Richard Lee brought his 26-year-old self to the Gold Coast in Australia with under $7,000 in lifetime poker tournament cashes. He leaves the giant island with $854,890 AUD ($550,267) and his name etched on the Mike Sexton cup for winning WPT Australia.
“I don’t think it will ever sink in,” Lee said after winning the $8,000 AUD event. “I think I was really fortunate to have a really good seat. I would say two of the better players were to my right, so I didn’t really face any bullying. For the most part, it was as smooth as it could have gone.”
He ain’t lying. Lee bagged a top-10 stack in each of the three days before the final table, where he started second in chips with 46 big blinds.
The headliner brought in 600 entrants over two days who build a prize pool of $4.5 million AUS ($2.8 million).
Final table chip leader was Romain Morvan, who scored his biggest cash a month ago at Gold Coast in a $5,000 AUS event for $202,545 AUD ($129,712). That was his biggest tourney cash until he finished fifth in the WPT Australia for $232,720 AUD.
He followed 63-year-old Ken Demlakian, who came to the final table last in chips with 20 bigs. The Aussie is just shy of the $1 million tourney winnings mark after winning $177,566 AUD ($114,294) for fifth-place here. Demlakian ‘s biggest tourney cash came this summer in a $1,500 event at the The Wynn Summer Classic for $223,185.
Finishing in fourth was 19-year-old (yes, 19) Gary Lin. Lin only started showing up on poker results pages last October.
“It’s been a major level-up in 2023 for Gary Lin. The Chinese-born 19-year-old took a big step forward in March when he made a pair of final tables at WPT Prime stops in Gold Coast, Australia, and Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Now, six months later, Lin has returned to The Star Gold Coast and made his first WPT Championship Event final table.”
He won $308,499 AUD ($198,572), his largest to date.
Nino Marotta doesn’t have many six-figure cashes, but he added another here for finishing third for $413,873 AUD ($266,398). The Perth resident was the fifth-place finish of the 2008 Aussie Millions.
Runner-up Martin Kozlov came to the final table with a World Series of Poker bracelet and more than $3 million in tournament cashes. In 2017, he won the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open Main Event for $754,083, his largest cash.
Second here paid him $559,672 AUD ($360,244).
Lee, the only American at the final table, is an online cash game player who once streamed his play on Twitch, according to the WPT.
Other notable players to cash were WPTDeepStacks champion Hamish Crawshaw (10th), defending WPT Australia champion David Tang (21st), Aussie Robert Campbell (34th), and Belgium’s Michael Gathy (61st).
Next stop on the Main Tour is the WPT bestbet Scramble in Jacksonville, Fla., Oct. 26 to Nov.14.