LIVE REPORTING: 2023 WPT Prime Gold Coast $5K Challenge Day 1

Anthony Hachem leads after Day 1 of WPT Prime Gold Coast $5K Challenge – that’s a wrap!

After 12 levels of play, our survivors have now bagged and tagged, with Anthony Hachem bagging up 1.795 million in chips, narrowly edging out Najeem Ajez who stormed home late to finish with 1.77 million.

Other players who have bagged through to Day 2 include Billy ‘The Croc’ Argyros, Angel Guillen, Jeison Berdugo and Andres Vasquez, along with WPT Prime Gold Coast Opening Event Champion Brandon Bailey, as well as Gavin Best, who now has his sights set on going back-to-back in this event.

The tournament clock shows an unofficial count of 41 players remaining from the starting field of 139 entries, with play due to recommence tomorrow (Tuesday) from 12:30pm AEST. Our full recap of today’s action, along with the Day 2 seat draw, will be published in the morning.

Be sure to join us again as we bring you our continued Live Reporting coverage, but until then, from all of us here at PokerMedia Australia, it’s ‘bye for now!

Bouskila busto

Just before the last three hands were called, Michel Bouskila got the last of his chips in holding 33 and was called by Leo Kamiya who tabled AJ.

Kamiya caught another Ace on the flop of 5A10, which then improved to two pair and held as the board completed J, 7.

Leo Kamiya670,000
Michel BouskilaBUSTED!

And with that, Day 1 of the WPT Prime Gold Coast $5K Challenge has come to an end, with Anthony Hachem and Najeem Ajez neck-and-neck for the overall chip lead. Our team are now in the process of confirming the final numbers and will be back shortly to wrap things up. Stay with us!

The Ajez ascension

Najeem Ajez – who finished third in last year’s WPT Australia Main Event – is now almost up to two million in chips after taking out two players in quick succession.

Andrej Senic was the first to go, limping in from the small blind before Ajez raised to 50,000 out of the big blind. Senic jammed over the top and Ajez insta-called.

Ajez: AK
Senic: KQ

Board: A210106

In the very next hand, Ajez raisd from the button before McCully shoved out of the small blind holding 22, but Ajez’s AQ got the bigger boat on the board of 1010A610.

Najeem Ajez1,750,000
Josh McCullyBUSTED!
Andrej SenicBUSTED!
Najeem Ajez

Sayonara, Hussiani

Reigning WPT Prime Gold Coast $5K Challenge Champion Gavin Best has just sent Meerwais Hussaini to the rail to keep his hopes of a repeat victory alive.

After Best raised pre-flop to 36,000 from the cut-off, Hussaini shoved for his last 208,000 and forced the blinds out of the way before Best snap-called.

Best: 1010
Hussaini: 88

Board: 662A10

Gavin Best806,000
Meerwais HussaniBUSTED!

Lee finds a double

Singapore’s Alex Lee continues his run the $5K Challenge after taking down a pot against Nick Wright over on Table 22.

Lee moved the last of his money in pre-flop with KJ and found himself in a fair fight against Wright’s A10, but turned top pair on the board of 8102K3 to score the full double.

Alex Lee229,000
Nick Wright223,000

Level 12: 10,000/15,000 (15,000)

Falcon felted, Kempsey cut

Billy ‘The Croc’ Argyros has made the most of his second bullet, now up to almost 800,000 after eliminating Corey Kempson heading into the last blind level of the night.

Argyros got his money in with 99 against Kempson, who was at-risk with 1010. Both players improved to a set by the turn on the board of 10K89, but Argyros jagged the 2 on the river to flush Kempson out.

At the same time, Michael Falcon put his tournament life on the line with 99, but ran face-first into Marco Perri’s AA before the dealer fanned out a board of 5KJJK.

Billy ‘The Croc’ Argyros770,000
Marco Perri636,000
Michael FalconBUSTED!
Corey KempsonBUSTED!

The Apostolou blues

Peter Apostolou has been getting busy in this level, taking out Dylan Wayne before dropping a pot to Ken Demlakian.

In earlier action, Wayne moved all-in pre-flop holding A10, but despite turning second pair, he lost the flip for his tournament life against Apostolou’s 55, which rivered a set on the board of 4K3105.

