WPT Australia: Saturday 23 September 2023

That’s a wrap!

And that’s all she wrote for today folks! After two days of action here at the Star Gold Coast, the WPT Australia Main Event has locked out at exactly 600 entries of which less than half will return on Sunday for Day 2.

We’re not at the freezeout stage of this event, and for those who have made it this far the dream of taking the lion’s share of a $4.5 million prize pool remains alive.

Leading the way is Adrian Pacheco, who took full advantage of some early run good when his KK cracked an opponent’s AA all-in pre to build a massive stack of over 550,000.

Also through and with chips to play with are the likes of Chao Duan, Zhifan Ye, Martin Kozlov, Robert Campbell, Adam Cusenza, Daniel Dzian, Luis Arrilucea, Peter Lim, Steve Topakas, Chuck Caris and Michael Egan.

We’ll bring you full chip counts and the Day 2 seating draw before play begins tomorrow.

Joe Hachem, Gary Benson and Angel Guillen were among those to fall short.

Join our blog from 11.30am tomorrow as we catch up with some of the biggest names in the game.

Adrian Pacheco

The magic 600

Players are now on one final 10-minute break for the evening, and the floor staff has announced that registration will officially close once cards are back in the air. We are playing one more 60-minute level tonight before bagging and tagging.

The clock says there are currently 599 players registered but word has it someone has just forked out another $8,000 for a last-minute entry to take us to the 600-player mark.

That also means the prize pool sits at an even $4.5 million. Kaboom!

The big stacks

Adrian Pacheco548,000
Zhengmin Zheng284,000
Cuong Le255,000
Paris Sitzoukis244,000
Peter Lin230,000
Chao Duan230,000
Steve Topakas225,000
Steve Topakas

Angel sent to heaven

After Nil Esteve Magrane opened to 3,000, Angel Guillen shoved for his last 23,200. Josh Emerton made the call, as did Magrane to see a flop of 742

Both Emerton and Magrane checked as the dealer peeled the Q on the turn. With this, Emerton bet 16,000 and Magrane folded.

Guillen was drawing dead with AK against the QQ of Emerton, meaning the A on the river was meaningless.

Emerton now sits with a handy stack of 161,500.

Moments later, former Star Gold Coast Champs winner Jennifer Cassell also busted from the same table.

Josh Emetrton161,500
Nil Esteve Magrane145,000
Angel GuillenBusted
Jennifer CassellBusted

Nearing 600

Players are now on their final break of the night, with 300 players having registered today so far. That leaves us with a total of 595 so far across the two Day 1 flights with two hours of play remaining before registration closes.

Chances we’ll crack the magic 600 number of entries sooner rather than later.

Faces in the crowd

Beaten to Nil

Namhyung Kim won’t be adding the WPT Australian Main Event title to the Super High Roller he won last night, having just busted after a monster clash with Nil Esteve Magrane.

The hand in question began with Magrane opening to 2,000 and Namhyung 3-betting to 6,000. Josh Emerton called, as did Magrane to see a 579 flop.

Both Emerton and Magrane checked to Namhyung who continued for 8,000. Emerton folded but Magrane bumped it up to 30,000. Namhyung called to see the J land on the turn. This time Magrane bet 28,000, Namhyung announced he was all-in and Magrane snap-called – showing 55 to have Namhyung’s AJ drawing dead.

Magrane moved to 235,000 with that hand while Namhyung was left with just 1,600 and busted a few hands later.

Ultimate protection

Whether you are superstitious or just don’t want your cards accidentally mucked, card protectors can be seen across the field today here at the Main Event.

You could take your kombi van and collie, put your head phones on and stash some coins away, head to the north of Australia to spot some crocs or even bust out some tunes with your dog on the guitar. But whatever you do, don’t bring out too much of your inner Thor and use that hammer to smash down on your poker chips.

