Aussie Millions: Australia’s Premier Poker Event

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The Aussie Millions Poker Championship is one of the few titan events when it comes to high-stakes tourney poker. It has run annually at the Crown Casino in Melbourne until 2020. The championship typically unfolds in January with the highlight being the Main Event (featuring a variety of events for different buy-ins during the series).

It wouldn’t be an understatement to say that the Aussie Millions Poker Championship is a big deal in the poker community. It’s nothing short of some of the most prestigious events, with world-class players & celebs competing for the millions in prizes. 

If you ever decide to play there, you can expect:

Large prize pools reaching millionsHigh roller tournaments and high stakes side cash games, some of them being aired and televised World-class premises (The Crown Casino is a luxurious entertainment venue where all players can access a variety of dining options, bars, and entertainment shows)Presence of famous poker professionals & celebrities

Historical Significance in the Poker World

What makes Aussie Millions a significant poker event then? This one is clear: It keeps attracting  crème de la crème of high stakes tournament professionals. It also starts the calendar year of major live poker tournaments, as it’s held usually in January. The Aussie Millions has greatly contributed to the popularity of poker in the Asia-Pacific region – many players try to qualify through satellites for the Main Event to play for life-changing money.

From Humble Beginnings to Global Prestige

The Aussie Millions Poker Championship saw its inception in 1998. It was initially known as the Australasian Poker Championship, and didn’t have too many runners at the start. 

Originating as a small tournament in the late 1990s, it has burgeoned into a globally recognized event, attracting poker’s elite. Over the years and due to the poker boom starting from the US, the event grew significantly. It gained global recognition already in the early 2000s. Its growth mirrors the increasing popularity of poker in the 00s. 

Notable Winners and Record-Breaking Tournaments

The Aussie Millions has been a real show stage for poker legends. Champions like Gus Hansen, Alexander Kostritsyn, and Ari Engel have etched their names in poker history through this championship. You can even find all the hands played by Gus Hansen in his winning run for the 2007 ME trophy described in his book Every Hand Revealed.

What is the Aussie Millions Main Event?

The Aussie Millions Main Event is an annual high-stakes poker tournament held at Melbourne’s Crown Casino. It’s the crown jewel of the Aussie Millions with many players going after the prestigious title. As the highlight of the Aussie Millions Poker Championship it lasts for several days, combining the best elements of large-field tournament poker and making it a must-watch spectacle in the international poker calendar.

How much money has been won over the years in the Aussie Millions Main Event?

The 2019 Main Event saw a record 820 players going for the title and the total prize pool was AUD $8.22 million. Here’s a table showing statistics of the Aussie Millions ME for each year including the number of runners, the name of the winner and their prize & size of the total prize pool:

 

YearNumber of PlayersWinnerWinner’s Prize (AUD)Total Prize Pool (AUD)2007747Gus Hansen$1,500,000$7,470,0002008780Alexander Kostritsyn$1,650,000$7,758,5002009681Stewart Scott$2,000,000$6,810,0002010746Tyron Krost$2,000,000$7,460,0002011721David Gorr$2,000,000$7,210,0002012659Oliver Speidel$1,600,000$6,590,0002013629Mervin Chan$1,600,000$6,290,0002014668Ami Barer$1,600,000$6,680,0002015648Manny Stavropoulos$1,385,500$6,480,0002016732Ari Engel$1,600,000$7,320,0002017725Shurane Vijayaram$1,600,000$7,685,0002018800Toby Lewis$1,458,198$8,000,0002019822Bryn Kenney$1,272,598*$8,220,0002020820Vincent Wan$1,318,000*$8,200,000

 

*The prize amounts for winners in 2019-2020 (Bryn Kenney and Vincent Wan) are based on deals made at the final table.

To win a big live poker tournament like Aussio Millions, you need both skills and a great deal of luck. Sometimes luck is not on your side, as you can see from the picture below from our Team Pro Samuli Sipilä, who faced a set-over-set situation holding Pocket Jacks and getting outdrawn on the river!

Samuli Sipilä Set Over Set at Aussie MillionsSamuli Sipilä Losing to Rivered Quads at Aussie Millions, After Having Set Over Set On The Flop Holding Red Jacks

High Roller Tournaments at the Aussie Millions

Like all good poker events and festivals, high roller tourneys can be found at the Aussie Millions. Except some steep buy-ins and a player field consisting of wealthy and top-skilled players. 

