After seven exciting poker tournaments, the PokerNews Cup Australia found its way to the main event. It was set to be a $2,200 No-Limit Hold’em Main Event over the course of four days, and it was a tournament for which poker players, especially the Aussies, had been waiting. The preliminary events got the cards flying and the poker aficionados ready for action.
The luxurious Crown Casino was home to the series, and the main event began on October 17th with the first of two starting days. A total of 171 players anted up the $2,200 buy-in to try their skills on Day 1A, and several of the preliminary event winners were in the field, including Harry Ligos, Jamie Pickering, Abel Cabrera, and Kenneth Damm, who won events one, three, four, and five, respectively. Also amidst the crowd were notables like Tony G, Billy Argyros, Julian Powell, and Tony and Joe Hachem.
As the day progressed, many of the aforementioned players hit the rail, though some like Ligos and Argyros did rather well and finished the action in the top ten. The end-of-day chip leader was Tim Heath with 180,000, followed by Jarrad Dale with 150,000 and Lisa Walsh with 140,000. Ligos was in fifth and Argyros in sixth, with Danny Mountt and his 90,000 chips in tenth. Only 47 survived to see another day of play.
The second starting day brought even more new faces to the felt; all 239 of them took the final tally of players to 410, which added up to a stellar prize pool that would be divided among the top 40 finishers in the tournament.
Some of those who graced the felt when Day 1B play began included Lee Nelson, Roy Bhasin, Sam Khouiss, Tony Dunst, Celina Lin, Mark Vos, and Van Marcus. By the time play wrapped, only 76 were left with Dory Zayneh near the top of the leaderboard. Dory was the 2007 PokerNews Cup champion and fought hard to look strong at the end of the day as a possible two-time winner.
Day 2 began with only 123 players who would play through to the money and the nine final table spots. They would eventually play into 15 hours and see a great deal of action. Some, however, did not get that far and busted before the money bubble. Lee Nelson was one of them, who took his king-high flush into battle after the turn but ran it into the ace-high flush of his opponent. Ligos was also one of the early casualties, along with Zayneh who was unable to score two main event titles in a row.
During hand-for-hand play with 41 players left, it was John Pachos who pushed all-in with pocket tens on a board against the flush draw of David Gorr. The latter never caught the flush but the on the turn was enough and the on the river did nothing to help Pachos, who was the 41st place finisher and bubble player of the event.
Once the final 40 were in the money, play accelerated, and the field thinned a bit quicker. Andre Villandberg then took the honors of finishing in 40th place, which was good for 4,100 AUD, and Marc Desanges followed in 39th place for the same. Dennis Huntly finished in 33rd place, James Potter in 29th, and Billy Argyros in 17th place. Then it was Sam Sayed out in 12th place, which was worth 9,020 AUD, and David Saab was gone in 11th place for the same payout amount.
With only one player to go before the final table was set, it took only several hands until the deciding hand went down. Peter Kaltzidis moved all-in with after an initial raise by Nali Kaselias, who called the all-in with pocket kings. The board bricked for Kaltzidis, who was forced out in 10th place for a 9,020 AUD payout. The very long day was finally over, and the following players were set to return the next day:
Seat 1: Tim Heath - 566,000
Seat 2: David Gorr - 1,616,000
Seat 3: James Broom - 551,000
Seat 4: David Lee - 503,000
Seat 5: Nali Kaselias - 1,530,000
Seat 6: Grant Levy - 574,000
Seat 7: Kenneth Damm - 384,000
Seat 8: Martin Comer - 1,333,000
Seat 9: Ray Sukkar - 1,152,000
David Gorr came to the final table with the chip lead, but Nali Kaselias was close behind. Several other players were also in contention with over a million in chips and some time to make moves on the big stacks.
While everyone seemed to refrain from drastic moves in the beginning, action finally picked up. James Broom pushed all-in with his short stack with , but Grant Levy called with . The flop was all that was needed, as it showed for the top pair and no flush cards for Broom. The turn and river bricked, and Broom was the first one gone in ninth place with a 12,000 AUD reward.
Speaking of Levy, he was the next to be at risk when he moved all-in preflop with and was called by Ray Sukkar and his pocket aces. The board ran out , and it was all over for Levy, who left the tournament in eighth place with 16,400 AUD.
Gorr chipped down from his original lead to become the short stack. He then decided to take a chance by putting most of his chips into the pot with a call to Kaselias’ initial raise. After the flop of , Kaselias bet again, and Gorr called all-in with . Kaselias showed pocket kings for the significant advantage. The turn and river came and , and Gorr was out in seventh place with a 24,600 AUD prize.
Sukkar proved that he was still running well when he made an initial raise with , and when Tim Heath reraised all-in with , Sukkar called. The board came , and the river card made the better straight for Sukkar. Heath left the tournament in sixth place with 32,800 AUD.
Martin Comer was the next on the chopping block when he was all-in preflop with . Kaselias, who had made the initial raise with pocket eights, called to put Comer at risk. The flop came , and the last two cards were sevens, giving Kaselias the winning hand. Comer was ousted in fifth place with 41,000 AUD for the effort.
Sukkar finally lost his momentum late in the final table action. Kenneth Damm had raised preflop, and Sukkar came over the top all-in with . Damm called and showed the . It was up to the board to save Sukkar, but the couldn’t do it. Sukkar was sent home in fourth place with an extra 49,200 AUD for his troubles.
With Damm in the lead and Kaselias wanting that lead back, David Lee was in trouble as the short stack. Lee took his pocket threes into battle, but Kaselias woke up three-handed with pocket queens. The board came down , and the queens held up. Lee was sent away in third place with 73,100 AUD.
The heads-up match between Kaselias and Damm was a slow one. It began with the players nearly even in chips, but over the course of the next hour, Kaselias took the lead.
The last hand found Kaselias raising preflop with . Damm came over the top all-in with . Kaselias called and was relieved to see that his chances were good to take the match. The board came , and he did it with a full house. Kenneth Damm had to settle for second place and the 120,000 AUD accompanying prize money.
It was Nali Kaselias who won the second annual PokerNews Cup Australia main event. He was awarded the coveted tournament championship trophy and 250,000 AUD prize.