The 200 club (and above)

Adrian Pacheco420,000
Zhengmin Zheng285,000
Peter Lin270,000
Nil Esteve Magrane234,000
Daniel Dzian225,000
Cuong Le215,000
Steve Topakas209,000

The Kozlov comeback

Martin Kozlov has long been regarded as one of Australia’s finest players, as evidenced by the WSOP bracelet he won in 2016 in the $10k 6-handed NLHE Championship and the Sydney Championships Main Event title he collected in 2014.

He hasn’t been as prolific of late. In fact, he told us during the break that this is his first live tournament since the 2020 Aussie Millions! But Kozlov appears to be picking up right where he left off as he enjoys a solid start here on Day 1b of the WPT Australian Main Event. 

We caught him moments ago opening to 2,000 then calling the 3-bet to 5,200 of Dejan Boskovic. On a 623 flop, Kozlov check-raised Boskovic’s 3,600 continuation bet to 7,500, with Boskovic making the call.

The turn was the 5 and this time Kozlov put Boskovic all-in, with the latter folding as he drops back to 15,000.

Kozlov is now on 114,000.

Martin Kozlov


Just before the dinner break, a big 3-way pot broke out between Akhilesh Bhatia, Neil Moss and last night’s Super High Roller champion, Namhyung Kim.

It was a 5J9 flop that kicked off the action as the chips went flying and all three found themselves announcing all-in.

Namhyung ultimately found himself in great shape holding 99 against the AA of Moss and the J10 of Bhatia, however it was Bhatia finding a way home as the 7 landed on the turn and the 8 on the river to give him the straight.

That runout sends Moss to the rail and cuts Namhyung down to size, while Bhatia moves up to 87,000 and change.

Break time

Players have departed the poker room to enjoy a well-deserved 30-minute dinner break. With four levels remaining until registration officially closed, we currently have 271 entries today, comprising 237 unique entries and 34 re-entries.

This takes the total number of entries across the two Day 1 flights to 566 with a prize pool of more than $4 million.


Ehsan Amiri has headed to the registration desk to fire his second bullet of the day after busting a few moments ago, having lost a hefty chunk of his stack to PMA’s very own Josh Emerton.

The hand in question began with Amiri opening to 1,200 and another player 3-betting to 4,000. Emerton, who had jokingly told Amiri to stop raising his big blind – prompting Amiri to dare him to 3-bet – flatted before Amiri then bumped it up to 14,500. The original 3-bettor folded but Emerton announced he was all-in, with Amiri quickly calling.

Amiri showed AQ but was well behind the AA of Emerton. The board bricked for Amiri who hit the rail soon after.

With the PMA team as his rail, Emerton is now sitting with a little over 69,000.

Varma starting strong in quest for second WPT Australia title

Melbourne’s Hari Varma is looking to cement another unique place in history this week by becoming the first and only player to win the WPT Australia Main Event twice.

The inaugural WPT Australia was held back in 2019 – during those pre-COVID times – and although it wasn’t yet a WPT main tour stop, it did represent a huge milestone as the WPT finally made its way to Australian shores.

Varma topped a field of 658 players in the $2,500 buy-in Main Event to take home $274,247 and has started well in his quest to repeat that performance in 2023: he sits behind a stack of 193,000 and is looking strong.

The big boss

Adam Pliska, CEO of the World Poker Tour, sits down with PokerMedia Australia’s Ben Blaschke to discuss the success of WPT Australia, the company’s long-term vision for Australia and why players should make their way to Wynn Las Vegas in December for the WPT World Championship.

Notable counts

Adam Cuzenza154,000
Chuck Caris142,000
Armon Van Wijk135,000
Daniel Dzian133,000
Adrian Pacheco128,000
Hari Varma125,000
Adam Kharman112,000
Steve Topakas110,000
Michel Bouskila107,000
Matthew Bennett100,000
Michael Egan94,000
Yang Lei91,000
Shem Goltz85,000
Sean Ragozzini59,000

Cowboys crack rockets

We caught the action pre-flop as Japan’s Hayatu Kitajima cold 4-bet from the blinds to 16,500 only for Adrian Pacheco to 5-bet to 26,500. Kitajima thought for a while before announcing he was all-in for around 60,000 in total.

