The Star Poker Festival: Branko Usljebkra bags the APL Million for AU$265K

The Star Poker Festival, the newest poker event in Australia, came to a close last night with Branko Ulsjebkra winning the Australian Poker League (APL) Million Main Event for a beefy AU$265,000. In addition, the two-week festivities, which ran from February 28th-March 13th at The Star Poker Room in Sydney, saw several other players bring home the bacon in respective side events.

Branko Usljebkra wins the APL Million Main Event

Branko Usljebkra (Photo The Star)

The APL Million Main Event ran a course of seven days for a total of 1,164 entries throughout the four entry flights. The prize pool was definitely something to cheer about as it surpassed the advertised guarantee to reach AU$1,470,000. This signified a very good start for a new event in the Aussie poker arena.

Playing in the first big event of his life, Branko Usljebkra, captured his first championship title and became the first champion of the APL Million Main Event. This was a fantastic achievement for Usljebkra who earned his seat through a previous event making his appearance practically free.

Prior to the final table, Usljebkra was not within radar. He was in the middle of the pack entering Day 2 and Day 3, well hidden amongst the big stacks and notable pros. Upon reaching the final table of 7, he was running third in chips but still wasn’t the highlight story with the two players above him, pros Adrian Attenborough and Martin Rowe, protected by massive stacks.

But if Usljebkra wasn’t the primary focus, his elimination of crowd favorite John Thompson surely changed all that. Then later, when the field trimmed down to four players, Usljebkra eliminated Renee Murray to take the chip lead against the same two frontrunners of the day. He proceeded to eliminate both of his opponents to seize the AU$265,000 first prize.

Final Table Payouts

1st Branko Usljebkra – AU$265,000
2nd Martin Rowe – AU$165,000
3rd Adrian Attenborough – AU$120,000
4th Renee Murray – AU$91,000
5th Sheldon Mayer – AU$70,000
6th Emmanuel Derecho – AU$54,000
7th John Thompson – AU$42,000

Liam O’Rourke ships in the 5K Challenge

Liam O’Rourke (Photo The Star)

While the festival boasted of low buy-ins, there was one event that may as well have been considered the high rollers of the bunch, the 5K Challenge, which as its name states, had an entry fee of AU$5,000. Despite the cost, there were 131 players coughing it up to generate a prize pool of AU$571,338.

Closing out the event on top was Liam O’Rourke who had an erratic run at the final table of 9 players, but overcame a 2:1 deficit at the heads up round against Andy Lee. He was awarded AU$172,908 first prize.

Mark Ryan and Michael Tran win events

 The last two side events of the festival were the Pot Limit Omaha and the Bounty event. The PLO finished with a large showing of 181 entries with Michael Tran taking down that event for a AU$23,543 payday.

The Bounty Event also drew in another big turnout of players. In total, there were 284 gunners with lone survivor Mark Ryan taking home AU$27,477 out of the AU$96K prize pool.

Article by Triccia David

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Tricia David

Tricia David has long experience as a recreational poker player and has been covering poker events since 2010 for numerous outfits in Asia. She spent one year working part time with Poker Portal Asia then became editor and lead 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 and online events website content writer for the Asian Poker Tour. Currently, she does live events reporting in Asia for online news site Somuchpoker and is also one of their news contributors.

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