It's only fitting that one of the most famous poker players in Australia took down the title in Event #18, 2-Card Manila, at the 2009 Aussie Millions Poker Championship. The event, held on Australia Day, featured a poker game not well known outside Australia. Billy "The Croc" Argyros is one of the most colorful poker pros on the Australian scene, and he triumphed here, collecting the last gold championship ring of the series. Argyros took the title by besting a field of some of Australia's top live game players, including Sam Khouiss, Paul Ravesi and Graeme "Kiwi G" Putt.
Two-card Manila is a hold'em variant that uses only 32 cards in the deck (nothing lower than a seven is left in the deck). Players are dealt two hole cards, and both cards from their hand must be used to make their best five-card poker hand. Because of the smaller deck, flushes beat full houses. There are five betting rounds, as each of the community cards are revealed one at a time.
The rebuy period built the prize pool, and drew in two additional players to bring the total field to 18, with the top four making the money. With a small field, it didn't take long to make up the final table, and it was late arrival Argyros who took the chip lead into the final table:
Seat 1: Bill "The Croc" Argyros - 12,900
Seat 2: Sam Khouiss - 8,100
Seat 3: Kerry Stead - 6,100
Seat 4: Ian Cooper - 1,800
Seat 5: Graeme Putt - 2,800
Seat 6: Peter Bowen - 3,900
Seat 7: Mark Scott - 2,000
Seat 8: Joe Meissner - 2,200
Seat 9: Constantine Harach - 10,500
Seat 10: Paul Ravesi - 8,800
Paul Ravesi quickly took over the chip lead as Sam Khouiss, Graeme Putt and Ian Cooper weren't long for the final table. Constantine Harach doubled up Joe Meissner when Meissner flopped a set of aces to bust Harach's . Harach lasted a few more hands, but eventually succumbed in seventh place. Mark Scott followed in sixth place, Peter Bowen was the fifth-place bubble boy, then Kerry Stead became the first player to cash in the event when he picked up AUD $3,690 for fourth place.
Short-handed, the action focused on Paul Ravesi and Billy Argyros as the two big stacks battled back and forth. The two traded chips back and forth as short-stacked Joe Meissner tried to stay out of the way. In one big hand, the board read , and Argyros asked the dealer to pair the board. Fate complied and put out the on the river. Ravesi bet out with K-10 for the Broadway straight, but Argyros tabled A-Q for the full house to reclaim the chip lead.
Ravesi went from top stack to out in third place when he made two pair with on a board of . Joe Meissner led out, and Ravesi got all his chips in the middle only to find himself facing Meissner's top set with . Meissner improved to a full house as the turn and river ran out , and Ravesi picked up $7,175 for third place.
Even with his elimination of Ravesi, Meissner was a 5:1 underdog going into heads-up play. Argyros, who had commenced to singing his way through the final table, doubled up Meissner twice during heads-up play, but third time was the charm as The Croc grabbed the gold ring. Meissner got his money in ahead when the hit the board. Meissner tabled to Argyros' , but the board ran out as Argyros made trip queens to bust Meissner's two pair and send him home in second place ($12,095).
Billy "The Croc" Argyros picked up $18,040 for his victory, but to him, "It's not about the money, it's about the gold ring!" For onlookers, it seemed somehow fitting that an Australian, on Australia Day, took down the final event of the 2009 Aussie Millions.