A short time later, Demlakian made a move with AJ after Apostolou’s pre-flop raise; Apostolou called and showed down A7, however Demlakian picked up the full double with neither hand improving on the board of 3246.

Peter Apostolou570,000
Ken Demlakian235,000
Dylan WayneBUSTED!

Bailey bins one

WPT Prime Gold Coast Opening Event Champion Brandon Bailey is now up to more than 600,000 in chips after taking out another player on Table 22.

All the money was in the middle before the flop and our reporter was on the scene to capture the showdown.

Opponent: A8
Bailey: J9

Board: 829K7

It’s bin day!

Brandon Bailey613,000
Brandon Bailey

Official payouts

Time now to present the complete prize pool dividends for the 2023 WPT Prime Gold Coast $5K Challenge!

Image courtesy of The Star Gold Coast

Level 11: 6,000/12,000 (12,000)

Hachem elevates, Rozova routed

Anthony Hachem has now well and truly taken the outright chip lead in this tournament after a massive three-way pot against Michael Falcon and Natalia Rozova.

After Rozova open-shoved for her last 100,000, Falcon three-bet to 150,000 before Hachem four-bet it to 275,000. Falcon called, and then checked his option into a dry sidepot after the flop of 293.

Hachem opened for 325,000, Falcon check-raised all-in and Hachem snap-called.

Hachem: AA
Falcon: KK
Rozova: JJ

All players finished up with two pair after the board completed 9, 6, and after the chips were cut down, Falcon was cut back to less than 30 bigs while Rozova was eliminated.

Anthony Hachem1,470,000
Michael Falcon260,000
Natalia RozovaBUSTED!

Haddad done and dusted

Sammy Haddad’s run in the $5K Challenge has come to an end at the hands of Elliott Esca, with Chris Zenenos also misfiring his second bullet as we head into the penultimate level of play.

Haddad moved all-in pre-flop with the holding of KQ, but ran head-first into Esca’s AA and missed his gut-shot on the board of 97JQ5.

Zenenos was then felted again after he jammed with K10 against Michel Bouskila, who flopped two pair and held after the board was spread Q4A56.

Elliott Esca658,000
Michel Bouskila315,000
Chris ZenenosBUSTED!
Sammy HaddadBUSTED!

An Angel appears

Out on Table 21, Angel Guillen raised to 22,000 from middle position; Andrej Senic called from the cut-off and Josh McCully defended his big blind to make it three-handed to a flop of J33 which they all checked.

McCully then checked to Guillen who fired 25,000 after the turn of the K, which was enough to get both Senic and McCully to lay their hands down.

Angel Guillen635,000
Josh McCully184,000
Andrej Senic145,000
Angel Guillen

Chips ahoy!

The WPT Prime Gold Coast $5K Challenge has been locked out at 139 total entries, generating a total prize pool of $653,300! Top 18 players will be paid, with tomorrow’s winner taking home $182,594!

We’ll have the full prize pool dividends up for you shortly – in the meantime, here’s a quick-fire list of our chip leaders returning from the break.

Mata Ye1,098,000
Michael Falcon1,084,000
Jason Sampson885,000
Daniel Hachem870,000
Andres Vasquez829,000
Chao Duan780,000
Peter Peeters747,000
Anthony Hachem730,000
Sean Ragozzini698,000
Najeem Ajez695,000

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

Break it up!

Our players are now on their last 15-minute break. When we return, we’ll be playing through three more levels before our survivors bag and tag.

Croc stopped, Zhu zipped

Australian Poker Hall of Famer Billy ‘The Croc’ Argyros and Anthony Zhu have both been eliminated as we head into the final break of the night.

After being crippled in a previous hand, Zhu ripped in the remainder holding KQ, but Ali Ghezelbash’s J9 flopped top pair and improved to nines-up on the board of 89368.

Nearby, action folded around to Damelian who raised to 25,000 from the small blind before Argyros shoved for his last 118,000 out of the big blind. Damelian called.

Argyros: A7
Damelian: KQ

Board: 294Q6

Robert Damelian257,000
Ali Ghezelbash220,000
Billy ‘The Croc’ ArgyrosBUSTED!
Anthony ZhuBUSTED!
Billy ‘The Croc’ Argyros

Lin gets one through

From under the gun, Jason Sampson raised to 160,000 before Gary Lin three-bet to 54,000; Sampson called, and then check-called Lin’s feeler bet of 15,000 after the flop of A4A.

