Day 5 completed
|Prize Pool||8,000,000 AUD|
|Blinds||80,000 / 160,000|
Day 5 completed
He came in as the chip leader, and the player with by far the most live cashes, so Toby Lewis looked like the clear favorite heading into the final table of the 2018 Aussie Millions Main Event at Crown Melbourne.
Mind locked in on the biggest chance of his life for a career-defining score, the 28-year-old British pro said he felt no pressure heading into the final day.
"It's probably the least amount I've ever felt heading into a major final table," Lewis said. "I've been working really hard on my game lately, more than ever. I just felt really comfortable. I had an understanding of the players I was playing against.
"I tried to stay off social media as much as possible and tried not to hype myself up too much."
It must have worked. Lewis put on an absolutely dominant display of poker Sunday night on the big stage at Crown, moving into a huge chip lead and using it to roll over most of his opponents en route to an A$1,458,198 payday for topping a field of 800 — a record for the 21-year-old event. That adjusted amount came after a three-way deal between Lewis, Stefan Huber and Espen Solaas, with Lewis locking up more than second-place prize money and proceeding to win the A$75,000 and commemorative bracelet set aside for the winner.
Official Final Table Results
|5||Mike Del Vecchio||USA||A$370,000|
In perhaps an indicator of what was in store for the day, Lewis began making hands more or less immediately when the final day of play got under way and began broadcasting with Jason Somerville and Co. on the Run It Up stream.
The player with the least to lose, Johan Schumacher, experienced just the opposite fortune. He got his stack in the middle twice, both in dominating spots, and got one chop and an elimination for his efforts, the latter coming when Solaas binked a flush with seven-five suited all in against Schumacher's pocket fives.
Continuing something of a theme for the event, Lewis made a big laydown with tens on a seven-high board when local player Chul-Hyon Park turned a set of sevens on him. Avoiding that potential mine enabled Lewis to stay afloat in the top two spots despite a strong challenge from Solaas.
The Norwegian certainly got dealt all of the hands one could hope for at the final table, but things didn't always work out as he hoped after that. He held with kings against home crowd favorite Ben Richardson's ace-queen but dropped two other big pots when kings got cracked by Huber's ace-four and ace-king ran into Park's aces.
After coming in with one of the bigger stacks, Richardson got nothing going on the final day.
"It was a pretty bad start," he said. "I lost every hand I played, mostly."
Lewis, on the other hand, got a dream board with ace-king against Park's jacks when he flopped top pair, turned trips and hit a full house on the river. Park paid off a huge river bet and that pot cemented Lewis at the clear leader.
Mike Del Vecchio, the lone American at the final table, held that lofty position for awhile on earlier days. He came into the event hot after a third-place finish at WPT Five Diamond in December that netted him a career-best payout of $750,000 but that would remain his biggest score as he gambled with a flush draw against Lewis' two pair and didn't get there to go down in fifth.
That prompted a four-handed battle with Lewis way out in front and the short stacks eyeing each other, all trying to ladder. Nobody wanted to miss out on a big money jump, and that benefited Lewis, who began hauling in every blind and ante in sight. Park was a little ahead of Huber and Solaas and clearly was looking to outlast them, folding hands such as pocket fives in position to Lewis' opens.
"He knew he had to be very tight," Lewis said. "[Huber and Solaas] both understood ICM very well. It's an absolute disaster for either of them to get it in against me. It was one of those spots where eventually something had to give but nobody wanted it to give."
What gave was Park's luck. No Aussie Millions final table is quite complete without a local satellite player making a Cinderella run, and Park was the man for 2018, just a year after Shane Vijayaram took the whole thing down. However, he would lose with queens all in preflop against Solaas' sevens to go out fourth.
"It was the most stressful thing that I've ever done in my entire life," he said afterward. "It was tough playing against all the pros. I was the underdog definitely with the least experience. But, I enjoyed it and hopefully I can do it again."
The three pros remaining began talking deal, and eventually they came to an agreement based on chip stacks with A$75,000 set aside for the winner. They locked up A$1,383,198 (Lewis), A$1,177,103 (Solaas) and $A909,699 (Huber).
Lewis was already guaranteed his biggest cash.
"Obviously, I was over the moon," he said. "I have a lot of respect for both of those guys. These spots don't come around very often, so I wanted to make sure I realized a good amount of equity.
"I would have liked to have taken a little bit more. But, Espen played a very hard deal."
Things got very aggressive after that, with players beginning to reraise each other more often and jam lighter than before. Solaas was first to bust when he ran into Lewis' kings and bricked with ace-nine.
Despite running poor in a number of huge spots during the last two days — Solaas lost a particularly monstrous Day 4 flip to Lewis that could have seen the Norwegian lock up 40 percent of the chips with two tables left — he maintained that he ran well throughout the tournament. He credited the staff for running a great event with a great structure.
Lewis had a big lead on Huber and didn't take long to finish him off, much to the disappointment of a jovial, beer-swigging German contingent of supporters. Still, Huber's charity, Raising for Effective Giving, is likely to get a handsome chunk of change.
