The 2012 Aussie Millions Poker Championship shifted into high gear on Sunday in Melbourne, Australia, with the start of the $10,000 Main Event and the $100,000 Challenge. The latter event drew a laundry list of notable pros such as Phil Ivey, Tony G, Jason Mercier, Gus Hansen, Erik Seidel, and Daniel Negreanu, just to name a few. A few players skipped the $100,000 Challenge to take a shot in the Main Event including Patrik Antonius, McLean Karr, Randy Dorfman, and Barry Greenstein.
Here’s a look at the action from Day 11 of the 2012 Aussie Millions Poker Championship:
Every year since 2006, the Aussie Millions has spread a $100,000 Challenge. The event draws out a few tables full of the best players in the game and the 2012 edition was no exception. Twenty-two players traded six figures of cash for a numbered ticket and a chance at a big paycheck.
This is a uniquely structured event with 100,000-chip starting stacks, no antes, and a split-limit betting format. As usual, the action did not disappoint. It took about 10 hours of play to shrink the field down to the final table of eight, and the top of the chip counts is dominated by a pair of men who are exceptionally famous in this part of the world. The 2007 Aussie Millions Main Event champ, Gus Hansen leads the way, and Australia's chosen son, Joe Hachem is hot on his heels.
Dan Shak won the $100,000 Challenge two years ago, but his impressive record in big buy-in events could not save him from an early departure on Day 1. Mike "SirWatts" Watson was the only man who beat him to the exit doors, and the two of them were soon joined by Tom "durrrr" Dwan, Masa Kagawa, Tony Bloom — who finished as the runner-up in this event last year — and hometown hero Jonathan "Monster_Dong" Karamalikis.
The field broke for dinner with 15 players left, and when they returned, a latecomer was added, as Tony G joined the field. Tony G went on to make it to the final table at night's end, but another table full of players were not so lucky. Daniel Alaei copped a bit of a beat from Hachem to mark the end of his day, and Daniel Negreanu could not nurse his short stack back to health after a long and ultimately unproductive battle. Tobias Reinkemeier, Daniel "jungleman15" Cates, and J.C. Tran fell next in succession, followed by last year's third-place finisher Erik Seidel.
Jason Mercier was on the verge of mounting a big comeback of his own, but he ran his pocket pair of eights into Mikhail Smirnov's tens to reduce the field to the unofficial final table of nine. Phil Ivey ended up bursting the final table bubble after he got his chips in with pocket eights on a flop. Hansen had flopped two pair with . The turn and river brought blanks for Ivey, and his exit marked the end of Day 1.
The final four players will all earn paychecks ranging from a quarter-million dollars up to the top prize of just over a million. Here's how the final table will stack up when it recommences on Monday at 1445 AEST (1900 PST Sunday).
Event #8: $10,000 Main Event Day 1a
After a long wait, it was finally time for the 2012 Aussie Millions Main Event to kick off with the first of three starting days. There was a buzz in the Crown Poker Room as 153 players signed up for Day 1a. Before play started, Joe Hachem gave the shuffle up and deal and some encouraging words for the players competing in the biggest poker tournament in the Southern Hemisphere. After seven levels of action-packed play, approximately 68 players remained with Brett Watson leading the way with 257,400 in chips.
At the start of the day, players quietly made their entrance into the tournament area. We noticed many top European players like former EPT winners David Vamplew (London 2010), Rupert Elder (San Remo 2011), Michael Tureniec (Copenhagen 2011) and Anton Wigg (Copenhagen 2010), but also local favorites Andrew Hinrichsen, Lee Nelson, and Jeff Lisandro. Barry Greenstein, Faraz Jaka, Patrik Antonius, and Randy Dorfman, were also part of the field.
Watson managed to thrive on Day 1a. He slowly amassed his big stack throughout the day, but it wasn't until the last level of the night that he separated himself from the pack. In the hand, the board read and Watson held for the nuts. The PokerNews Live Reporting Team didn't catch all of the action, but the result was Rupert Elder's elimination. Watson's stack grew to a massive 255,000. Elder later tweeted that he had also rivered a flush.
Unfortunately, not everyone was able to thrive on Day 1a. Jaka, Dan Kelly, Eoghan O'Dea, Richard Ashby, Matt Jarvis, Terrence Chan, Sam Holden, Brendon Rubie, Dorfman, Greenstein, and Antonius were among the players who did not make it out of Day 1a.
Surprisingly, Antonius skipped the $100,00 Challenge to test the waters in the Main Event, and he had an up-and-down day. He was a late registrant, doubled on one of the first hands he played, and then lost most of his stack after having his pocket aces cracked by pocket queens. In his final hand, Antonius bluffed all-in on the river with . A player in Seat 1 called holding for top pair with top kicker, and just like that, Antonius' day came to an end.
Many big names fell, but others managed to survive. Among those who advanced to Day 2 were Sebastian Ruthenberg (22,800), Maria Ho (49,600), Leo Boxell (65,100), Jason Gray (65,700), Jamie Rosen (77,600), and the only former Aussie Millions champ to enter on Day 1a, Lee Nelson (105,100).
However, they're all trailing the big stacks in the room like Hinrichsen (132,900), Rob Angood (133,200), Ben Jenkins (154,500), Paul Sing (177,100), who freerolled his way into the tournament through the world’s first “Baccpo” poker tournament at the Crown, and of course the chip leader, Watson.
Day 1b is set to get under way at 1230 AEST Monday (1730 PST Sunday), and you can follow all the action on PokerNews.
Event #7: $1,650 Feature Event, No-Limit Hold'em Bounties
Ross Parkhill, from Ireland, became the seventh gold ring winner at this year’s Aussie Millions Championship after he defeated Michal Polchlopek in a very short heads-up battle to claim the $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em Bounties title. A long match was expected as both players had similar stacks of around 65 big blinds, but one thing that could end it quickly was a cooler, and that’s what happened.
Michal Polchlopek opened on the button and Parkhill made the call. The flop came down and Parkhill check-raised Polchlopek's 55,000 bet to 140,000. Polchlopek called and the hit the turn, which both players checked. The river brought the and Parkhill led for 250,000. Polchlopek raised to 600,000, and Parkhill moved all-in. Polchlopek made the call and turned over . Parkhill tabled for a full house to best Polchlopek's rivered trips. Polchlopek was left with just 151,000 and was eliminated on the next hand of play.
The event originally drew 315 players and Day 2 began with just 32 players. They were set to compete in a shootout format where each player would have to finish in the top two at their table to progress. The draw was seeded, meaning the top four stacks overnight were kept apart.
The biggest of those stacks was Melanie Weisnser. She lost the chip lead early on at the table before regaining it, losing it once more, and then eventually busted. A similar fate was in store for Hans Dorn. He came in as leader of his table but the talented trio of James Obst, Michal Polchlopek and Billy Argyros made it to three-handed with the latter final table bubbling. Jamie Pickering and Mark Betts had no such problems and took healthy stacks through with them to the final table.
Those who fell by wayside included former chip leader Radoslaw Kopec, Joshua Foster, Harry Demetriou, George Moussa and Aleks Brkovic. The final eight players had a short break before they got back to business and set about trying to win the top prize and the coveted gold ring.
Obst was the first player to be eliminated from the final table. Adam Cusenza, Oliver Speidel, Pickering, and Betts all followed, and from there, Parkhill played his way to victory and captured the latest Aussie Millions gold ring.
The PokerNews Live Reporting Team will be on hand to bring you live updates from Day 1b of the Aussie Millions Main Event and the remaining action in the $100,000 Challenge.