Eight events have been played out over nine days and nights at the Crown Casino in Melbourne, Australia, all leading up to the $10,500 main event beginning on January 18th. As they do each year, players travelled from all over the world to participate in the much-anticipated and greatly respected tournament series called the Aussie Millions. And the outcomes of the preliminary events did not disappoint players or fans as they demonstrated the high level of play and sheer volume of people who are anxious to become 2009 Aussie Millions champions.
As the main event gets underway in Melbourne, it only makes sense to take a look at the action that has already wrapped up in the preliminary events.
Event 1: $1000 No-Limit Hold’em
The three-day event was as popular as any first NLHE tournament of a series can be, beginning with the first of two starting days and its 342 players. Names like Tony Hachem, Mel Judah, Jamie Pickering, Tony Dunst, David Saab, Billy Argyros, and Annette Obrestad were part of the substantial crowd. But only 54 remained when it was complete, with David Griffiths in the lead with 95K.
The second starting day brought another 389 registrants to the felt, making for a grand total of 731 players and prize pool that greatly exceeded the casino’s $500K guarantee. Some of the notables among the plyers were Tony G, Jason Gray, Eric Assadourian, and Nali Kaselias. When it was over for the day, the survivors numbered 56 with Dean Blatt holding 145,300 in chips.
The official Day 2 of the event boasted of 110 players, and it would prove to be a long day to play down to the winner. Play was rather quick as they competed for a spot in the money, and soon it was Daniel Mulgrew who busted in 73rd place to make way for that to occur. Deeper into the money and closer to the final table, Naz Sibaei’s elimination in 11th place for AU$6,579 allowed the final ten to take their places at the final table, with Steve Bouya in the lead. And that final played to heads-up as follows:
10th place: Ismail Ismail, out by Paul Rochford (AU$6,579)
9th place: Scott Peters, out by Christian Heich (AU$9,403)
8th place: Dean Blatt, out by Christian Heich (AU$11,965)
7th place: David Griffiths, out by Christian Heich (AU$16,130)
6th place: Clint Jordanou, out by Steve Bouya (AU$25,585)
5th place: Sam Khouiss, out by Christian Heich (AU$36,550)
4th place: Paul Rochford, out by Christian Heich (AU$51,170)
3rd place: Steve Bouya, out by Steve Topakas (AU$73,100)
That brought Topakas and his 1,975,000 heads-up with Heich’s 1,690,000 stack. Heich took the lead shortly after the two began their battle and made it into a 2:1 lead. Finally, after a flop of flop and turn, Topakas got the rest of his chips in with , but Heich showed pocket jacks for the set. The river of sealed the deal, and Topakas took AU$110,380 for second place.
Christian Heich claimed the AU$150,000 for winning Event 1 of the 2009 Aussie Millions, along with the coveted gold Aussie Millions ring.
Event 2: $1000 PokerPro No-Limit Hold’em
The second event of the series drew a much smaller crowd - only 84 players - for a tournament new to most series. Players compete on PokerPro automated tables, and some of those up for the challenge included Dunst, Obrestad, and Pickering. The one-day event moved along rather quickly, as the entire tournament was over in less than eight hours. Backing up, though, it was Joris Jaspers’ elimination in ninth place made way for the final table of eight with Mitchell Carle as the far-and-away chip leader, and it played out as follows:
8th place: James Potter, out by Nasr Elnasr (AU$2,905)
7th place: Jozef Berec, out by Mitchell Carle (AU$3,735)
6th place: Nasr Elnasr, out by Mitchell Carle (AU$5,395)
5th place: Haibo Chu, out by Daniel Neilson (AU$7,055)
4th place: Daniel Noja, out by Mitchell Carle (AU$9,030)
3rd place: Michael Russell, out by Daniel Neilson (AUU$11,205)
Mitchell Carle and Daniel Neilson then took to heads-up action, with Carle dominating with 622K against the 207K of Neilson. A few hands, later, Neilson made his move with , and Carle called with to see the board come . As the river card could do nothing to help, Neilson was relegated to second place and AU$16,600, while Mitchell Carle took first place, the Aussie Millions gold ring, and AU$25,000 first prize.
