On Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012, the Aussie Millions Poker Championship will celebrate its 10th Anniversary at the Crown Casino is Melbourne, Australia. The tournament series, which runs for nearly three weeks and features 26 different events, has become one of the premiere poker events on the circuit.
In preparation for the 2012 Aussie Millions, we're taking a look at the event’s history, beginning with the inaugural event in 2003, the year credited with sparking the poker boom.
“Silver Fox” Becomes the First Aussie Millions Champion
By today’s standards, the maiden Aussie Millions was quite small. Aside from the Main Event, the largest buy-in of the series’ 10 events was $5,000, modest compared to the $250,000 tournament that debuted last year. That first year was comprised mainly of players from the South Pacific, as well as a smattering of pros from the United Kingdom including Harry Demetriou, Ram Vaswani, Joe Beevers, and Lucy Rokach. In addition, a few Americans traveled to Melbourne including Erik Seidel, who has since become a regular at the Aussie Millions.
|$360 Pot-Limit Hold’em||Luke Chezick (NZ)|
|$360 Limit Hold’em||Carlo Citrone (U.K.)|
|$1,500 Limit Hold’em||Michael Tomeny (USA)|
|$1,000 Pot-Limit Omaha||Sherkhan Fernood (Afghanistan)|
|$5,000 Heads-up No Limit Hold’em||George Mamacas (Australia)|
|$200 NLHE Pioneers Event||Paul Pedersen (NZ)|
|$1,000 Pot-Limit Hold’em||Sherkhan Fernood (Afghanistan)|
|$1,500 Limit Omaha Hi/Lo||Mel Judah (Australia)|
|$5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha||Lucy Rokach (U.K.)|
|$10,500 NLHE Main Event||Peter Costa (U.K.)|
The first Aussie Millions Main Event attracted 122 players and created a prize pool of $1,220,000. The final table ended up being a battle between Australia and the U.K., with the former having five runners in contention against the latter’s four. Appropriately, Leo Boxwell of Australia squared off against the U.K.’s Peter Costa in a heads-up match considered one of the best in Aussie Millions history. It contained 14 all-in bets and in the end, the Englishman, nicknamed “Silver Fox,” took down the $394,870 prize and became the first Aussie Millions champion.
Costa, who was known by many through his appearances on Late Night Poker, was certainly the big story from that first year, but it is also worth noting that two of the Hendon Mob’s four members (Ram Vaswani and Joe Beevers) made the final table, and another member, Barny Boatman, bubbled in 10th place.
|1st||Peter Costa (U.K.)||$394,870|
|2nd||Leo Boxwell (Australia)||$225,640|
|3rd||Harry Demetriou (U.K.)||$124,640|
|4th||Sam Khouiss (Australia)||$101,538|
|5th||Joe Cabret (Australia)||$78,974|
|6th||Ram Vaswani (U.K.)||$67,696|
|7th||Martin Comer (Australia)||$56,410|
|8th||Erich Kollmann (Austria)||$45,128|
|9th||Joe Beevers (U.K.)||$33,846|
Another U.K. Victory in Aussie Land
The Aussie Millions began to grow in 2004, and an extra tournament was added to the schedule. In addition to the Australian and U.K. contingents, a group of Americas made the trek and found success. In fact, three U.S. citizens captured preliminary titles: Seth Towle, Steve Zolotow, and Andy Glazer, who took down two events.
|$100 No Limit Hold’em||Marty Wilson (U.K.)|
|$500 Limit Hold’em||John Homann (Australia)|
|$500 Limit Omaha||Arul Thillai (Australia)|
|$500 Pot Limit Hold’em||Andy Glazer (USA)|
|$500 Pot Limit Omaha||Seth Towle (USA)|
|$1,600 Limit Hold’em||Sam Korman (Australia)|
|$1,600 Limit Seven-card Stud||Andy Glazer (USA)|
|$5,200 Heads-up NLHE||Per Werner Swennson (Sweden)|
|$2,100 Limit Omaha Hi/Lo||Michael Guttman (Australia)|
|$1,100 Pot Limit Hold’em||Mike Ivin (Australia)|
|$5,200 Pot Limit Omaha||Steve Zolotow (USA)|
|$10,500 NLHE Main Event||Tony Bloom (England)|
The final table was comprised of two Americans, two Englishmen, and five Australians, making the probability of a local capturing the national title quite high. Unfortunately, that hope diminished significantly when the first four eliminations were Aussies. Not long after, the last Australian, David Hatzis, was sent packing in fourth place, leaving Americans Kenna James and Jesse Jones to take on England’s Tony Bloom.
