Day 1a of the Aussie Million Event #1, $1,100 No-Limit Hold'em, exceeded expectations with 342 runners showing up to take their shot at the preliminary event. Day 1b went even further, as 389 players signed up, building a total field of 731 for a prize pool of over $700,000, well exceeding the event's $500,000 guarantee. In the field for Day 1b were live poker stars Jason Gray and Tino Lechich, online phenoms Michael "TheBigSiCK0" Guzzardi and Josh "JJProdigy" Field, and PokerNews' own Tony "Tony G" Guoga.
Eric Assadourian is no stranger to big tournaments and big fields, and he also took to the felt on Day 1b, arriving late in the first level. By the time he landed at the Crown Casino, several players had already fallen to fast pace of play, including Lechich and Western Classic Main Event winner Marc Des Ange. Des Ange exited when his was outflopped by an opponent's on a board of .
Other notable eliminations early on Day 1b included Josh Field, Marlon Goonawardana, Joel "StrongPlay" Dodds and 2008 PokerNews Cup Champion Nali Kaselias. Kaselias never got on track on Day 1b, moving the last of his chips in preflop with from the button, only to find an isolation raise coming back from the big blind, who tabled once the other opponents got out of the way. Kaselias was dominated preflop, and the flop of left him drawing to running queens or a ten for Broadway. The turn took away the queens as outs, and the river finished his tournament early.
Anytime Tony G enters a poker tournament, it's a guarantee of action, and Day 1b was no exception. Seated for much of the day at a table that saw big hand after big hand, he eventually ran afoul of one of those big hands and made his exit. With not much left in his stack, Guoga moved all in from late position with . Paul Rochford made the call, then the small blind moved all in over the top. Rochford called again and tabled , having Guoga dominated. The small blind was coolered with , and Rochford was in good position to drag a monster pot. The flop came down , and Rochford still led. The turn and river ran out , and Rochford busted two players at once, including Tony G.
As some fortunes sagged, others surged in the late hours of the night. Ben Delaney was one of the surging players, more than doubling up in back-to-back hands late on Day 1b. In the first hand Delaney raised from under the gun with , and was re-raised from late position. He made the call, and was in a coin flip against his opponent's . The board bricked out and Delaney picked up the pot. Kenny Ng moved his short stack all in preflop on the very next hand, and Delaney made the call with . Ng tabled and didn't improve as Delaney's ace-high sent him to the rail and Delaney rocketing up the leader board.
Delaney's bid to become the overnight chip leader was foiled by Dean Blatt, who also dragged a couple of giant pots in the final level of the day. Blatt kicked off his charge by cracking Arthur Kalantzis' aces with on a board of . All the money went in on the flop, and Blatt caught his two-outer on the turn to bounce Kalantzis. In one of the final hands of the night, Blatt busted David Steicke and another player when his own aces held up against and Steicke's . At the end of the hand, two players were eliminated and Blatt was alone with a six-figure chip stack, which is exactly how he ended the day. Other notable survivors included Jozef Berec, Martin Cardno, Eric Assadourian and Paul Rochford.
Preliminary chip counts showed these players as the Day 1b session's leaders:
Dean Blatt 145,300
Paul Rochford 99,600
Jim Ghobrial 86,800
Ben Delaney 80,000
Steve Goldwater 69,200
Thomas Lindbjerg 63,900
Marcel Jaggi 58,700
Guiseppe Gumina 57,700
Clint Jordanou 57,600
James Broom 47,300
Join PokerNews at 12:30 pm Melbourne time on Sunday as the 110 survivors from both flights of Day 1 combine to battle for the first Aussie Millions title of 2009.