Event #7 of the <a href=https://www.pokernews.com/live-reporting/2009-aussie-millions/>2009 Aussie Millions</a> featured one of the most unique formats on the tournament circuit. The $1,650 no-limit hold'em tournament was a bounty event, with one player at each table sporting a bounty tag around his neck. Whoever could eliminate the bounty player collected a AUD $1,000 prize on the spot, sprinkling extra payouts throughout the field. To further add to the action, players were given only 20 seconds to act on each hand, with no extensions. Once the field thinned to 32 players, the format shifted to a four-table shootout, with the final two survivors from each table earning a seat at the final table.
The unique format and potential for large profits drew a whopping 449 entrants to the event, prompting some quick thinking by tournament staff. Originally intending to play down to the final table on Day1, the decision was made midway through Day 1 to halt play for the day at 32 players, and play the shootout and final table on Day 2.
The tournament offered plenty of big names as bounties, including David Saab, Lee Nelson, Julian Powell, Michael Vartan and Peter Aristidou. Also in the field were players that had already logged a lot of success at the 2009 Aussie Millions including Van Marcus, Billy "The Croc" Argyros and Michael Guzzardi. David Saab startled his tablemates early in the event when he shouted "Yay! It wasn't me!" He was referring to the unfortunate status of being the first bounty player eliminated from the event. That dubious distinction went to Julian Powell, who busted in the first level. Saab joined him on the rail soon after, as did Michael Vartan, who ran into pocket aces to exit. The early levels were tough on the bounty players, as Peter Aristidou, Mike "Timex" McDonald, and James Obst also headed to the rail.
Vesko Zmukic made the most of the bounty format, picking up two bounties before he busted just short of the money. His second came at the expense of Sam Khouiss, who moved all in over the top of Zmukic and Warwick Mirzikinian on a flop of . Zmukic and Mirzikinian both called, and Zmukic moved all in when the landed on the turn. Mirzikinian called with for the flush, but he was drawing to one out against Zmukic's . Khouiss was drawing dead with K-9, and the on the river shipped the pot and Khouiss' bounty to Zmukic. Zmukic busted before the money bubble, but still showed a profit on the day thanks to the bounties he collected.
Even with the short time limit for action, it was well into the evening before the bubble approached. Pam MacNaughton busted on the bubble, leaving the family hopes resting on brother John, who played his way into the day's biggest stack. Pam moved all in from the button with , and found action from Sean Keeton in the big blind, who woke up with pocket queens. The board of brought no ace for MacNaughton, and she headed to the rail empty-handed.
With only eight eliminations between the first bubble and the shootout bubble to end Day 1, it seemed like only moments between the two. Among the quick casualties between bubbles was Billy "The Croc" Argyros, who still picked up another Aussie Millions cash. Argyros moved all in preflop with and found himself in a race against Eric Assadourian's . The flop ended the suspense quickly, bringing a king. The board ran out , and Argyros picked up $2,520 for his finish. Assadourian dragged the pot and picked up Argyros' $1,000 bounty to boot.
Mario Doria became the shootout bubble boy when he busted in 33rd place ($2,520). He took a three-way flop with Tom Pongrass and Steve Boots when he moved all in preflop with . Boots moved all in on the flop, and Pongrass called, showing . Boots was in good shape with , and his queens held up as the turn and river ran out . As Doria headed to the exit, Boots moved into the top ten in chips to end Day 1.
John MacNaughton finished the day as the chip leader, with the remaining 32 players were seeded into their shootout tables based on chip counts. Other notable survivors included Eric Assadourian, Ben Delaney, Michael Chrisanthopoulos, Liv Boeree and Josh Field, as well as Event #1 runner-up Steve Topakas.
The complete redraw for Day 2 produced these seating assignments and chip counts:
Seat 1: Liv Boeree – 57,300
Seat 2: Alexander Debus – 18,200
Seat 3: Jim Mastorakos – 54,100
Seat 4: Edison Nguyen – 123,600
Seat 5: Danny Joukhadar – 70,200
Seat 6: Neville Eber – 127,800
Seat 7: Matthew Lea – 73,200
Seat 8: Graham Woodbine – 27,200
Seat 1: Tom Pongrass – 8,500
Seat 2: Ben Delaney – 86,300
Seat 3: Cort Kibler Melby – 61,900
Seat 4: Antonis Kambouroglou – 62,500
Seat 5: Eric Assadourian – 100,300
Seat 6: Josh Field – 39,000
Seat 7: John McNaughton – 181,300
Seat 8: Con Cotsomitis – 37,900
Seat 1: Sean Keeton – 145,400
Seat 2: Chriss Barratt – 58,800
Seat 3: Michael Chrisanthopolous – 67,200
Seat 4: Stephen Boots – 120,300
Seat 5: Luke Santo – 16,400
Seat 6: Con Angelakis – 73,200
Seat 7: Oliver Gill – 54,100
Seat 8: Neil Channing – 31,500
Seat 1: Jai Kemp – 105,600
Seat 2: Anthony Kellett – 16,100
Seat 3: Aaron Jacobs – 45,000
Seat 4: Steve Topakas – 82,400
Seat 5: Sherrie Gelberg – 60,400
Seat 6: Con Kamaras – 63,800
Seat 7: Bohden Schaaps – 32,000
Seat 8: Saidal Wardak – 146,300