Tournament coverage Poker

Aussie Millions 10 years on

Written by James Potter

This article first appeared in the Nov/Dec 2011 issue of World Gaming magazine.

Crown casino in Melbourne

Crown casino in Melbourne

Crown casino in Melbourne[/caption]

The Aussie Millions continues to move from strength to strength. It is a world class tournament run by a world class casino. The Aussie Millions should be high on the must visit list for any budding new poker player.

Poker has not always been as popular in Australia as it is today. In the late 1990s rooms were closing and the game was dying. It has taken many years, a lot of hard work from the industry and a reinvigoration of the players to transform the game.

History of the Aussie Millions

Both Crown casino and its flagship poker event the Aussie Millions have played crucially important roles in the history of poker in Australia. The Aussie Millions is not only the biggest poker tournament held in Australia every year, it is the biggest in the Asia-Pacific region, and the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere. Many argue that if poker adopted a “majors” system similar to international tennis or golf, the Aussie Millions would sit alongside the WSOP, The PokerStars Caribbean Adventure and the EPT grand final as the big four.

The Crown poker room opened in June 1997, which makes its meteoric rise to one of the most respected poker rooms in the world even more impressive. In July 1998 the first Australasian Poker Championship was held with an AU$1,000 buy in and just 74 starters. The tournament moved to January in 2001, and has been held then ever since. It was re-branded as the “Aussie Millions” in 2003 and this was the year it truly became recognized as a major event on the international poker tour.

The Aussie Millions is a tournament very close to my heart as I finished third in 2001 and tenth in 2005. Outside of the World Series of Poker, the Aussie Millions is the poker tournament all Australian poker players would dearly love to win. After it officially became the Aussie Millions in 2003 it had been a bad hunting ground for Australians and it wasn’t until 2009 that the Aussie Millions crowned its first ever Aussie Champion, Stewart Scott. Since then things have improved for the locals with the last three champions all being homegrown success stories.

The tournament became increasingly popular with the European players through the 2000s as they escaped the harsh European winter for the shining sun of Australia in January. When Full Tilt Poker sponsored the tournament in the mid 2000s it started the American migration down south. Since then the tournament has grown to over 700 starters and at a buy-in of AU$10,000 it makes the Aussie Millions one of the biggest poker tournaments held anywhere in the world.

The tournament has also enjoyed worldwide television coverage, which has further enhanced its international appeal. The tournament hit a new high when poker superstar Gus Hansen, nicknamed the “Great Dane”, lifted the trophy in 2007.

Aussie Millions: the first 9 years

Year Winner Country First prize
Runners Prize pool
2003 Peter Costa England 394,870 122 1,220,000
2004 Tony Bloom England 426,500 133 1,330,000
2005 Jamil Dia New Zealand 1,000,000 263 2,630,000
2006 Lee Nelson New Zealand 1,295,800 418 4,180,000
2007 Gus Hansen Denmark 1,500,000 747 7,470,000
2008 Alexander Kostritsyn Russia 1,650,000 780 7,800,000
2009 Stewart Scott Australia 2,000,000 681 6,810,000
2010 Tyron Krost Australia 2,000,000 746 7,460,000
2011 David Gorr Australia 2,000,000 721 7,210,00

Note: The buy in was AU$10,000 every year.

Melbourne – the home of poker in Australasia

Melbourne is the capital of the southeastern state of Victoria, and also home to Crown casino and the Aussie Millions. Sydney may be Australia’s largest city with a population of 4.5 million, but Melbourne runs a very close second and is eventually expected to become the largest Australian city. January is the middle of summer in Australia and if you like hot weather you won’t be disappointed. Temperatures average around 30 degrees (Celsius), though you can find some relief from the heat at the local beaches or inside the casino where all the action is. Asian visitors will enjoy the dry heat and the perfect summer climate.

Melbourne is known as the sporting capital of the world and the Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament, horseracing and international cricket are all on the menu at this time of year. From this multicultural city you’ll discover an endless array of cosmopolitan cafés, bars and restaurants, all the way through to silver service dining. The city is easy to get around and you will find the locals friendly and helpful. For a change of scene Sydney is only an hour’s flight away and other parts of this amazing country like the Great Barrier Reef and Uluru can easily be built into your travel itinerary.

The casino

The Crown casino entertainment complex can be summed up in one word: huge. The floor space of the casino leaves Vegas casinos for dead and they have three world class-hotels to cater to all levels of accommodation. Tennis courts, pools, gymnasiums, bowling lanes, movie theatres and countless restaurants and bars are all situated under one roof. The complex is nestled on the banks of the Yarra River, which gives it a uniquely European flavour.

Crown casino poker room

Crown casino poker room

The poker room is one of the biggest and most professionally run in the world with over 50 permanent tables, and this number grows during the Aussie Millions. The room operates 24 hours a day and the very well trained staff will always make sure you are taken care off. Many poker players become frustrated when they go to a tournament and there is a lack of great poker action outside of the main event. Have no fear, this won’t happen at the Aussie Millions. There are some excellent lead-up events, and there are wide ranges of cash games and limits on offer, making the trip more than worthwhile from any poker holiday perspective.

The Aussie Millions main event

The main event itself is considered by players to be one of the best-structured and best run anywhere in the world. Players receive a starting bank of 30,000 chips, there are long levels (90 minutes on day 1 and 120 minutes from day 2 onwards) and reasonable hours of play particularly early on in the tournament. This is important to the poker tourist who wants to enjoy their holiday as well as the action on the felt. The tournament is nine handed, then goes to eight handed, and then even to six handed when it is down to 36 players. It is an AU$10,600 event and with the Aussie dollar now on par with the US dollar there is even more appeal to make the trip south if you are looking for a huge pay day.

David Gorr, winner of the 2011 Aussie Millions

David Gorr, winner of the 2011 Aussie Millions

There are many opportunities to win your way into the tournament. Crown are well known for their extensive satellite program that can see you take your seat at the Aussie Millions main event for a mere fraction of the entrance fee. There is also an extensive range of smaller lead up events that should cater to every budget. Every year hundreds of people win the trip of a lifetime by winning Aussie Millions packages on online poker sites.

So what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip “down under” to Australia and compete in this exciting tournament. For more information check out for everything you need to know. The World Gaming gang plays the Aussie Millions every year so we’ll see you there!

Save AU$600 with Crown’s early bird special!

Pay for your Aussie Millions main event entry before November 30 and receive a huge saving of AU$600. Paying the early bird rate of AU$10,000 instead of the usual AU$10,600 is smart thinking so if you know you are going to play get in early. The clock is ticking! Check out payment details at the Aussie Millions website