The opening event of the 2016 Aussie Millions Poker Championship played into the money and down to the final two tables at Crown Entertainment Complex Sunday.
The 126-player money bubble burst early in the day when chip leader Hon Cheong Lee made a straight on the river to crack Stephen Boots' top pair.
But Lee would not hang onto the lead, Aussie Daniel Neilson ran hot and took control at the midway point of the day before Lee handed the lead to Aditya Rao in a massive cooler with queens against kings.
Rao became the first player over and above the one-million chip mark, but others would catch up. By the time they got down to three tables remaining, Kevin Blackwood, Louis Salter and Phachara Wongwichit had all pushed over one million with Rao joing an ever growing group of players just below that mark.
While they got into the money today, recognizable names like 2012 World Series of Poker November Niner Rusell Thomas (106th Place $3,245), Two-time European Poker Tour Main Event finalist Xuan Liu (86th Place $3,515), Australian Poker Hall of Fame member Van Marcus (58th Place $3,790), EPT Season 12 Malta winner Niall Farrell (26th $6,495), and US Television Writer and Producer Matt Salsberg (23rd Place $7,575) could not manage a truly deep run.
Once ten 60-minute levels were through just 17 players remained with Canadian Sean Giesbrecht holding the chip lead.
The entire group will come back to play down to a champion inside the Crow Poker Room beginning at 12:30 p.m. Monday with a $275,300 first-place prize and a coveted Aussie Millions title hanging in the balance.
The PokerNews Live Reporting team will be on hand for all the action, so stay tuned to follow it all until another Aussie Millions winner is crowned.
Andre De Melo flipped with against the pocket nines of Patrick Fletcher and doubled up to almost half a million in chips after the board ran out . Just one hand later, de Melo got his stack in again and this time he only had three outs. Sean Giesbrecht more than happily looked him up:
The board came and the kings helped Giesbrecht into the overall lead, sending de Melo to the rail in 18th place.
Ryan Paton was a cat with nine lives, at least it appeared so. But ultimately, he could not dodge the pocket aces of Kevin Blackwood. While Paton was all in preflop again, Blackwood and Alexandre Thomas saw the flop . Blackwood cut out a bet and his opponent already said that it was good enough and he'd fold.
Paton was asking for running sixes, but all hopes of another miracle were destroyed when the came on the turn. The river was meaningless and just a formality. Now the remaining 18 players will be balanced over the last two tables.
From under the gun, Alexandre Thomas raised to 40,000 and Marc van Hoof moved all in for 270,000. Thomas quickly tossed in a T-25,000 chip for the call and was in excellent shape to knock out one opponent on the way to the final table tomorrow.
There was no hope on the board and van Hoof was sent to the rail in 20th place.
Only a few minutes ago, Phachara Wongwichit and Navid King clashed and the two were at it again just now. King had shoved from early position and Wongwichit isolated from the button to get folds all around.
"Are we flipping?" Wongwichit asked and then turned over his cards, King nodded.
The flop and the turn changed nothing, but the river sent King to the rail in 21st place.
Jie Gao moved all in for his last 89,000 and Kevin Blackwood flat-called from the cutoff. On the button, Michael Seymour also called and everyone else folded. The flop came and Blackwood quickly shoved, resulting in a seemingly painful fold from Seymour.
Neither the on the turn nor the on the river changed anything and Gao was sent to the rail in 22nd place while Blackwood shot to the top of the leader board.
Wayne Brindley moved all in for just over 100,000 chips and the action folded around to Ferenc Riech in the big blind. He checked both hole cards and then made the call, flashing over .
Brindley flipped with the and found an open-ended straight draw on the flop . Instead, the turn and river gave Riech a flush and the start-of-the-day chip leader sent his opponent to the rail in 24th place.
Phachara Wongwichit opened to 33,000 and the action folded around to Peter Sheary in the big blind. He came as replacement in for Katrina, who played the first day and then had just given birth, and peeked at his cards. Pleased to find something with just 60,000 chips remaining, Sheary moved all in and Wingwichit called.
There was no help on the board and that sent the Aussie to the rail in 25th place.
Kevin Blackwood made a standard raise and Alexandre Thomas decided to let his last 300,000 fly behind.
Niall Farrell woke up with a hand in the big blind and jammed in for a little under 100,000 more and Blackwood mucked.
Farrell was miles ahead with the versus Thomas' , but that's why there's a flop , turn and river. In the end, all Alexander needed was the flop to sew it up with the nut flush and Farrell was left short.
He got it in with suited rages versus a hand later, but an ace on the flop did Farrell in this time.