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Michael Addamo Can’t Be Stopped, Wins Fifth High Roller In Five Weeks

Australian Phenom Earns Third WSOP Bracelet

by Card Player News Team |  Published: Dec 01, 2021


Editor’s Note: This featured story appeared in Vol. 34, Issue 25 of Card Player Magazine and was published before Addamo won $1.95 million and his fourth bracelet.

Michael Addamo has been a high-stakes crusher for the last few years, but what he accomplished during a five-week stretch in September and October of this year was nothing short of historic.

The 27-year-old Australian arrived in Las Vegas just in time for only the last two events of the Poker Masters series at the PokerGO studios at Aria. In back-to-back days, he won both.

It started with the $50,000 buy-in high roller event, which he promptly took down for $680,000. After posing for the required winner photos, he registered late for the $100,000 main event. By the next afternoon, he had yet another trophy for his growing collection and another $1,160,000 for his swelling bankroll.

A week later, he finished runner-up in a $50,000 Aria high roller for another $322,000. That proved to just be a warm up for what would become the biggest score of his career.

The $300,000 buy-in Super High Roller Bowl drew a field of 21 of the best players in the world. In the end, it came down to Addamo and fellow high-stakes standout Justin Bonomo. The two had battled heads-up before, coincidentally in the online version of the SHRB that took place during June of 2020. Bonomo got the better of it in that match, and Addamo settled for the $1,187,500 runner-up prize.

This time, however, he would not be denied. His second try at it proved to be the charm, and Addamo came away with the title and the massive $3,402,000 first-place prize.

“It hasn’t really sunk in. I’m not really a big celebrator,” Addamo admitted after the win, even going so far as to point out that he made some mistakes along the way. “I think maybe after a week with some good sleep and rest that I’ll be like, ‘Okay, that was an insane week.’ I’d say, it’s like a one-in-a-million chance [of winning all three events].”

While his hot streak may have been a matter of positive variance in his eyes, Addamo was also quite confident that he could keep it going. The SHRB score was enough to vault him into the top spot on Australia’s all-time money list ahead of WSOP main event champion Joe Hachem and fellow high-stakes pro Kahle Burns.

“That’s nice,” the Melbourne native said when informed that he had taken the lead. “Joe is a good guy and I’m also good friends with Kahle. There’s more coming though. I’ll play some of the bigger WSOP events. I’m here all series, so I’ll play some.”
What sounded like confidence might as well have been a warning to the rest of the high roller community.

Winning His Third Bracelet

Addamo continued his assault on the nosebleed circuit with a third-place showing in a $200,000 buy-in high roller at Aria for another $544,000 before turning his focus to the World Series of Poker. He had some reason to be confident, having already secured two bracelets at the series. Furthermore, he had experience in the $50,000 buy-in event, having already finished third the last time it ran back in 2019 for just shy of $700,000.

Addamo at the WSOPIt took almost no time at all for Addamo to climb to the top of the leaderboard, despite the field of 81 elite runners. His fellow competitors almost found it comical how easy it was for him to accumulate chips. He finished the first day of play with nearly six times the average stack and the overall lead. By the time the final table was set, he had half of the total chips in play.

The stacks had evened out by heads-up play, however. And once again, Addamo somehow found himself heads-up with none other than Justin Bonomo. The two seemed destined for a rubber match to settle things once and for all.

“All of them were cards up (broadcasted), so it’s good to see how he plays heads-up,” Addamo said about his three heads-up matches with Bonomo. “A lot of tournament players you don’t really get to see them play heads-up that much, so having a little bit of a sample is kind of nice.”

The two battled back-and-forth for a bit, but neither found themselves with a sizable lead. Eventually all the chips went into the middle with Addamo’s KHeart Suit JHeart Suit in the lead against Bonomo’s 10Diamond Suit 9Spade Suit.

The flop QDiamond Suit JClub Suit 10Heart Suit moved Addamo into the lead, but the 10Spade Suit gave Bonomo the best hand with trip tens. Addamo would need to hit a nine, jack, or ace to win.

The dealer produced the AClub Suit on the river and Addamo picked up his third career bracelet and the $1.13 million that came with it.

For added measure, he returned to Aria later that week and won yet another tournament, this time banking a modest $219,300 in the $15,000 buy-in event.

“Obviously, there is some skill involved, but winning this much is really attributed to luck in the end. So, it’s very fortunate.”

Addamo’s matter-of-fact attitude towards his success is nothing new. When asked if he had any fond memories of winning his first bracelet, he could only focus on how the win benefited his bankroll.

“To be honest, the money is quite nice. It allows you to take a bigger piece of tournaments in the future.”

And when asked where his third bracelet ranked on his list of accomplishments, Addamo similarly dodged the question.