Fellow British pros Sam Grafton and Ludovic Geilich were among those enfolding Lewis in big hugs after the final card hit the felt. Lewis credited Grafton in particular with helping him on the day off before the final table, as the two did a few hours worth of preparation work on Saturday.
It's a continuation of the past few months overall, which Lewis said have been filled with hours of study and less play than usual. It all paid off with an Aussie Millions title, and Lewis joined his brethren for celebratory drinks in what's sure to be a special day in his career no matter what heights he reaches in the years ahead.
Hand #179: Stefan Huber opened for 400,000 on the button with and Toby Lewis defended . The flop came and Lewis checked. Huber bet 225,000 and called a raise to 625,000.
The turn brought a and Lewis checked. Huber slid in 700,000. Lewis told the dealer he was all in, putting Huber at risk for 3,260,000 more. Huber thought only briefly and called, only to see he was drawing dead. The meaningless river was a .
Hand #171: Stefan Huber raised to 400,000 with and Toby Lewis folded.
Hand #172: Lewis raised to 400,000 with and took it.
Hand #173: Huber raised to 400,000 with , Lewis three-bet with to 1,300,000 and Huber instantly folded.
Hand #174: Lewis raised to 400,000 with and Huber defended . The flop was and both players checked. Huber checked the turn to Lewis, who bet 275,000. Quick fold from Huber with queen-high.
Hand #175: Huber raised to 400,000 with and won the blinds.
Hand #176: Huber got a walk.
Hand #177: Huber made it 400,000 with and Lewis defended . The flop went check/check. Lewis, with two pair, bet 1,000,000 on the turn. Huber called with the straight draw but whiffed on the river.
Lewis checked and Huber, with the nut low, bet 750,000. Lewis counted out the chips, pondered for a short while, then called with the best hand.
Hand #178: Lewis limped and Huber checked . The flop missed both players and Lewis took it with a bet.
Hand #164: On the first hand of heads up, Toby Lewis opened on the button for 400,000 with and Stefan Huber called with . Both checked to a completed board of and a river bet from Huber won the pot.
Hand #165: Unknown action.
Hand #166: Lewis opened with and won the pot.
Hand #167: Huber raised to 400,000 with and Lewis called with . On the flop, Lewis check-called 275,000. It went check-check on the and the for a chopped pot.
Hand #168: Lewis raised to 400,000 with and Huber defended . With on the felt, Huber checked. Lewis bet 600,000 and Huber mucked.
Hand #169: Huber made it 400,000 with and Lewis slid in a three-bet to 1.4 million with . Huber peeled and flopped. Lewis bet 900,000 and got a fold in short order.
Hand #170: Lewis raised to 400,000 with and Huber defended , flopping well when hit. Huber checked and called 550,000. The turn was a and Huber checked. Lewis checked back and the river was the .
Huber checked and Lewis waved the white flag.
The heads-up between Toby Lewis and Stefan Huber has begun. Who will become the 2018 Aussie Millions Main Event champion?
Players are on a break as the tournament staff sets up the heads up battle with prize money on the table as well as the commemorative bracelet.
Hand #163: Espen Solaas raised to 400,000 on the button with . Toby Lewis picked up in the small blind and made it 1,275,000. Solaas shoved all in for 4,490,000 and Lewis called.
The flop did little for Solaas other than bring some backdoor possibilities. The turn did make Solaas a flush draw but the river was the .
That leaves the tournament heads up between Lewis and Stefan Huber.
Hand #152: Toby Lewis raised to 325,000 on the button with and Espen Solaas defended . The flop was and Solaas quickly check-folded.
Hand #153: Solaas completed the small blind with , Lewis raised to 375,000 with and Solaas bought a flop. Lewis found traction on the flop and a bet of 275,000 was enough to take it down.
Hand #154: Solaas raised to 400,000 on the button with and Lewis called from the small blind with . With , Stefan Huber put in a three-bet to 1,600,000 and got rid of both players.
Hand #155: Huber completed , Solaas raised and Huber snap-folded.
Hand #156: Solaas completed and Lewis checked . The flop gave Lewis an open-ender. Solaas checked and folded to a 300,000 bet from Lewis.
Hand #157: Solaas raised to 400,000 on the button with . Huber three-bet to 1,360,000 with from the big blind and picked up the pot.
Hand #158: Lewis raised with to 325,000 on the button and Solaas defended . Both players paired up on the flop. Solaas checked and called a 550,000 bet from Lewis.
The dealer burned and turned the . Solaas checked, Lewis fired a second bet worth 1,350,000 and Solaas gave up bottom pair.
Hand #159: Huber raised to 400,000 with , while Lewis defended with . The flop missed both players and Huber took it easily with a bet of 275,000.
Hand #160: Lewis raised in the small blind and Huber instantly folded .
Hand #161: Lewis with another raise, this time to 325,000 on the button with . Solaas had in the big blind and peeled a flop. The flop was and Lewis bet 250.000. Solaas called with his inside straight draw.
The on the turn was a blank. Lewis put in a second bet worth 1,000,000 and got rid of Solaas.
Hand #162: Solaas completed and Lewis checked . The flop went check/check, as did the turn. The on the river brought the fourth spade and another round of checks. Split pot!