Mike Watson has done it! Four years after his last live tournament victory the Canadian pro has won the opening event of the inaugural Australian Poker Open at Star Gold Coast for $177,000, defeating 59 total entries.

“I’m thrilled to have won it,” Watson exclaimed after taking down the event, “Especially in these series it’s great to get off to a good start and set the tone, get your confidence high, and try to make a run for that player of the series title. It’s also the first live event I’ve won a little while, so that monkey’s off my back.”

Watson last won an event in January 2016 when he took down the prestigious PCA Main Event for $750,000.

“It feels good to have all the chips stacked in front of you to have that photo taken for a change,” Watson smiled after acknowledging it had been a while since his last outright win.

 2020 Australian Poker Open Event #1 Results
Name Country Prize (AUD) Points
1 Mike Watson Canada $177,000 200
2 Michael O’Grady Australia $118,000 140
3 Benjamin Shannon Australia $82,600 100
4 Orpen Kisacikoglu Turkey $59,000 80
5 Jamie Lee United States $47,200 60
6 Andras Nemeth Hungary $35,400 40
7 Elio Fox United States $29,500 40
8 Ben Lamb United States $23,600 40
9 Luc Greenwood Canada $17,700 40

The Australian Poker Open continues with Event #2 $10,000 Pot Limit Omaha which is underway right now with Day 1 action available on our Live Reporting platform. Relive the entire Event #1 final table on PokerGO right here

The action started with the quick elimination of one of Hungary’s finest players, Andras Nemeth. Nemeth, sitting on a short stack, moved all in over the top of Michael O’Grady’s raise with deuces only to get called right away by the Aussie’s pocket aces. O’Grady’s aces held up and Nemeth was knocked out.

Next up to hit the rail was Jamie Lee, who pushed his small stack towards the middle with jack-nine suited. Mike Watson moved all in over the top with ace-queen and the board brought two aces to seal Lee’s fate.

Lee’s elimination tied Watson with O’Grady and Orpen Kisacikoglu for a three-way tie and the chips moved back and forth for a bit before Kisacikoglu got caught with his hand in the cookie jar by Watson. Kisacikoglu bluffed his stack off against the rivered flush of Watson and that brought play down to the final three.

Michael O'Grady and Benjamin Shannon
Aussies Michael O’Grady and Benjamin Shannon at the final table of Event #1 of the 2020 Australian Poker Open.

Local hero Benjamin Shannon was then knocked out in fourth place. Shannon entered the tournament after parlaying a $250 satellite into a larger satellite which sent him into this $10,000 event. Shannon turned his $250 into $82,600 after getting eliminated with ace-two against O’Grady eight-four suited when he moved all-in with a short stack.

The heads-up between Mike Watson and Michael O’Grady was tremendously entertaining and filled with drama. In a massive pot, O’Grady picked up pocket aces only to see the Canadian pro turn over two pair after they ended up all in on king-deuce-three. Watson’s two pair were counterfeited with a three on the turn but a deuce on the river gave him a full house to double up.

An hour or so later, O’Grady was looking to get back into the race when he got king-ten all in versus queen-ten. Watson turned a straight but this time the river was kind to O’Grady who made a bigger straight on the river.

The back and forth continued for another hour before O’Grady ended up all in with ace-eight and he was knocked out against the ace-queen of Watson.

Leading the Australian Poker Open after winning the first event puts the Canadian pro, who now has over $12 million in career tournaments earnings, in pole position for the Championship trophy and $50,000 top prize for player of the series. With this win, Watson also becomes the first leader in the Poker Central High Roller of the Year leader board which has a top prize of $100,000.

Watson will play every event at the Australian Poker Open and aside from the poker, he’s having a blast here so far.

“I really like it here at the Star, the hotel and casino are nice and I really enjoy playing here so far. It’s also nice being in Gold Coast, just a few minutes away from the beach, little shops, restaurants, and stuff like that. I’m looking forward to having a chance to explore things a bit more while I’m here.”

Looking ahead, Watson is excited about what’s to come as he jumped straight into the $10,000 Pot Limit Omaha event and all that’s still to come.

“The schedule looks great and the good turnouts of the first couple of events will hopefully continue into the higher stakes. We do know though that things always get a bit more serious as the stakes get higher with a lot of the same faces but that is to be expected. I think it’s a great schedule for me and I’m excited for a great week of poker.

Watch the final table of Event #2 of the Australian Poker Open live on PokerGO on Sunday at 1pm AEST, 4am CET, 10pm ET, and 7pm PT. New to PokerGO? Subscribe right now

Mike Watson, Andras Nemeth, Orpen Kisacikoglu, Benjamin Shannon, Jamie Lee, Michael O'Grady, Star Gold Coast