After a long wait, it was finally time for the 2012 Aussie Millions Main Event to kick off on Sunday with the first of three starting days. There was a buzz in the Crown Poker Room as 153 players signed up for Day 1a. Before play started, Joe Hachem gave the shuffle up and deal and some encouraging words for the players competing in the biggest poker tournament of the Southern hemisphere. After seven levels of action-packed play, approximately 68 players remained with Brett Watson leading the way with 257,400 in chips.
At the start of the day, players quietly made their entrance into the tournament area. We noticed many top European players like former EPT winners David Vamplew (London 2010), Rupert Elder (San Remo 2011), Michael Tureniec (Copenhagen 2011) and Anton Wigg (Copenhagen 2010), but also local favorites Andrew Hinrichsen (WSOPE Bracelet winner), Lee Nelson (Aussie Millions Main Event winner) and Jeff Lisandro (5-time WSOP bracelet winner). Sprinkle in the like of Barry Greenstein, Faraz Jaka, Patrik Antonius, and Randy Dorfman, and you made for one tough field.
Regardless of the quality of the field, Watson managed to thrive on Day 1a. He slowly amassed his big stack throughout the day, but it wasn't until the last level of the night that he separated himself from the pack. In the hand, the board read and Watson held for the nuts. We're not sure of all the action, but we do know the result was the elimination of Rupert Elder and Watson's stack grew to a massive 255,000. Elder later tweeted that he had also rivered a flush.
Unfortunately, not everyone was able to thrive on Day 1a. Jaka was an early elimination, as was Dan Kelly, who is among the most successful players at this year's Aussie Millions. Others who hit the rail throughout the day included Eoghan O'Dea, Richard Ashby, Matt Jarvis, Terrence Chan, Sam Holden, Brendon Rubie, Dorfman, Greenstein, and Antonius.
Surprisingly, Antonius skipped the $100,00 Challenge to test the waters in the Main Event, and he had an up-and-down day. He was a late registrant, doubled on one of the first hands he played, and then lost most of his stack after having his pocket aces cracked by pocket queens. In his final hand, Antonius bluffed all in on the river with . A woman in Seat 1 called holding for top pair with top kicker, and just like that, Antonius' day came to an end.
While many big names fell, others managed to survive. Among those who advanced to Day 2 were Sebastian Ruthenberg (22,800), Maria Ho (49,600), Leo Boxell (65,100), Jason Gray (65,700), Jamie Rosen (77,600), and the only former Aussie Millions champ to enter on Day 1a, Nelson (105,100). However, they're all trailing the big stacks in the room like Hinrichsen (132,900), Rob Angood (133,200), Ben Jenkins (154,500), Paul Sing (177,100), and of course the chip leader, Watson.
Day 1b is set to get underway at 12:30 pm local time on Monday, so be sure to check back then to see a whole new roster of players take their shot at the 2012 Crown's Aussie Millions Poker Championship Main Event.