8Joseph Sandaev375,000

Table 38

2Robert Kwan255,500
3Nurlan Boobekov368,500
4Jim Pizanias104,500
5Pratik Mehta53,500
6Ashton Campbell235,000
7Benoit Yick123,000
9Yeung Keung92,000

Table 39

1Tom Rafferty210,000
2Alex Lee144,500
3Malcolm Trayner127,000
4Henry Sun77,500
5Michael Egan115,000
6Joshua McCully221,500
8Rehman Kassam591,000
9Elisa Onay148,000

Table 40

1Osalian Sarkiss87,500
2Chi Truong186,000
3Raman Shaqiri214,000
5Natalia Rozova258,500
6Lachlan Dykes229,000
7Dylan Kehoe308,000
8Alex Pericleous457,000
9Mark Lassau181,500

Table 41

1David Sebesfi199,000
2Joseph Vinecombe187,500
3Chris Zenonos89,000
4Hauman Darbani223,500
5Leo Kamiya46,000
7Sherif Derias265,000
8Rod Meneses148,000
9Kiavash Arbabi90,000

Table 42

1Win Tan307,500
2Tom Maguire68,000
3Paul Hoang73,000
4Andre Dowling110,000
5Matthew Bevin579,000
6Bo Sun229,000
7Jun Lin120,500
8Honglin Jiang549,500

Table 43

1Haozhe Gan380,000
3Nathan Susnig284,500
4Daniel Hachem465,500
5Daniel Sequenzia113,000
6Zheming Zhu247,000
7Wai Au370,500
8Yiteng Ge350,150
9Joe Cristallo121,500

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