Both players then checked the turn of the 4 before Sampson opened for 17,000 after the river 3, only to fold after Lin raised to 100,000.

Jason Sampson590,000
Gary Lin567,000

Zhu smashed

Anthony Zhu has copped a critical hit against Kenny Wang out on Table 15 as we move into Level 9.

After Wang opened to 16,000, he found two callers before Zhu shoved out of the small blind. Wang snap-called, forcing the others out of the way before the cards were tabled.

Wang: QQ
Zhu: AK

Board: 3J95J

That was after Perry moved all-in for his last 86,000 out on Table 28 holding QQ, which held firm against Chao Duan’s A10 despite a flush draw appearing on the turn on the runout of 49356.

Chao Duan635,000
Kenny Wang309,000
Bert Perry184,000
Anthony Zhu27,000

Level 9: 4,000/8,000 (8,000)

Danger zone!

After tripling up to 43,000 through Michael Falcon in a previous hand, Jason Chahine open-shoved in the very next hand against Shane Cassidy.

“You don’t want to see me with chips, I’m dangerous.” Chahine quipped before Cassidy called.

Cassidy: AK
Chahine: A9

Board: KA6610. Not so dangerous.

Falcon then tangled with Hachem, with action across all streets on a board of A3789. After the river, Falcon led out for 225,000 into a pot worth 350,000, but folded after Hachem shoved for 330,000.

“Show me that it was a good fold,” Falcon said to Hachem.

Hachem obliged, flashing the K before raking in the pot.

Anthony Hachem820,000
Michael Falcon360,000
Shane Cassidy163,000
Jason ChahineBUSTED!

Wayne and Spano busto

Dylan Wayne and Rob Spano have both been eliminated from the $5K Challenge, with Chao Duan’s stack moving past 800K as the field increased to 132 total entries.

Spano had moved all-in on the turn holding QQ, but lost the flip for his tournament life after Duan’s AK rivered a flush on the board of 772J9.

At the same time on an adjacent table, Wayne had moved all-in pre-flop and found two callers, including Wright, with action on all streets into a sidepot across a board of 5238Q.

Wright bet 75,000 on the river and the other player folded before Wright tabled KK for the overpair, which was good against Wayne’s busted straight and flush draws holding K4.

Chao Duan812,000
Nick Wright500,000
Rob SpanoBUSTED!
Dylan WayneBUSTED!

Egan (tied) down

Michael Egan has dropped some chips to Wai Shing as action continues here at Star Poker Gold Coast.

After a pre-flop raise by Egan from in early position, action folded around to Shing who moved all-in out the blinds before Egan made the call.

Egan: A10
Shing: 54

Board: 63622

Never one to pass on a moment to lighten the mood, WPT Asia-Pacific Live Events Specialist Danny McDonagh picked up the mike.

“I don’t know if he wants me telling you this,” McDonagh said with a smile, “but can we get a round of applause for Michael, who got married last week?”

The other players showed their appreciation as Egan’s tablemates patted him on the back.

Here’s to a blessed run, in life and on the felt – congratulations, Michael!

Michael Egan180,000
Wai Shing140,000
Michael Egan

Level 8: 3,000/6,000 (6,000)


The exasperated cries of Robert Spano brought our attention to Table 29, where floor staff had moved over to investigate before heading the supervisor’s desk to check surveillance.

Leading up to that point, action had folded to Spano who had raised to 15,000 from the cut-off; Sheng Ye had flatted from the button, and Chao Duan had three-bet to 52,000, but after Spano four-bet shoved, the dealer accidentally mucked his hand.

Upon further review, the floor manager determined that the cards were irretrievable and the hand was killed, however Spano only had to give up the 52,000 – and along with the other players, Spano reassured the dealer, who looked visibly shaken.

“Nothing you can do about that, really,” Spano said as he sat back down, “but I had Kings!”

Players must protect their hands at all times, including at showdown while waiting for hands to be read. If the dealer kills a hand by mistake or if in [the] TD’s judgement a hand is fouled and cannot be identified to 100% certainty, the player has no redress and is not entitled to a refund of called bets. If the player initiated a bet or raise and hasn’t been called, the uncalled amount will be returned.

