The World Poker Tour (WPT) landed in Australia for its second main tour festival from September 14 to 27, 2023 at the Star Poker Gold Coast. The festival featuring 16 tournaments drew 6,825 entries that resulted in a record AUD $12,569,950 prizepool. The crown jewel was the AU$8,000 buy-in Main Event that ran from September 22 to 27. USA’s Richard Lee emerged as the main event champion to win the AUD $854,890 (US $550,267) top prize along with a 2023 WPT World Championship Package worth US$ 10,400). In addition, he got his name etched on the coveted Mike Sexton Champions Cup.
The Main Event, with an AU$8,000 buy-in, clocked in 600 entries and collected AU$2,896,519 in prize pool. The top 76 finishers were paid, with payouts starting at AU$5,388. From two starting flights, 227 contenders made Day 2 and Day 3 began with 73 players. The final table was reached on Day 4 with Romain Morvan (7,450,000) leading the final six into Day 5. Lee (4,575,000) began fourth in chips but showcased some exceptional gameplay that vaulted him into the massive chip lead by the time the heads-up was reached. He held 21,900,000 chips, against Martin Kozlov (8,475,000).
The heads-up did not last long and ended within 5 hands only. On the final hand, Kozlov had Qh Jd, while Lee had Ac 10s. The board 6c 3h 2c 5h 3s blanked out and Lee won the coveted title. Kozlov’s remarkable run ended in a runner-up finish, which earned him an AU$559,672.
Final Table Payouts (AUD)
- Richard Lee – AU$838,890*
- Martin Kozlov – AU$559,672
- Nino Marotta – AU$413,873
- Gary Lin – AU$308,499
- Romain Morvan – AU$232,720
- Ken Demlakian – AU$177,566
The main event was quite significant from Team India’s point of view. Repersenting India in the tournament were none other than the WSOP bracelet winner Abhinav Iyer and Paawan Bansal. Both of them cashed the event, with Iyer claiming 48th spot for a prize of AU$ 19,281 and Bansal finishing 63rd for AU$15,246. It was a good series for India with the team notching up nine cashes, including three final table finishes. India’s Ankit Ahuja locked up two final table finishes – 2nd place at Event #3: AU$5K NLHE 8-Max Action Clock and 5th place at Event #5: AU$1,150 NLHE Outback Survivor Bounty, while Sood placed 2nd at Event #5: AU$1,150 NLHE Outback Survivor Bounty.
Daniel Hachem Wins the WPT Australia Player of the Festival
After finishing runner-up in both the Opening Event and $5k High Roller PLO, Daniel Hachem won the Player of the Festival award. Daniel put forward a string of strong performances this festival and was a worthy winner of this title. He received a $5,000 USD passport, valid at any WPT Season XXI event world-wide and a beautiful player of the trophy. Congrats to Daneil for his great showing!!