Kozlov, Ajez lead Aussie charge on Day 1A of WPT World Championship

Martin Kozlov

Day 1A of the 2023 WPT World Championship is in the books, with 202 players from the starting field of 609 making it through to Saturday’s Day 2. And sitting pretty are a couple of very familiar Aussie faces in Martin Kozlov and Najeem Ajez. 

Kozlov, who has already picked up a trophy this week by winning the $1,100 PLO/NLH Mix for US$74,373 (AU$113,000), bagged a hefty 575,000 in chips, good enough to sit 21st on the official chip counts. The WSOP bracelet winner and former Sydney Champs and ANZPT Melbourne Main Event winner be looking to go one better than his recent runner-up finish in the WPT Australia Main Event, where he took home $559,672. It’s fair to say this week’s top prize will be a lot larger than that!

Najeem Ajez

Ajez, who cashed in the WPT Prime Championship earlier this week, is also strong with 453,000, putting him 40th in the count. The Aussie crusher already boasts a huge list of accomplishments, including most recently victory in the $10k Challenge at the APT National Poker Championship in Sydney for $250,000. He also reached the final table of both the WPT Prime Gold Coast Main Event and WPT Australia Main Event in 2022.

Another familiar face in the mix is Martin Finger, who hails from Austria but has called Australia home in recent years. He will take 169,000 into Day 2.

Martin Finger

Leading the way after Day 1A is American Jeff Hakem, whose career highlight to this point is a 22nd-place finish in the 2016 WSOP Main Event, with 998,000 although there is a raft of big names also in the mix.

They include David Pham (612,000), Gus Hansen (558,000), Upeshka De Silva (539,000), Maria Konnikova (458,000), Ben Lamb (321,000), Steve Zolotow (297,000), Jared Jaffee (266,000), Brandon Cantu (231,000), Nick Petrangelo (200,000) and Cliff Josephy (99,000).

Day 1B gets underway from 11am local time today with rumours that Phill Hellmuth has flown in from the Bahamas to take his seat.

Stay tuned to PMA’s social media channels for regular updates on this huge US$40 million GTD event including the progress of the Aussie contingent. Bookmark our website and follow us on all our socials: Facebook,Instagram, Discord, YouTube and X (formerly Twitter).

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