The inaugural World Poker Tour Australia Main Event took place at The Star Gold Coast and was a huge success. Hari Varma enters poker’s history books as the man who won the WPT Australia Main Event.
The Star Gold Coast is more accustomed to hosting casino game players across is 1,600 pokies and 70 table games. But no-limit hold’em was the game on everyone’s lips as the WPT Australia festival headed to town. WPT is one of the longest-running poker tours in the world, yet it had never dropped anchor in Australia. Aussie poker aficionados turned out in drove with 658 entries processed and a $1,480,550 prize pool created.
Daniel Hachem was one of the first players to cash, busting in 77th place. Hachem is the son of former World Series of Poker Main Event champion Joe Hachem. Joe eventually busted in 16th place for $15,101. Angel Guillen, Oliver Gill, Billy “The Croc” Argyros also cashed. As did Aussie cricket legend Shane Warne whose 12th place exit netted him $22,785.
Tournament reporter Joshua Bell bust from the final table on the very first hand. Bell was all in with pocket kings against the ace-high flush draw of Hari Varma. The flush missed, but the ace on the river sent Bell home in ninth place.
Josh Emerton walked away with a career-best $36,509 when his ace-ten failed to get there against the ace-queen of Travis Endersby. Chris Barker joined both players on the rail. Barker lost all but three big blinds when his ace-king lost to ace-deuce. Those three bigs went into the middle with pocket sixes and lost to the queen-nine of George Psarras who improved to a full house.
The final six became five when Luke Stewart crashed out. Stewart flipped a coin with queen-jack against the pocket tens of Julius Colman. No help arrived on the board and Stweart’s run ended in sixth-place for $55,326.
Endersby made a move with jack-six for his last eight big blinds, one last spin of the roulette wheel. Louis Yin called with ace-deuce and his hand held to reduce the player count by one. Endersby collected $69,139 for his deep run.
Yin did not put Endersby’s chips to good use as he was the final table’s next casualty. Yin’s fourth-place exit saw him pad his bankroll with $90,207, the last player not to scoop six figures. We hope Yin did not hit the blackjack or video poker games after his exit because he was out of luck. His ace-five lost to Psarras’ queen-six when the latter made an unlikely straight on the river.
A cool $123,933 went to Colman who took his lifetime winnings past $1.1 million. Colman’s demise was confirmed when he committed his stack with two pair only to run into the trip eights of Varma. This elimination sent the tournament into the heads-up stage.
Varma held 12,645,000 chips to the 7,105,000 stack of Psarras and everyone settled in for a long finale. The battle was over quickly, however, with only a couple of hands needed to crown the champion.
All the chips went in on an 8c-3h-2c-3d-Qh board. Psarras turned over 9d-3c for trip threes but Varma held Qd-3s for a full house and the title. The runner-up, a regular in Sydney’s tournaments, won a career-best $192,273, leaving Varma to bank $274,247 and the trophy.
“I’m pretty overwhelmed, I’m pretty speechless,” said Varma to WPT’s Australian anchor Lynn Gilmartin. “It’s pretty unbelievable to be honest.”
Varma also said he will be back next year to defend his title. The WPT has not officially announced an Australian return, but on this showing they simply have to come back.