It was a hefty series. The 2009 Aussie Millions was comprised of 18 events and a high-stakes cash game, and it produced 18 new champions in the respective events, along with some big cash transactions in the side game. January was nothing if not exciting in Melbourne, Australia at the Crown Casino - for poker players and enthusiasts alike.
The games began with eight preliminary events that led to the $10K buy-in main event, which was won by Aussie Stewart Scott. But during the main event and beyond, the action continued with some heads-up, PLO, and hold’em events. Only with the completion of the events below did the 2009 Aussie Millions wrap its tournament action for the year with a very successful series in its history books.
Event 16: $10,200 HORSE
For players seeking more high-limit action after the main event, the Crown Casino offered a $10K buy-in HORSE tournament, which drew 25 of the best and most diversely-skilled players to the felt. The tough field saw Tony G as one of the first casualties, and other early departures included Mel Judah and Ivan Demidov. As the day went on, Billy Argyros, Jeff Lissandro, and Jason Gray joined them on the rail.
Eight players remained and retired for the night, only to come back for Day 2. Chris Ferguson was in the lead with just under 110K in chips, followed by Joe Hachem, Tino Lechich, Zac Fellows, Lee Nelson, Jeff Madsen, and Alexander Kostritsyn, with Michael Binger on the short stack of 23,700. Action began with caution, and two hours into play, Lechich was the first to go in eighth place, followed by Binger in seventh and Hachem in sixth and on the money bubble. The rest of the action played out as follows:
5th place: Zac Fellows, out by Alexander Kostritsyn (AU$20,000)
4th place: Lee Nelson, out by Jeff Madsen (AU$30,000)
3rd place: Jeff Madsen, out by Alexander Kostritsyn (AU$40,000)
Kostritsyn took more than a 3-to-1 chip lead into heads-up play against Ferguson, but the match lasted two hours. It wasn’t until Ferguson became short-stacked after a hold’em hand, and he committed the rest of his stack in an Omaha hi-lo hand with . Kostritsyn called with , and the straight gave the distinct edge to him when it came . The on the turn and on the river solidified the result and left Chris Ferguson with AU$65,000 for a second place finish. Alexander Kostritsyn won the event, the Aussie Millions ring, and the AU$95,000 first prize.
Event 17: $1,100 Turbo No-Limit Hold’em
The last NLHE tournament of the series brought a solid group of 159 players to the tables, all of whom hoped to take home a gold ring in commemoration of the 2009 series. As had been the case throughout the series, a great number of recognizable names were in the field, including actor Michael Vartan, Tony Dunst, Mel Judah, James Obst, Marsha Waggoner, and Dennis Huntly. The 40-minute levels and 30-second hand rules were in play, which sped play directly towards the money bubble, where Waggoner claimed that bubble honor at the hands of Chris Barratt.
By the time the remaining players neared the final table, it was Mick Guttman who exited in tenth place to make way for the final nine to play for the win, with Jani Mikkola with a solid chip lead and Chris Barratt in the short-stacked position. That proceeded to happen like this:
9th place: Luke Abolins, out by Raemin Alexander (AU$2,600)
8th place: Chris Barratt, out by Raemin Alexander (AU$3,835)
7th place: Jani Mikkola, out by Gary Benson (AU$5,135)
6th place: Con Cotsomitis, out by Raemin Alexander (AU$7,265)
5th place: Joel Small, out by Gary Benson (AU$10,540)
4th place: Chris Ozer, out by Matt Dietrich (AU$16,790)
3rd place: Gary Benson, out by Matt Dietrich (AU$22,075)
Dietrich was the dominant chip holder at the point that heads-up play began, and though Raemin Alexander put up a good fight, he finally had to play with . Dietrich called with , and the board bricked for his opponent with . Alexander took AU$31,650 for second place, while Matt Dietrich was awarded AU$42,900 for the victory.
Event 18: $1,100 2-Card Manila
The last official event of the Aussie Millions was not a common one to be found in most tournament series, though it has become a popular game in Australia. Two-card Manila is a variation of hold’em, though it only uses the 32 cards in the deck that are valued at seven or higher. The two hole cards must be used to make the best five-card hand, and the flush beats the full house. With those rules in place, a select group of 18 took their seats to play, with some of Australia’s top players in the fray, and rebuys pumped the prize pool somewhat.
Going into the final table, it was Billy Argyros in the lead with 12,900 chips and Ian Cooper on the short stack. Cooper, Graeme Putt, and Sam Khouiss left the final table soon after it began, and Constantine Harach followed. Mark Scott left in sixth place, and Peter Bowen became the fifth place finisher on the money bubble. Then, the following action took place:
4th place: Kerry Stead (AU$3,690)
3rd place: Paul Ravesi, out by Joe Meissner (AU$7,175)
Heads-up play began with Argyros as the 5-to-1 chip leader, though Meissner attempted a comeback with two double-ups. Finally, Meissner went for another with , and Argyros was up for the challenge with . The board came , and Joe Meissner was ousted in second place with a AU$12,095 prize. Billy “The Croc” Argyros won the event and the AU$18,040 that went with it.
Unofficial Event: $1 Million Cash Game
Though it wasn’t an official part of the 2009 Aussie Millions, organizers at the Crown Casino decided to offer up something exciting for their high-stakes visitors with a $1 million buy-in cash game. Only two players sat down at the start of the game - Tom Dwan and Patrik Antonius. The heads-up battle switched between no-limit hold’em and pot-limit Omaha with 1,000/2,000 blinds. By the time more players joined, Antonius was up approximately $500K.
The next to take seats at the table, alongside Dwan and Antonius, were Jamie Pickering, Andrew Robl, Niki Jedlicka, and Phil Laak. They agreed to lower the blinds to 500/1,000 but added a $200 ante during the NLHE rounds. It didn’t take long for Laak to have to rebuy for another $200K to stay in the game, and Chris Ferguson joined the game shortly thereafter.
According to the tournament reporters on the scene, players were allowed to set some of their own rules, which allowed them to run hands twice, etc. One hand in particular, during a PLO round between Robl and Antonius, was given as an example.
It began with Antonius raising 3,500 preflop, Robl reraising to 12K, and Antonius calling to see the on the flop. Robl bet first, and Antonius raised it up, prompting an all-in reraise from Robl. Antonius called, at which time they discussed running it more than once. Finally, they agreed to run it four times and split the pot. Robl then showed , and Antonius turned over . The first board gave it to Robl to take one-fourth of the pot with his pair of queens. The second also went to Robl, who made a full house over the flush of Antonius. Robl took the third and fourth boards as well, and he doubled-up to stay in the game without a rebuy.
Not long after, the game ended with Pickering profiting about $100K, while Laak was the losing player with an overall $250K loss.