James was the first to fall in third place, and Jones followed him back across the Pacific in second. Bloom became the second Englishman in a row to win the title, and took home $426,500 for his performance.
|1st||Tony Bloom (England)||$426,500|
|2nd||Jesse Jones (USA)||$243,700|
|3rd||Kenna James (USA)||$134,000|
|4th||David Hatzis (Australia)||$109,700|
|5th||Mark Banin (England)||$85,300|
|6th||Brian Hull (Australia)||$73,100|
|7th||Mike Ivin (Australia)||$60,900|
|8th||Han Luu (Australia)||$48,700|
|9th||Tino Lechich (Australia)||$36,600|
Field Nearly Doubles in 2005
Tony Bloom, the defending Aussie Millions champ, returned to the Aussie Million in 2005 and found success in the preliminary events, taking down the $1,600 Limit Omaha Hi/Lo tournament, but the real story was the explosion in attendance. This was evidenced by the appearance of some new poker sharks including Mike Sexton, Scotty Nguyen, and Marcel Luske.
Sexton had the best series of the three, placing third in the $5,000 Heads-Up No-Limit Hold’em event for $16,000, finishing 11th in the Main Event for A$30,000, and winning the $20,000 Non-Australian High Stakes Speed Poker event for $120,000.
|$200 No Limit Hold’em||Richard Ashby (U.K.)|
|$500 Limit Hold’em||Baden Logan (Australia)|
|$560 Pot Limit Omaha||Marty Wilson (U.K.)|
|$550 Pot Limit Hold’em||Mick Guttman (Australia)|
|$550 Tag Team||James Potter/Nick Georgoulas (Australia)|
|$1,100 Pot Limit Hold’em||Tino Lechich (Australia)|
|$1,100 Limit Seven-card Stud||Han Luu (Australia)|
|$1,600 Speed Poker||Michael Thuritz (Sweden)|
|$1,600 Limit Omaha Hi/Lo||Tony Bloom (U.K.)|
|$5,000 Pot Limit Omaha||Marcel Luske (Netherlands)|
|$5,000 Two-card Manila||Carlo La Rosa (Australia)|
|$5,200 Heads-Up NLHE||Martin Comer (Australia)|
|$20,000 High Stakes Speed Poker (World)||Mike Sexton (USA)|
|$20,000 High Stakes Speed Poker (Australia)||Lee Nelson (NZ)|
|$10,000 NLHE Main Event||Jamil Dia (NZ)|
Marcel Luske headlined that year’s Main Event final table, though he made a quick exit in ninth place. Once again, an Australian failed to captured the title, despite three nationals making the final table, though a local player emerged victorious. Jamil Dia, a Lebanese banker from nearby New Zealand, defeated American Mike Simkins in heads-up action to capture the first Aussie Millions $1 million first-place prize.
|1st||Jamil Dia (NZ)||$1,000,000|
|2nd||Mike Simkins (USA)||$465,000|
|3rd||George Mamacas (Australia)||$250,000|
|4th||Martin Comer (Australia)||$170,000|
|5th||Stephen McLean (Ireland)||$110,000|
|6th||Warwick Dunnett (USA)||$80,000|
|7th||Jonathan Paul (USA)||$70,000|
|8th||Gary Benson (Australia)||$60,000|
|9th||Marcel Luske (Netherlands)||$50,000|
Aussie, Aussie, Aussie . . . Enter Hachem
The poker scene in Australia boomed like no other after Joe Hachem, a regular at the Crown Casino, won the World Series of Poker Main Event in 2005. There was six months of anticipation between Hachem’s big win and the 2006 Aussie Millions, and expectations were high. The allure of money attracted even more poker stars from North America, including Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, Barry Greenstein, Kathy Liebert, David Williams, John Juanda, Antonio Esfandiari, and Scott Fishman.
