725 players, 80 players paid
First place $1.6million
Second place $1million
Melbournian Shurane ‘Shaz’ Vijayaram (pictured) has emerged victorious in the coveted 2017 Aussie Millions Poker Championship ‘Main Event.’ Vijayaram, after qualifying for the event in a $130 satellite, overcame 725 players across eight days of play, including three day 1 flights, to claim the first prize of $1.6 million! He was also presented with a trophy and a custom made diamond-encrusted gold bracelet by ANTON Jewellery valued at $30,000.
The Aussie Millions ‘Main Event’, with a buy-in of $10,600, began on Sunday January 22. After a grueling eight days of play, the final duel played out in front of a packed house and a worldwide audience on January 29, with the live stream broadcast exclusively for Crown by poker streamer Jason Somerville via Twitch.tv.
The runner up was Ben Heath, from the United Kingdom. Despite the disappointment of defeat, he collected a supreme consolation prize of $1,000,000 in prize money.
The first of three starting days drew a crowd of 212 players, up from the 180 that began proceedings in 2016. And it was Sam Ingham who came out on top with an impressive 160,100 in chips at the end of play.
Cricket legend Shane Warne got the action underway, announcing the famous ‘shuffle up and deal’ instructions to the dealers, before taking his seat. The man who took over 1,000 test and one-day international wickets in his career managed to bag up 37,600 in chips for his efforts to qualify for Day 2.
Things didn’t go so well for Phil Laak, who was among the first players to be knocked out. The same fate faced pros Aussie Jonathan Karamalikis, Sam Trickett, Annette Obrestad, Dan Shak and WSOP bracelet winner and EPT champion Martin Finger, all crashing out in the initial stages.
Some of the notables that made it through to Day 2 included Sam Higgs (107,900), Corey Kempson (91,900), Jennifer Tilly (85,000) Kahle Burns (73,600), Martin Jacobson (49,300) and Bryan Huang (43,500).
A solid 184 players contested seven levels of play on Day 1b to take the running total up to 396 entrants – ahead of the 387 that were in contention at the same time last year.
It was another day of exciting poker action, and when the day was complete, birthday boy Mustapha Kanit had emerged on top with 215,000 in chips. When the clock ticked past midnight, the Italian’s birthday began and a mountain of chips seemed fitting as the perfect gift. Having over $8.5 million in live cashes to his name, he had put himself in a great position to add to that impressive total later in the week.
Joining Kanit for Day 2 would be Rhys Jones (159,800), Andrew Hinrichsen (105,600), Jeff Rossiter (94,000), Billy ‘The Croc’ Argyros (85,700), Ryan D’Angelo (68,400), Dario Sammartino (68,300), Alex Lynskey (62,200), Terrence Chan (58,900), Tyron Krost (48,500), Ryan Otto (45,000), Didier Guerin (44,700, Jarred Graham (22,000), Darryll Fish (18,000), Michael Addamo (12,100) and Liam O’Rourke (8,300).
With a stack of 187,400 in chips, Tony Mladenovski finished atop the final starting day’s leader board. That meant Mustapha Kanit, who bagged up 215,000 on Day 1b, was to head into Day 2 as the one to catch.
Day 1c saw the largest group of competitors take to the felt. A total of 329 players signed up, pushing the total entries over 700 again (with 732 entrants playing in 2016).
After another seven levels of action, the final starting flight ended in the early hours of Wednesday morning having seen David Peters, Alex Keating, Connor Drinan, Fatima Moreira de Melo and Winfred Yu all hitting the rail.
Meanwhile, Jay Tan (136,300) Sam Grafton (111,400) Joel Douaglin (110,900) Artur Koren (83,600), Craig McCorkell (82,300), Charlie Carrel (34,300 – down to under one big blind at one point) and Mike Watson (16,600) advanced.
Drinan was eliminated in Level 5 by Tony Dunst, last year’s runner-up, who advanced with 71,300 in chips. 2016 Aussie Millions champion Ari Engel also made it through with 60,000 in chips.
Entering Day 2 saw 372 players still in contention. Prior to play getting underway that watched on as the Australian Poker Hall of Fame inducted a new member, 2015 Aussie Millions champion Manny Stavropoulos. Aussie poker legend Joe Hachem was also to hand David Yan the Young Achiever Award.
Based on the tournament structure, new players were able to sign up for one more level, contributing to the prize pool for a starting 30,000 stack in return. One of the new players was Fedor Holz, and in true Holz fashion, he was up to 140,000 after just an hour of play. However, he wasn’t able to hold sway all day as he dropped down considerably halfway through, until he found a lucky double with a limp-shoved deuce-eight suited for 28 big blinds to double. He ended the day with a healthy stack, successfully qualifying for Day 3.
US actress and Crown special guest Jennifer Tilly soared to the top at one point, winning a huge pot where she called a bluffing competitor with top set. She was hoping to boost her total live tournament earnings over that magical $1,000,000 mark if finishing 24th or better.
While Tilly soared, defending champion Ari Engel headed in the other direction. He bled chips until he made a move with pocket fours. Unfortunately for the 2016 Aussie Millions champion, his opponent had pocket aces. Last year’s runner-up though, Tony Dunst, made it through with a solid 242,600 in chips.
