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A Historical Look at the Aussie Millions from 2003-2007

Aussie Millions

On Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012, the Aussie Millions Poker Championship will celebrate its 10th Anniversary at the Crown Casino is Melbourne, Australia. The tournament series, which runs for nearly three weeks and features 26 different events, has become one of the premiere poker events on the circuit.

In preparation for the 2012 Aussie Millions, we're taking a look at the event’s history, beginning with the inaugural event in 2003, the year credited with sparking the poker boom.

“Silver Fox” Becomes the First Aussie Millions Champion

By today’s standards, the maiden Aussie Millions was quite small. Aside from the Main Event, the largest buy-in of the series’ 10 events was AUD$5,000, modest compared to the AUD$250,000 tournament that debuted last year. That first year was comprised mainly of players from the South Pacific, as well as a smattering of pros from the United Kingdom including Harry Demetriou, Ram Vaswani, Joe Beevers, and Lucy Rokach. In addition, a few Americans traveled to Melbourne including Erik Seidel, who has since become a regular at the Aussie Millions.

2003 Aussie Millions Results

EventWinner
$360 Pot-Limit Hold’emLuke Chezick (NZ)
$360 Limit Hold’emCarlo Citrone (U.K.)
$1,500 Limit Hold’emMichael Tomeny (USA)
$1,000 Pot-Limit OmahaSherkhan Fernood (Afghanistan)
$5,000 Heads-up No Limit Hold’emGeorge Mamacas (Australia)
$200 NLHE Pioneers EventPaul Pedersen (NZ)
$1,000 Pot-Limit Hold’emSherkhan Fernood (Afghanistan)
$1,500 Limit Omaha Hi/LoMel Judah (Australia)
$5,000 Pot-Limit OmahaLucy Rokach (U.K.)
$10,500 NLHE Main EventPeter Costa (U.K.)

The first Aussie Millions Main Event attracted 122 players and created a prize pool of AUD$1,220,000. The final table ended up being a battle between Australia and the U.K., with the former having five runners in contention against the latter’s four. Appropriately, Leo Boxell of Australia squared off against the U.K.’s Peter Costa in a heads-up match considered one of the best in Aussie Millions history. It contained 14 all-in bets and in the end, the Englishman, nicknamed “Silver Fox,” took down the AUD$394,870 prize and became the first Aussie Millions champion.

Costa, who was known by many through his appearances on Late Night Poker, was certainly the big story from that first year, but it is also worth noting that two of the Hendon Mob’s four members (Ram Vaswani and Joe Beevers) made the final table, and another member, Barny Boatman, bubbled in 10th place.

2003 Aussie Millions Champion Peter Costa
2003 Aussie Millions Champion Peter Costa

2003 Aussie Millions Main Event Results

Buy-inEntrantsPrize Pool
$10,500122$1,220,000
PlacePlayerPrize
1stPeter Costa (U.K.)$394,870
2ndLeo Boxell (Australia)$225,640
3rdHarry Demetriou (U.K.)$124,640
4thSam Khouiss (Australia)$101,538
5thJoe Cabret (Australia)$78,974
6thRam Vaswani (U.K.)$67,696
7thMartin Comer (Australia)$56,410
8thErich Kollmann (Austria)$45,128
9thJoe Beevers (U.K.)$33,846

Another U.K. Victory in Aussie Land

The Aussie Millions began to grow in 2004, and an extra tournament was added to the schedule. In addition to the Australian and U.K. contingents, a group of Americas made the trek and found success. In fact, three U.S. citizens captured preliminary titles: Seth Towle, Steve Zolotow, and Andy Glazer, who took down two events.

2004 Aussie Millions Results

EventWinner
$100 No Limit Hold’emMarty Wilson (U.K.)
$500 Limit Hold’emJohn Homann (Australia)
$500 Limit OmahaArul Thillai (Australia)
$500 Pot Limit Hold’emAndy Glazer (USA)
$500 Pot Limit OmahaSeth Towle (USA)
$1,600 Limit Hold’emSam Korman (Australia)
$1,600 Limit Seven-card StudAndy Glazer (USA)
$5,200 Heads-up NLHEPer Werner Swennson (Sweden)
$2,100 Limit Omaha Hi/LoMichael Guttman (Australia)
$1,100 Pot Limit Hold’emMike Ivin (Australia)
$5,200 Pot Limit OmahaSteve Zolotow (USA)
$10,500 NLHE Main EventTony Bloom (England)

The final table was comprised of two Americans, two Englishmen, and five Australians, making the probability of a local capturing the national title quite high. Unfortunately, that hope diminished significantly when the first four eliminations were Aussies. Not long after, the last Australian, David Hatzis, was sent packing in fourth place, leaving Americans Kenna James and Jesse Jones to take on England’s Tony Bloom.

