You would be hard pressed finding a poker player who didn't respect Michael Kanaan.
The young Sydney pro from Punchbowl burst onto the live poker scene back in 2011 when he won the ANZPT Sydney Tournament in the Star Poker Room. He picked up $203,202 for that event and has built an impressive resume between now and then amassing over $1 million dollars in live tournament earnings.
The only blemish on Kanaan's career was that in spite of winning his break out tournament in 2011 and being thereabouts on countless occasions since then, Kanaan has been unable to win a major tournament since then. That is of course until today where he becomes a World Series of Poker Champion by winning the circuit event here in the Star Poker Room in Sydney.
1,067 players may have entered this Main Event. There may also have been nine players on the final table today but, as we mentioned in the Star Poker Live Reporting Blog yesterday, there was only ever going to be one winner. Kanaan put on an absolute masterclass and showed why he is rightly known as one of the best poker players in Sydney.
Kanaan gave our chip leader an almost 5 million chip headstart when the final table started but didn't let that phase him. He was the story of the table tirelessly working his way up the chip counts. Kanaan got himself up to chip leader about halfway through the final table. The only thing that stopped him was an unbelievable cooler. Where he held against John Pachos (3rd) on a flop. Kanaan got all in there and went from being a massive chip leader to being the short-stack three-handed. To resolve this he utilised the simple strategy he had been using for the past four days of the tournament and that has meant the difference between being a champion, and an also-ran.
"I really just focussed on staying disciplined, Kanaan told the Star Poker Live Reporting Team. "I used to have a lot of trouble in my game where I would just spew off my stack by making bad choices. I have really worked on keeping my composure at the table and just making the best decision I can every time."
Kanaan certainly did that in this tournament and he needed to. There were quality players right through this Main Event field.
The man Kanaan defeated heads up, Michael 'Popsy' Fraser was an example of that. He played a strong and disciplined game at the final table to make sure he was always thereabouts
Fraser has over $123k in tournament cashes and certainly has the experience to go well in these situations. Fraser applies a lot of his poker trade around Coogee and other Eastern Suburbs of Sydney. Kanaan is proudly from Punchbowl in Sydney's west. It was great to see the two sides of the Harbour City battle it out for a WSOP Champion.
Nabil Edgtton was another player on our final table who put together an impressive run. He was extremely short-stacked the whole way through and used an impressive display of ability to finish in 4th place.
There were a lot of big hands in the tournament but Kanaan singles out a hand against chip leader heading into today' play, Sam Alhassan as a defining moment.
"The biggest hand of the tournament to me would have been when I got pocket King all in against pocket Queens. That was the big double up that made me chip leader. He had been running so good that I needed to take his chips from him. He had been unstoppable for three days and after this hand, he was eliminated a few hands later."
Not only does Kanaan pick up the huge paycheck of $394,837, the title of WSOP Sydney Champion and a WSOP Circuit Champion Gold Ring but he is also off to the United State to represent the Star in the $1 million guaranteed Global Casino Championship. The opportunity of a lifetime to find even more WSOP Glory is awarded to both the winner of our Main Event and our Leaderboard Champion. To Kanaan this represents an amazing opportunity.
"I am really excited to represent the Star, Sydney at the WSOP (Global Casino) Championship." Kanaan continued. "It is a big tournament and will really give me an opportunity to perform on the big stage. I love playing at the Star Poker Room, it is my poker home ground. It is great to be able to represent them in a major tournament and hopefully I will do well."
After watching Kanaan in the WSOP Sydney Main Event over the past week it will not be surprising to see him go all the way when he head to America.