Top 10 Australian players with the most ITM finishes

By far the only true goal for any poker player is to make money, to make a profit.

Consistently reaching the money in numerous events throughout the year shows incredible game ethics and is an achievement deserving of high praise.

With the stats provided in Hendon Mob, we have compiled the top 10 Australian players with the most number of ITMs throughout their live tournament career. Some of these players have been a constant presence in the international circuit for more than three decades, and have been inducted into the Australian Poker Hall of Fame.

Mel Judah – 221 cashes

Mel Judah

Mel Judah, aka the Silver Fox, holds the highest record of 221 cashes throughout his live tournament career and it may be a while before anyone catches up to him. His earliest posting was nearly 30 years back at the 1988 WSOP. Since then, he has claimed two bracelets, one in 1989 and another in 1997, both for Seven-Card Stud. He had a big year in 2003, earning a few six-digit scores, which included his largest-ever payout of US$579,375 for winning the 2003 WPT Legends of Poker Main Event. His total live earnings exceed US$3.6M and ranks 9th overall on the Australia All Time Money List.

Dean Blatt – 145 cashes

dean blatt poker
Dean Blatt. Credit: Venetian Poker Room

Dean Blatt started cashing in live tournaments in Australia in 2007. Since then, he racked up quite a few scores in the United States as well, and even cash in events played in Macau.

His biggest cash to date is from the 2017 WSOP in Las Vegas. He finished 3rd in the US$1,000 No Limit Hold’em – Super Turbo Bounty event for US$82,227. He also has a runner-up finish from the AU$2,200 Main Event at the 2014 Australia New Zealand Poker Tour in Perth for AU$86,100 (US$ 77,710).

He has US$1.131 million in live tournament earnings. He’s “only” in the top 50 on the Australian all time money list; however, as you can see, he’s second in the lifetime number of cashes.

Billy Argyros – 137 cashes

Billy Argyros. Credit: Kenneth Lim – PokerStars

Billy Argyros, aka the Croc, has 137 cashes under his belt but interestingly, he has never cashed more than 12 times in a given year. Between 1989-2000 he averaged 4.7 cashes per year, and from 2001-2016, he bumped it up to 5.8 cashes per year. He slowed down in the upcoming years, having finished in the money 3 times in 2017; 4 times in 2018. He then had 9 cashes in 2019, just to hit a wall in 2020 with the dreaded coronavirus pandemic (he cashed once that year).

In his early years, he frequented the Las Vegas scene then later cashed in numerous events all over Australia. Within the past few years, he added Macau and Noumea to his destinations. In 2013, he won the APPT 7 Melbourne Main Event and came close to another title in 2014 at the APPT 8 Macau Main Event, finishing in 3rd place. The Croc’s single largest score was a 15th place finish at the 2008 WSOP $10,000 Pot Limit Omaha for a US$268,605 payout.

Jeff Lisandro – 137 cashes

Jeff Lisandro. Credit:

We have a tie in 3rd place on our list. As of the time of writing this, Argyos and Lisandro both have 137 ITM finishes.

With stats dating back to 1995, Jeff Lisandro, aka Iceman, is tied in 3rd place with 137 cashes, and 5th on the Australia All Time Money List. He has over US$5.7M in live earnings. Lisandro is recognized as one of the masters of Seven Card Stud, and famous for his triple bracelet achievement at the 2009 WSOP winning the Seven Card Stud High, Seven Card Stud High/Low, and Seven Card Razz events. Those three victories earned him over US$700K and the WSOP Player of the Year title.

One of his greatest crowning moments was at the 2005 WSOP Circuit Championship Event in Lake Tahoe, overcoming an all-American final two tables, and defeating Phil Ivey at the heads-up round. He won the US$542,360 first prize. However, his largest payout to date was US$659,730 for his 17th place finish at the 2006 WSOP Main Event.