Juanda was the only one of the aforementioned players to find success at the Aussie Millions that year, winning $1 million for emerging victorious in the $100,000 Speed Poker Million Dollar Challenge. He defeated such pros as Ivey, Greenstein, Mike Sexton, Tony G, and Jeff Lisandro.
|$560 No Limit Hold’em||Paul Taylor (Australia)|
|$565 Pot Limit /No Limit Hold’em||Robert Lumb (U.K.)|
|$1,100 Limit Hold’em||Andrew Kanaridis (Australia)|
|$1,100 No Limit Hold’em||Olle Sundin (Sweden)|
|$1,600 Speed Poker||Ray Sanchez (Sweden)|
|$1,100 Limit Omaha Hi-Lo||Steve Hegyi (Australia)|
|$3,200 Two-card Manila||Fred Bart (Australia)|
|$1,150 No Limit Hold’em||Sam Khouiss (Australia)|
|$3,200 Pot Limit Omaha||Steve Hegyi (Australia)|
|$100,000 Speed Poker Million Dollar Challenge||John Juanda (USA)|
|$1,100 Teams’ Event Pot Limit Hold’em||Robin Saab & David Saab (Australia)|
|$560 No Limit Hold’em||Steve Accardo (Australia)|
|$10,500 NLHE Main Event||Lee Nelson (NZ)|
The 2006 Main Event Final Table had some familiar names in Kenna James (his second appearance at a Aussie Millions Main Event final table), Shannon Shorr, and Nenad Medic. The final table belonged to 63-year-old Lee Nelson, however, who outlasted the competition and captured the $1,295,000 prize, the largest prize in tournament poker outside of the U.S. up to that point. Lee, who became the second New Zealander to capture the title in as many years, was no stranger to poker, being ranked the top Australian poker player from 2000 to 2006.
|1st||Lee Nelson (NZ)||$1,295,800|
|2nd||Robert Neary (USA)||$689,700|
|3rd||Nenad Medic (USA)||$376,200|
|4th||Shannon Shorr (USA)||$271,700|
|5th||Jeff Sealey (USA)||$209,000|
|6th||Russell Davies (Australia)||$167,200|
|7th||Wes Bugiera (Australia)||$125,400|
|8th||Mark Vos (Australia)||$83,600|
|9th||Kenna James (USA)||$83,600|
The Great Dane Avoids Getting Fricke-Rolled
If there was a year that the Aussie Millions came into its own, that year would have been 2007. It was a year of records as more than 2,000 entries across 15 events, and more than $10 million in prize money was disbursed. By then, all the notable players in poker were traveling to Melbourne in January, including Mike Matusow, Carlos Mortensen, and Huck Seed. Erick Lindgren found success in Melbourne in 2007 as he took down the $100,000 event, defeating Erik Seidel in heads-up play and earning $1 million.
|$1,100 No-Limit Hold’em||Gabriel Xiourouffa (Australia)|
|$1,100 Limit Hold’em||Nick Sutar (Australia)|
|$1,050 Omaha Hi-Lo||Jethro Horowitz (Australia)|
|$1,100 No-Limit Hold’em w/ $1,000 rebuys||Gary Benson (Australia)|
|$1,000 PokerPro No-Limit Hold’em||Adam Weiss (USA)|
|$3,200 Pot-Limit Omaha w/ $3,000 rebuys||Jesse Jones (USA)|
|$1,650 No-Limit Hold’em Feature Event||Alex Masterman (UK)|
|$100,500 No-Limit Hold’em||Erick Lindgren (USA)|
|$5,200 Australian Heads-up Championship||David Saab (Australia)|
|$1,100 No-Limit Hold’em Teams||Mark Roland/Matt Vengrin (USA)|
|$550 No-Limit Hold’em||Jozef Berec (Australia)|
|$3,200 Two-card Manila w/ $3,000 rebuys||Mark Ericksen (Australia)|
|$10,500 NLHE Main Event||Gus Hansen (Denmark)|
The 2007 Aussie Millions Main Event drew 747 entrants, thanks in large part to online qualifiers, but when the final table was reached, a plethora of pros headline, though none hailed from Australia. Kristy Gazes and Marc Karam were both at the final table, though they were eliminated in seventh and sixth respectively. Andy Black was also there, though he was sent packing in third place, leaving American Jimmy “Gobboboy” Fricke to battle “The Great Dane,” Gus Hansen, heads up.
It took 47 hands of heads-up play, but Hansen ultimately dispatched the online qualifier to collect the largest first-place prize to date -- $1,500,000. Hansen's experience also led to Hansen’s well-received book, Every Hand Revealed, where he reviewed the hands he played on the way to winning the 2007 Aussie Millions Poker Championship.
|1st||Gus Hansen (Denmark)||$1,500,000|
|2nd||Jimmy Fricke (USA)||$1,000,000|
|3rd||Andrew Black (Ireland)||$700,000|
|4th||Julius Colman (Vic)||$500,000|
|5th||Hans Martin Vogl (Germany)||$400,000|
|6th||Marc Karam (Canada)||$300,000|
|7th||Kristy Gazes (USA)||$220,000|
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