2018 WPT Southern Poker Championship and Aussie Millions Main Event

Two significant titles (and a whole lot of money) were awarded this weekend, and for once the winners weren’t a pair of fresh-faced online transplants. No, both the Aussie Millions Main Event Champion and the WPT’s Southern Poker Champion have paid their dues. Aussie Millions winner David Gorr has been claiming small cashes at Australian tournaments for over a decade. The Southern Poker Champion, Alexander Kuzmin, has a similar story having only won his first $20,000+ payout at the WSOP last year.

Kuzmin’s big win earned him a $601,469 paycheck – easily the largest of his career – plus a $25,000 entry into the WPT’s World Championship. Many of the onlookers at this year’s Southern Poker Championship were hoping to see history made. That is, they were hoping 2009 winner Allen Carter would become the first WPT Champion to win the same event twice. Though Carter came to the table only 41,000 chips behind Kuzmin, a repeat win just wasn’t in his cards. Kuzmin himself took Carter out in third. Here are the top six finishes for the tournament: 

  1. Alexander Kuzmin – $601,469
  2. Leif Force – $315,790
  3. Allen Carter – $218,471
  4. Shannon Shorr – $144,985
  5. Pat Mahoney – $113,208
  6. Ryan Hughes – $89,375

On the other side of the planet, another working class pro was finally getting his reward. Australian David Gorr beat out an extremely tight field of 721 players to take home the first place payout of AUD $2,000,000. In more than ten years of live tournament play, Gorr’s lifetime earnings were only $125,576 coming into this year’s Aussie Millions Main Event. Previously, his largest cash was AUD $35,910 for coming in second in a Pot Limit Hold’em event at the 2008 Aussie Millions. Not only was his Main Event payout life-changing, but it was Gorr’s first win, which will no doubt make the event career-changing too.

Gorr beat out the best of the best this weekend. In the later rounds pros like Howard Lederer, Mike Sowers, Chris Ferguson and Phil Ivey hit the rail while Gorr played on. He didn’t even start the final table as a favorite – sitting in third for chips behind American pro Randy Dorfman and British pro James Keys. Gorr was comfortable and confident nonetheless, largely because the hosting Crown Casino just happens to be his home poker room. It only took him a few hands to pick a monster pot of Dorman, and that set the tone for the rest of Gorr’s final day play.

Another big moment for Gorr was when he sent renowned high stakes player Patrik Antonius to the rail in 8th. He gave the audience an encore when he finished Chris Moorman off in 7th soon after. While Gorr didn’t personally eliminate all of his opponents, he did take down most of them including Randy Dorfman in 5th, Jeff Rossiter in 3rd and of course runner-up James Keys.

To Keys’ credit, though Gorr came to the heads-up action with a nearly 10,000,000 chip lead, Keys actually managed to take the lead a couple hours into their face-off. With Keys sitting at 13,310,000 chips and Gorr sitting at just 1,160,000, it looked like it was all over, but Gorr had other plans. Over the next several dozen hands, he doubled up. Then he doubled up again…and again. Only an hour after losing his lead, Gorr regained it and shortly thereafter put the finishing moves on Keys. It was an epic performance, and no one can deny that Gorr was a deserving champion at this year’s Aussie Millions.

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