The 2016 Aussie Millions Main Event has reached its final table.
Returning on Sunday, Jan. 31, will be Ari Engel, Tony Dunst, Samantha Abernathy, Alexander Lynskey, Kitty Kuo, John Apostolidis, and Dylan Honeyman to battle for the Southern Hemisphere's most prestigious poker prize and the life-changing $1.6 million payday that comes with it.
Leading the final seven will be Engel after he bagged up 8.155 million in chips. He and the remaining competitors are all guaranteed a cool $210,000.
Along with his chip lead, Engel brings a tough poker résumé to the finale that includes career live tournament earnings in excess of $2.24 million. Originally from Toronto, Canada, Engel spends his days traveling the tournament circuit chasing poker glory. He did live in Melbourne for eight years when he was younger, so winning this title would be extra sweet for a player who has plenty of friends and family nearby.
Only six people stand between Engel and the most remarkable win of his career, but those six will provide quite the competition, led by Tony Dunst and his second-place stack of 5.99 million. Like Engel, Dunst spent time living in Australia and will share a similarly heightened feeling of fulfillment should he go on to victory.
The most interesting part of Dunst's run was that it almost never happened. Prior to buying in, Dunst had lost one of the two $5,000 chips that he was going to buy in with. Angered with himself and plenty flustered, the American World Poker Tour host was ready to up and leave Melbourne altogether, but friends talked him back into playing, and now he has reached the final stage in an epic turnaround of fortune.
Along Engel and Dunst's stories, we would be remiss if we didn't mention that two women are still alive in the event as well. In the modern era of the Aussie Millions when the event's buy-in was raised to $10,000, only three prior times did a woman reach the final table — Kirsty Gazes in 2007, Annette Obrestad in 2010, and Jay Tan in 2013. Each of them finished in seventh place, which means that with Samantha Abernathy and Kitty Kuo both making the final table, the event is guaranteed its best female finisher ever.
Honeyman, who was one of three Australians to reach the final table, finished with the shortest stack heading into the final table with 885,000 in chips.
With so much at stake in the event, a much deserved day off will allow the players to rest their tensions and focus on what's to come, but that doesn't mean there won't be plenty of exciting poker action filling Crown Poker Room.
Remember, the $100,000 Challenge final table will be taking place on Saturday, as Ben Tollerene heads up the pack containing Connor Drinan, Jason Mercier, Fabian Quoss,Sam Greenwood, and Fedor Holz, looking to capture the event's $1.446 million top score.
Darryll Fish Wins the Tournament of Champions
American Darryll Fish rose from short stack to champion, winning the 2016 Aussie Millions Event #17: $1,150 Aussie Millions Tournament of Champions inside the Crown Poker Room on Friday evening.
Fish earned $49,695 for the win along with a coveted LK Boutique Aussie Millions championship ring.
In just the second hand of play at the final table, Calvin Tan Seet Pin got his aces cracked to leave him short and he was out 10th soon after. Chad Awerbuch hit the exit ninth before Eric Theissen ran two dominated hands into Szymon Sobanda and busted eighth.
Rotus Haoran Zhang was the next to go, doubling up David Leas before running into Raiden Kan's queens. Then Takashi Ogura ran ace-jack suited into Sobanda's queens and failed to improve, busting out sixth.
Fish was the short stack at that point, but quickly doubled twice to turn that around. Soon after, he turned a straight against David Leas trip jacks and sent him to the rail fifth. Fish took the lead and put his foot on the gas after that, and while it was White that busted start-of-day chip leader Kan, Fish took a ton of his chips before he was sent home fourth.
Sobanda doubled through White, but then ran a dominated ace into the Fish juggernaut to go broke right after, sending Fish into heads-up play with White, holding a big lead.
It turned out to be an insurmountable one, when White turned two pair and got it in after just a few hands heads-up. Fish had aces up, it held and coming off a career year that saw him earn $753,967, he now begins 2016 with his first Aussie Millions title.
Final Table Results
|4||Raiden Kan||Hong Kong||$16,900|
|7||Rotus Haoran Zhang||China||$8,950|
|10||Calvin Tan Seet Pin||USA||$3,975|
Joshua Budin Wins the $2,500 Pot-Limit Omaha Event
The second and final day of the 2016 Aussie Millions Poker Championship Event #18: $2,500 Pot-Limit Omaha saw 24 of 125 participants return to the poker room of the Crown Entertainment Complex in Melbourne. Ultimately it was Joshua Budin who emerged victorious after cutting a heads-up deal with fellow Aussie Daniel Laidlaw to claim the elusive LK Boutique championship ring and a payday of $64,670.
Of the survivors, 50% had to leave empty-handed and among those to bust before the money were Jens Lakemeier, Michael Guttman, Konstantin Buecherl and Martin Kozlov. Start-of-the-day chip leader Tam Truong ended up as the bubble boy after getting his short stack in with pocket aces and the nut flush draw on a jack-high flop, Ilias Sagias called with the worse flush draw but made a runner-runner straight with queen-ten.
The top 12 was all Australian and Nicholas Polias, David Campbell, Michael Zowie, and Buck Rabie departed before the final table of eight was set. Laidlaw started as one of the shortest stacks, but tripled up in the Rabie exit hand and suddenly took hold at the top of the counts.
2014 World Series of Poker Asia-Pacific bracelet winner Sam Higgs fell in another three-way all in when his pocket nines were no good, while Billy "The Croc" Argyros spiked two pair with ace-queen and cracked Sagias' kings to more than double up. Sagias was the next on the rail after committing most of his stack with queen-high, Xen Xenofontos called with jacks and a wrap, ultimately completing a straight.
Jarryd Godena dominated the early stages of Day 2, but ultimately had to settle for sixth place. He three-bet the pot preflop and and jammed the flop with ace-high. Budin only had a pair of sevens, but they held up and he suddenly had more than 50 percent of the chips in play. Argyros then lost his stack to Laidlaw, with two pair on the flop falling after a Laidlaw made a set of jacks on the turn.
Nikolaos Solomos followed in fourth place after calling down three streets against Laidlaw's set of fours. Xenofontos followed in third place with a failed bluff attempt holding sixes, after Laidlaw flopped the flush and avoided a runner-runner outs.
Laidlaw started heads up with a slight lead over Budin and grinded his opponent down to gain a 3-1 advantage. However, Bidun soon doubled up and they cut a deal, saving the championship ring and a small amount of cash to play for. The fireworks commenced and Bidun got there with a wrap against top two pair to claim the title.
Final Table Results
The $2,500 Shot Clock NLHE Six Max Draws 246
Event #19: $2,500 Shot Clock NLHE Six Max drew 246 entries Friday. Plans were to play down to a final table or 2 a.m., whichever came first.
Survivors of Day 1 will return to play down to a champion on Saturday beginning at 1 p.m.
The 2016 Aussie Millions Poker Championship Continues
The 2016 Aussie Millions Poker Championship continues Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, with the start of two new events: Event #20: $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em Deep Freeze at 12:10 p.m. and Event #21: $5,000 NLHE Six Max at 6:10 p.m.
Saturday will also see the final table of the $100,000 Challenge begins just after 2 p.m. and the final day of Event #19 $2,500 Shot Clock NLHE Six Max starting at 1 p.m.