Inaugural Australian Poker Open begins; Canadian pro Mike Watson wins opening event for A$177,000

The year has just begun and immediately it is poker round the clock for Australia. Having concluded the Aussie Millions in Melbourne, games quickly shifted to Queensland for two new high roller events at The Star Gold Coast in Broadbeach. Games are in progress and there to ignite the tables are some of the world’s elite.

The inaugural Australian Poker Open already crowned two players. The APO series runs from January 25 to February 1. Seven varied tournaments are offered with buy-ins ranging from A$10k to A$100k. Following that series is the three-day Super High Roller Bowl Australia from February 2 to 4 with a buy-in of A$250k. Both events are the latest creations of premier brand Poker Central and are in partnership with the World Poker Tour.

Apart from winning a healthy amount of cash, players will also be gunning for the ultimate prize. The player with the most points accrued by the end of the series will be crowned overall APO champion and will receive US$ 50,000.

Event #1: A$10K No Limit Hold’em – MICHAEL WATSON – A$ 177,000 (~US$ 120,800)

Mike Watson Wins Event 1 Australian Poker Open ATA 0987
Mike Watson – Photo Poker Central

The A$10,000 buy-in opening event drew in a field of 59 poker aces, among them were Stephen Chidwick, Manig Loeser, Kristen Bicknell, Sam Greenwood, Cary Katz, Kahle Burns, and two-time GPI Player of the Year champion Alex Foxen. On the line was the A$ 590,000 (~US$ 402,785) prize pool with top prize at A$ 177,000 (~US$ 120,800). As the game progressed, none of them would gain a piece. On the opposite end was Canadian pro Michael Watson reining in the first win and A$ 177,000.

Recapping the action, both Watson and Australia’s Michael O’Grady had a strong opening day. O’Grady bagged up the chip lead but before doing so, he avoided the rail on a lucky two-outer against Matthias Eibinger with jacks improving to a set against queens. O’Grady went on to pile more in by railing Sosia Jiang on the bubble.

Going toe-to-toe was Watson who began his ascent just before the final table. Watson earned two double ups then three more at the final table. As Watson fast approached O’Grady’s enormous stack, the latter railed Elio Fox (7th) with a winning flush to surge further ahead. The final six players bagged up and resumed on the following day. Watson second in chips.

From the get-go, it was an action packed final day. The leaders both chomped up a short stack. O’Grady denied Andras Nemeth (6th) and Watson railed Jamie Lee (5th). Later, Orpen Kisacikoglu (4th) fell on a failed bluff to Watson and Benjamin Shannon (3rd) downed by O’Grady. Though the number of heads were equal, O’Grady led at the final showdown. Watson won a crucial hand rivering a full house to two pair. From there, leadership switched back and forth until Watson was able to nail it shut and capture the first win of the inaugural series.

Immediately after winning, Watson jumped in Event #2: A$10k Pot Limit Omaha where he went on another impressive run. He finished 3rd to add A$ 64,500 (~US$ 44,000) to his winnings. Watson now has over US$ 12.1 million in live tournament earnings. He continues to lead the APO leaderboard. For runner-up O’Grady, it was another strong performance. The week prior, he won the A$ 1,150 Aussie Millions Accumulator event for A$ 188,860 (~US$ 130,365). This latest result added another US$ 80,000 to his winnings to bring him well over a million dollars in live earnings.

1st: Michael Watson – Canada – A$177,000
2nd: Michael O’Grady – Australia – A$118,000
3rd: Benjamin Shannon – Australia – A$82,600
4th: Orpen Kisacikoglu – Turkey – A$59,000
5th: Jamie Lee – USA – A$47,200
6th: Andras Nemeth – Hungary – A$35,400
7th: Elio Fox – USA – A$29,500
8th: Ben Lamb – USA – A$23,600
9th: Lucas Greenwood – Canada – A$17,700

Event #2: A$10K Pot Limit Omaha – Andras Nemeth – A$ 146,200 (~US$ 99,800)

Andras Nemeth Wins Event 2 Australian Poker Open ATA 1566
Andras Nemeth – Photo Poker Central

43 top notch players joined the first Pot Limit Omaha event of the series. With buy-in at A$10k the pot was A$ 429,000 (~US$ 292,800) to be divvied up among the top 7 players. Grabbing the lion’s share top prize was Hungary’s Andras Nemeth for A$ 146,200. Nemeth just came off a 6th place finish at the series opener.

The money began to flow at the fall of Dutch pro Jorryt Van Hoof on the bubble. Despite a heavy lineup of USA pros filling the table, they all departed in succession with David “Chino” Reem (7th), followed by Poker Hall of Famer / Aussie Millions final tablist Erik Seidel (6th), then Sean Winter bowing out in 5th place. Finnish pro Joni Jouhkimainen looked to add another PLO victory to his long list of achievements but fell short in 4th place to chip leader Najeem Ajez.

The three-handed round saw the leadership switch from player to player until Nemeth burned Watson’s hope of back to back wins. He brought the momentum to heads up, and though behind in chips, Nemeth was able to overcome a couple of crucial hands to surge ahead and defeat Ajez.

Nemeth earned his third-ever live career victory and a first in Australia. He is ranked second in the APO leaderboard with 360 total points. In his live career, Nemeth now has well over US$ 3.2 million in earnings. For runner-up Ajez, this year has kicked off very well with four big cashes. His largest was at the Aussie Millions picking up US$ 136,800 for 3rd place at the A$25k Pot Limit Omaha event. This was his biggest career live score and now has US$ 550k in total live earnings.


1st Andras Nemeth – Hungary – A$ 146,200
2nd Najeem Ajez – Australia – A$ 93,600
3rd Michael Watson – Canada – A$ 64,500
4th Joni Jouhkimainen – Finland – A$ 43,000
5th Sean Winter – USA – A$ 34,400
6th Erik Seidel – USA – A$ 24,800
7th David “Chino” Reem – USA – A$ 25,000


Triccia David

Triccia David has long experience as a recreational poker player and has been covering poker events since 2010 for numerous outfits. She spent a year working part time with Poker Portal Asia and later became the editor and writer for all event coverage of the Philippine Poker Tour (PPT). Under the PPT, she overlooked content for their website, and produced live updates on all their events. In addition, she served as the live blogger for several other major events in the Philippines. Currently, she is in charge of events reporting for Somuchpoker.

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