Long before the ARIA, European Poker Tour (EPT) or the Triton Poker Super High Roller Series controlled the live tournament scene for the most affluent echelon in the game, the Aussie Millions had it by the scruff of the neck.
Then in 2016, the organisers opened up a vein and squirted sodium pentathol leading to the axing of the AUD 250,000 Challenge. The pancuronium bromide arrived the following year when the AUD 100,000 Challenge only attracted 18-entrants, and after last year’s AUD 50,000 only inspired four people to take a pew, most people were expecting the potassium chloride to stop the show altogether.
Today, the heart still beats, and the muscles spasm; the Aussie Millions High Roller scene is conscious again.
The AUD 100,000 Challenge attracted 42-entrants making it the third most attended event of that ilk in history. Day 1 pulled in 33-entrants, and 14 players advanced to Day 2 with Cary Katz leading the charge.
One notable absence from Day 2 was the AUD 50,000 Challenge winner, Toby Lewis, who exited after moving all-in on Jc6h3hTc holding AcKc in a three-bet pot against Koray Aldemir who had flopped top pair and improved to a two pair hand on the turn, holding JThh. The man from the UK was down to five big blinds after that hand, and Aymon Hata snaffled them up with A9>Q6.
The AUD 25,000 winner, Rainer Kempe, did make it through, bagging 107,000 chips.
1. Cary Katz – 1,108,000
2. Alex Foxen – 999,000
3. Manig Loeser – 872,000
4. Abraham Passet – 751,000
5. Johannes Becker – 730,000
6. Tsugunari Toma – 713,000
7. Thomas Muehloecker – 528,000
8. Michael Zhang – 496,000
9. Huang Shan – 489,000
10. Mustapha Kanit – 419,000
11. Michael Soyza – 399,000
12. Dominik Nitsche – 390,000
13. Andras Nemeth – 242,000
14. Rainer Kempe – 107,000
The Day 2 Action
Registration remained open for a full level. Kristen Bicknell entered for her third bullet, Koray Aldemir reloaded, and Michael Addamo took a pew after finishing 17th in the Main Event.
Andras Nemeth busted quickly and re-entered, Sam Higgs joined the fun before falling to Bicknell within the level A6<QQ, Becker busted Kempe, who then re-entered, and at the end of the level, Jack Salter and the new Aussie Millions Main Event Champ, Bryn Kenney, had made it 42-entrants. The final table came into view after Rainer Kempe eliminated Huang Shan.
Final Table Starting Lineup
1. Johannes Becker – 3,065,000
2. Kristen Bicknell – 1,360,000
3. Alex Foxen – 1,288,000
4. Cart Katz – 1,055,000
5. Abraham Passet – 1,013,000
6. Rainer Kempe – 770,000
7. Manig Loeser – 710,000
8. Jack Salter – 697,000
9. Michael Soyza – 585,000
The first big pot of the final table saw Alex Foxen open to 65,000 from early position, and Salter called in position. The pair checked through to the turn on Td7h3hKd; Foxen checked, Salter, bet 95,000, and Foxen made the call, The river was the 5s; Foxen checked again, and Salter moved all-in for 366,000 sending Foxen into deep thought. The Global Poker Index (GPI) #1 ranked player burned through several timebank chips before calling with pocket sixes, and Salter turned over pocket aces for the winning hand.
Next Cary Katz got lucky to take the chip lead from Becker when the pair got it in with Katz way behind with kings versus aces only for a third king to hit the flop.
Manig Loeser was the first player to hit the rail in another cooler. With blinds at 15k/30k/30k Passet opened to 60,000 from early position and Loeser defended his big blind. The flop was Ad6h3c; Loeser checked, Passet bet 50,000, Loeser check-raised to 195,000, and Passet called. The turn was the 2c, and Loeser moved all-in for a smidgen over 70,000, and Passet made the call. Loeser showed As3h for the two-pair hand, and Passet showed pocket sixes for the set. The 8c completed the action, and Loeser was out in ninth place.
Michael Soyza fell in eighth place when he moved in for 475,000 at blinds of 20k/40k/40k holding AJcc, and Cary Katz called with pocket queens. The ladies held to send the final seven players onto the bubble, and it was Foxen who would be the last person to leave without any change when his A2o lost to the pocket eights of Becker.
If Foxen was hoping to catch up on a little Netflix time before his partner joined him in his hotel room, he was out of luck. Kristen Bicknell fell in sixth when her A2dd failed to beat the KQo of Rainer Kempe after the AUD 25,000 Challenge winner turned a king.
Jack Salter hit the rail in fifth when his pocket eights lost a flip against the AQo of Katz, and Kempe joined him soon after when he ran AQdd into the pocket kings of Abraham Passet.
Abraham Passet – 5,590,000
Johannes Becker – 3,285,000
Cary Katz – 1,625,000
Katz doubled into the chip lead through Passet when he found aces at a time the German felt like partying with pocket sixes, and he never surrendered it from that point onward. Fortunately for Becker, he was able to make a fist of heads-up after eliminating Passet QQ>ATo to set up a 6,605,000 v 3,895,000 heads-up encounter with Katz holding the lead.
Becker closed the gap temporarily but never created enough sustained momentum to overtake the American. The final hand played out with blinds at 50k/100k/100k when Katz moved all-in from the button holding pocket nines, and Becker called and lost holding K2cc.
It’s the third $100,000 buy-in victory for Katz with his other two coming in the ARIA High Roller Series, and the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, and it’s his first-ever cash on Australian soil.
Here are the final table results:
1. Cary Katz – $1,066,867
2. Johannes Becker – $681,610
3. Abraham Passet – $444,528
4. Rainer Kempe – $325,987
5. Jack Salter – $329,280
6. Kristen Bicknell – $207,446