The Auckland Poker Championships might not have attracted record numbers, but the 100 entrants helped ensure this year’s prizepool topped NZ$200,000/AU$190,970.

Jamie Sadlier Auckland Poker Championships.

Local player Jamie Sadlier takes down the Auckland Poker Championships after a three-way chop inside SKYCITY Casino. (Image: Getty Images/

Prior to the start of the 2017 Auckland Poker Championships, SKYCITY Senior Gaming Operations Manager Martin Coughlan projected a healthy turnout.

After setting February’s SKYCITY Festival of Poker Main Event buy-in at AU$1,570, Coughlan decided to up the ante for the Auckland Poker Championships and put the entry fee up to AU$2,100 with the hope of attracting an “international” field.

Bigger Buy-in Leads to Big Interest

This strategy appeared to pay off as the increased buy-in didn’t deter 100 entrants (just eight fewer than the Festival of Poker) from New Zealand and beyond anteing up.

As well as local talent such as Jamie Mulligan and Jamie Sadlier, one of the most notable figures at the table was Shurane Vijayaram.

The Australian player hit the headlines in January after he turned an AU$130 satellites entry into AU$1.6 million in the Aussie Millions Main Event.

After beating England’s Ben Heath heads-up, Vijayaram not only notched up his first major live cash, but became one of the first poker champions of 2017.

Since that unexpected win, Vijayaram has been playing a number of small stakes events at Melbourne’s Crown Casino, but decided to test his skills in SKYCITY Auckland’s event. Although he couldn’t quite make it to the top spot this time around, he did finish fourth for his second biggest live cash worth AU$19,000.

Aussie Champ’s Exit Leads to Split

Once Vijayaram had hit the rail in fourth place, the remaining three players decided to split the prizepool and leave a few thousand dollars and the trophy to one side.

With Sadlier being one of the largest stacks throughout the latter half of the tournament, he seemed almost destined to take home the winner’s trophy.

After taking out Mulligan and Jeffrey Bucher, Sadlier celebrated with his friends before telling The New Zealand Herald’s Steven Holloway about the final stages of the tournament.

“I thought the standard of players was really good and it was awesome to play with Shurane (Vijayaram), the Aussie Millions main event winner, who came fourth. We were all pretty much level stacked and we just felt with the variance, and the payouts, it was the best way to go,” said Sadlier.

Following the conclusion of one of its richest ever events, Auckland’s SKYCITY will return to its usual weekly poker schedule while the tournament team plans its next major event.

Auckland Poker Championships 2017 Result

1. Jamie Sadlier – AU$42,160*

2. Jeffrey Bucher – AU$40,000 *

3. Jamie Mulligan – AU$40,000 *

4. Shurane Vijayaram – AU$19,000

5. Robbie Robin – AU$14,700

6. Wending Dai – AU$9,500

7. Sarah Saifi – AU$7,600

8. Rajko Gojkovic – AU$6,600

9. Zhen Giang Lin – AU$5,700

10. Tom Brittenden – AU$5,100

*Denotes a deal

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