A Chat With Ramos, Kornuth, Engel, and Vijayaram at the Aussie Millions
The 2018 Aussie Millions is in full swing, with Main Event Day 1c currently underway. Hundreds of players have flocked to the Crown Casino tournament room in Melbourne, Australia, it's the biggest Main Event in the history of the tournament!
PokerNews is in Melbourne to bring you the latest updates from the tournament floor. Besides reporting on bad beats, incredible runs, suck outs, and fortunate river cards, the reporting team also spoke to some of the players in attendance.
We ran into Ari Engel who took down the Aussie Millions Main Event for $1.6m two years ago, defeating Tony Dunst heads-up to win the title. Last year he was back as defending champion, but this year he's back again and joining the ranks of former champions.
"It's nice to be back," said Engel. "No matter what happens I'll always have positive memories here. I have a strong record [of cashing] here so it's great. I'm running good; won a flip. Things are great."
Engel is right to say that he runs well here in Melbourne, with five final tables and a win from seven cashes.
"Everyone loves Melbourne as a city; it's great."
"It's interesting! I'm not sure if it's a coincidence when things like that happen. Some places you tend to run better than others. Hopefully, this is a place where I can continue to run well."
We asked Engel why he thinks so many international players like himself head Down Under each year to the Aussie Millions.
"There aren't as many big Main Events like this anymore; with so many satellites running and qualifiers. Also, I mean everyone loves Melbourne as a city; it's great. It's the right time of year. It's great that poker players from all over the world like to keep coming back here."
Shurane "Shane" Vijayaram
We also found defending champion Shurane "Shane" Vijayaram in the field on Day 1c. Last year, he turned a $130 satellite seat into a $1.6m score and now he's back playing the Aussie Millions Main Event 12 months on.
"It's awesome to be back," said Vijayaram. "Playing at my home casino; it's awesome and there's a great atmosphere. Everyone is having fun - I mean, everyone likes to have a punt.
"It's just a great festival."
"It's just a great festival."
And what advice does he have for anyone playing in their first major tournament, just like he did last year?
"I’d say just play it like every other tournament. Like I said, they're long days so don't get disheartened that you lose or because you're down a little bit. There's a lot of hands still to come!"
Not much later, we spoke to Felipe Ramos who's making the most of his first trip to Melbourne for the Aussie Millions.
"Melbourne is very nice," he said. "It's become one of my favorite cities in the world; level with Barcelona and Amsterdam. I think that the city has a really great mix - there's a lot of activities to do but then also a lot of green spaces, which I like very much.
"The people are really nice and that's a very good thing to have whenever you go to a poker stop. The beaches as well! Sometimes you go to poker venues where the only option is to be stuck in the poker room all day. That's not very healthy I think for people who have to think for a living!
"This city offers the poker lifestyle that I love."
"I like living the poker lifestyle, and this city offers the poker lifestyle that I love."
Ramos has played a couple of events, including the $25,000 Challenge and a fourth place in the 8-Game.
"Fourth was disappointing for me because I entered the final table as chip leader. It's my favorite format of poker. But I'm now happy to be playing here in my first Aussie Millions Main Event."
The always amicable Chance Kornuth has been eliminated by now, but before that happened, we spoke to him as well. Kornuth took down the $1,150 No-Limit Hold'em Six-Max earlier this week, beating 598 players to take home A$134,850.
"It's awesome," said Kornuth. "I love winning tournaments. To me, it's the best feeling there is."
The Denver native said that he went to the PCA in the Bahamas, but was excited to come down to the Aussie Millions afterward; a stop renowned all over the world as a 'not-to-miss' festival of poker.
"It's definitely a hard stop to miss."
"It's definitely a hard stop to miss. You know, the city, the people; the value in some of the tournaments make it one of my favorite stops in the whole world."
Kornuth traveled to Melbourne with friends Sam Panzica and Ben Lamb, with Lamb subsequently winning the $25,000 Challenge.
"When you travel with poker players you chat to them a ton, about all sorts of things. Ben and I are going to Thailand afterward with our girls, and that's one of the reasons he's down here.
"It's fun to see your friends win, but I have been needling him that my score was bigger than his $25,000 Challenge score!"
Follow along with the Aussie Millions all week as the biggest field in the history of the tournament has gathered in the Crown poker room. The PokerNews Live Reporting team will be on site for the remainder of the event.
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