Some of the other notables to survive the day were Erik Seidel (309,100), Brian Altman (205,200), Jeff Rossiter (192,000), Cate Hall (153,100), Shane Warne (146,500) Dominik Nitsche (144,000, Matt Affleck (139,500), Ben Tollerene (126,600), Scott Davies (116,900), Nick Petrangelo (111,100) and Vojtech Ruzicka (67,000).
Sam Grafton also survived the day with 80,700 in chips, whilst Mustapha Kanit ended the day with 125,700.
With the total field set after the three Day 1 flights and the additional Day 2 entries, the prize pool was complete with the winner set to claim $1.6 million. 150 players remained after the day with 80 in the money, the min-cash set at $15,000.
Another day at the Aussie Millions was complete and it was all about Mustapha Kanit once again. The Italian all-time money leader crushed the opposition and didn’t seem to be able to lose a hand. He ended the day with a massive 2.3 million in chips, far more than any of the other 35 remaining players who qualified for Day 4.
The day began with exactly 150 players and 70 would be eliminated prior to cash payouts that started at 80. As the money bubble approached, Australian poker legend Billy ‘The Croc’ Argyros played a pot that got people from the entire poker room rushing to see what was going on. Argyros, a member of the Australian Poker Hall of Fame, got it in with a set of deuces against a set of queens. The river was a deuce that saw Argyros knock out his opponent with a pure one-outer. Argyros would not make it into the money though as he busted just before the $15,000 min-cash would take effect.
The last player to share that fate was Alek Givotovsk. The first hand of hand-for-hand play, he lost ace-queen suited to ace-king suited and that was it; the 80 remaining 2017 Aussie Millions Main Event players were in the money.
WSOP APAC champion Scott Davies survived the bubble with just a single big blind and one ante. He didn’t make the great comeback he hoped for, but still seemed happy just cashing. Kanit on the other hand, already had the chip lead at that time. Kanit would keep sending people to the rail post-bubble. He knocked out Felix Schulze and busted Richard Ashby on the last hand of the day to finish play with that huge stack.
Jennifer Tilly (700,400), Fedor Holz (539,000), Koray Aldemir and Jeff Rossiter were just a handful of those to make it through to Day 4.
After six days of exciting action the 2017 Aussie Millions Main Event final table of seven was set. Thirty-six poker hopefuls returned in the hopes of glory but after 12 hours of play, only seven were to remain.
Leading the way was Shurane Vijayaram who steamrolled his competitors to finish with 7.47m in chips, more than twice the next biggest stack of Ben Heath with 3.27m. Vijayaram won a ticket into this Main Event through a $130 re-buy satellite and with no known live cashes to his name, he was set to make his first score a huge one.
Joining Vijayaram on the final table was German superstar Fedor Holz. Holz would begin the final table as the short stack with 1.165m in chips, hoping to add to his impressive $20 million-plus live earnings over his career.
Also making an appearance on the final table would be prominent Australian pro Jeff Rossiter who finished third in this event back in 2011 for $700,000. He would sit in third place with 3.305m in chips.
Before the lucky seven locked up their seats though, it was a day of heartbreak for 29 who fell by the wayside. Crowd favorite Jennifer Tilly took a tough beat from Nino Marotta to finish in 29th place.
Mustapha Kanit was another who couldn’t survive the day, finishing painfully shy of the final table in 11th place for $115,000. The final elimination of the day was final table bubble boy Peter Aristidou, a good performance after finishing 5th at the recent WSOP Circuit Series High Roller event in Sydney in 2016.
Final player starting stacks:
Seat 1: Jeff Rossiter, Australia, 3,105,000
Seat 2: Tobias Hausen, Germany, 2,955,000
Seat 3: Luke Roberts, Australia, 1,305,000
Seat 4: David Olson, United States, 2,350,000
Seat 5: Ben Heath, United Kingdom, 3,270,000
Seat 6: Fedor Holz, Germany, 1,165,000
Seat 7: Shurane Vijayaram, Australia, 7,470,000
Event 11 – $10,600 Main Event, Entrants: 725, Prize pool: $7,250,000
|17th||$80,000||Nicholas G Dixon||Perth||Australia|
|19th||$60,000||Sam H Ruha||Auckland||New Zealand|
|21st||$60,000||Jeremy Joseph||Las Vegas||USA|
|36th||$30,000||Brian Adam Altman||Massachusetts||USA|
|39th||$25,000||David D. Yan||Auckland||New Zealand|
|40th||$25,000||Benjamin Tollerenei||Fort Worth||USA|
|41st||$25,000||Jason Mo||Las Vegas||USA|
|43rd||$25,000||Michael P. O’Grady||Sydney||Australia|
|44th||$25,000||Jan A Pettersson||Brisbane||Australia|
|45th||$25,000||Felix D Schulze||Vienna||Austria|
|47th||$25,000||Dean N Blatt||Melbourne||Australia|
|52nd||$20,000||Lee Wai Kiat||Malaysia|
|65th||$15,000||Hamish Crawshaw||Wangunui||New Zealand|
|69th||$15,000||Martin Andrew Ward||Brisbane||Australia|