After an intense 12-hour Day 3, almost half of which was spent playing down from nine to six, the final table of WPT Australia is finally locked in.
From a field of 600 entries at The Star Gold Coast who put up the AUD$8,000, these six players each hope to add their name to the Mike Sexton WPT Champions Cup on Wednesday and take home the $550,267 first-place prize.
Despite a long Day 3, the average stack will sit at over 50 big blinds when play resumes. Chip leader Romain Morvan has the inside track before a single card is pitched into the air however four of the other five players could double up and take over the top spot at any time.
Gary Lin, who held the chip lead himself at the end of the night on Day 2 and Day 3, is in the mix as he looks to complete a strong run in which he never bagged worse than 11th (which he did on Day 1). World Series of Poker bracelet winner Martin Kozlov is directly in the hunt. Nino Marotta has major final table experience of his own, with a pair of deep Aussie Millions runs to his name. Richard Lee will multiply his lifetime earnings no matter where he finishes. And sitting on the short stack, Ken Demlakian is far from out of it, either.
Play is set to resume Wednesday morning at 11:30 a.m. local time in Australia, with a live stream set to kick off 30 minutes later at noon (10 p.m. EST/7 p.m. PST Tuesday in the United States).
Let’s get to know a little more about the players who will compete for the WPT Australia title.
Seat 1: Gary Lin | 5,400,000 (55 big blinds, 3/6)
Currently Resides: Adelaide, Australia
Lifetime Live Tournament Earnings: $137,728
Biggest Live Cash: $51,321, 6th, 2023 WPT Prime Gold Coast
Other Notable Results: 3rd, 2023 $5,300 WPT Prime Cambodia Super High Roller for $33,392
It’s been a major level-up in 2023 for Gary Lin. The Chinese-born 19-year-old took a big step forward in March when he made a pair of final tables at WPT Prime stops in Gold Coast, Australia, and Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Now, six months later, Lin has returned to The Star Gold Coast and made his first WPT Championship Event final table.
It’s been a tremendous few days for Lin, who bagged an 11th-place stack on Day 1 and then the chip lead for two days running. Lin also had the top stack when the WPT Australia field got down to nine, and though he slipped a bit along the way, he was the beneficiary of a set-over-set hand in which he eliminated Yuto Suzuki in seventh place.
If Lin can win on Wednesday, he would be among the youngest champions in WPT history; the record-holder is Lukas Berglund, who was 18 when he won the WPT Spanish Championship back in 2011. In the United States, where the gambling age is 21 in most jurisdictions, 21-year-old champions include Ryan Van Sanford, Nick Schulman and Yevginiy Timoshenko.
End of Day 1 chip count: 308,000 (11/227)
End of Day 2 chip count: 1,919,000 (1/142)
End of Day 3 chip count: 4,435,000 (1/24)
Seat 2: Romain Morvan | 7,450,000 (75 big blinds, 1/6)
Currently Resides: Queensland, Australia
Lifetime Live Tournament Earnings: $331,311
Biggest Live Cash: $129,712, 1st, AUD$5,000 2023 Australian Poker League High Roller Shot Clock Challenge
Other Notable Results: 1st, 2022 WPT Prime AUD$1,000 side event for $32,220; 50th, 2022 WPT Australia Main Event for $8,780
It’s been a big 2023 for Romain Morvan as well. The 29-year-old logged his first career six-figure live score in August, in an AUD$5,000 Australian Poker League event, also held in Gold Coast. He’s already locked up his second at WPT Australia, and with one pay jump he’ll lock up a career-best result for the second time in as many months.
Morvan is in as good a position as any of the final six, entering the final table as chip leader. He won a coinflip to eliminate Peter Lin in ninth place, and utilized those chips to accumulate an impressive stack over the hours that followed.
End of Day 1 chip count: 271,000 (15/227)
End of Day 2 chip count: 702,500 (9/142)
End of Day 3 chip count: 2,360,000 (4/24)
Seat 3: Richard Lee | 4,575,000 (46 big blinds, 4/6)
Birthplace: Los Angeles, CA
Currently Resides: East Rutherford, NJ
Lifetime Live Tournament Earnings: $6,029
Biggest Live Cash: $3,000, 29th, 2022 WPT Legends of Poker $1,100 side event
Lee, the lone American player in the mix, is likely the wild card among the final six. Lee’s previous live tournament results fall short of adding up to the buy-in for this tournament, and a few previous shots at WPT events fell short – but he’s more than made up for it in this run as he’s more than held his own to this point.
