189 players took to the felt at the Crown Casino in Melbourne for Event #2 of the 2008 Aussie Millions, $1,100 Pot-Limit Hold'em. Among the local pros taking the field were Jozef Berec, Julian Powell, Graeme 'Kiwi G' Putt and 'Aussie' Sarah Bilney. Mel Judah, Anna Wroblewski and Jimmy 'gobboboy' Fricke were among other big names in the field.
Emad Tahtouh and Tony Hachem were among the first eliminations on Day 1 of this event, heading to the rail in the early rounds. They were later joined on the rail by Lee 'Final Table' Nelson, Fricke and Kenna James.
Australian fashion designer Chris Chronis was one of the big stories on Day 1, taking the early chip lead as he busted Andrew Demetriou and Michael 'Sticky' Guttman early in the day. Chronis found himself on the short stack as the day drew to a close, but doubled through Alex Keating after pushing all in with . Keating called with , and the board ran out to give Chronis a full house and the double-up. He managed to repeat his feat on the very next hand, doubling through Keating again after pushing preflop with and having Keating call with . The board ran out , and Chronis made it to the final table as the chip leader on the back of his aggressive play through Day 1.
Sarah Bilney's Day 1 adventures ended much earlier, as she got the last of her chips in the middle holding pocket kings to an opponent's pocket threes. She was in good shape through the turn, but a three on the river sent her to the rail. Other local poker pros to be eliminated on Day 1 included Graeme 'Kiwi G' Putt, and Gary Benson, who had several heated discussions with the tournament directors and floor staff before his early exit. Actor Michael Vartan made his final push with K-10, but the "Alias" star ran into A-J and busted just before the dinner break. Mel Judah was among the final eliminations before dinner when Sam Youssef cracked Judah's aces with pocket eights with an eight falling on the river.
Anna Wroblewski came back from dinner with an appetite for chips, and she got her fill early. In a five-way pot, Sol Bergren fired out on a flop. Wroblewski called, then went all in over the top of Bergren's turn bet when the came. Bergren's was ahead, but Wroblewski had for the flush draw, and the on the river gave her the pot and left Bergren crippled. Wroblewski raised preflop on the very next hand, and found herself in a three-way all in pot with Bergren and Billy 'The Croc' Argyros. Wroblewski tabled to Bergren's and Argyros' . Wroblewski's aces held up to send both Bergren and Argyros to the rail, putting her in good position to make the final table.
With only 18 places playing, the play tightened up remarkably as the bubble neared. It took over an hour of hand-for-hand play to eliminate the final player, but finally Adam Monaghan got his last few chips in the middle as five other players called his tiny bet. The other players checked it down on a board of and Sam Youssef flipped over for top pair, top kicker, good enough to send Monaghan to the rail in 19th and burst the money bubble.
The day's final nine eliminations came steadily as the remaining players jockeyed for final-table position. Johan Verkuijl moved the last of his chips in the middle preflop, and found more action than he bargained for when Jonathan Karamalikis, Richard Sara and Phillip Peters all called to see a flop of . Sara bet out on the flop, and both players called. The came on the turn, and Sara put the last of his chips in the middle, again finding callers in both Karamalikis and Peters. The river brought the and Karamalikis tabled for a busted flush draw. Peters held for top pair, but Sara took down the big side pot with with two pair. Verkuijl held for nothing, and he went to the rail in 14th ($1,980).
Richard Holmes was the last player of the night to fall victim to Chris Chronis's late run when they ended up heads-up on a flop of . All the chips went into the middle after the flop, when Chronis held A-9 for top pair, top kicker, but Homes was well ahead with pocket queens. Chronis caught an ace on the river to complete his journey to final-table chip leader and send Holmes to the rail in 11th place ($2,363). Paul Taylor was the final-table bubble boy when his A-J ran into David Gorr's pocket kings and no ace showed, the complete board being J-4-5-4-3.
Here are chip counts for the final nine players, who will battle for the Event #2 title tomorrow:
Chris Chronis - 195,500
Sam Youssef - 168,000
Anna Wroblewski - 92,000
George Palavos - 84,500
David Gorr - 81,000
Alex Keating - 61,000
Richard Sara - 51,000
Jonathan Karamalikis - 47,000
Manny Stavropoulos - 22,500