Big buy-in H.O.R.S.E. tournaments frequently bring out the finest cash-game players in any area, be it Las Vegas or Melbourne. The 2009 Aussie Millions Poker Championship Event #16, $10,200 H.O.R.S.E., was no different, drawing Chris Ferguson, Lee Nelson, Tony G, Joe Hachem, Jeff Lisandro, Billy "The Croc" Argyros and many other top pros to the felt. 25 players put up one of the largest buy-ins of the Aussie Millions series to compete for the gold championship ring and the bragging rights that come from taking down a H.O.R.S.E. tournament against such a tough field.
Although the format and skill level of the players made for slow going in the early levels, some big names went to the rail early. Tony G got all his chips in on fourth street in stud against David Bach with a board of  to Bach's  . Tony G did not improve his pair of tens, and when Bach made trip queens on the river, Guoga was done. Other notable eliminations included Mel Judah, Graeme Putt and Ivan Demidov.
Billy "The Croc" Argyros and Jeff Lisandro are two of the toughest and most famous poker players in Australia, but they could get nothing going in Event #16. Argyros busted in 17th at the hands of Jeff Madsen in stud hi/lo, and Jeff Lisandro lost huge back-to-back hands to Chris Ferguson and Jeff Madsen that led to his ouster by Alexander Kostritsyn just off the final table. Jason Gray was the final-table bubble boy when Chris Ferguson busted him in ninth place in a huge razz hand. All of Gray's money went in on third street with a board of [4-2]-9. Ferguson was drawing better with [3-6]-8, and when his board ran out 10-2-9-[J] Ferguson made a 9-low to best Gray's [4-2]-9-8-K-9-.
Ferguson took a small chip lead into the final table and will be joined by some of the toughest players from around the world. The chip counts and assignments looked like this as the final eight redrew for their seats:
Seat 1: Joe Hachem - 74,000
Seat 2: Michael Binger - 53,000
Seat 3: Jeff Madsen - 60,700
Seat 4: Chris Ferguson - 98,000
Seat 5: Zach Fellows - 80,500
Seat 6: Alexander Kostritsyn - 57,000
Seat 7: Lee Nelson - 37,500
Seat 8: Tino Lechich - 59,000
The original plan was to play down to the money on Day 1, which would be the final five players, but tournament directors made the decision to halt the action with eight players remaining. Chris Ferguson extended his chip lead in the final few hands, and Michael Binger slipped to the short stack as the day drew to a close.
Join PokerNews at 2:00 PM Melbourne time on Sunday as the eight survivors battle it out for bragging rights, the gold Aussie Millions championship ring and $95,000 in first-place money.