– Poker Tournament Director’s Association (TDA) Rule #65: Accidentally Killed / Fouled / Exposed Hands
Chao Duan452,000
Robert Spano251,000

Zenonos sent packing

Octavian Voegele is now up to almost 350,000 in chips after eliminating Chris Zenenos, while Josh Hutchins has kept his hopes alive after doubling through Dylan Wayne.

On Table 16, Voegele had snapped off with JJ after Zenenos moved all-in with A2. Zenenos then paired his Ace after the flop of 5A3 and picked up a nut flush draw to go with it with the turn of the 7, but the dealer peeled the river J out of the shoe to hook Voegele up with the set.

Then on Table 18, Hutchins moved all-in before the flop with 1010, which held all the way down the board of 52J92 against Wayne’s 88.

Octavian Voegele348,000
Josh Hutchins265,000
Dylan Wayne247,000
Chris ZenenosBUSTED!
Chris Zenenos

Got ’em!

Gautam Dhingra has found a double-up through Robert Damelian in one of the first hands back after the break,.

Dhingra moved all-in pre-flop holding 44 and found himself ahead of Damelian who called with 22, with no change after the board was spread 6Q8105.

Robert Damelian201,000
Gautam Dhingra96,000

Assorted chip counts

Play has now resumed in the WPT Prime Gold Coast $5K Challenge, with the tournament clock showing 114 total entries, comprised of 100 uniques and 14 re-entries, good for more than $535,000 in the prize pool. Anthony Hachem has returned as the unofficial chip leader, finishing the previous stanza with 758,000.

Anthony Hachem758,000
Mata Ye708,000
Ron Bean662,000
Chao Duan552,000
Gary Lin548,000
Hezong Chi514,000
Sam Higgs506,000
Meerwais Hussaini446,000
Jason Sampson408,000
Kelvin Li381,000

Level 7: 3,000/5,000 (5,000)

Dinner break

Our players are now off to get themselves fed and watered. Back in 30 minutes with a round of counts!

Spano spent

Star Gold Coast Champs $2,500 Shot Clock Champion Robert Spano has been amongst the latest to have hit the rail as we approach the dinner break.

Spano got the last of his chips in pre-flop holding A10, but reeled after Robert Damelian woke up with KK, which held all the way after the dealer spread a board of 105J79.

Luke Martinelli then found himself a full double through Simon Chahine, also waking up with KK against Chahine’s AQ, with neither hand improving on the 22764.

Luke Martinelli293,000
Robert Damelian265,000
Simon Chahine81,000
Rob SpanoBUSTED!

Peeters’ obstacle course

Table 15 has been assigned as a secondary feature table for the duration of this series, and it’s arguably one of several ‘tables of death’ in today’s $5K Challenge, including WPT Champion and Australian Poker Hall of Fame Legend Joe Hachem, who has just taken a pot off Peter Peeters.

Peeters raised to 10,000 from under the gun action folded to Kenny Wang who called from the cut-off, as did Ali Ghezelbash from the button and Hachem from the big blind to make it four-handed to a flop of 329.

Hachem checked, Peeters opened for 15,000 and the others got out of the way before Hachem called to go heads-up to the turn of the 7. Hachem then open-shoved for his last 66,000.

Peeters sighed and looked over at Hachem.

“Really, Joe?” he groaned, peeking down at his cards again before eventually letting his hand go.

Martin Ward then caught the attention of our reporter.

“Just make a note that was the first hand that Peter played in this tournament!” Martin Ward quipped.

“There’s a reason I call Joe ‘The Obstacle’,” Peeters joked. “He’s always getting in my way!”

Kenny Wang381,000
Martin Ward321,500
Ali Ghezelbash253,500
Peter Peeters172,000
Joe Hachem146,500

Ye, boiiiiii!

Mata Ye has now increased his stack to almost 700,000 in chips as play continues here in the $5K Challenge.

In earlier action, Ye found himself calling off an all-in opponent pre-flop, waking up with AA against the at-risk player’s AK, with Ye rivering two pair on the board of Q679Q to take them out.