James was the first to fall in third place, and Jones followed him back across the Pacific in second. Bloom became the second Englishman in a row to win the title, and took home AUD$426,500 for his performance.

2004 Aussie Millions Champ Tony Bloom
2004 Aussie Millions Champ Tony Bloom

2004 Aussie Millions Main Event Results

Buy-inEntrantsPrize Pool
$10,500133$1,330,000
PlacePlayerPrize
1stTony Bloom (England)$426,500
2ndJesse Jones (USA)$243,700
3rdKenna James (USA)$134,000
4thDavid Hatzis (Australia)$109,700
5thMark Banin (England)$85,300
6thBrian Hull (Australia)$73,100
7thMike Ivin (Australia)$60,900
8thHan Luu (Australia)$48,700
9thTino Lechich (Australia)$36,600

Field Nearly Doubles in 2005

Tony Bloom, the defending Aussie Millions champ, returned to the Aussie Million in 2005 and found success in the preliminary events, taking down the AUD$1,600 Limit Omaha Hi/Lo tournament, but the real story was the explosion in attendance. This was evidenced by the appearance of some new poker sharks including Mike Sexton, Scotty Nguyen, and Marcel Luske.

Sexton had the best series of the three, placing third in the AUD$5,000 Heads-Up No-Limit Hold’em event for AUD$16,000, finishing 11th in the Main Event for AUD$30,000, and winning the AUD$20,000 Non-Australian High Stakes Speed Poker event for AUD$120,000.

2005 Aussie Millions Results

EventWinner
$200 No Limit Hold’emRichard Ashby (U.K.)
$500 Limit Hold’emBaden Logan (Australia)
$560 Pot Limit OmahaMarty Wilson (U.K.)
$550 Pot Limit Hold’emMick Guttman (Australia)
$550 Tag TeamJames Potter/Nick Georgoulas (Australia)
$1,100 Pot Limit Hold’emTino Lechich (Australia)
$1,100 Limit Seven-card StudHan Luu (Australia)
$1,600 Speed PokerMichael Thuritz (Sweden)
$1,600 Limit Omaha Hi/LoTony Bloom (U.K.)
$5,000 Pot Limit OmahaMarcel Luske (Netherlands)
$5,000 Two-card ManilaCarlo La Rosa (Australia)
$5,200 Heads-Up NLHEMartin Comer (Australia)
$20,000 High Stakes Speed Poker (World)Mike Sexton (USA)
$20,000 High Stakes Speed Poker (Australia)Lee Nelson (NZ)
$10,000 NLHE Main EventJamil Dia (NZ)

Marcel Luske headlined that year’s Main Event final table, though he made a quick exit in ninth place. Once again, an Australian failed to captured the title, despite three nationals making the final table, though a local player emerged victorious. Jamil Dia, a Lebanese banker from nearby New Zealand, defeated American Mike Simkins in heads-up action to capture the first Aussie Millions AUD$1 million first-place prize.

2005 Aussie Millions Champion Jamil Dia (Picture courtesy of PokerNetwork)
2005 Aussie Millions Champion Jamil Dia (Picture courtesy of PokerNetwork)

2005 Aussie Millions Main Event Results

Buy-inEntrantsPrize Pool
$10,000263$2,630,000
PlacePlayerPrize
1stJamil Dia (NZ)$1,000,000
2ndMike Simkins (USA)$465,000
3rdGeorge Mamacas (Australia)$250,000
4thMartin Comer (Australia)$170,000
5thStephen McLean (Ireland)$110,000
6thWarwick Dunnett (USA)$80,000
7thJonathan Paul (USA)$70,000
8thGary Benson (Australia)$60,000
9thMarcel Luske (Netherlands)$50,000

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie . . . Enter Hachem

The poker scene in Australia boomed like no other after Joe Hachem, a regular at the Crown Casino, won the World Series of Poker Main Event in 2005. There was six months of anticipation between Hachem’s big win and the 2006 Aussie Millions, and expectations were high. The allure of money attracted even more poker stars from North America, including Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, Barry Greenstein, Kathy Liebert, David Williams, John Juanda, Antonio Esfandiari, and Scott Fishman.

Juanda was the only one of the aforementioned players to find success at the Aussie Millions that year, winning AUD$1 million for emerging victorious in the $100,000 Speed Poker Million Dollar Challenge. He defeated such pros as Ivey, Greenstein, Mike Sexton, Tony G, and Jeff Lisandro.

