Top 30 influential Aussie Poker "True Believers"

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August 18 2011

Written to Feature Articles by Maurie Pears

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"Keith “Bendigo” Sloan"
August 17, 2011

Aussie Poker Hall of Fame Chairman shares his top 30 "True Believers" who have helped shape the game of poker in Australia



  • John Davidson, bookmaker, wrote our first gambling guide for Australia
  • Ron Hurley (with his Aspinall associates) who introduced Casinos to Australasia (1973) as well as our first freeze out Poker competitions in Launceston and Hobart (1981, 83 and 87)
  • John “the Baptist” Beagle, Casino journalist (“Chips”) and consultant at large, who has assisted the formation of many poker rooms, from Hobart to Adelaide to Canberra and Crown.
  • Mike Manion and Ron Waugh for the Sydney clubs pre casino.
  • Keith “Bendigo” Sloan, entrepreneur, Tournament Director, and promoter of Speed Poker. He was the catalyst in many poker rooms from Adelaide to Crown, Moscow to Macau to Las Vegas and now is overseas in World Poker development. He has been a driving force behind Poker in Australasia since 1985


***Click here for True Believers Part 1: the early days of Aussie Poker


Our early Poker internationals...

  • Mel Judah
  • Marsha Waggener
  • Gary Benson
  • Billie Argyros
  • Jeff Lisandro
  • and Tony Guoga who introduced Australian poker to the world..


For the first ‘big one’, the Adelaide Australasian Championships (1987) and the following annual pilgrimages... 

  • John Kocbek, Mike and Martin Comer (and Ice Cream Jack’s Tables) for the Vanuatu experience and constant support of Poker.
  • Andrew MacDonald for some Corporate Casino leadership when it was most needed,


The Road Runners who play any game any time anywhere....

  • Graeme “KiwiG” Putt
  • Marco Conjir
  • Billie Saliba 



  • Casino Canberra for filling a much-needed gap.
  • Steve Fox, Bendigo, Baptist and the Crown Crew, for the first Las Vegas Poker Room,
  • Johnny Parker, Danny McDonagh who with Bendigo made the Las Vegas room what it is today



  • Pokernetwork. By itself, must get a jersey for providing the forum for Casino events, results and player comments from 1999 onwards, to its peak and sale in 2006. Now set within the iBus media network.
  • Cards Magazine and Darryl “the Dazzler” Lanyon who was the first to give us the “Cards” news on Poker in Australia a long time before Pokernetwork,


For the introduction of the Australian Poker Association

  • Joe Meissner and assistant Glen “Gofor” Athanassiou
  • Arthur Pitcher, Christchurch Casino and “The Kiwis” for Casino Poker in the long white cloud and early visits to Adelaide,


And for breathing new life and initiative into Poker in Australia and overseas with massive expansion and promotion...

  • The Crown Casino Management, Richard Longhurst, Sean McCreery


...Without Crown, the Aussie Millions, Pokernetwork, Bendigo, our players and Television, the game would not be where it is today. There will be others, champions and promoters who are making their marks now and in the future. May they continue to build the game in our region upon these foundations set by Aussie Poker's "True Believers".


The older I get the better I was,



Maurie Pears is the Chairman of the Australian Poker Hall of Fame


Click to Visit the Australian Poker Hall of Fame Page

Link to Part 1: "True Believers" the early days of Aussie Poker

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