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One of the major stops in the southern hemisphere, the 2019 Aussie Millions is well underway at the Crown Casino in Melbourne since January 15. The series has already crowned four winners with a further 23 events yet to find champions!
The first champion to emerge at the series was Daniel Mayoh who took down the A$2,500 H.O.R.S.E. for A$29,120. On the sidelines of the H.O.R.S.E., the A$1,150 Opening Event ran its course, pulling in a record-breaking field of 1,752 entries across five starting flights. Outlasting them all was Muhammad Asad who took down the event for A$219,980.
Over the past two days, the series has crowned champions in two more events, with Justin Liberto winning A$1,150 Shootout for $36,220 and Paul Hockin taking down the A$1,150 Pot-Limit Omaha for A$60,070. Incidentally, for both Liberto and Hockin, this was their first-ever titles at the Aussie Millions.
Justin Liberto Wins A$1,150 Shootout
The two-day long A$1,150 Shootout attracted 181 entries and culminated on January 21 after American pro Justin Liberto defeated Adam Kane heads-up to claim the title along with A$36,220 in prize money.
For Liberto, this victory was no flash in the pan as his illustrious poker career is headlined by three World Series of Poker (WSOP) Circuit titles and a WSOP bracelet victory (2015- $3,000 NLHE 6-Handed). Surprisingly even with an impressive $3 Million in lifetime cashes, Liberto has only two prior cashes outside of North America. This happens to be his maiden Aussie Millions title.
There were many big names in the running including the likes of Kristen Bicknell, Kenny Hallaert, Jack Sinclair, Sorel Mizzi, Aymon Hata, Rainer Kempe, Manig Loeser, Dara O’Kearney, Marvin Rettenmaier, and Steven Warburton, but none of the above were to make it through to Day 2.
Only 20 players advanced further, including 2018 Aussie Millions Main Event champion Toby Lewis, 2014 WSOP APAC Main Event runner-up Jack Salter and German pro Johannes Becker.
With only the top 13 among the 20 returning players assured to min-cash for A$2,120, the race to the finish line was intense.
For Liberto, who came into the final table in the chip lead, the journey to the title was relatively easy.
Final Table Chip Counts
Final Table Recap
Last year`s Main Event champion Toby Lewis came into the final table third in chips but he was the first one to exit. Following Lewis to the rail was Crown Casino regular Travis Endersby who crashed out in eighth place.
For Sarah Bilney this was her third Aussie Millions final table appearance in the last four years. This time she finished in seventh place.
Cognitive neuroscience Ph.D. student Cooper Smout returned with his first Aussie Millions cash, finishing in sixth place.
Next to hit the rail was Austria’s Christian Nolte, who finished in fifth place that also counted as his third final table finish at the Aussie Millions.
Kuo Chen Hung was second in stacks when the nine-handed final table began and eventually ended up leaving in fourth place for his first-ever score at the series.
Jordan Westmorland was eliminated next in third place leaving only Adam Kane and Liberto in contention for the title. Liberto finally relegated Kane to a runner-up finish, to win his first-ever Aussie Millions title!
Final Table Results (AUD)
Paul Hockin Takes Down A$1,150 PLO
New Zealand’s Paul Hockin was an active face last year at the Aussie Millions and he surely made the trip count with two final table finishes. This year Hockin returned to the Crown Casino in full zest hunting the elusive title and he has already got one in the first week of the series.
Hockin shipped the A$1,150 PLO following a heads-up deal with Dylan Kii who finished runner-up. This is Hockin’s first Aussie Millions ANTON Championship ring, and with the win, he has added A$60,070 to his bankroll.
The event is one of the more popular events at the annual Aussie Millions series and this year the entry-field had already crossed 188 by the first break. Registrations were closed on Level 6, with a total of 288 entries making their way into the field. This was higher than previous year’s number of 284.
A total of 32 spots were paid, and some of the notables to finish in the money were Sorel Mizzi (15th for A$3,985), and Michael Soyza (21st for A$2,805).
Defending champion Andrew Lock, 2006 Aussie Millions Main Event champion Lee Nelson, Joshua Abady, Dzmitry Urbanovich, Anthony Hachem and Sam Higgs, all hit the rail empty-handed.
By the end of the first day, the event was down to the final table with all nine finalists assured at least A$7,085.
As many a live tournaments has witnessed, the final table saw a complete change of favor for several players, most notably Christine Hia who had bagged the chip lead coming into the final table with a massive stack of 856,000.
Final Table Chip Counts
Final Table Recap
Christine Hia had entered the final table with a commanding chip lead but in a quick turn of events he lost all his chips over two hands to Kii. On Hia`s final hand of the tournament, Kii moved all in pre-flop, Hia shoved, and Kii re-shoved. Hia made the call and moved all in with her flopped straight only to run into Kii’s suited pair of aces that turned a flush to send Hia packing in ninth place.
Peter Brasile was the shortest of the finalists and Kii`s next victim in eighth place. By now Kii had consolidated his way to a dominating chip lead and he was way ahead from the rest of the field with Michael Hanh a distant second.
William Mitchell was the next one out in seventh place with Ryan Hong following him out in sixth place.
The next elimination was that of Michael Seymour, who had started the final table with the second largest stack. Setmour returned in fifth place with his fourth Aussie Million score.
With four players still left in the field, Kii continued to dominate and it wasn`t long before the final table saw another elimination and this time it was Johan Dalessandri who was knocked out in fourth place.
The next one out was American pro Michael Hanh who has some history at the Aussie Millions – he had finished 21st in the Aussie Millions Main Event last year.
The heads-up match between Dylan Kii and Hockin commenced for a brief duration before the two halted play to discuss a deal. Soon the payouts were locked in with Hockin taking A$60,070 and Kii A$45,025. Playing for just the title, it was Hockin who denied Kii the victory after hitting a runner-runner straight on the river.
Paul Hockin – Winner of A$1,150 PLO
Final Table Results (AUD)
*denotes heads-up deal
Images & Content courtesy: PokerNews/crownmelbourne.com.au
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