When the PokerNews Cup arrives at the Crown Casino each year for its Australia series, the locals flock to the tables. Between well-known players and amateurs who worked on their games in preparation for the series, the mix of people is always interesting and the prize pools are some of the most lucrative that poker players in Australia see all year. And when the series of events came to its climax, there stood the $2,200 PokerNews Cup NLHE Main Event.
The first of two starting days brought 171 players to the tables with a special caveat; those eliminated on Day 1A may buy in again on Day 1B. Among the starting faces on the initial day were names such as Andrew Jeffreys, Tony Dunst, Grant Levy, Sam Khouiss, Dennis Huntly, Stewart Scott, Dave Lee, and Ben Savage. But when the chips were bagged at the end of the day, there were only 49 left, and Khouiss was atop the leaderboard with 144,900 chips. He was followed by Trevor Henry, Grant Levy, Michael Pedley, and Ali Ghezelbash in the top five.
The second and final starting day saw 210 players registered, making for a total field of 381 players and a $762,000 prize pool with a first place payout of $250,000. The names included Tony G , Mark Vos, Clonie Gowen, Billy Argyros, Emad Tahtouh, Sam Youssef, and 2008 champion Nali Kaselias. And some of the players who busted on Day 1A and bought in again included Peter Aristidou, Steve Topakas, and Michael Guzzardi. When play stopped for the night, it was Jonathan Karamalikis in the chip lead with 211,200, and the rest of the top five included Andrew Hinrichsen, Michael Mifsud, Linas Leonavas, and Ash Gupta.
Day 2 found 132 remaining players ready to play down to the money and the final table. As the money bubble approached late in the day, there were 33 players still alive, but Eric Sclavos was the one with the willingness to move. The first time he pushed all-in, he doubled through Jason Brown to stay alive, but he remained short-stacked and tried it again. His 48K went in with pocket jacks against the of Kris Nedanovski, but the board came to eliminate Sclavos in 33rd place.
Play continued as Ash Gupta became the first player to cash, taking home $4,000 for 32nd place, and some of the notables that followed included Bruce Nguyen in 16th place, Billy Argyros in 15th place, and Emad Tahtouh in 14th place. After Marwan Nassif left in 11th, there was only one left to go before action stopped for the night. The hand that decided it started with a four-way limped pot to see a flop. Tony Dunst bet, Lawrence Gibson called, and the other two players folded. The on the turn prompted another bet from Dunst but an all-in raise from Gibson. Dunst quickly called all-in for his tournament life with , and Gibson showed . Dunst’s full house was in the lead until the came on the river to give Gibson the better house. Tony Dunst was painfully eliminated in tenth place with $9,000.
The final table was then set as follows:
Seat 1: Lawrence Gibson 914,000
Seat 2: Carl Booth 1,197,000
Seat 3: Con Tsapkounis 882,000
Seat 4: Michael Bouskila 285,000
Seat 5: Joe Cabret 1,112,000
Seat 6: Antonio Ascenzio 582,000
Seat 7: Angelo Prifti 856,000
Seat 8: Sam Khouiss 627,000
Seat 9: Herman Marchese 1,177,000
Day 3 and the final table action began without much action. It was nearly two hours before anyone was truly at risk of being eliminated.
It happened when Gibson finally pushed all-in with pocket tens, though it looked like a double-up was in process when Tsapkounis called with pocket eights. The supported that assessment, but the came on the turn to give Tsapkounis the set. The on the river ended the tournament for Lawrence Gibson, who left in ninth place with $12,000.
Prifti had also been unable to gain any ground at the final table and finally pushed with 873K holding . Booth called with , but the underdog in the hand hit the flop of . The turn and river sent Angelo Prifti out in eighth place with $15,000.
Merchese took a hit when Bouskila doubled through him, but the short-stacked Marchese came back to double through several times to stay alive. Then he made another attempt, this time with against the of Khouiss. The board blanked with , and German Marchese became the seventh place finisher with $22,000.
Ascenzio was the next to risk it all, and he did it with from the big blind. But Bouskila called with , a hand that held up as the dealer gave them a board. Antonio Ascenzio was eliminated in sixth place with $30,000.
Bouskila was in the process of climbing after several double-ups and the elimination of Ascenzio, but when Tsapkounis doubled through Bouskila, the latter was in trouble. Down to only 300K, it all went in from the big blind with against the of Tsapkounis. The board brought no help for Bouskila when it came , and Michael Bouskila exited in fifth place with $38,000.
Khouiss then seemed frustrated that hands weren’t going his way and pushed all-in for his last 780K with . Booth just happened to have with which to call, and the two watched the board produce to eliminate Sam Khouiss in fourth place with $48,000.
Three-handed action found Booth in the lead with 3.7 million, Tsapkounis in second with 2.55 million, and Cabret trailing with only 1.35 million. But one hand changed everything. Tsapkounis doubled through Booth with aces versus fours, and Tsapkounis took the position of dominant chip leader with 5.2 million.
Booth then took his 1.2 million stack and doubled through Cabret, but Booth lost more ground and needed to move again. The opportunity came after Booth and Cabret saw a flop of . Booth pushed all-in with , but his draw was met by the of Cabret who had bottom pair. The turn brought a and the river a , which ended the tournament for Carl Booth, who took home $74,000 for third place.
Heads-up action then began with the following chip counts:
Con Tsapkounis 4,900,000
Joe Cabret 2,700,000
Tsapkounis began strong, but when Cabret doubled through, the two stacks were nearly even. Cabret took the lead briefly, though he lost it again to the aggression of Tsapkounis.
It didn’t take long before Cabret and Tsapkounis got involved in a hand that started with a flop. Tsapkounis bet and Cabret called, which brought them to the turn. The same action led to the river, which prompted another bet from Tsapkounis. Cabret eventually raised all-in with , but his two pair was beat by the and full house of Tsapkounis. Joe Cabret settled for a second place finish and $130,000.
Con Tsapkounis won the 2009 PokerNews Cup Australia Main Event, which came with a trophy and $250,000 in Australian cash.