Like poker players around the world, Aussies could not wait to get back to the poker tables in 2021. And there’s nothing quite like a live tournament series hosted by the World Poker Tour. Those were two of the factors that came together in May at the Star Gold Coast’s poker room to make WPT history.

The WPTDeepStacks Gold Coast just wrapped up its return series to Australia, after having waited out a global pandemic to do so. And while everything on the live poker scene hasn’t exactly returned to normal yet, the WPTDS series showed the dedication of the WPT and poker players to the game of poker.

Aussies Welcome WPTDeepStacks

When the World Poker Tour made its debut in Australia, it was September of 2019. The WPTDeepStacks series offered 10 tournaments, highlighted by a $2,500 buy-in WPTDS Main Event. It accumulated 658 entries for a prize pool of $1,480,500 prize pool, with Hari Varma ultimately declaring victory for a $274,247 first-place prize.

There were big plans to return in 2020. Not only would the WPTDeepStacks return twice that year, the WPT main tour would host its first-ever WPT Australia.

Of course, the pandemic prevented all of that from happening.

The World Poker Tour and the Star Gold Coast both monitored the Covid-19 trajectory closely and eventually planned to try to return in May 2021. Organizers set the WPTDS Gold Coast schedule for 21-31 May with 10 tournaments.

When the WPT arrived at the Star, players couldn’t have been more ready to play poker.

Preliminary Events Fill Tables

Setting aside the WPTDS Gold Coast Main Event for a moment, there were nine other tournaments on the schedule in May, each with a part of the WPTDeepStacks festival. And players showed up in big numbers for all of it.

  • Event 1: $675 NLHE Opener = 492 entries, $332,100 prize pool, Idris Hassan won for $65,270
  • Event 2: $1,850 NLHE = 132 entries, $244,200 prize pool, Eshan Amiri won for $68,988
  • Event 3: $300 NLHE Freezeout = 301 entries, $90,300 prize pool, Lily Sotsavanh won for $19,839
  • Event 4: $300 PLO = 248 entries, $74,100 prize pool, Simon Thwaites won for $17,172
  • Event 5: $400 NLHE Big Bounty = 402 entries, $80,400 prize pool, David Beckhaus won for $16,522
  • Event 7: $400 Mega Stack Super Turbo Freezeout = 186 entries, $71,600 prize pool, Lachlan Dykes won for $18,548
  • Event 8: $500 PLO = 185 entries, $92,500 prize pool, Hanan Braun won for $23,438
  • Event 9: $4,700 NLHE Challenge = 98 entries, $460,600 prize pool, Sean Ragozzini won for $140,481
  • Event 10: $400 NLHE Mega Stack Freezeout = 297 entries, $118,800 prize pool, Karsten Kobbing won for $26,103

Main Event Sets New Record

The WPTDS GC Main Event started on May 27 and offered three starting flights. Players needed to put up $1,500 to play but could also reenter once per flight if able and necessary.

Details of how it all happened came from Poker Media Australia and the team’s live updates.

Day 1A on May 27 showed 340 entries in total, with names like Joe Hachem and Shane Warne among the players at the tables. Other familiar names included Gary Benson, Mel Judah, Jason Gray, Graeme Putt, Angel Guillen, and 2019 champion Hari Varma. Only 54 players made it through the night, though, and Hussein Hassan had the top stack of 553K chips.

Day 1B on May 28 added another 330 entries to the tally, including players like Robert Campbell and Dennis Huntly among the competitors. And out of the 46 players who bagged chips at the end of the night, Harry Basle had the most with 529K.

On May 29, the final starting day delivered 443 entries. The final count of the night showed Daniel Smilijanic as the new overall chip leader, who took 620,500 chips into the official Day 2.

The tournament tally was:

  • 1,113 entries
  • $1,502,550 prize pool
  • 140 players paid
  • $2,013 minimum payout

The tournament officially became the largest WPT Main Event ever in the Asia-Pacific region. It also beat the 2019 WPTDS Gold Coast Main Event prize pool.

Playing for the Win

A total of 165 players returned to the poker room on May 30 to compete for money spots and final table seats. It didn’t take terribly long for the money bubble to burst and players to cash out for at least $2,013. Shane Warne was one of the first to make the money, and others who followed to the cage included Billy Argyros, and Hussein Hassan. Later in the evening, players like Anthony Hachem, Brooke Colless, and Luke Hanna busted.

Action stopped with 10 players still in contention. Mike Maddocks was the chip leader with nearly 7.7M chips, as Ratul Sayak and Alex Lynskey followed nearly 2M chips back. Omer Silajdzija took fourth on the leaderboard, followed by Will Davies, Joseph Sandaev, and Sheldon Mayer. Nuno Da Silva and Attilla Bognar sat in eighth and ninth places, with Josh Yeomans on a very short stack of 370K.

The final day of play started with a quick exit from Bognar, courtesy of Lynskey. Bognar collected $19,503 for tenth place. And that set the official final table.

Yeomans doubled through Silajdzija but couldn’t do the same against Da Silva. Yeomans accepted ninth place.

Mayer doubled through Maddocks, as did Sayak. Sandaev moved into the chip lead and took over. Sayak lost ground, though, and Davis was the one to send him out in eighth place.

Silajdzija doubled through Sandaev and the latter then busted Da Silva in seventh place. Davies eliminated Salijdzija in sixth place. And Lynskey had taken over the chip lead before then ousting Sandaev in fifth place. Davies took care of Mayer in fourth.

Lynskey had 15.5M chips as three-handed play began, with Davies holding 8.92M and Maddocks with 7.32M. But Maddocks took a solid pot from Lynskey to take the lead and quickly climb to 20M chips. Davies was the shortest of the stacks but doubled through Lynskey. Soon after, Davies busted Lynskey in third place.

Maddocks went into heads-up play at a 2-to-1 deficit, but both players went into the final duel with caution. After a few rounds, though, Davies chipped up further. Without much delay, Maddocks pushed his stack in with A-7 suited, but Davies called with pocket sevens. Two diamonds did show on the flop to give Maddocks the flush outs, but the turn and river allowed the sevens to hold. Maddocks accepted second place.

Davies, known to many in the Sydney poker community as the tournament director at the Poker Palace, claimed the WPTDeepStacks title.

The final payouts were:

  • 1st place: Will Davies ($252,729)
  • 2nd place: Mike Maddocks ($177,166)
  • 3rd place: Alex Lynskey ($114,960)
  • 4th place: Sheldon Mayer ($85,210)
  • 5th place: Joseph Sandaev ($64,429)
  • 6th place: Omer Silajdzija ($52,063)
  • 7th place: Nuno Da Silva ($43,018)
  • 8th place: Ratul Sayak ($34,108)
  • 9th place: Josh Yeomans ($25,288)


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