The 2009 Aussie Millions Poker Championship broke from its traditional tournament schedule on Sunday, spreading a cash-game with a million-dollar buy-in some of the world's most famed and deep-pocketed players. The game started as a duel between two of the biggest of all, Tom "durrrr" Dwan and Patrik Antonius. Dwan's aggressiveness and fearless play has made him the cash-game star of the online poker world, while Antonius, also a top-tier is famous for his skill at the table, his movie-star good looks, and his willingness to gamble. The pair are also involved in a million-dollar online challenge issued by Dwan, and met both as promotion for their ongoing clash and as a chance to collect some serious "live" money –- the game so big the players had to carry briefcases of bills to meet the table stakes.
The game started off heads up, with Dwan and Antonius clashing in a rotation of no-limit hold'em and pot-limit Omaha. Blinds were $1,000/2,0000, and the game switched each twenty hands. Dwan sat down with AUD $2 million to Antonius' $1.5 million, and the action was on. Dwan elected to "only" put $1 million in play to start things off, and the games began.
Hold'em started the mix, but the first significant pot was not until the PLO portion kicked off. After a preflop raise, both players checked the flop. Antonius bet out for $10,000 on the turn, and Dwan raised to $37,000. Antonius thought for a moment, motionless, before three-betting to $118,000. Dwan went deep into the tank before making the call, but folded when Antonius led out on the river. Antonius pulled ahead after dragging the huge pot. That action repeated a couple of times throughout the heads-up match, with Antonius finishing up a little more than $500,000 before more players showed up to fill out the table.
After a short break, four more big names joined the game, as Jamie Pickering, Andrew Robl, Niki Jedlicka and the irrepressible Phil Laak joined the game. Blinds dropped to $500/$1,000 to get more players into the game, and the players added a $200 ante for the hold'em hands. Phil Laak immediately began chattering to his tablemates about anything and everything, and his table antics were the only significant action in the first round of hold'em. Eventually, Laak got involved in a hand, and raised to $3,500 from the cutoff. Antonius called, Niki Jedlicka re-raised to $20,500, and Laak put in another raise to $103,000. Antonius got out of the way as Jedlicka moved all in. Laak called off the rest of his stack, and showed . He was crushed by Jedlicka's , and even though the players agreed to run it twice, Laak couldn't catch up and was stacked. Laak reloaded for another $200,000 and the game moved right along.
Chris Ferguson joined the game with a fresh stack of $200,000, and got into the action on his very first hand. After a preflop raise from the stoic Jamie Pickering brought two callers, Ferguson re-raised to $20,300. Niki Jedlicka and Tom Dwan stayed around, and all four players saw a flop of . Dwan led out for $31,400, and Pickering called. Pickering and Dwan were heads up on the turn, which brought the . After a moment's hesitation, Dwan led out for $41,800. Pickering called, and the river brought the . Dwan checked, Pickering checked behind, and Dwan said, "You've got it. I have a deuce." Pickering tabled A-K and raked the pot.
One of the differences between cash games and tournaments has always been the negotiation aspect. Players have much more freedom to needle, flash a card, run it twice, or make other arrangements in a cash game than in a tournament. Nowhere was that more obvious than in one huge hand of PLO between Andrew Robl and Patrik Antonius.
Antonius kicked things off with a pot-sized raise to $3,500 preflop. Robl re-raised from the big blind to $12,000. Tom Dwan got out of the way, and Antonius called to see flop of . Robl led out for $16,000, and Antonius thought briefly before raising to $72,000. Robl didn't have much behind, so he eventually shipped it all in, and Antonius made the call for not much more. Then the negotiations began. First they talked about running out the turn and river three times, but someone suggested four times, so the decision was made to run the board four times and split the pot.
Robl showed for a pair of aces. Antonius showed for an up-and-down straight draw and the diamond flush draw. Antonius' monster draw was a slight favorite on the flop, but the first turn and river came down and Robl's pair held up to lock up a quarter of the pot. He secured another quarter when the second turn brought the to fill Antonius' flush, but the river came down the to give Robl a full house.
With half the pot in his grasp, Robl nailed the third turn and river as well when it ran out . The last turn was the , and when the fourth river brought the Antonius had missed out on the entire pot despite starting off as a slight favorite. Robl raked in the pot, doubling his stack.
That monster hand drew the game near to its end, as Tom Dwan had managed to climb out of most of the hole his session against Antonius had created. Jamie Pickering netted over $100,000 profit on the game, and Andrew Robl's big Omaha pot was the game's signature hand. Phil Laak suffered the night's toughest run, down some $250,000 through the course of play.