Event 3: $1000 Limit Omaha Hi-Lo
In the first of its kind at the Aussie Millions, the limit Omaha tournament drew 102 players to the felt for a one-day event that turned into 17 hours of action that took rising blinds to end it. Some of the players involved in the marathon included Alexander Kostritsyn, Tony G, Ivan Demidov, Mel Judah, Billy Argyros, Harry Demetriou, Van Marcus, Jamie Pickering, and James Potter. But as it came time for the final table of nine, it was Robert Collina out in tenth as the final table and money bubble player. Rainer Quel took the chip lead to the table, which played out as follows:
9th place: Mike Stanton, out by Danny Mountt (AU$2,550)
8th place: Michael Guzzardi, out by Mel Judah (AU$3,570)
7th place: Mark Furniss, out by Derek Raymond (AU$4,590)
6th place: Billy Argyros, out by Derek Raymond (AU$6,120)
5th place: Danny Mountt, out by Jeffrey Duvall (AU$8,160)
4th place: Derek Raymond, out by Jeffrey Duvall (AU$10,170)
3rd place: Jeffrey Duvall, out by Rainer Quel (AU$14,280)
Heads-up began with Rainer Quel at a 4:1 chip lead over Mel Judah, and despite the big blinds, it took over two hours to complete the match. Judah came back, however, in a skilled fight to the finish, as he took a significant pot near the end of the battle to cripple Quel. The next hand was an all-in one for Quel with , and Judah was along for the ride with . The board came , and Quel couldn’t compete with the full house, which put him in second place with AU$21,420. Long-time pro Mel Judah took first place, the Aussie Millions ring, and $30,600 for the win.
Event 4: $1000 Limit Hold’em
A one-day limit hold’em event can be challenging, especially with 140 players signed up to compete. Some of the recognizable names in the field included Dunst, Obrestad, Pickering, Argyros, Sorel Mizzi, David Saab, Dan Shak, television star Michael Vartan, and Event 3 winner Mel Judah. It took awhile, but finally the elimination of Dean Blatt in tenth place set up the final table that resulted in the following:
9th place: Billy Argyros, out by Grant Levy (AU$3,500)
8th place: David Bach, out by Grant Levy (AU$4,200)
7th place: Bruno Portaro, out by Zach Gruneberg (AU$5,600)
6th place: James Obst, out by Jesse Maguire (AU$7,700)
5th place: Grant Levy, out by Zach Gruneberg (AU$9,800)
4th place: Ken Eastwood, out by Zach Gruneberg (AU$12,600)
3rd place: Jesse Maguire, out by Zach Gruneberg (AU$17,500)
Heads-up began with the dominating Zach Gruneberg as the 2:1 chip leader over Craig Bergeron, and the match was over in about 30 minutes. The hand that did it saw no action after the flop, but all of Bergeron’s chips were in after the on the turn. Gruneberg had for top pair, and Bergeron showed for bottom pair and the flush draw. The determined that Bergeron was going to finish in second place with AU$25,200, and Zach Gruneberg took first place, the ring, and $35,000 for the win.
Event 5: $1000 HORSE
The two-day event started with a capped field of 96 players and two alternates, along with many of the recognizable faces that had played in the other events and with the additions of Lee Nelson and Ross Boatman. The predictably slow tournament picked up its pace after Elvind Syslak left the event on the money bubble in ninth place, courtesy of Demetriou. With that, the final eight returned next day to play for their shares of the prize pool and the victory.
Day 2 began with those final eight and Van Marcus in the lead. The first six eliminations took place without much delay as follows:
8th place: David Morton, out by Michael Guzzardi (AU$2,450)
7th place: Lee Boxell, out by Michael Guzzardi (AU$4,410)
6th place: Joe Meissner, out by Michael Guzzardi (AU$6,370)
5th place: Anthony McNamara, out by Guzzardi/Marcus (AU$8,330)
4th place: Michael Guzzardi, out by Jarred Solomon (AU$10,290)
3rd place: Kerry Stead, out by Jarred Solomon (AU$15,190)
The heads-up match began with Jarred Solomon and a significant chip lead over Van Marcus, but it took almost two hours before there was a final decision. In the end, it was an Omaha hi-lo hand in which Marcus was all-in after the on the flop and the on the turn. Marcus pushed with , and Solomon called all-in with . The came on the river to allow Solomon the scoop, while Van Marcus had to settle for AU$20,580 and second place. Jarred Solomon took the win, the ring, and the $30,380 in prize money.
Event 6: $1100 No-Limit Hold’em w/Rebuys
Another two-day event in the series began with a flurry of play due to the availability of single and double rebuys. Though there were only 126 players, the number of rebuys totaled 457, creating a massive prize pool. Players like Kostritsyn, Obrestad, Demidov, Mizzi, and defending champion Michael Pedley joined Kelly Kim, Mike McDonald, and Jeff Lisandro to duke it out. When the rebuy period ended, the action sped up and players began dropping out. And with the elimination of Zhi Hong Ma on the money bubble, the next 18 players were ready to be paid.
