With the $100,000 Challenge playing down to the final six and the second of three starting flights in the $10,600 Main Event going off, it was another busy day at the 2016 Aussie Millions Poker Championship on Monday.
Plus, two more Aussie Millions titles were won in the$1,150 Terminator and Australian Poker Hall of Fame Classic.
Ben Tollerene Leads The Final Six in the $100,000 Challenge
Day 2 of the 2016 Aussie Millions $100,000 Challenge saw 18 players from a 37-entry field return to action, but thanks to late registration and reentries open until the end of the Level 9, four more jumped in to bring the total field up to 41 entries. That created a $4,018,000 prize pool that will be distributed to the top six players, with the eventual winner taking home $1,446,480.
The player best position to make a run at the top prize is online pro Ben "Ben86" Tollerene, who leads the final six with a stack of 1.522 million. Interestingly, Tollerene, who has won countless millions online, is guaranteed the largest live score of his career no matter where he finished as his previous best was $112,663 for 10th in the EPT12 Barcelona Super High Roller.
Others still in contention for the title include Connor Drinan, Fabian Quoss, Sam Greenwood, Fedor Holz, and Team PokerStars Pro Jason Mercier.
At the start of the day, everyone was wondering if Phil Ivey, who busted in the last level of Day 1, would opt to reenter. He had an hour to do so, but there was no sign of him in the Crown Poker Room on Monday. Meanwhile, Igor Kurganov, who busted four times on Day 1, exited early and rebought for a fifth time, falling shy of Isaac Haxton's record of six entries in this event set two year ago.
Unfortunately for Kurganov, who was two days removed from finishing runner-up in the $25,000 Challenge for $541,680, the fifth time was not the charm as he soon found himself on the rail. Others joining him there in the early goings were Steve O'Dwyer, Erik Seidel, and Pratyush Buddiga.
Not long after, a surprise turn of events saw both Brian Rast and Stephen Chidwick – who began the day tied for the chip lead – hit the rail. The former ran ace-king into Tollerene's pocket kings to bust, while the latter was crippled after losing a big flip to Martin Jacobson.
Jacobson had a big stack, but before too long picked a fight with Holz, who won a monster flip to bust the 2014 World Series of Poker champ and vault into the chip lead. From there, Jeff Rossiter, Byron Kaverman, Paul Newey, and Mike "Timex" McDonald all hit the rail before the final table of nine was established.
Play was originally scheduled to stop at that point, but the players opted to play to the money, which led to the eliminations of David Peters and former champ David Steicke in ninth and eighth place respectively.
The bubble lasted for quite some time, but eventually Jason Koon was the last to leave empty handed, the result of running ace-king into the pocket aces off Mercier.
To allow for the players to participate in the Aussie Millions Main Event, the final table will be on hiatus until Saturday, January 30 when the final six will return at 2:10 p.m. local time to play down to a winner.
The Final Table
The Main Event's Second Starting Flight Draws 207
The second of three starting days for the 2016 Aussie Millions Main Event drew a total of 207 players, putting the total for now on 389 - 33 entries ahead of last year's pace. After a long day of poker it was American pro Alex Rocha who came out on top on Day 1b, taking 166,000 chips to the second day of play, right ahead of KC Wong who bagged up 163,000.
Day 1b had strong cast of contenders, including German pro Dominik Nitsche. The man with $5.1 million in live tournament earnings lasted all but six hands, as he ran his set of threes into Pete 'Chewing Gum Pete' Matusik's set of tens. Italian November Niner Federico Butteroni, tennis legend Boris Becker and WSOP Ladies Event winner Kristin Bicknell were also among the players we will not see return on Day 2.
Big One for One Drop champion Antonio Esfandiari made an appearance on Day 1b as well, and he entertained his table filled predominantly with amateur players, with a game of Lodden Thinks. Esfandiari cracked jokes and had a good time, but ultimately he was not rewarded with chips, as he got knocked out.
Brazilian pro Yuri Dzivielevski had a good day and bagged up 76,200, while Vladimir Troyanovskiy will take 102,500 to Day 2. Other players that advanced included Dylan Wilkerson, Ronnie Bardah, Oliver Price and former Aussie Millions champions Tyron Krost and Oliver Speidel.
Minh Nguyen Wins The Australian Poker Hall Of Fame Classic
Aussie Minh Nguyen took down the Event #14 $1,150 Australian Poker Hall Of Fame Classic title at the Crown Entertainment Complex in the early morning hours Tuesday.
Originally scheduled for two days, Nguyen took only one to defeat a 96-player field and earn the $24,950 first-place prize and LK Boutique Aussie Millions Championship ring that came along with it.
Nguyen went wire-to-wire at the final table, starting out with the chip lead and only increasing it when he knocked out Robert Fenner tenth and Jack Salter ninth in just the first few hands.
Linh Tran came in second in chips, and made it a two horse race, busting the final Hall of Famer in the field eighth, collecting the $500 bounty on Gary Benson's head.
Tran also busted Ukrainian Antonina Anapolska seventh picking up aces versus her jacks and while Nguyen busted short stack Michael Accardo sixth, Tran ran it twice with Roy Vandersluis and eventually busted him fifth.
Nguyen went back to work, taking care of Geoffrey Mooney fourth when he shoved a weak ace into his strong one, and the inevitable heads-up match between the two started after Tran ran kings into Tatjana Zizic's aces and turned a third king to bust her third.
Nguyen still held the lead when heads-up play started and he simply leaned on Tran until he was short and committed his stack on a bluff, handing Nguyen the title.
Final Table Results
|5||Roy Vandersluis||Hong Kong||$7,390|
|10||Robert Fenner||South Africa||$2,770|
Alex Lee Wins The Terminator
Singapore's Alex Lee took down the 2016 Aussie Millions Event #13 $1,150 Terminator No-Limit Hold'em title at the Crown Poker Room Monday, running away with the final table at the end to capture the event's $39,000 first-place prize, and an LK Boutique Aussie Millions championship ring.
Lee also collected 10 bounties for another $5,000 on the way to defeating a 316-player field over the past two days.
The event's final day kicked off just after 1 p.m. local time Monday with 21 remaining, and moved to a final table of ten within two 40-minute levels.
Stewart Davidson was the first player to exit the big stage, getting his aces cracked to bow out tenth. Michael Tchong was eliminated in ninth before last woman standing Samantha Abernathy took out both Sam Vakili and Don Mishra.
Aussie Mark Payne had the lead, but Lee crept up close busting Robert Spano sixth and Reece Webb fifth. Play went three-handed with Payne still in charge when he dispatched Michael Fraser.
Lee was actually the shortest of the three, but soon doubled into the lead, four-bet shoving with a big ace and catching against Payne's pocket fives.
Lee simply crushed his two opponent's after that, winning every big pot and putting the pressure on at every turn.
In the end, Abernathy got it in bad against him and couldn't find a way out to bust third and Lee beat Payne in one hand of heads-up play, catching a pair with his dominating ace, to capture his first Aussie Millions title.
Final Table Results
The 2016 Aussie Millions Poker Championship Continues
The 2016 Aussie Millions Poker Championship continues Tuesday January 26, 2016 with the third and final starting flight for the $10,600 No Limit Holdem Main Event kicking off at 12:30 p.m.
Tuesday will also see Event #15 $1,150 No Limit Holdem/PLO start out just after 6 p.m.