America’s Richard Lee is the 2023 WPT Australia Main Event champion, overcoming a 600-strong field to claim his first live tournament win and the $838,890 first place prize.
A cash game player by trade, Lee showed no signs of trepidation on the final table, blasting his way into the chip lead midway through the final day and then steamrolling his way to victory in a short-lived heads-up battle with the formidable Aussie, Martin Kozlov.
In the final and deciding hand, a short-tacked Kozlov limped the button before Lee announced he was all-in. Kozlov thought briefly before making the call for his last 5.4 million holding Q♥J♦.
He would need help against the A♣10♠ of Lee, but none arrived as the board ran out 3♥6♣2♣5♥3♠.
According to information from the WPT, Lee’s live tournament winnings prior to this week totalled just US$6,029 and he looked visibly stunned when the final card was turned to confirm his victory.
Speaking to PokerMedia Australia shortly afterwards, Lee said he still hadn’t come to terms with what he had achieved but was pleased with how smoothly the day went after entering the final table sitting fourth in chips.
“I had a relatively easy journey through the final table because I had two pretty good players to my right, but I didn’t really face too many hard decisions,” he said. “Nobody went all-in on me or put me in a spot, so I thought I just needed to come here, play good cards and I’d get the job done.”
Lee not only wins a chunky sum of cash, he also wins a passport to the upcoming WPT World Championship at Wynn Las Vegas in December – looking perhaps to add another title to his newly minted tournament résumé.
2023 WPT Australia Main Event final table placings: