By Steve Beauregard
Looking to extend its brand and popular poker series outside the confines of Las Vegas, Caesars Entertainment went to Europe in 2007, for the first World Series of Poker bracelet tournament held outside of Sin City. Six years later, they headed down under, to Melbourne Australia for the inaugural WSOP Asian-Pacific, or APAC.
A little bit of controversy followed poker’s signature tournament series as it arrived down under for that very first WSOP APAC.
The event, held April 5 – 13th 2013 at the Crown Entertainment Complex in Melbourne Australia led to complaints from many WSOP purists (such as myself), that adding more bracelets awarded, Caesars was diluting the value and prestige of an WSOP bracelet.
Nevertheless, the tournament series saw a decent turnout for most events, with 405 players in the Main Event, and 1,085 playing the first tournament, a $1,100 No-Limit Hold’em tournament.
Overall, there were five bracelet events, as well as two other tournaments: a $50,000 (Australian) higher roller turbo rebuy event (of all things), that saw 44 entrants, along with the continuation of a fairly new WSOP Ryder Cup style, continent versus continent event called the Caesars Cup.
Entry fees for the WSOP APAC tournaments ranged from $1,100 to the aforementioned 50,000 Australian dollars. At the time, however, the Australian dollars was almost exactly equal in value to an American dollar. Entry for the Main Event was similar to the Las Vegas version: $10,000 Australian buy-in.
2013 WSOP APAC Results
Event 1: $1,100 No-Limit Hold’em.
Bryan Piccioli, from Allegany, New York won the first ever WSOP bracelet awarded outside of the U.S. and Europe and collected $211,575 in the process.
The final table for this event included the likes of 2010 WSOP Main Event champion Jonathon Duhamel and 2012 November Niner Jeremy Ausmus.
Event 2: $1,650 Pot Limit Omaha
Washington D.C.’s Jim Collopy, who goes by the nickname “Big Queso” for some reason, won the bracelet and $69,000. A few months later, in Las Vegas, he would have a deep run in the WSOP Main Event, finishing 51st for $151,000 and change.
Other poker notables at that final table included Dan Shak and high roller specialist Marvin Rettenmaier.
(Go here for a recap of the 2014 WSOP APAC).
Event 3: $2,200 Mixed Event
Just 81 players entered this low buy-in event, which added to the criticism that WSOP APAC bracelets were too easy to acquire.
Offsetting that criticism was the fact that a player would have to get past Phil Ivey to get the bracelet.
Ivey’s win for $51,000 (a small blind in some of his cash games), was more notable for the fact it was his ninth bracelet. Daniel Negreanu would finish in fourth place, as a warm-up for greater things ahead. (Late spoiler alert).
Event 4: $5,000 Six Handed No-Limit Hold’em
One hundred and sixty-seven runners entered this event. The no-name final table saw native son Aaron Lim become the first Australian to win a WSOP Australia tournament.
****2013 WSOP APAC Main Event Final Table Names and Chip Counts****
The WSOP APAC 2013 Main Event saw 405 entrants ponying up the $10,000 for the shot at the bracelet. The Final table was as follows:
Daniel Marton – 2.16 million chips
Winfred Yu – 367,000
George Tsatsis – 2.3 million
Russell Thomas – 490,000
Mikel Habb – 551,000
Kahle Burns – 905,000
Benny Spindler – 2.9 million
Daniel Negreanu – 2.4 million
Interestingly enough (for me at least) is that you’ll notice this final table includes only eight players. The 9th place finisher, who would have had another WSOP final table to this credit, was none other than the Magician, Antonio Esfandiari.
Kid Poker, Daniel Negreanu would go on the win the very first WSOP APAC, while Daniel Marton would finish in the runner-up spot.
Negreanu took home just over $1 million in cash for the win, along with his 5th career bracelet. His win was a big factor in helping him capture his second ever WSOP Player of the Year Award. He became the first player to win the award twice.
Event #6: $50,000 No-Limit Hold’em High Roller with Rebuys
Imagine busting out of a tournament in which you blew $50,000, then buying in again? That’s exactly what German pro Phillip Gruissem did. Fortunately for Gruissem, the rebuy paid off, as the experienced higher roller won the non-bracelet event and $825,000.
Event #7: Caesars Cup
Sort of equivalent to golf’s Ryder Cup, the 2013 APAC Caesars Cup Invitational saw the European team best the Americans. It was Europe’s second win in the three years of the tournament.