Peter Aristidou – 132 cashes

Peter Arisitidou- Credit: Photo Long Guan – PokerStars

Artisitdou’s live tournament career began in 2006, which is about a decade or two after the others in our list. Impressively, he ranks 5th with 132 cashes.

Playing mostly in Australia, he consistently racks up an extensive list of ITM’s every year but mainly for recurring tournaments. He earned three 5-digit payouts in 2007 and claimed his biggest cash of US$92,862 after winning the 2008 Victorian Poker Championship $100,000 Challenge. Arisitidou is already on the board for 2017 with a deep run at the opening event of the Aussie Millions Poker Championship.

Sam Khoueis – 124 cashes

Sam Khouiss poker
Sam Khouis. Credit: The Hendon Mob

Khoueis has US$1.446 million in live tournament earnings. That puts him in the top 40 on the Australian all time money list. However, on the list for most career cashes, he ranks 6th.

The vast majority of his live scores are from events played in Australia. The ones that are not are all from the United States. His recorded results date all the way back to November 1997.

He made back-to-back money finishes in the WSOP Main Event in 2006 and 2007. In January 2006, he took down the AU$1,150 No Limit Hold’em event at the Crown Australian Poker Championships in Melbourne. He won AU$$139,520 (US$102,254), which is the biggest single live tournament cash of his career to date.

Gary Benson – 121 cashes

Garry Benson. Credit: Long Guan – PokerStars

Gary Benson jumpstarted his live tournament career with a bracelet at the 1996 WSOP Seven Card Stud event. This made him the first Australian to ever win a bracelet. This was also his first WSOP appearance and his first six-digit win for US$148,200.

Hardly venturing out of his home country other than to play the WSOP, Benson tasted his second six-digit score nearly 20 years after at the 2007 Aussie Millions for US$118,083. However, these payouts would pale in comparison to his 2nd place finish cash of US$672,685 at the WPT Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic Main Event. Non stop poker continues for Benson, posting two cashes already this January. He has a total of 121 cashes to his name.

Michel Bouskila – 121 cashes

michel bouskila
Michel Bouskila. Credit: The Star Sydney

We have another tie in 7th place. Michel Bouskila also has cashed in 121 different live events during his career, just like his fellow Aussie man Gary Benson.

The earliest result on his tally is from April 2009. Since then, he’s amassed US$1.388 million in career cashes.

His greatest achievements at the poker table are: winning a AU$1,100 NLHE tournament at the 2016 Aussie Millions for AU$110,000 (US$116,126); and coming in 6th in the US$1,000 NLHE Seniors Event for US$117,799 at the 2013 WSOP in Las Vegas. You have to be at least 50 years old to be able to compete in the Seniors Event at the World Series – and the winner gets the Golden Eagle Trophy along with the bracelet!

Daniel Neilson – 108 cashes

daniel neilson poker
Daniel Neilson. Credit: Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood Poker

Daniel Nielson’s US$2.609 million in live tournament cashes is almost as impressive as his lush beard. He amassed that sum by cashing in 108 different events over the course of 12 years. which puts him in the #9 spot on our list.

In October 2011, he came in 3rd in the €5,000 Main Event at EPT Sanremo in Italy. He won €285,000 (US$392,935), which is the biggest single live tournament cash of his career to date.

He has cashed bigger online, however, In August 2020, he finished 3rd in the $500 Mini Main Event at the WSOP Online on Natural8-GGNetwork for $401,635.

Dale Marsland – 107 Cashes

Dave Marshall
Dale Marsland

Last to make our list is Dale Marsland with 107 ITM finishes.

His live tournament winnings total US$856,218. All of his live results are from events either played in Australia or in the United States. The earliest one is from March 2010.

His best live cash to date is AU$101,000 (US$66,386), which he got for taking down the AU$2,300 Main Event at the Perth Poker Champs in February 2020. He also won a $1,100 NlHE tourney at the Deepstack Extravaganza at The Pallazzo Las Vegas for just a shade under that, for US$66,358.

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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