Sydney Championships: Early winners include John Thomson, Malaysia’s Christine Hia, and Frank Martino

The Sydney Championships is currently celebrating its 10th year anniversary at Star Poker with festivities running from July 17 until August 6. The festival promises a whopping A$2.25 Million (US$1.6M) in guaranteed prizes spread across five events with the upcoming Main Event extending the largest chunk of A$1 Million. With ten days of games already completed, below are the early highlights:

Frank Martino wins the Opening Event

The games opened with 1108 entries turning up for the Opening Event – A$500K guaranteed. Australia’s Frank Martino championed the event earning A$91,250 (~US$123K), the largest payout of his live tournament career.

Frank Martino
Frank Martino – Photo Star Poker

Martino bested a couple of high ranking pros, Michael Kanaan who finished 14th, and Craig Blight who took 37th place. Other notables included in the 117 total payouts were Michael Fraser (3rd), Roy Vandersluis (22nd), Adam Agresta (35th), Andrew Michael (36th), John Caridad (61st), and Jason O’Brien (74th).

Final table payouts:
Prizepool: A$500,000 – Buyin: 500 – ITM: 117 places

1st Frank Martino – A$91,250
2nd Dmitriy Tymoshenko – A$56,360
3rd Michael Fraser – A$41,880
4th Martin Richardson – A$31,500
5th Antonio Tavella – A$23,985
6th Wael Salloum – A$18,480
7th Daniel Shan – A$14,405
8th Jim Doumit – A$11,355
9th Ankhbayar Bayarsaikhan – A$9,050

Christine Hia wins the Ladies Event

The women represented themselves very well at the Sydney Championships with a total of 70 entries for the Ladies Event. Despite a predominant Australian field, it was Malaysia’s Christine Hia taking home the title to pocket A$7,353.

Christine Hia
Christine Hia – Photo Star Poker

This was Hia’s third career-title won in Sydney with the past two claimed in December 2016 at WSOP Sydney. Also cashing in was Mele Poulivaati finishing in 5th place. Poulivaati is running hot at the series; after this event, she pocketed her largest live score of A$14,277 at the Turbo event for her 2nd place finish.

Prizepool: A$21,000 – Buyin: A$330 – ITM: 7 places

1st Christine Hia – A$7,353
2nd Rebecca Kinnane – A$4,542
3rd Lagi Tupua – A$3,011
4th Miki Wan – A$2,131
5th Mele Poulivaati – A$1,605
6th Marianne Crane – A$1,280
7th Emily Zaiter – A$ 1,078

John Thomson wins the 5K Challenge

The second largest buy-in tournament of the series, the 5K Challenge, drew in 152 of the toughest contenders to the tables to drive the prize pool from a guaranteed 500K to a total of A$722,000. Earning the victory was Gentleman John Thomson who impressively navigated through a stacked final table. Thomson came back from just 8 big blinds at five-handed to eliminate every remaining player in his path. He shipped in the hefty A$195,000 (~US$143,700) first prize, his largest live tournament takedown.

John Thompson
John Thomson – Photo Star PokerSSC18

With stats dating back to 2010, Thomson has had a couple of victories but nothing nearly as big and as prestigious as this. He adds this winning to the A$1,510 he earned at the Opening Event for his 48th place finish.

Coming in second was Zhi Hong Ma for A$120,000 and in third was Matthew Wakeman for A$87,000. Alike the champion Thomson, both of these players also earned their largest live tournament career payouts.

Other deep finishers were Corey Kempson (4th), Jim Pizanias (5th), Ken Demlakian (7th), Andy Lee (8th), Nurlan Boobekov (11th), Tom Rafferty (12th), Daniel Laidlaw (13th), Nauvneel Kashyap (14th), and New Zealand pro Honglin Jiang (16th).

Final table payouts
Prizepool: A$722,000 – Buyin: A$5,000 – ITM: 18 places

1st John Thomson – A$195,000
2nd Zhi Hong Man – A$120,000
3rd Matthew Wakeman – A$87,000
4th Corey Kempson – A$64,000
5th Jim Pizanias – A$47,000
6th Glenn Pollett – A$36,000
7th Ken Demlakian – A$27,800
8th Hunwei “Andy” Lee – A$17,400
9th Michael Asad – A$14,000

More events are lined up including the Main Event and High Rollers event so stick with us here at Somuchpoker. We will continue to track the action and update you as they unfold.

Article by Tricia David

Avatar photo

Louis Hartwell

Graduated in Media Communication at the University of Lausanne, Louis Hartman is a co-founder of He began his career in Cambodia as freelance journalist. In same time he was making his living by playing poker every night at that time. Intense learner, he read dozens of poker strategy books to improve his skills during many years. With a strong interest about poker "behind the scene" in Asia and his communication skills, Louis launched Somuchpoker in 2014.

More Posts

Follow Me:
Special EmailTwitterFacebookFlickrYouTube