Pacheco quickly called and tabled KK but needed help against Kitajima’s AA.

The 89J flop didn’t change anything but the 7 turn gave Pacheco more outs before the K spiked on the turn to send the pot Pacheco’s way.

He moves to 117,000 while Kitajima busted a few hands later.

Adrian Pacheco

Last man standing

Enjoying a strong start today after doubling through early is Brisbane local Daniel Dzian.

Dzian was Australia’s last man standing in the WSOP Main Event in Las Vegas in July, ultimately finishing in 52nd place for a hefty US$188,400 (AU$292,500), and he’s hoping to improve on that here at WPT Australia.

At last count Dzian was sitting behind a stack of 113,000.

Daniel Dzian

Helping hands

If you’ve played poker in any major tournament series in Australia over the past 20 years, chances are you’ve enjoyed a relaxing, therapeutic massage from the best in the business. Led by Steph and Michael, Best Hands Massage has been helping the poker community de-stress and focus their game all around Australia, so we thought we’d take the time to sit down with Steph and find out what makes her team so good!

Prize pool growing

Players are rapidly approaching their first break of the day, and with 193 players currently registered for flight 1B, the total prize pool for the Main Event now stands at $3.66 million.

Combined with the 295 who took part yesterday, that takes the Main Event field to 488 but the WPT is confident of cracking 600 players by the time registration closes late tonight.


Kharman electric

In a huge hand very early on in today’s play, a middle position player opened to 500 before Jai Duffy 3-bet to 1,800. Adam Kharman on the button then 4-bet to 5,200, forcing a fold from the original raiser, however Duffy wasn’t done as he 5-bet to 12,500. Kharman called as they saw a 6310 flop, with Duffy continuing for 11,000. Kharman called.

On the Q turn, Duffy announced all-in to send Kharman deep into the tank. He eventually called and showed KK to be well ahead of Duffy’s A10.

The river was the 3 to leave Duffy crippled and double Kharman through to almost 100,000.

Adam Kharman

Aiming high

Janet Wyvill, founder of JDub Poker, speaks with PMA ahead of today’s Day 1b flight.

Hair today

The winner of this week’s Bonza Bounty event, Jason Gilbert, has developed a new morning routine of having his hair braided by one of the roving entertainers. It served him well on Thursday when he won around $50,000 and he is hoping for a similar run in the Main Event today. 

Check out our interview with Jason from Thursday.

Kim wins

One of the highlight events of this WPT Australia series was the $20k Super High Roller, which was won last night by Korea’s Namhyung Kim – taking home a tidy $459,000.

PMA caught up with Namhyung afterwards with the help of a friend for translation!

Who’s here?

It’s still early on here on Day 1b and we expect plenty of late registrations throughout the day, but so far we’ve spotted Ehsan AmiriJanet WyvillAdam KharmanChuck CarisNabil EdgttonSteve “Big Show” TopakasDan SmilijanicHari VarmaAdam Cusenza and Neb Blanusa.

PMA’s very own Josh Emerton is also in today’s field, hoping to fight the good fight after satelliting his way in earlier this week. Let’s go Josh!

Cards are in the air!

We’re underway here on Day 1b of the 2023 WPT Australia Main Event! We have 146 players currently registered today, all hoping to etch their name into WPT folklore – and onto the Mike Sexton Cup – by becoming just the second WPT Australia Main Event champion.

Unlike yesterday’s opening flight, which featured unlimited re-entries, today’s flight offers a single re-entry only which means changes to progress are few and far between.

Stay tuned to PokerMedia Australia as we bring you all the action and plenty of interviews throughout the day!

We’re back …

From wherever you’re watching in Australia, New Zealand or around the world, hello and welcome to PokerMedia Australia!

Our social media and blog coverage of the WPT Australia series at The Star Gold Coast will resume from 11:30am AEST. While you wait, check out our latest news articles, blogs and Live Reporting archives, bookmark our website, and give us a like and follow across all our socials to get access to all of our content.


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