Meanwhile, Shane Dye left Haozhe Gan running on fumes after getting his money in good with KK against Gan’s QQ before a clean runout of 3A369.

Mata Ye690,000
Shane Dye270,000
Haozhe Gan11,500
Shane Dye

Kalin KO’ed by quads

Ron Bean has now moved up to more than 500K in chips, with the $5K Challenge field sitting at 104 entries as we moved into the sixth level of play.

Our reporter caught the action at showdown between Bean and Michael Kalin, with a board that read 7Q9A.

Kalin: 99
Bean: 77

Kalin was in great shape, but Bean caught lightning in a bottle with the river 7, sending shockwaves through the rest of the table and Kalin to the rail.

Ron Bean567,000
Michael KalinBUSTED!
Ron Bean

Level 6: 2,000/4,000 (4,000)

Chao causing chaos

Chao Duan has now been sighted as the first player past the half-million chip mark after taking a huge chunk of change off WSOP Circuit Gold Coast $5K High Roller Champion Sheng Ye.

All the money was in the middle on the river on a board of 474J6; Ye had showed down A9, but was crushed down to less than half the starting stack after Duan showed 1010 for two pair.

Patrick Meng then scored a double-up through Sam Higgs, getting his last 35,000 into the middle before the flop with KQ, hitting two pair and avoiding the open-ender against Higgs’ A7 after the board was spread 89K1010.

Chao Duan576,000
Sam Higgs276,000
Patrick Meng127,000
Sheng Ye80,000
Chao Duan

Higgs flushes one out

“All-in and call!”

Our reporter headed over to Table 28, where a svelte-looking Sam Higgs had called off an opponent, with all the money in the middle pre-flop.

Although Higgs’ AK was trailing against his adversary’s KK, Higgs picked up the nut flush draw on the flop of 882, but although the turn of the J kept his opponent ahead, Higgs jagged the 5 on the river to send them to the rail.

Sam Higgs372,000

Thatcher takes a hit

Fresh from his $660 Bounty victory only hours ago, Jarrod Thatcher hasn’t had the best start to his $5K Challenge campaign, losing out to Aaron Van Wijk in a recent hand on Table 24.

Van Wijk min-clicked to 6,000 from the cut-off and Thatcher defended his big blind before both players checked the flop of J39. Thatcher then led out for 6,000 on the turn of the 3 and Van Wijk called before both players checked the river K.

Van Wijk tabled J8 for the better two pair against Thatcher’s A9 to win the pot.

Aaron Van Wijk231,500
Jarrod Thatcher132,000

Level 5: 1,500/3,000 (3,000)

Cierco ships one

Over on Table 25, Anthony Cierco and Meerwais went heads-up into a flop of 5105; Hussaini led out and Cierco quickly called, and then both players checked down the turn and river of 3, 4.

Cierco rolled up KQ, but that was enough to scoop the pot and bring him up over starting stack, while Hussaini dropped a touch below 380,000.

Meerwais Hussaini378,500
Anthony Cierco232,500

Ashton ascending

Ashton Campbell is now on more than double the starting stack after doubling through Mata Ye out on Table 22.

All the money was in the middle after a flop of 85A and our reporter got there as the two players went to showdown.

Ye: A5
Campbell: Q2

No change after the turn of the 6, but Campbell spiked the 8 on the river to beat Ye’s two pair.

Ashton Campbell424,500
Mata Ye271,000

The best around

The $5K Challenge is now up to 91 entries, breaking the record for number entries in this event, with the famed Hachem trio of Joe, Anthony and Daniel amongst the latest arrivals, along with reigning $5K Challenge Champion Gavin Best, who has taken down a pot against Junfeng Wang.

After a raise of 5,500 from early position, Wang and another middle position called before Best re-raised to 30,000 from the big blind. Wang was the only caller, so it was heads-up to the flop of 4KJ.

Wang then check-raised to 56,000 after Best opened for 25,000, however Best forced Wang to fold after he shoved over the top.

“Phew!” Best exclaimed as he wiped his brow. “I faded the snap!”

Gavin Best273,000
Junfeng Wang63,500
Gavin Best

Level 4: 1,500/2,500 (2,500)

Break time!

Our players are now on their first 15-minute break.

Archer on target, Van Wijk recovers

Aaron Van Wijk has taken a small hit, but managed to recover in a couple of hands leading up to the first break of the day.

