The World Series of Poker kicked off last week and what an eventful series it has been with some huge names making final table runs and a handful of Australians making their presence known as well.
Although the Aussie contingent is still relatively small at this stage with most scheduled to arrive in Las Vegas in the coming weeks, Chris Zenonos – a regular on Queensland’s mid-tier scene – was first to notch a small payday when he finished 34th from a field of 741 in the Tournament of Champions for US$5,400 (AU$8,040).
Standing even taller was none other than fellow Queensland resident Aroha Ngata. The Kiwi-born Ngata came agonisingly close to her first WSOP final table appearance when she finished 16th from a massive starting field of 18,188 players in the US$1,000 Mystery Millions – enough for a US$48,890 (US$72,800) payday.
Speaking with PokerMedia Australia moments after her elimination, Ngata said she was “feeling amazing” and “extremely grateful for the opportunity”.
“What a ride,” she said, adding that she wanted to build on her momentum for upcoming events.
Meanwhile, one of Australia’s more experienced big-stage performers, James Obst, has started strongly in Las Vegas. Obst finished 13th in the $10,000 Mixed Games: Dealer’s Choice Championship earlier in the week for US$20,425 (AU$30,430) while at time of writing he was on track to become the first Australian to reach a final table at this year’s WSOP in the $1,500 Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better. By late Friday morning AEST, Obst was one of just 16 players remaining from a starting field of 1,143 as he seeks his second career WSOP bracelet.
A shoutout too for none other than Hussein Hassan who took down the DCPS $600 EpicStack at The Venetian Las Vegas early in the week for US$29,288 (AU$43,630).
It didn’t take long for this year’s WSOP to crown its first double bracelet winner of the series. Indiana’s Chad Eveslage began the week by taking down the $1,500 Dealer’s Choice (6-handed) event for US$131,879 (AU$196,500), then added the $10,000 Dealer’s Choice Championship and another US$311,428 (AU$464,100) to his tally for good measure.
These represented Eveslage’s second and third career bracelets, adding to the $25,000 NLHE High Roller (8-handed) event he won in 2022 for more than US$1.4 million.
Dan Shak sits among a group of players considered to be some of the best to have never won a WSOP bracelet, and he has yet to offload that unwanted crown in 2023. But it hasn’t been through lack of trying.
Shak, who has multiple final table appearances to his name over the years and more than US$12 million in career winnings, has already reached two more final tables this year with a 7th-place finish in the $1,000 Mystery Millions for US$156,101 (AU$232,670) and a runner-up finish in the $10,000 Seven Card Stud Championship for another US$192,479 (AU$286,890) over the past week.
The $10,000 Seven Card Stud Championship was ultimately won by Brian Yoon who secured his fifth career bracelet.
HEADS AND TAILS
All eyes were on three-time WSOP bracelet winner, poker commentator and Upswing Poker founder Doug Polk as the $25k Heads-Up NLHE Championship neared its crescendo. Long considered one of the world’s best heads-up players, Polk showed his class to reach the final against Canada’s Chanracy Khun before falling just short of a fourth bracelet.
While Polk dominated most of his heads-up matches along the way, he did ride his luck in the semi-finals – spiking a Queen on the river in a massive pre-flop clash with Chris Brewer that saw both players get it all-in with Polk holding QQ and Brewer KK.
Khun secured his first WSOP bracelet and a hefty US$507,020 (AU$755,400) in cash for his win.