The big guns of poker descended upon the Crown Casino <a href=https://www.pokernews.com/online-poker-rooms.htm>poker room</a> in Melbourne for Event #8 of the <a href=https://www.pokernews.com/live-reporting/2009-aussie-millions/>2009 Aussie Millions</a>. Players such as Phil Ivey, Erik Seidel, John Juanda, Gus Hansen, Chris Ferguson, Nam Le and JC Tran were on hand for Day 1 of the AUD $100,000 "High rollers" no-limit event. Each began his chase toward the event's $1.2 million top prize.
This tournament also featured the "speed poker" format, where players had 30 seconds to act before their hands were killed. In another twist, the betting was pot-limit preflop and no-limit after the flop. Even with the preflop pot-limit action, the action was fast-paced, as several of the big names headed to the rail in the first few levels.
Alexander Kostritsyn was the first elimination, heading to the rail after being ousted by Sandor Demjan. After being crippled in a big hand with Demjan early, Kostritsyn got all his money in with . Demjan called with , and made top pair on the board. However, Demjan followed the 2008 Aussie Millions champ to the rail after losing big hands in succession to John Hennigan and Chris Ferguson. Other early eliminations included Gus Hansen, Phil Ivey, Tony G and Jamie Pickering.
After the flurry of early eliminations, it took two levels after dinner for the next player to head to the rail. John Hennigan and Patrik Antonius tangled in a huge pot that started off well for Hennigan but turned Antonius' way. Hennigan raised preflop from late position, and Antonius defended his big blind with . The flop came down , and Antonius led out with top pair. Hennigan re-raised, and Antonius moved all in over the top. Hennigan quickly called, showing for the overpair. Antonius was in trouble, but the turn gave him additional flush outs to stay alive. The river didn't fill the flush but gave Antonius two pair instead and sent Hennigan packing. Antonius and Chris Ferguson then got into a huge pot where Antonius' went in behind Ferguson's , but caught up on the turn to leave Ferguson crippled. Ferguson busted a few hands later as Antonius held the chip lead.
John Juanda and Erik Seidel tangled in a battle of the red pros and the blinds, much to Seidel's misfortune. Seidel limped in from the small blind before Juanda put out a preflop raise. Seidel called and the flop came . Seidel checked to Juanda, who led out. Seidel thought for a moment before moving all in over the top with . Juanda thought for a long moment before finally making the call with , picking off Seidel's bluff. The turn marginally improved Juanda's hand, and the river sent Seidel to the rail. Other late eliminations included Nam Le and Patrik Antonius, who busted to JC Tran on the final-table bubble.
David Steicke started his day off well, sending Tony G to the rail in one of the tournament's early levels. He then flopped quads against JC Tran to move near the top of the leader board. His game really got rolling during the last levels of the night, as he doubled through Patrik Antonius late to take the chip lead, then busted the last two players of the night to leave the field six-handed going into Day 2. First he made a huge call against Jason Gray on a board of . Gray moved all in on the flop and Steicke thought for almost his entire time bank before calling with . Gray showed for the naked flush draw, as Steicke's unimproved ace-king was ahead. The board ran out and Gray was done as Steicke cemented his chip lead.
Steicke then sent Jeff Lisandro packing in seventh place when he cracked Lisandro's aces with . Lisandro raised preflop from early position, and Steicke called from the small blind. The flop came down , and Steicke led out. Lisandro went into the tank before calling to see the on the turn. Steicke moved all in, Lisandro snap-called, and saw Steicke's trips. The on the river was no help for Lisandro as Steicke claimed another scalp and finished up Day 1 with the chip lead.
Chip counts for the remaining six players at the end of Day 1:
David Steicke — 631,000
JC Tran — 528,000
John Juanda -- 480,000
Dan Shak -- 356,000
Tony Bloom -- 181,000
Bill Jordanou -- 139,000