AM TODAY: Jan 18; Opening Event draws 323 players for first flight

The 2013 Aussie Millions is officially under way with the first flight of the $1100 No Limit Hold’em Opening Event kicking off last night.

There looked to be plenty of relieved punters basking in the air-conditioned comfort of the Crown Poker Room with the mercury hovering in the 30s throughout one of the hottest Melbourne nights on record.

The field topped out at 323 players, which was a big increase on the 274 players who took their seats for the first flight in 2012 and puts the event on target to again surpass the 1000-player mark.

The field included Aussie Poker Hall of Famers Joe Hachem, Gary Benson and Billy Argyros along with our premier female player Jackie Glazier. A total of 33 players survived the session, with Michael Guzzardi topping the chip count on 252,600 ahead of Ryan Smith (217,500), Ashley Warner (187,200) and Ryan Hong (174,200).

Action continues with the second flight from 12.30pm today (Friday), which will be played under a repechage format.

• While the regional poker spotlight in firmly on Crown Melbourne over the next three weeks, the crew at the Grand Waldo have again taken the decision to clash a Macau Poker Cup with the Aussie Millions.

Not surprisingly, the HKD $11,000 buy-in Red Dragon Main Event has attracted just a handful of Australian players among the 253 day 1A “heroes” – as bizarrely described in this morning’s media release.

We acknowledge that this series is targeted at mainly local Macau and ChinesMacau TD Danny McDonagh said, "the Red Dragon has a huge following in Asia and particularly from China," but we’d much prefer to see these Asian players testing their skills against the region’s best in the Aussie Millions Opening Event.

• Speaking of poker tours, PMA is hearing whispers that at least two casinos are in discussions with the operators of a potential new poker tour for Australia in 2014.

With the PokerStars-operated APPT and ANZPT severely hampered by the lack of marketing and promotional opportunities, it seems an entrepreneurial group has seized on the gap in the market with an eye to the future. We’ll follow this emerging story with interest.

What’s on today at the Aussie Millions

10.15am $250 Opening Event satellite

12.30pm Event 1: $1100 No Limit Hold’em Opening Event day 1 flight 2 (repechage)

2.15pm $250 Aussie Millions Main Event Phase 2 satellite

4.15pm $250 Aussie Millions Main Event Phase 2 satellite

6.15pm $1150 Aussie Millions Main Event Phase 3 Supershot Satellite

9.15pm $130 Aussie Millions Main Event rebuy satellite

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