Terry Tserdanis Wins the NPL Full Tilt Poker 500 Main Event!

Posted at 15:32 2010-08-09

It’s no secret that the Australian pub poker industry and the professional poker circuit are worlds apart in so many ways, despite the fact that the game remains the same. It’s also rare to see the two worlds collide – most amateur players that want to take a shot at the ‘big time’ have to travel to a casino and throw themselves in the deep end by playing a major poker event and putting themselves out of their comfort zone, making their experience, more often than not, a nervous and unpleasant one.

Over the course of the weekend, the cream of the Australian and New Zealand poker crop descended upon the Eastern Suburbs Leagues Club in Bondi Junction, buying in for $2,200 to step up against an army of the National Poker League’s best and brightest to participate in Australia’s first true “pro-am” poker tournament – the NPL Full Tilt Poker 500 Main Event.

Before the action got underway, the amateurs got a chance to pick the brains of Australia’s best poker pros at the Full Tilt Poker Academy, hosted by Paul ‘The Voice’ Khoury and featuring lectures from Full Tilt Red Pros Van Marcus, Jonathan ‘xMONSTERxDONG’ Karamalikis, Mark Vos, Billy ‘The Croc’ Argyros and New Zealand’s first WSOP bracelet winner Simon Watt, as well as mental conditioning coach Jamie Glazier. All the players and staff then got a chance to mingle and let their hair down at the official welcome party before returning the next day to battle it out on the felt.

The Australasian poker elite were well represented, with young guns Brendon ‘brendooor’ Rubie, Jay ‘SEABEAST’ Kinkade, Jarred ‘flopnutsonyou’ Graham, Daniel Neilson and Joel ‘strongplay’ Dodds all taking to the felt, along with more big names like Gary Benson , Raj Ramakrishnan, Peter Aristidou, Marty Comer, Graeme ‘Kiwi G’ Putt, Donna Ciric, Steve ‘The Big Show’ Topakas and John Caridad, fresh from his fourth place finish in the 2010 WPT Bellagio Cup Main Event in Las Vegas.

All these pros were amongst the casualty list from Day 1, but it was Aussie online phenom Ben ‘CNT_CRUSHER’ Delaney who topped the chip counts with 316,400, followed closely by 2009 APPT Grand Final Champion Aaron Benton (278,800) and 2010 ANZPT Adelaide champion Rennie Carnevale (212,000). The NPL Qualifiers weren’t to be outdone, with Jason Donovan (243,800) and Bruno Calfapietra (163,400) also making it into the top five heading into Day 2.

The next day saw the players drop thick and fast, with Full Tilt Red Pros Mark Vos and Billy ‘The Croc’ Argyros amongst those to hit the rail during the first two levels, followed by Paul ‘The Voice’ Khoury, Rennie Carnevale and Graeme ‘Kiwi G’ Putt. In the end, it was NPL Qualifier Hasan Kadiroglu who was bestowed with the dubious title ‘bubble boy’ just before 3.30pm after a tournament-crushing soul read by Christopher ‘Fat Cat’ Moussa.

From there, the cries of “all in, call” went up throughout the room at a frenetic place as the players dashed for the cash – Full Tilt Red Pro Van Marcus cashed in 23rd place, but all eyes were on Ben Delaney who had amassed a mountain of chips, but after being crippled several times, he fell short of the final table in 11th place. Jason Donovan grinded his way to 14th place, while Carmine De Sciscio (19th place) and Thai Tran (13th place) were just some of the NPL Qualifiers who made the money, as well as Kim Jackson, who was the highest-ranked female player in the field, finishing in 12th place.

George Abrahim was the ‘final table bubble’, finishing in 10th place just before the dinner break after moving all-in for the last of his chips with {Ah}{Jd}, only to be snap-called by Terry Tserdanis who showed {As}{Ks}, which was best on the board of {6s}{6c}{Ac}{8s}{9d}. With Abrahim’s elimination, the final nine players were:

Final Table Seat Draw and Chip Counts

Seat 1: Bruno Calfapietra (620,000)
Seat 2: Matt Langdon (511,000)
Seat 3: Christopher Moussa (460,000)
Seat 4: Jason Gray (632,000)
Seat 5: Terry Tserdanis (728,000)
Seat 6: Aaron Benton (341,000)
Seat 7: Laurence Hall (392,000)
Seat 8: Esan Tabrizi (776,000)
Seat 9: Leveni Tonga (614,000)

Esan Tabrizi started the final table with the chip lead, but was crippled by Bruno Calfapietra when he moved all in on a flop of {8d}{9d}{4d} with {Th}{Td}, only to run into Calfapietra’s {8s}{8h}. No diamond fell on the turn or the river and Tabrizi was left with just 120,000, which he moved into the middle with pocket threes in the very next hand. Aaron Benton woke up in the blinds with pocket jacks. Neither hand improved on the nine-high board and Tabrizi was eliminated in 9th place, collecting $4500 for his efforts.

