As popular as the <a href=https://www.pokernews.com/aussie-millions-how-to-qualify.htm>Aussie Millions</a> Poker Championship has become, no one was quite prepared for the fanfare and enthusiasm surrounding the 2007 event. Leading up to the tournament, the online poker site and official Aussie Millions sponsor, <a href=https://www.pokernews.com/full-tilt-poker/>Full Tilt</a>, had launched a media campaign to secure ample media coverage. What they got was downright media frenzy, with every local and national news organization following their every move. From the minute they touched down on the tarmac of Melbourne's airport, pros were swarmed by press and fans. It was as if the entire country was focused on every hand of poker and every golf swing executed by a poker player.
How many players can you get to ante up AU $100,000 for an event? In 2007, the answer was 18. Just prior to the Main Event, the Aussie Millions hosted a $100,000 buy-in, pot-limit/no-limit hold'em event. As if the media didn't already have ample poker celeb fodder, the eventual heads-up play featuring Erick Lindgren besting Erik Seidel for the million-dollar first place prize was a story that wrote itself.
The 2007 AU $10,000 Main Event drew 747 players, up from the 418 entries the previous year. It was like the "Who's Who" of poker, all vying for the nearly $7.5 million prize pool. But going into the final table, it was a relatively unknown 19-year-old online player, Jimmy "gobboboy" Fricke, that had the chip lead. "The Great Dane," Gus Hansen, was second in chips. Andy Black, Kristy Gazes, Julius Colman, Marc Karam, and Hans Martin Vogl were all still in the hunt.
When it got down to heads up play, Fricke had almost a 3-to-1 lead over Hansen. But Hansen whittled away Fricke's edge. On the final hand, all the money went in on the flop of . Hansen had the edge with , but Fricke had an open-ended straight draw with the . Fricke gained more outs when the fell on the turn. But the river sealed the hand and the $1.2 million winner's prize for Hansen.
In 2008, the Main Event grew again, when 780 players from the world over swarmed into Melbourne. Hometown favorites included Joe and Tony Hachem, Sarah Bilney, Billy "The Croc" Argyros, Tony G, and Lee Nelson. Established pros such as Dan Harrington, Eli Elezra, Phil Ivey, Andy Black, Gavin Smith, Erik Seidel, Jeff Lisandro, and Chris Ferguson were there. And online players were represented by the likes of Kevin Saul, Erik Sagstrom, Jon Turner, Jonathan Little, Tom Dwan, and Annette Obrestad.
Michael Chrisanthopoulos won his seat for the 2008 Aussie Millions by winning a $120 satellite in the Crown's poker room. Chrisanthopoulos made that seat work, and would start the Main Event final table with the chip lead. He was one of five Australians to make their way to the top seven spots. But it would be a Russian and an American that would eventually square off for the title. Alexander Kostritsyn started heads-up play with about a 2-to-1 chip advantage over veteran player Erik Seidel. The battle would last two hours, with the 21-year-old Moscow native prevailing for $1.6 million.
Technically, we won't be flashing back for our last installment of "Aussie Millions Flashback," as the preliminary events for the 2009 Aussie Millions are already underway and the Main Event is just a week away. Instead, we'll be taking a look at this year's preliminary winners and getting a feel for who will be starring in this year's championship. In the meantime, you can follow the live coverage of these events with <a href=https://www.pokernews.com/live-reporting/>"PokerNews' Live Reporting</a> team.