The 2013 Aussie Millions $25,000 Challenge concluded on Sunday after the final five players returned to action to find a winner. Emerging victorious and taking home the AU$275,000 first-place prize was Igor Kurganov. He defeated a tough final table that included a heads-up match against Philipp Gruissem.
To start the day, Fabian Quoss was the chip leader, but that all changed just moments into play as Kurganov picked off a bluff from Niklas Heinecker.
With the blinds at 4,000/8,000/1,000, Heinecker raised to 16,000 on the button, and Kurganov called out of the small blind to see the flop come down . Kurganov checked, Heinecker bet 24,500, and Kurganov made the call.
The turn was the , and Kurganov check-called again, this time for 55,000. Then, the completed the board on the river. Kurganov checked, and Heinecker bet 200,000. With 198,000 left in his stack, Kurganov made the call. Heinecker showed the for a nine-high bluff, and Kurganov's was the winning hand to vault him to the chip lead.
Quoss began to lose some key pots over the next bit of play and fell to be one of the short stacks. Then, about a third of the way into Level 15, with the blinds at 5,000/10,000/1,000, Quoss was eliminated.
After Quoss moved all in for 70,000 from the cutoff seat, Heinecker reraised all in from the button to 214,000. Everyone else folded, leaving Quoss at risk with the to Heinecker's . The board ran out , and Quoss was eliminated in fifth place for AU$51,000.
Shortly after Quoss hit the rail, his executioner Heinecker joined him. Heinecker was all-in preflop from the small blind for 146,000 with the against Kurganov's . A board gave the win to Kurganov and sent Heinecker home with a payday of AU$85,000.
After a good bit of three-handed play, Erik Seidel fell in third place and took home AU$125,000. He fell at the hands of Kurganov, but did very well for himself as he began the day with the disadvantage of being the shortest stack returning.
On his final hand, Seidel flopped a straight with the on the flop. Kurganov got all the money in against him with the for a flush draw and hit it when the landed on the turn. With Seidel drawing dead, the river blanked off, and he was out the door.
Seidel's elimination left Kurganov heads up against one of his close friends, Gruissem. At the start of the match, Kurganov held the lead with 859,000 to Gruissem's 641,000, but Gruissem quickly closed the gap before taking the lead and knocking Kurganov under 400,000 in chips.
Kurganov fought back some, then hovered around the 500,000-chip mark while Gruissem maintained the lead. Then, he found a double during Level 17 with the blinds at 8,000/16,000/2,000.
On the flop, Kurganov was all-in with the against Gruissem's . The turn was the and the river the , giving Kurganov the win and doubling him to over one million in chips. Shortly thereafter, it was all over.
From the button, Kurganov raised to 32,000 before Gruissem three-bet to 82,000 from the big blind. Kurganov called to see the flop. Gruissem led with a bet of 70,000, and Kurganov made the call.
The turn paired the board with the , and both players checked to see the fall on the river. Gruissem moved all in for right around 235,000, and Kurganov snapped him off with the for trip tens. Gruissem held a losing and was eliminated in second place for AU$187,000.
The last time Kurganov and Gruissem faced heads up was back in 2011 at the European Poker Tour London £25,000 High Roller. In that event, Gruissem defeated Kurganov to win the title, but this time Kurganov was able to grab his revenge. Along with that revenge came AU$275,000 in prize money, which is astonishingly only Kurganov's third largest score of the trip to the 2013 Aussie Millions. Previously, Kurganov finished second in the $100,000 Challenge for AU$610,000 and fourth in the $250,000 Challenge for AU$500,000.
With that, PokerNews' coverage of the 2013 Aussie Millions has come to a close. It's been a great series and plenty of memories have been had, but the one thing that will stick forever, though, is Team Germany and all of their accomplishments Down Under this year. It's pretty clear they came, they saw, and they conquered.
Until next time, thank you for following along and we hope to see you at the next stop on tour.