2006 Aussie Millions Results

EventWinner
$560 No Limit Hold’emPaul Taylor (Australia)
$565 Pot Limit /No Limit Hold’emRobert Lumb (U.K.)
$1,100 Limit Hold’emAndrew Kanaridis (Australia)
$1,100 No Limit Hold’emOlle Sundin (Sweden)
$1,600 Speed PokerRay Sanchez (Sweden)
$1,100 Limit Omaha Hi-LoSteve Hegyi (Australia)
$3,200 Two-card ManilaFred Bart (Australia)
$1,150 No Limit Hold’emSam Khouiss (Australia)
$3,200 Pot Limit OmahaSteve Hegyi (Australia)
$100,000 Speed Poker Million Dollar ChallengeJohn Juanda (USA)
$1,100 Teams’ Event Pot Limit Hold’emRobin Saab & David Saab (Australia)
$560 No Limit Hold’emSteve Accardo (Australia)
$10,500 NLHE Main EventLee Nelson (NZ)

The 2006 Main Event Final Table had some familiar names in Kenna James (his second appearance at a Aussie Millions Main Event final table), Shannon Shorr, and Nenad Medic. The final table belonged to 63-year-old Lee Nelson, however, who outlasted the competition and captured the AUD$1,295,000 prize, the largest prize in tournament poker outside of the U.S. up to that point. Lee, who became the second New Zealander to capture the title in as many years, was no stranger to poker, being ranked the top Australian poker player from 2000 to 2006 by PokerNetwork.

2006 Aussie Millions Champion Lee Nelson
2006 Aussie Millions Champion Lee Nelson

2006 Aussie Millions Main Event Results

Buy-inEntrantsPrize Pool
$10,500418$4,180,000
PlacePlayerPrize
1stLee Nelson (NZ)$1,295,800
2ndRobert Neary (USA)$689,700
3rdNenad Medic (Canada)$376,200
4thShannon Shorr (USA)$271,700
5thJeff Sealey (USA)$209,000
6thRussell Davies (Australia)$167,200
7thWes Bugiera (Australia)$125,400
8thMark Vos (Australia)$83,600
9thKenna James (USA)$83,600

The Great Dane Avoids Getting Fricke-Rolled

If there was a year that the Aussie Millions came into its own, that year would have been 2007. It was a year of records as more than 2,000 entries across 15 events, and more than AUD$10 million in prize money was disbursed. By then, all the notable players in poker were traveling to Melbourne in January, including Mike Matusow, Carlos Mortensen, and Huck Seed. Erick Lindgren found success in Melbourne in 2007 as he took down the AUD$100,000 event, defeating Erik Seidel in heads-up play and earning AUD$1 million.

2007 Aussie Millions Results

EventWinner
$1,100 No-Limit Hold’emGabriel Xiourouffa (Australia)
$1,100 Limit Hold’emNick Sutar (Australia)
$1,050 Omaha Hi-LoJethro Horowitz (Australia)
$1,100 No-Limit Hold’em w/ $1,000 rebuysGary Benson (Australia)
$1,000 PokerPro No-Limit Hold’emAdam Weiss (USA)
$3,200 Pot-Limit Omaha w/ $3,000 rebuysJesse Jones (USA)
$1,650 No-Limit Hold’em Feature EventAlex Masterman (UK)
$100,500 No-Limit Hold’emErick Lindgren (USA)
$5,200 Australian Heads-up ChampionshipDavid Saab (Australia)
$1,100 No-Limit Hold’em TeamsMark Roland/Matt Vengrin (USA)
$550 No-Limit Hold’emJozef Berec (Australia)
$3,200 Two-card Manila w/ $3,000 rebuysMark Ericksen (Australia)
$10,500 NLHE Main EventGus Hansen (Denmark)

The 2007 Aussie Millions Main Event drew 747 entrants, thanks in large part to online qualifiers, but when the final table was reached, a plethora of pros headline, though none hailed from Australia. Kristy Gazes and Marc Karam were both at the final table, though they were eliminated in seventh and sixth respectively. Andy Black was also there, though he was sent packing in third place, leaving American Jimmy “Gobboboy” Fricke to battle “The Great Dane,” Gus Hansen, heads up.

It took 47 hands of heads-up play, but Hansen ultimately dispatched the online qualifier to collect the largest first-place prize to date --AUD$1,500,000. Hansen's experience also led to Hansen’s well-received book, Every Hand Revealed, where he reviewed the hands he played on the way to winning the 2007 Aussie Millions Poker Championship.

2007 Aussie Millions Champion Gus Hansen
2007 Aussie Millions Champion Gus Hansen

2007 Aussie Millions Main Event Results

Buy-inEntrantsPrize Pool
$10,500747$7,470,000
PlacePlayerPrize
1stGus Hansen (Denmark)$1,500,000
2ndJimmy Fricke (USA)$1,000,000
3rdAndrew Black (Ireland)$700,000
4thJulius Colman (Vic)$500,000
5thHans Martin Vogl (Germany)$400,000
6thMarc Karam (Canada)$300,000
7thKristy Gazes (USA)$220,000

Be sure to check back tomorrow for Part II of the Aussie Millions flashback as we cover for more years of action, including the year an Aussie finally captures the Main Event title.

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