New Zealand Dominate State of Origin Event at Vic Champs!

Posted at 21:47 2009-08-12
One of the premier events of the 2009 Victorian Poker Championships is undoubtedly the State of Origin Feature Event. It’s mate versus mate, state versus state, as the best in Australia (and New Zealand) come together to settle the rivalries on the felt once and for all.
Ted Whitten Jnr was on hand to inspire the players in the spirit of the State of Origin concept as he gave the “Shuffle Up and Deal” to get the cards in the air. Each of the six states, a combined territories team and New Zealand were all represented in this unique shootout format. With the winner from each shootout table advancing to the final, points were awarded for each place finish on each of the tables in order to determine the overall team champion.
The favourites were the Victorians as they fielded a world-class lineup and although they put in a strong performance, they had three players fall heads-up at the last hurdle as Billy “The Croc” Argyros, Sam Youssef and 2005 World Champion Joe Hachem couldn’t reach the final table.
The talk of the room was the performance of some of the underdogs in New Zealand and “The Territories” who comprised of players from both the ACT and NT. In the end the Territories performed admirably but failed to get anyone through to the final as New Zealand had no such problems. Phil Willcocks got the better of Sam Youssef in an exciting heads-up battle, Kevin Clark won his table, and Lee Nelson finally got the better of Peter Natoli despite the passionate support of Natoli’s NSW teammates sweating every card.
In other heats, Stevan Lackovic qualified for the final despite the poor performance of his WA teammates, Tasmanian captain George Mamacas qualified over an entertaining but intoxicated Mitch Carle, Gary Benson got the better of Joe Hachem on the feature table to ensure NSW representation at the final table, while Queensland’s Danny Andrews got past Billy “The Croc” Argyros.
The final shootout table saw Aleks Lackovic heads up with Phillip Aoukar and incredibly with only 20BB’s on the table, the two fought it out heads-up for well over two hours. By the time 5am rolled around Aoukar finally got the win for SA to leave WA drawing dead for the wooden spoon.
The eight winners came together for the final table the next evening with the mission to somehow stop the Kiwi-juggernaut, but with all three drawing seats next to each other, it was going to be mission impossible.
Final Table Lineup
Seat 1: Stevan Lackovic (WA)
Seat 2: Phillip Willcocks (NZ)
Seat 3: Lee Nelson (NZ)
Seat 4: Kevin Clark (NZ)
Seat 5: Danny Andrews (QLD)
Seat 6: Gary Benson (NSW)
Seat 7: George Mamacas (TAS)
Seat 8: Phillip Aoukar (SA)
Points Tally Heading Into Final Table
The Territories - 250 points
New South Wales - 240
Queensland - 180
Victoria - 160
South Australia - 130
Tasmania - 110
Western Australia - 70
New Zealand – 60
The plan for the Kiwis was simple – stay out of trouble early. They were happy to sit back and allow Danny Andrews to bust in 8th spot to ensure that they locked up the team prize. From there it was all about collecting the last remaining cash for individual glory.
Lee Nelson made the most significant impact on the final table when he flopped a straight with {Jh}{9h} against Stevan Lackovic’s {Ah}{Qd} top pair on a {Qs}{tc}{8d}{3s}{7c} board and from there it was all but over. Lackovic departed soon after in 7th place when he was rivered by Phillip Aoukar. Lackovic’s {as}{Qc} looked good for a double up when the flop fell {Ac}{Qs}{9s} against Aoukar’s {Kh}{Jc} but the {Kd} turn and {Td} river gave Aoukar the straight and the pot to end the Western Australian campaign.
While collusion in poker is highly frowned upon, the Kiwis were very smart strategically to ensure that all three members survived. They would often folds to each others bets/raises to ensure that the shortest of their team members were kept healthy to give them the best chance of success.
Lee Nelson continued his dominance after denting Gary Benson and then the Kiwis eliminated their three rivals in successive hands. Phillip Aoukar fell in 6th place when Nelson’s {3c}{3s} won the race against Aoukar’s {Qc}{Jc}. Benson was next to go in 5th place, after his {Kh}{Ts} couldn’t improve against Willcocks’ {Ah}{6s}, and finally Tasmanian captain George Mamacas succumbed in 4th place after his {Qx}{Tx} couldn’t overcome Willcock’s {Ad}{Kd}.
With only the three Kiwis standing they agreed to chop the prize money as New Zealand scooped the lion’s share of the booty to take back across the Tasman.
When the dust was settled, the leaderboard was as follows:
Points Leaderboard
1st - New Zealand (445 points) - $32,000
2nd - New South Wales (250)
2nd - The Territories (250)
4th - Victoria (240)
4th - Queensland (240)
6th - Tasmania (210)
6th - South Australia (210)
8th - Western Australia (140)
1st Lee Nelson (NZ) - $12,500
2nd Phillip Willcocks (NZ) - $6,500
3rd Kevin Clark (NZ) - $4,500
4th George Mamacas (TAS) - $2,500
5th Gary Benson (NSW) - $2,500
6th Phillip Aoukar (SA) - $2,500
7th Stevan Lackovic (WA) - $2,500
8th Danny Andrews (QLD) - $2,500
9th - Aleks Lackovic (WA) - $1,500
10th - Saidal Wardak (NSW) - $1,500
11th - Peter Natoli (NSW) - $1,500
12th - Joe Hachem (VIC) - $1,500
13th - Billy 'The Croc' Argyros (VIC) - $1,500
14th - Sam Youssef (VIC) - $1,500
15th - Mitchell Carle (QLD) - $1,500
16th - Dominic Olm-Milligan (QLD) - $1,500
Congratulations to the players and organisers of this event and once again well done to New Zealand on such a dominant performance!
After their win PokerNetwork’s Lynn Gilmartin caught up with the victorious team:

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The Victorious Kiwi Trifecta - Phil Willcocks, Lee Nelson and Kevin Clark The Victorious Kiwi Trifecta - Phil Willcocks, Lee Nelson and Kevin Clark

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