In earlier action, our reporter witnessed Van Wijk and George Archer heads-up in the battle of the blinds to a flop of 824, with the pot built up to around 70,000 in chips; Archer checked to Van Wijk who opened for 20,000, but Archer check-raised all-in to 134,500. After a couple of minutes in the tank, Van Wijk let his hand go.

Some time passed before Van Wijk found himself in another pot, this time against Sean Ragozzini as they went heads-up to the turn with a board that read 875Q. Van Wijk checked to Ragozzini who opened for 18,000, however Van Wijk check-raised to 35,000.

Ragozzini smooth-called, but then both players checked the river 6, with Van Wijk’s 109 best against Ragozzini’s KQ.

George Archer247,000
Sean Ragozzini196,500
Aaron Van Wijk128,000

Falcon’s wings clipped

Michael Falcon has been confirmed as one of the first bust-outs from the $5K Challenge, felted at the hands of Zheming Zhu.

Our reporter picked up the action with Falcon and Zhu heads-up in a pot worth around 60,000 with the board of 10QK23; Zhu checked to Falcon who open-shoved for his last 74,500.

After about three minutes in the tank, Zhu made the call and showed down 109, which appeared to be good enough as Falcon pushed his chips over to Zhu before getting up out of his chair and walking away, however the dealer did not table Falcon’s hand and brought it directly into the muck.

Zheming Zhu278,000
Michael FalconBUSTED!

WPT Prime Gold Coast Player of the Festival update

Time now for the first updated Player of the Festival leader board, brought to you by our friends at the World Poker Tour and Star Poker Gold Coast!

After his breakout victory in the Opening Event, Brandon Bailey now sits in pole position, but only 50 points separate him and Adrian Sportelli, who was also celebrating last night after his juggernaut performance en route to victory in the $1,850 buy-in 8-Max Event.

Opening Event runner-up Tu Le and third-place finisher Zheming Zhu, along with Michel Bouskila, make up the top five, while $440 NLH Turbo Freezeout Champion Mark Lawton is currently tied for seventh place with WPT League Ambassador, Adrian Pacheco.

For more information on the WPT Player of the Festival promotion, visit the Star Poker Gold Coast Facebook page or log onto


1stBrandon Bailey600
2ndAdrian Sportelli550
3rdTu Le450
4thMichel Bouskila425
5thZheming Zhu375
6thDaniel Austin350
eq. 7thAdrian Pacheco300
eq. 7thMark Lawton300
9thPeter Apostolou275
10thAnthony Cierco250
eq. 11thBenn McAuley225
eq. 11thNathanial Hutton225
13thNil Esteve200
eq. 14thPeter Sun175
eq. 14thJeison Berdugo175
16thZongchi He165
eq. 17thAndrew Batey150
eq. 17thChia Huang150
eq. 19thDavid Luong125
eq. 19thRod Batoz125
eq. 19thYann Del Rey125
*Updated as of 27 February 2022.
Image courtesy of The Star Gold Coast

Level 3: 1,000/2,000 (2,000)

A dank tank?

The field has now increased to 63 total entries, with Aaron Van Wijk and Sean Ragozzini among them, who recently clashed in a pre-flop stoush out on Table 24.

After Van Wijk raised to 3,500, the action folded to Ragozzini who three-bet it to 20,000 from the small blind. Van Wijk returned fire with a four-bet worth 50,000, and after mulling it over for a short time, Ragozzini decided to let his hand go.

“Was that a real or fake tank?” Van Wijk enquired as he raked in the pot.

Aaron Van Wijk211,500
Sean Ragozzini162,000
Sean Ragozzini

Pot for Po

Our reporter caught more early action over on Table 21, with the action folding to Po Hu who raised to 3,000 from the button before Andrej Senic re-raised to 12,500 out of the small blind.

Hu called to go heads-up with Senic to a flop of 844, and then called Senic’s open of 10,000 before forcing a check-fold from Senic after he led out for 10,000 after the turn of the 9.

Po Hu233,000
Andrej Senic163,500

Damelian drops

Over on Table 28, Robert Damelian came out with a three-bet to 12,500 out of the big blind after an early position raise. Damelian found two callers, including Kelvin Li, to go three-handed to a flop of 1082.