Two hands later, Christopher Moussa found himself all-in pre-flop with {Kx}{Tx}, only to find himself behind the {Ax}{Tx} of Jason Gray. Both hit trips on the board of {3s}{Td}{4s}{8h}{Ts}, but Gray’s kicker was best and Moussa was sent to the rail in 8th place ($5000).

Calfapietra was then crippled in devastating fashion by Matt Langdon. After the money all went into the middle before the flop, Calfapietra found himself at risk but in a flip for his tournament life with {As}{Ks} against Langdon’s {8s}{8h}. Calfapietra snatched the lead on the flop of {Ah}{Ts}{6h}, but the turn went runner-runner {4h}, {9h} to give Langdon the flush and leave Calfapietra with just 8000 in chips, which he lost in the very next hand, thus bowing out in 7th place ($7500).

Crowd favourite Leveni Tonga was the next to go, with the Marrickville Mobster moving all-in with {As}{Kd} after a pre-flop raise from Laurence Hall, only to find himself in bad shape against Hall’s {Ah}{Ad}. Tonga made a pair when the dealer spread the board of {Th}{Kh}{9c}{6c}{7c}, but it wasn’t enough against Hall’s overpair, eliminating Tonga in 6th place ($10,000).

Matt Langdon then got the last of his money into the middle holding {8d}{8c} and found himself in a flip for his tournament life against the {Ah}{9s} of Aaron Benton. However, in an almost exact reversal of Langdon’s decimation of Calfapietra’s stack earlier in the evening, Benton caught a runner-runner flush on the board of {3h}{8h}{2d}{Kh}{9h}, taking Langdon out in 5th place ($15,000).

Laurence Hall was then eliminated in 4th place ($25,000) in the space of two hands by Jason Gray. Hall was mortally wounded when he ran his {6d}{6c} into Gray’s {As}{Ah}; with the board improving neither hand, Hall was left with just 38,000 in chips and found himself all-in a short time later with {3c}{2h}, only to be outdrawn by Gray’s {4c}{2d} after the dealer produced a board that read {6h}{5s}{7h}{8s}{Ah}.

Though Terry Tserdanis was the last amateur standing, he held his nerve and began to chip away at the pros before Aaron Benton was sent packing in 3rd place ($50,000). With the blinds at 50,000/100,000, Benton raised to 300,000 from the button before the flop, Gray folded his small blind and Tserdanis moved all-in from the big blind.

Benton called, showing {js}{Ts} but trailed Tserdanis’ {kc}{Qh}, which held all the way down the board of {6h}{5c}{Ac}{5h}{9h}, leaving Benton with just 470,000. Benton moved his chips into the middle in the very next hand with {7h}{6s}, but Jason Gray finished him off after improving to two pair on the {Kc}{Ac}{Ts}{Qh}{5d} board with his {As}{Ks}.

With Benton’s elimination, Tserdanis took a 4:1 chip lead into the heads-up battle with Jason Gray and after a tense 30 minutes of to-ing and fro-ing, Gray open-shoved from the button for his last 700,000 with {7d}{7c} and found himself in a coin toss against Tserdanis who called with {Qd}{9c}.

Neither hand improved on the flop of {6c}{Kh}{Js}, but Tserdanis took the lead when the {Qc} spiked on the turn, which held after the {As} bricked out on the river, eliminating Gray in 2nd place ($100,000). After 25-and-a-half hours of gruelling play, Terry Tserdanis was confirmed as the first ever NPL Full Tilt Poker 500 champion, taking home a whopping $250,000 in prizes, including a WSOP Main Event seat, an Aussie Millions Main Event seat and $135,000 in cold hard cash, plus a brand new Lotus Elise S sports car. Not bad for two days’ work – congratulations Terry!

All in all, this was not your ordinary pub poker game –  this event truly exceeded all expectations and all the amateur and professional players we’ve spoken to are chomping at the bit to get the next NPL Full Tilt Poker 500 up and running.

The professionalism from all the dealers and tournament directors, the quality of the tables and equipment and the setup of the poker room, along with the innovative tournament structure, gave us everything we’ve come to expect from a world-class poker tournament. 
Full credit goes out to the team at the National Poker League, the Eastern Suburbs Leagues Club and Full Tilt Poker for all their hard work in making this event happen. Bring it on!

The PokerNetwork Live Reporting Team will be down in Melbourne from Friday, August 20 to bring you exclusive coverage of the 2010 Victorian Poker Championships at Crown Casino in Melbourne. 

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Terry Tserdanis Wins NPL Full Tilt Poker 500 Terry Tserdanis Wins NPL Full Tilt Poker 500

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