After two flights, four movies (three bad flicks and one solid one), and three bad meals, I finally arrived in Australia to cover the 2007 Aussie Millions at the luxurious Crown Casino in Melbourne.
The Crown Casino is not just the largest casino in all of Australia, it's the largest casino in the Southern Hemisphere. And it's an impressive site with gaming tables stretching over a half a kilometer. Of course, I'm an American who thinks in miles, so I have no idea what that translates into, but trust me when I say that the gaming floor is impressive. There's plenty of Blackjack, Roulette, and slot machines in addition to weird table games like Pontoon and Sic Bo. With only one craps table, I know where Phil Ivey and Erick Lindgren will be hanging out late nights.
The Crown Casino also has plenty of shopping and a movie theater. There are over 40 restaurants, cafes, and bars. The Crown is a legitimate Las Vegas style casino located half-way around the world with two luxury hotels. There is really no reason to leave the property but if you do, you can take a stroll along the Yarra River in the Southbank section of Melbourne.
The one thing I noticed right away were the huge banners promoting the Aussie Millions which are all over the casino. The event is held downstairs in the "Las Vegas" room, which is a vast area filled with some of the best poker players in Australia.
With over 700 players expected for the $10,500 (Australian Dollars) buy-in main event, this year's tournament will be one of the richest poker tournaments held outside of the United States. I'm especially excited to check out the $100,000 buy-in event which occurs just before the Main Event.
The Aussie Millions is comprised of 13 total events ranging from NL Hold'em, Limit Hold'em, Pot-Limit Omaha, and the first ever major tournament to utilize PokerPro. The gaming table technology is the fastest and most accurate dealer in the world. The poker room at the Crown Casino introduced PokerPro tables in addition to their other 50 tables. Other events include a $5,000 buy-in Heads-Up match and a $1,000 buy-in Teams Event.
The first day of action at the Aussie Millions kicked off yesterday with Event #1 $1,000 NL. The structure of the tournament was exceptional with 50 minute levels and 3000 in chips to start. For the final table, the blinds will be reset back two levels unlike in other tournaments where the blinds are accelerated at the final table.
Over 515 players bought into Event #1. Several big names were in the mix including Dan Alspach, Kenna James, Mel Judah, Tony G, Scott Fischman, Sarah Bilney, Matt Hilger, and actress Shannon Elizabeth. Gareth Edwards from PokerNews was the first player to bust out when his A-K ran into A-A. Ouch! Tony G went out shortly before the dinner break when his 8-8 lost a race to his opponent's Big Slick.
First place in event #1 will win a shade over $139,000. The top 45 places paid out. Tony Hachem busted out near the bubble. American Matt Hilger, author of Internet Texas Hold'em, went on a rush late in the evening as he flew under the radar and emerged as the chip leader with three tables to go. He made the final table and will be starting third in chips.
The final table starts at 4pm local time. Check back in with Poker News to follow Live Tournament Updates and take a peek at the Aussie Millions schedule.