The 2016 Aussie Millions Poker Championship kicked off inside the cool confines of the Crown Poker Room in otherwise steamy Melbourne, Australia Wednesday.
Veteran Australian Poker Commentator Paul Khoury was joined by Aussie Millions Tournament Director Joel Williams and English Cricketer and Australian Reality TV Star Freddie Flintoff to make the call to shuffle up and deal for the first of four starting flights scheduled for Event #1 $1,150 No-Limit Hold 'em just after 6 p.m. local time.
Registration for the flight was open for the first six 40-minute levels with a total of 160 players buying in and putting the event well on the way to meeting its $1 million prize pool guarantee.
Australian Poker's most famous face lasted all of one hand today, with 2005 World Series of Poker Main Event champion Joe Hachem registering late, then promptly running a turned straight into a rivered full house.
He was joined on the rail by several other well known players who busted before Wednesday's flight was through, including 2013 WSOP bracelet winner Jarred Graham, Two-time European Poker Tour Main Event finalist Xuan Liu, World Poker Tour television personality Tony Dunst and 2014 WSOP APAC Main Event champion Scott Davies.
By the time twelve 40-minute levels were through just 26 remained with Brent De Jong leading the pack. De Jong managed to grab the lead in the late levels thanks to a hot run of cards that included picking up aces against Tho Nguyen's kings.
2014 November Niner Felix Stephensen also bagged a top ten stack.
This group will return to battle for a seat at the nine-handed final at 12:15 p.m. on Sunday with survivors from the next three flights set for Thursday through Saturday also joining them.
As a repechage event, players who bust out from previous flights may reenter any of the remaining flights.
The 2016 Aussie Millions Poker Championship continues Thursday January 14 with the start of the first mixed game event on the schedule. Event #2 $2,500 H.O.R.S.E will begin at 12:10 p.m. local time Thursday with several players already winning their way in through live satellites at Crown.
Event #1 $1,150 No-Limit Hold'em will also continue Thursday with Day 1 Flight 2 kicking off at 6:10 p.m. local time and the PokerNews Live Reporting Team on hand to follow all the action.
Crown cash game regular David Ottey has emerged as the chip leader heading into the second half of the flight.
Early on, Ottey picked off a massive bluff when his heads-up opponent fired 2,000 prior to, and 1,500 after a flop. Ottey check-called with the , then when the turn came and gave him a boat, Ottey checked again.
His opponent fired all in for 9,150 with the naked and Ottey snapped him off.
Ottey went on to bust two more players in one hand heading into the break and is sitting on top of the counts now.
With the end of Level 6 now here, a 15-minute break starts now.
Gerald Karlic had increased his stack to more than 20,000 but the aggressive playing style of the Austrian just backfired in a big pot. Tony Mai had raised from under the gun and Karlic three-bet to 2,100. Mai responded with a squeeze to 5,750 and Karlic then pushed forward his entire stack.
"All in?" Mai confirmed with the dealer and then immediately called to roll over . Karlic only held the and already picked up his belongings when the flop came . The on the turn was a brick as well, but gave some chop outs. It was all over after the river to send Mai into a big lead.
The opening event of the 2016 Aussie Millions Poker Championship at the Crown Casino in Melbourne gets underway in one hour from now at 6.10 p.m. local time. The AU$ 1,150 No Limit Hold'em tournament consists of four flights in total and players have the option to re-enter in the next flight for their chance at the AU$1,000,000 guaranteed prize pool.
All participants start with 10,000 in chips and each Day 1 will play 12 levels of 40 minutes each without any dinner break. The remaining fields of each flight are united for Day 2 on Sunday January 17th, the winner is then determined one day later.
Stay tuned, as the PokerNews live reporting team will be here in Melbourne for the entire Series to cover the Final Tables of the preliminary events as well as the full action of all major tournaments including the Main Event, the $25,000 Challenge as well as the $100,000 and the $250,000 Challenge.