While the 2016 Aussie Millions Main Event kicked of on one side of the Crown Melbourne poker room, Day 1 of the prestigious $100,000 Challenge took place on the other. The first day of play attracted 29 players who accounted for eight reentries, which brought the total field up to 37 – down for last year's 70 entries.
However, late registration and reentries are open through the end of Level 9 on Day 2, so that number is sure to grow. As for Day 1 action, which encompassed eight one-hour levels, two players thrived in Stephen Chidwick and Brian Rast, who tied of the chip lead with 378,500 among the 18 survivors.
Others who bagged big were Connor Drinan (372,000), Jeff Rossiter (297,000), and Fabain Quoss (235,000).
The day started off rough for online pro Ben Tollerene, who lost a big pot to Phil Ivey early on and failed to recover. Tollerene was the first player to fall, but he promptly reentered and ended up bagging a healthy 275,500.
One player who did survive Antonio Esfandiari, who had a short and not at all sweet stay after he bluffed away his stack in Level 3. Esfandiari did not return. Others who had a rough go were Andrew Lichtenberger, who busted two bullets, and Ivey, who fell in the last level of the night after a big flush-over-flush hand.
Meanwhile, Russia's all-time money winner Igor Kurganov, who finished runner-up in the $25K Challenge the night before for AU$541,680, ended up firing four times. Nothing went right in the first three, but the fourth got him through Day 1 with 120,500.
Day 2 will commence at 2:00 p.m. local time on Monday with the plan of playing down to the final table. Late registration will remain open for the first level of the day, and chance are Ivey and some other fallen players will take another crack at the title. Stay tuned to PokerNews as we bring you all the latest and greatest from the 2016 Aussie Millions Poker Championships.