The penultimate WPT Deepstacks event took place in Sydney as the curtain comes close to falling on one of the most popular low buy-in Main Events with a big guarantee in recent memory.

When the dust settled in Oz, it was Mark Fester who held the trophy aloft as one of the most exciting tours for players below the elite level played out with excitement and drama on a frantic final day at the felt Down Under.

Amazing Numbers Break Records

With a total of 2,023 entries, the $1,500-entry WPTDeepStacks Sydney Main Event was incredibly popular, breaking attendance records for the tournament series and creating a prize pool of $2,013,312, making it biggest WPTDeepStacks Main Event ever to take place. It’s heartening news in a time that has been difficult for Australian poker fans, with the tragic loss of poker enthusiast and cricket legend Shane Warne adding to the concerns that the Aussie Millions was under threat.

As the final table began, Marco Peri was shorter-stacked than most and his bid to double his way back into the final fell at the first fence. Perri shipped all-in with ace-ten, but Nicholas Weight’s ace-jack both dominated and delivered his fellow Aussie’s hand. Perri, while crestfallen, cashed for $30,884 in ninth place.

Out in eighth place was Spencer Davies, who also crashed out with a dominated ace. His ace-three was no good against Austrian player Benedikt Eberle’s ace-five, leaving Davies on the rail with on a return of $39,401 on his buy-in.

Fester Begins His Ascent

Any final table has a period where two or three players bust in fairly quick succession. Momentum being as important as it is in tournament poker, this is often the period where the eventual winner makes ground on his or her opposition and this was the case at The Star Casino in Sydney.

Mark Fester wasn’t about to hang around waiting to win, he was making moves to do so, and after Darius Bucinskas (7th for $50,736) and Chinese player Lirui Zhang (6th for $65,916) were take care of, Fester busted the aforementioned Austrian Eberle in fifth place for $86,431.

Eberle was all-in with pocket sevens, but couldn’t hold against the ace-queen of Mark Fester, Fester taking out his opponent and in doing so, building a formidable chip-stack. Leaping into a massive lead in the middle period of the final table, Fester waited no time at all before taking the scalp of his next victim. Luke McCredie busted in fourth place for $114,416, again to Fester, as he cashed for the first six-figure score of the event.

The Crown is Claimed

Three men were still in the hunt for the title and with over $665,000 up for grabs, it was the French player Anthony Cierco who busted next. Claiming $152,851 for his third-place finish, Cierco was eliminated by Wright, who needed the chips in order to have any chance heads-up. That pot gave him almost as many chips as his opponent, but not quite.

Fester still had the advantage heading into the final duel, however, and the two Australians battled for the glory of victory into the evening. When Wright called a raise only with pocket kings, Fester held ace-ten of diamonds and Wright then check-called a flop of K-Q-5 with two diamonds. The turn was the jack of hearts, filling in an unlikely Broadway straight for Fester, and just called Wright’s lead on the turn, before an eight of hearts fell on the river.

Again, Fester just checked, but when Wright made a value bet, Fester moved all-in, seeing a snap call from Wright give him the win.

Wright’s flopped top set of kings was no good, but he can console himself with the $206,022 runner-up prize, while Fester banks a massive $309,025, easily the biggest score of his poker career, who previously won a career-high prize of $18,892 for coming second at the 2018 Sydney Championships.

The Champion in his Own Words

“I’ve been playing poker casually for so many years, I got involved during the poker boom,” said the champion Fester shortly after taking the title down. “At that time, WSOP and WPT were the big names. I watched so many tournaments, all of my favorite players, through the years.”

Fester was overjoyed at achieving something he thought was just a fantasy.

“I am a champion when I thought that it was just a dream that would never be achieved.” He said.

The final WPTDeepstacks festival takes place in just 10 days’ time as the WPTDeepstacks Thunder Valley arrives in Sacramento on April 28th. With one final $1,500 buy-in Main Event, players will be desperate to become the last-ever WPTDeepstacks champion.

WPTDeepstacks Sydney Main Event Final Table Results:

Place Player Country Prize  
1st Mark Fester Australia $309,025  
2nd Nicholas Wright Australia $206,022  
3rd Anthony Cierco France $152,851  
4th Luke McCredie Australia $114,416  
5th Benedikt Eberle Austria $86,431  
6th Lirui Zhang China $65,916  
7th Darius Bucinskas Australia $50,736  
8th Spencer Davies Australia $39,401  
9th Marco Perri Australia $30,884  


James Guill

James Guill is a former professional poker player who writes fro about poker, sports, casinos, gaming legislation and the online gambling industry in general. His past experience includes working with IveyPoker, PokerNews, PokerJunkie, Bwin, and the Ongame Network. From 2006-2009 he participated in multiple tournaments including the 37th and 38th World Series of Poker (WSOP). James lives in Virginia and he has a side business where he picks and sells vintage and antique items.

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