Aussie Millions Main Goes to Aussie Stewart Scott

Aussie Millions Main Goes to Aussie Stewart Scott
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By Jennifer Newell It was the event everyone waited for. The AU$10,500 Aussie Millions main event, the one with a AU$2 million guaranteed first prize, took center stage on January 18th, whilst side events continued to cover the action around it. The Crown Casino in Melbourne was abuzz with poker tournaments, but with the main event underway, most eyes were on it. The first of three starting days began with 191 players, including names like Tony G, Patrik Antonius, and John Hennigan. Also in the field were Julian Powell, James Potter, Sorel Mizzi, Noah Schwartz, and Barny Boatman. But only a fraction of them survived the day, and Christopher Chronis was at the head of the pack with 175,375, a number that would prove to be the highest of all three days going into Day 2. Also in the top five were Patrik Antonius, Noah Schwartz, Derek Cheung, and James Obst. The second starting day counted 202 players strewn amongst the tables, with names like Erik Seidel, Chris Ferguson, Ivan Demidov, Jeff Madsen, Annette Obrestad, Marty Smyth, Tony Dunst, and reigning champion Alexander Kostritsyn in the fray. When play stopped for the day, however, it was Brett Daphne leading the survivors with 120,250 and accompanied by Josh Malone, Sam Vakili, Michael Toreniec, and Ali Ghezelbash in the top five. And the final starting day of the 2009 Aussie Millions main event brought 288 more players, making the total for the event 681. Included in that third day number were a plethora of recognizable poker pros, such as Scotty Nguyen, Joe and Tony Hachem, Clonie Gowen, Phil Laak, Lee Nelson, David Rheem, Tom Dwan, Gus Hansen, Jennifer Tilly, John Juanda, Nam Le, J.C. Tran, Michael Binger, cricket legend Shane Warne, and actor Michael Vartan. But by the end of it, none of them were in the top five, which consisted of Ben Charlton with 161K in chips, Luis Pampliega, Jani Mikkola, John Paul Kelly, and Tom Rafferty. Day 2 saw 320 of the 681 total return to the felt, and it was a day that resulted in only 81 remaining, the top two being Annette Obrestad and Annica Ivert. Obrestad, a Betfair-sponsored player, had 454,800, but Ivert, a Betfair qualifier, bested her with 555,900. Behind the women were Rajkumar Ramakrishnan, David Docherty, and Stewart Scott on the leaderboard. The third full day of action saw those 81 play quickly to the money, and 64 players were assured of a tournament cash by Will Zemljaric, who pushed all-in with ah qd after the river on a 6s 3c 8c 5h 4h board. That ace-high hand was bested by caller Richard Ashby and his pocket eights which had made a set. Zemljaric left in 65th place on the money bubble. Other significant finishes for the day included Scotty Nguyen in 50th place, Noah Schwartz in 42nd, Patrik Antonius in 40th, Mike McDonald in 39th, Ray Rhame in 36th, and Clonie Gowen in 32nd. After Leonid Cai finished in 29th, play was ended for the evening with Michael Tureniec atop the leaderboard as the only player with more than one million chips. He was joined in the top five by Christian Heich, Christopher Chronis, Rajkumar Ramakrishnan, and Annette Obrestad. Day 4 was schedule to play to the final table, and it began with some early notable exits like Kelly Kim in 22nd place, Annette Obrestad in 21st, Joe Cassidy in 20th, Michael Tureniec in 19th, and Sorel Mizzin in 16th. Annica Ivert ended up in 11th place, Tony Lechich in tenth, and Zach Fellows in ninth as the final table bubble player. The final table was set for the next day, January 24th, as follows: Seat 1: Zach Gruneberg 1,355,000 Seat 2: Barny Boatman 349,000 Seat 3: Elliot Smith 1,120,000 Seat 4: Richard Ashby 658,000 Seat 5: Stewart Scott 4,520,000 Seat 6: Peter Rho 2,420,000 Seat 7: Rajkumar Ramakrishnan 2,050,000 Seat 8: Sam Capra 1,161,000 When play began at the final table, it was slow and cautious, with the only consistent action being Stewart Scott chipping up and up. Finally, quite a few hands in, Barny Boatman made an attempt with his short stack holding ad 2c, but Zach Gruneberg was there to call with as qh. The board rolled out 7h ac 3s 7c 4h, and Boatman was eliminated in eighth place with AU$100,000. Richard Ashby was the next to put himself at risk preflop, but he was called by Rajkumar Ramakrishnan and Elliot Smith who checked down the 2c 4d 2s th 9c board. Ramakrishnan took the side pot and the main pot with ad kh when both opponents showed A-Q hands. That eliminated Ashby in seventh place with AU$150,000. Action seemed to speed up a bit, when Zach Gruneberg became the next player on the edge. It started with Gruneberg and Ramakrishnan taking a look at the 4h jh 4s flop, and more betting led to the 7d on the turn. That’s when Gruneberg pushed all-in with ks jc, and Ramakrishnan check-called with pocket fours…and quads. The irrelevant 9h came on the river to send Gruneberg out in sixth place with AU$210,000. Sam Capra made an appearance to head all-in preflop with pocket tens, but Peter Rho called with pocket aces. The board was an uneventful 3s qd qs 9d 5s, and Capra was ousted in fifth place with a AU$300,000 prize. With Scott having catapulted over the 6 million mark, the others were forced to become more aggressive. Ramakrishnan and Smith, however, tried to limp in to a subsequent pot, as did Scott, but Rho raised from the big blind. Ramakrishnan reraised, Smith and Scott folded, and Rho pushed all-in with pocket kings. Ramakrishnan was right there with pocket aces, but Rho took the lead on the 5s kc td flop. The last two cards came 3s 2s, and Ramakrishnan’s aces were cracked, sending him home in fourth place with AU$400,000. Smith ran into trouble when he lost a significant pot to Scott, though he was able to come back to double through Scott a short while later. Smith tried to double again with ah qc and felt good about his chances when Scott showed ad 7c. But the board came ks tc kh 7s 5c to give Scott the pot and eliminate Elliot Smith in third place, which was worth AU$700,000. Heads-up play began with the following chip counts: Stewart Scott 10,700,000 Peter Rho 2,900,000 Two-handed action didn’t last long. Eventually, Rho had to make a move and did it for his last 2,175,000 chips with ah jc. Scott called and just happened to have pocket aces, and nothing came on the 2s 9d 8c 4d 9s board to change the predicted outcome. Peter Rho was eliminated in second place with a healthy AU$1 million prize. Stewart Scott won the AU$2 million prize for first place, in addition to the trophy, a bracelet, and the title of 2009 Aussie Millions champion. The Australian native noted in his acceptance of the prizes, “It’s nice to bring one home for the team.”