Aussie Millions: Michael Addamo Wins The AUD 50,000 NLHE Challenge

It’s been a long road to get there for the Melbourne man, but get there he did.

Michael Addamo began racking up live tournament scores in 2012, and he earned his first 17 in the money (ITM) finishes playing in the Crown Casino in Melbourne, including his first-ever win: a 36-entrant AUD 20 NLHE event for AUD 640 in 2013.

Two years later, and Addamo made a deep run in the Aussie Millions Main Event, finishing 21/648, securing a record AUD 40,000 score. Another two years passed, before Addamo made another impression at the Crown, finishing 3/15656 in the AUD 1,200 NLHE Opening Event for AUD 117,910, and winning a 31-entrant AUD 5,000 at the Crown Poker Championships for AUD 58,900.

A year later, and Addamo, went one step further in the Aussie Millions Opening Event finishing runner-up to Benedikt Eberle in the 1,538-entrant AUD 1,200 NLHE Opening Event for AUD 194,690.

And now this.

Addamo has just defeated Cary Katz in heads-up action to take the title and $741,752 first prize in the AUD 50,000 No-Limit Hold ’em (NLH) Challenge.

A ring, at last.

The Nutshell Action

Day 1

It was a record-breaking Day 1, with 67-entrants surpassing the previous record set in 2019 when Toby Lewis defeated 62-entrants. 39-players waded through a moat of treacle to make it to Day 2, and with late registration and unlimited re-entry available until the end of the first level on Day 2, the attendance figure would rise.

The 2019 Global Poker Index (GPI) Australian Player of the Year (PoY), Kahle Burns, led the field. Former AUD 50,000 winners Mikita Badziakouski and Sam Greenwood ended the day in the Top 10. Addamo settled for a berth in the middle of the pack

Day 2

The day began with three new entrants, as Sosia Jiang, Jorryt van Hoof, and Cary Katz hoped their new bullets weren’t rubber.

By the end of the first level, and a series of sugared-up re-entries, the final attendance was 82-entrants, with 44-players left to battle for the $738,000 first prize.

Addamo took the chip lead in Level 11, after eliminating Sam Grafton when pocket tens outstripped AK during a five-card sprint. Then we lost the starting day chip leader when Elio Fox’s AdJc beat Burns’ QhJh after an all-in and call in the same level.

The Global Poker Index (GPI) World #1 would fall in Level 12 when Alex Foxen’s AdKh faced Rainer Kempe’s pocket tens in a hip-hop dance-off, did a headspin and broke its neck.

Ten would earn a buck, and Michael Soyza was the last person not to. With blinds at 2,500k/5,000/5,000, Soyza limped into the action from the small blind, holding Ac7c, and called when Addamo raised to 20,000, holding Qh8h. The flop of AhKh8d contained a bit of something for both players, and Soyza check-called a 30,000 Addamo bet. The Js hit the turn, keeping Soyza in the lead, and he once again check-called, this time for an overbet of 105,000. Addamo hit his flush on the river when the 7h decided the myopic lifestyle of the deck was not for him. Soyza checked, Addamo moved all-in, and after using 3 of his 4-time extension chips, Soyza made the fatal call.

The first player to exit with a few AUD in her purse was Kristen Bicknell. The 2019 GPI Female Player of the Year lost a race versus Cary Katz when pocket fives failed to dodge the landmines that aided AhKc.

Yong Wang felt the sharp sting of the Poker Gods wrath when he got it in with pocket kings versus the pocket tens of Erik Seidel, only for the New Yorker to hit his two-outer on the flop to send Wang home with a bang.

The next time Seidel came up against pocket kings, the Poker Gods deserted him. Seidel got it in on 9s8s6h chasing a flush draw with As5s in a single raised pot against Katz, holding KsKd. The flush flirted with an appearance but decided against it, and Katz extended his chip lead, leaving Seidel feeling more styrofoam cup than China.

Sharpshooter, Sam Greenwood, took out two in a single shot to keep his hopes of a second AUD 50,000 NLHE Challenge win alive. Rainer Kempe moved all-in for 142,000 from midfield, Greenwood was all-in from the button, and Timothy Adams called all-in from the big blind. Adams had the lead with pocket jacks versus the pocket nines of Greenwood, and KcQc of Kempe, but a 9s hit the turn to give Greenwood trips and the triple up.

Addamo replaced Katz as the chip leader with four remaining after eliminating the short-stacked Ben Lamb. The cash game star made a move holding 8c2c for the flush draw on 7c5h4c, and Addamo called and won with pocket jacks.

Then Greenwood’s voyage hit the rocks in fourth-place.

With blinds at 5,000/10,000/10,000, Addamo opened to 22,000, holding pocket aces in the first position, Katz called on the button with an unknown hand and Greenwood three-bet to 105,000 from the big blind. Addamo four-bet to 230,000, Katz moved out of the way, Greenwood jammed for more than 800,000, and Addamo called. Greenwood did flop the nut flush draw, but the turn and river were as red as Greenwood’s jumper, and the Canadian was out.

Chip Counts

Michael Addamo – 2,450,000
Cary Katz – 1,250,000
Orpen Kisacikoglu – 375,000

Kisacikoglu had a mountain to climb, and he didn’t climb it.

With blinds at 6,000/12,000/12,000, Kisacikoglu bet 12,000 on a flop of 4s3d3c, and Addamo made the call. Kisacikoglu held Kd4d for two-pair, and Addamo held Qh3s for trips. The turn card was a cooler when the Kh improved Kisacikoglu’s hand even further. The London-based entrepreneur checked from his seat in the small blind, Addamo bet 45,000 from the big, and the call came. The final card was the 5s, and Addamo moved all-in prompting a call from Kisacikoglu, and heads-up play moved over the horizon.


Michael Addamo – 2,815,000
Cary Katz – 1,285,000

In what turned out to be a bit of a battle, Katz would double-up once, but never take the lead from Addamo throughout the duration. The final hand came with blinds at 10,000/20,000/20,000, when Addamo limped into the action holding pocket sixes, and Katz made a sneaky check with AhJs. The Jh6d2d flop would have had all the poker TV junkies on the edge of their seats like trained monkeys watching a cocaine bottle refill. Of course, the money went in, and the set for Addamo held to deliver him his 10th title. Last years AUD 100,000 Challenge winner, had to settle for second place.

Previous AUD 50,000 NLHE Challenge Winners

2017 Mikita Badziakouski beat six entrants
2018 Sam Greenwood beat four entrants
2019 Toby Lewis beat 62-entrants

AUD 50,000 NLHE Challenge ITM Results

  1. Michael Addamo – $741,752
  2. Cary Katz – $494,501
  3. Orpen Kisacikoglu – $329,668
  4. Sam Greenwood – $274,723
  5. Ben Lamb – $219,778
  6. Timothy Adams – $192,306
  7. Rainer Kempe – $164,834
  8. Erik Seidel – $137,362
  9. Yong Wang – $109,889
  10. Kristen Bicknell – $82,417