On the way to the final table, it was Steve Leonard who finally exited in tenth place, courtesy of Tony Dunst, to allow the remaining nine to play the final table the following day. When they did, Jonathan Karamalikis led the action with 153K in chips, but it was anyone’s game as the following results showed:
9th place: Tony Dunst, out by Sorel Mizzi (AU$11,077)
8th place: Peter Rho, out by Sorel Mizzi (AU$16,907)
7th place: Richard Ashby, out by Clark Hamagami (AU$22,737)
6th place: Rayan Nathan, out by Larry Karambis (AU$30,607)
5th place: Sorel Mizzi, out by Jonathan Karamalikis (AU$37,895)
4th place: Larry Karambis, out by Clark Hamagami (AU$53,927)
3rd place: Clark Hamagami, out by Jon Karamalikis (AU$82,203)
The last two players standing went into action with Jonathan Karamalikis holding a substantial chip lead over Mark Kassis, but that lead would be exchanged over the coming hour with Kassis taking a massive lead. Eventually, Karamalikis had to move all-in with , but Kassis called with pocket queens. The board came , and Karamalikis was out in second place with AU$120,098. Mark Kassis won AU$160,326, along with the Aussie Millions title and championship ring.
Event 7: $1500 No-Limit Hold’em w/Bounties
Bounty events always bring a bit of extra excitement to the table, as one select person at each table carries a AU$1000 bounty on his or her head. The two-day event also featured a 20-second clock on each hand and a four-table shootout format once there were only 32 players remaining. And it was popular with tournament players, as 449 of them entered. Day 1 played down to the that number of 32, which consisted of hitting the bubble with Pam MacNaughton gaining that distinction of going out just short of the money. And finally, with the elimination of Billy Argyros in 33rd place, action was stopped for the first day.
Day 2 began with John MacNaughton as the chip leader and a four-table shootout, though he wouldn’t make it through to the final. When all of the action was done, Edison Nguyen took the chip lead to the final table of eight, with Liv Boeree as the short stack. It played out as follows:
8th place: Jai Kemp, out by Neil Channing (AU$12,600)
7th place: Liv Boeree, out by Sean Keeton (AU$18,900)
6th place: Cort Kibler-Melby, out by Ben Delaney (AU$25,200)
5th place: Neil Channing, out by Sean Keeton (AU$31,500)
4th place: Sean Keeton, out by Ben Delaney (AU$47,250)
3rd place: Edison Nguyen, out by Ben Delaney (AU$69,300)
Heads-up began with Ben Delaney in the driver’s seat against Saidal Wardak, but Wardak was able to double through and take over that lead. Delaney finally moved all-in with , but Wardak woke up with pocket aces. The board ran out , and the set was good enough for Wardak, while Delaney was out in second with $110,250. Saidal Wardak took the top prize of $151,200, along with the Aussie Millions ring and event title.
Event 8: $100,000 No-Limit Hold’em High Rollers
This tournament was one that would only draw the best of the best and those with outrageous poker bankrolls. And among the 23 players were Phil Ivey, Erik Seidel, John Juanda, Gus Hansen, Chris Ferguson, Nam Le, J.C. Tran, Jamie Pickering, Tony G, Patrik Antonius, John Hennigan, and Jeff Lisandro. The event was also set up with a speed poker format with only 30 seconds to act on each hand, and the betting changed from pot-limit during preflop action and no-limit after the flop.
It didn’t take long for the field to thin, and when the six-person final table was on the horizon, it was Lisandro who took his pocket aces into play against the of David Steicke after the flop and turn. Steicke’s trip kings held up when the came on the river, and Lisandro was the final table bubble player.
Day 2 began with six and Steicke in the lead, but only four would be paid, so play was slow going for the first two hours. Finally, Juanda was eliminated by Tran in sixth place, and Bill Jordanou was gone in fifth place, courtesy of Steicke.
Next to go was Dan Shak, who tried to get something going with pocket threes but ran into the pocket sevens of Steicke. The flop was an amazing , and quads would do it. Shak was gone in fourth place with a $200,000 prize.
JC Tran attempted a play against Steicke with , but Steicke had , which held up on the board. Tran was eliminated in third place, which was worth a healthy $300,000.
When Tony Bloom prepared for heads-up play against David Steicke’s 10:1 chip lead, he knew it was a long shot. And the match was over in a few hands. In the deciding hand, Bloom came in with , and Steicke called with . The dealer brought them , and the river was good enough to send Bloom out in second place with a healthy $600,000 payday.
David Steicke won the High Roller event at the Aussie Millions, which not only included the title and Raymond Weil watch, but a very satisfying $1.2 million prize.