The 26-year-old, who is predominantly an online cash game player, spent several years streaming his online poker play on Twitch.
End of Day 1 chip count: 330,500 (7/227)
End of Day 2 chip count: 910,000 (6/142)
End of Day 3 chip count: 2,615,000 (2/24)
Seat 4: Nino Marotta | 4,300,000 (43 big blinds, 5/6)
Currently Resides: Perth, Australia
Lifetime Live Tournament Earnings: $719,125
Biggest Live Cash: $351,611, 5th, 2008 Aussie Millions Main Event
Other Notable Results: 14th, 2017 Aussie Millions Main Event for $60,418
Three players at the WPT Australia final table carry major final table experience with them, but only one of them has done so on Australian soil – Nino Marotta. Back in 2008, Marotta finished fifth in the Aussie Millions Main Event, at a final table that featured poker legend Erik Seidel and eventual champion Alexander Kostritsyn. Marotta made another deep run in the once-iconic Australian event in 2017, finishing 14th in that year’s edition of the Aussie Millions.
Marotta got involved in a number of big pots on Day 4, including a major double-up with pocket kings against Martin Kozlov’s pocket aces. He nearly picked off Richard Lee in another big one, with pocket queens against Lee’s pocket sevens, but a river saved Lee’s tournament. Marotta managed to grind his way towards the middle of the pack without being all in and called over the few hours that followed.
End of Day 1 chip count: 87,500 (152/227)
End of Day 2 chip count: 87,500 (108/142)
End of Day 3 chip count: 940,000 (15/24)
Seat 5: Martin Kozlov | 6,600,000 (66 big blinds, 2/6)
Birthplace: Melbourne, Australia
Currently Resides: Melbourne, Australia
Lifetime Live Tournament Earnings: $3,376,873
Biggest Live Cash: $754,083, 1st, 2017 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open Main Event
Other Notable Results: 1st, 2016 WSOP $10,000 6-Handed Championship for $665,709; 1st, 2010 ANZPT Melbourne Main Event for $189,908.
Kozlov is far and away the most accomplished player among this group, in terms of live tournament results. In 2016, he won arguably won of the toughest WSOP bracelet events on the schedule, taking down the $10,000 6-handed No Limit Hold’em Championship for $665,709. The following year, Kozlov won a career-best $754,083 and the 2017 SHRPO main event in Hollywood, Florida.
While he won an ANZPT Main Event in his hometown of Melbourne, a WPT Championship Event title on home soil would be another major milestone for Kozlov. It’s seemingly a return to form for Kozlov as well; outside of one Poker Masters online cash in mid-2020, Kozlov has no Hendon Mob results since early March 2020.
End of Day 1 chip count: 109,000 (124/227)
End of Day 2 chip count: 585,000 (22/142)
End of Day 3 chip count: 1,900,000 (5/24)
Seat 6: Ken Demlakian | 2,000,000 (20 big blinds, 6/6)
Currently Resides: New South Wales, Australia
Lifetime Live Tournament Earnings: $836,381
Biggest Live Cash: $223,185, 2nd, 2023 The Wynn Summer Classic $1,600 No Limit Hold’em
Other Notable Results: 7th, 2016 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event for $110,220; 3rd, 2022 WPTDeepStacks Sydney AUD$5,000 Challenge for $92,738.
Ken Demlakian enters this final table as the short stack, but like Kozlov and Marotta, Demlakian has been in the poker spotlight before. In 2016, Demlakian finished seventh in the PCA Main Event for a then-career best $110,220. The 63-year-old Australian raised the bar this summer, though, as he traveled Stateside and posted a second-place finish in a big field $1,600 tournament at Wynn Las Vegas for $223,185.
A consulting engineer and property and construction expert by trade, Demlakian has spent the last 15 years traveling to a variety of poker destinations around the world. Now, if he can mount a comeback on Wednesday, a WPT title is on the table.
End of Day 1 chip count: 266,000 (17/227)
End of Day 2 chip count: 800,000 (8/142)
End of Day 3 chip count: 1,690,000 (7/24)