Damelian checked to Li who continued for 16,000, but that was enough to take the pot down uncontested.

The field has now expanded out to 56 entries, with Martin Ward, Kenny Wang, Joey Cristallo, Liam Murray and 2022 GPI Australian Player of the Year Yita Choong amongst those to have now registered for this event.

Kelvin Li194,000
Robert Damelian168,000

Level 2: 1,000/1,500 (1,500)

Heavy betting

It’s not uncommon to see play at a relatively slow pace in the early stages of a big tourney like this, but we did witness Chau Duan clashing in a big pre-flop betting war against Mitchell Reid.

Mitchell raised to 3,000 from under the gun and the action folded around to Duan, who three-bet to 15,500 out the big blind. Mitchell came back with a four-bet worth 40,000, but Duan shut it all down with a five-bet of 75,000.

Chau Duan186,000
Mitchell Reid169,000

Early risers

Plenty of notables amongst the 40-strong field already seated, including reigning WPT Prime Gold Coast Main Event Champion Yang Lei, who is seated alongside Sheng Ye and Michel Bouskila on Table 29.

Po Hu has also come in early and is now over on Table 21, and will certainly be one to watch after backing up his runner-up finish in the WPT Australia Main Event with victory in last year’s WSOP Circuit Main Event, also here at The Star Gold Coast.

Late registration and a single re-entry option are still available until the start of Level 10 (approx. 10:30pm local time), with a break to be taken every three levels.

Cards in the air!

The order to shuffle up and deal has been given and play is now underway!

Players in the WPT Prime Gold Coast $5K Challenge will start with 200,000 in chips, and we’ll be playing through 12 40-minute levels, or down to a final table of nine, whichever comes first.

For the full WPT Prime Gold Coast Players Guide, click here.

LevelSmall BlindBig BlindBB Ante

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

The thing about football: a quick start guide to Aussie sports

From wherever you’re watching in Australia, New Zealand or around the world, good morning and welcome back to PokerMedia Australia‘s continued coverage of the 2023 WPT Prime Gold Coast series!

Today, we’re preparing for the $5K Challenge, which last year saw Gavin Best defeat Lucho Vargas heads-up for almost $120,000 in prize money from a field of 86 entries. Today’s field will no doubt feature some of the best in the business, and with the Player of the Festival race now starting to heat up, everyone that comes in today will have to bring their A-game.

On the subject of a game, or rather, the game: it was recently announced that the WPT Australia festival will return to The Star Gold Coast from 14-27 September (subject to regulatory approval), with the Main Event now valued at AUD $8,000.

Sources close to PMA have suggested that the increased buy-in could entice more international players to travel down under (current exchange rates value the new buy-in price point at approximately USD $5,300) and in turn fill the void left by the Aussie Millions Poker Championship.

And we’re not just talking about filling a gap in the poker market either: it’s also potentially a huge boost to the wider economy. Springtime in Australia – especially up here in Queensland – is typically very sunny and warm, and if you’re here right through to the end of the series, you could stay on and explore all of what Australia has to offer.

September is also one of the biggest months for sports down under, with both the Australian Football League (AFL) and National Rugby League (NRL) Grand Finals held on the last weekend of September. The NRL Grand Final, which is traditionally held in Sydney, is one of the most viewed sporting events on television every year, while the AFL Grand Final in Melbourne brings in crowds of up to 100,000 people.

There’s only so much we can touch on at the moment, but visitors coming to Australia at this time of year will quickly learn that there are so many differences between the two games, and no matter where you are, the culture and devout following to their state’s preferred type of football is strong.

Supporters of either code will tell you in no uncertain terms that you can forget about ‘the other mob’ – and don’t even bother with soccer, as nobody really watches it (a common misconception in this sports-mad country, particularly when it comes to international friendlies and World Cup qualifiers, but that’s for another time).

In any case, there’ll be plenty of interest when the Sexton Cup comes back down under, and for one person in that one day in September, they will be immortalised alongside all the WPT Champions from the last 20 years, including Australia’s own Joe Hachem, Mel Judah and David Tang.

All that and more coming your way, but today, it’s all about the $5K, so stay with us at PMA as we bring you all the action from 3:30pm AEST. See you soon!

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