“I just like winning big tournaments,” Addamo said. “I don’t know if there is any title that is more special than the other. Just beating the tougher fields are the most fun.”

How He Does It

Addamo’s latest run is just the cherry on top of what was already an extended hot streak that began back in the summer of 2018. After winning his first bracelet and $653,581 in the $2,620 buy-in WSOP Marathon event, he took the trip to the WSOP Europe series and won his second in the €100,000 high roller for $976,007. He then won several high rollers in the ensuing months, including two big victories for a combined $1.5 million in his home country of Australia to kick start 2020.

The pandemic may have shut down the live tournament circuit, but that didn’t shut down Addamo, who has an online record that is almost as impressive as what he’s done on the casino felt. Although online poker has been banned in Australia since late 2017, Addamo relocated to Thailand and continued to rack up the cash.

In addition to winning the PokerStars Sunday Million high roller, and the WCOOP high roller, Addamo also took down the 2020 WPT World Online Championships for $1,284,113, and then the 2021 partypoker MILLIONS high roller for another $1,310,715. He’s also won the GGPoker Super MILLION$ high roller a whopping four times while finishing runner-up twice for more than $2.5 million in combined cashes.

So how does he do it? As it turns out, it’s just good old fashioned hard work. Addamo comes from a chess background, and actually discovered poker after overhearing some of the other players in his chess club talking about the game.

“Chess is a very strategic game,” he told SoMuchPoker a few years ago. “There is also a bit of solver work to do there so it can be quite similar to poker. Chess is not solved, but computers can beat humans and there are programs where you can study what the best moves are. So it requires a bit of work. It’s actually quite similar I think, it’s just that the money is not there.”

There was plenty of money to be made in poker, however, especially for an even-keeled, self-described minimalist who wanted to do nothing but play cards.

“I don’t really spend too much money. I don’t really gamble and play any other casino games. I don’t go to crazy parties. [I’m also] quite calm. Small things don’t bother me anymore, like if I miss my flight or a bus is running late, it just doesn’t affect me anymore.”

But while he has the temperament for the stress that comes with high rollers, it’s his playing style that has separated him from the pack. Through his liberal use of polarized overbets, Addamo has developed a way to accumulate big stacks of chips, which only helps him when it comes time to punish shorter stacks and close out final tables.

“I play a strategy where I put a lot of big bets in. That’s no secret. The [solvers] say I should use them, so I do. Sometimes you’re going to be out in the first level, and sometimes you’re going to run up a big stack. I might be more likely to have a big stack, or be out [of the tournament],” he explained.

In Elite Company

Addamo isn’t the first high-stakes player to go sun running with an improbable winning streak. Poker pros such as Dan Colman, Fedor Holz, Bryn Kenney, Ali Imsirovic, and even Bonomo himself have all spent more than their fair share of time in the winner’s circle. But if you ask around, it’s clear that Addamo’s peers regard him as one of, it not the best tournament player today.

“It does put some pressure [on you], because if you internalize and believe that, you can become complacent, and sometimes that might make you study less,” said Addamo. “I just try and keep humble and try not to let it go to my head and just keep working and studying hard. To be honest, I try and tune out all of the money, all of the fame, and all of that sort of stuff so I can just focus on playing my best. It’s taken years to work through that and get to where I am.” ♠

Top Tournament Scores

Date Event Buy-In Finish Prize
Sept. 2021 Super High Roller Bowl $300,000 1st $3,402,000
March 2021 partypoker MILLIONS Online $100,000 1st $1,310,715
Sept. 2020 WPT World Online Championship $100,000 1st $1,284,113
June 2020 Super High Roller Bowl Online $100,000 2nd $1,187,500
Sept. 2021 Poker Masters $100,000 1st $1,160,000
Oct. 2021 World Series of Poker $50,000 1st $1,132,968
Oct. 2018 World Series of Poker Europe €25,000 1st $976,007
Feb. 2020 Australian Poker Open AUD$100,000 1st $888,720
Jan. 2020 Aussie Millions AUD$50,000 1st $740,915
July 2019 World Series of Poker $50,000 3rd $697,375
Sept. 2021 Poker Masters $50,000 1st $680,000
June 2018 World Series of Poker $2,620 1st $653,581
Oct. 2021 Aria High Roller Series $200,000 3rd $544,000
Jan. 2021 WSOP Circuit Online Colossus $400 1st $374,604
March 2019 Triton Super High Roller HKD$1,000,000 4th $364,000
May 2021 WPT Online Series High Roller $25,000 1st $363,661
March 2020 partypoker MILLIONS Sochi $100,000 5th $336,000
Aug. 2021 GGPoker Super MILLION$ $10,000 1st $326,957
Sept. 2021 GGPoker Super MILLION$ $10,000 2nd $324,278
Sept. 2021 Aria High Roller Series $50,000 2nd $322,000