Some famous poker players like Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, and Erik Seidel have taken part in the Aussie Millions Poker Championship. Celebrities like Tobey Maguire, Shannon Elizabeth, and Matt Damon have played in the tournament, showing their love for the game and competing amongst some of the biggest all-time winners in poker. The poker scene in Australia is growing, attracting more pros to the tournament because of its prestige and big prize pool. This has made the championship more competitive, drawing attention from seasoned pros and up-and-coming players..

The most notable high roller events are the 100K & 250K

$100,000 Challenge: This is a recurring high roller event at the Aussie Millions. The buy-in for this event is AUD $100,000.

$250,000 Challenge: This is another major high roller event at the Aussie Millions and is known for attracting some of the world’s best poker players. The buy-in for this event is AUD $250,000.

The Recent Challenges

The Aussie Millions tournament faces many challenges. They mainly include post-Covid-19 economic uncertainties and various regulatory and operational challenges. As such, the continuity of the tournament is uncertain.

But what can the poker community do? At best, they can only hope that Crown Poker would revive the tournament. Only then can there be a sustained Aussie Millions legacy. Many have played and won huge prizes at the Crown in previous events. They would certainly like to try their hand at that again! 

Until live poker action at Aussie Millions gets back on the menu for the start of the year, we predict most players will turn to internet-based casinos with real stakes instead. After all, statistics printed by the Queensland Treasury in the 37th edition of Australian Gambling Statistics show the following amounts spent on different iGaming products:

$26.9 billion was spent on racing ($1,377 per capita)$187.6 billion on gaming such as slots, traditional casino games and pokies  ($9,581 per capita)$11.1 billion on sports betting ($567 per capita) 

Please note that these amounts indicate total money wagered, not lost. 

Impact of COVID-19 and Operational Changes at Crown Poker

Covid-19 pandemic was more than devastating on Crown Poker. You can imagine the company making key operational changes that included suspending the event in 2020. In the process, it disrupted the annual rhythm in the poker calendar – a big event was suddenly missing, and there was nothing to fill that void.

Regulatory Challenges and the Future of Aussie Millions

The Aussie Millions faces significant regulatory challenges that could shape its future. Increasing scrutiny from gaming authorities and evolving gambling laws pose hurdles for the event’s operation. These challenges require strategic navigation to ensure compliance while maintaining the essence of the tournament. The way these regulatory issues are addressed will be crucial in determining the viability and continuity of the Aussie Millions, highlighting the delicate balance between regulation and the preservation of a poker legacy.

How Aussie Millions Compares with Other Major Poker Tournaments

Without going into the nitty-gritty details of it, we would say it compares favourably with the European Poker Tour (EPT) and the World Series of Poker (WSOP). 

It’s very easy to appreciate the infusion of Australia’s laid-back lifestyle into a top-tier poker tournament. Its innovative game format and player-friendly structure might cast a wowing playing experience – especially if you run deep in any tournament during the series.

Aussie Millions vs World Series of Poker

We all know how unique these tournaments are. WSOP is truly unique with its unique history and large size. But we also love the innovative formats and luxurious setting of the Aussie Millions.

When asked what the world’s largest  (and most prestigious) poker event is, you would easily say the WSOP. After all, WSOP tournaments attract the biggest field of players from all corners of the globe. In the case of the Aussie Millions, a case can be made for it being played mainly by elite and rich players looking for high-stakes action. In short: While both tournaments are prestigious, they cater to a bit different segments of poker players.

The Growing Poker Scene in Australia

We have all witnessed the growth in the Australian poker scene. And we all agree that it’s due to the breakout success of the Aussie Millions. If you haven’t, you should just check the statistics – increased poker rooms, local tournaments, and player participation.

But the Aussie Millions has done much more than just popularizing if the number of new poker players is anything to go by. We’ve read news reports about how Australians are increasingly looking at poker as a competitive sport rather than a form of entertainment. So, why would you want to ignore the country’s emerging influence in poker.

The Cultural Impact on Australian and International Poker

Interestingly, the tournament has enhanced the global poker narrative through the televised tournament events you have watched. You have seen how vibrant and competitive poker is in Australia – many might treat it as a sport even. 

Will Aussie Millions Make a Comeback?

We can only speculate on whether or not the Aussie Millions would make a comeback. Many professional poker players would love to see that happen – the odds might be against it though!

We’re already seeing a huge revival of streamed high stakes poker in the US and the return of Aussie Millions would be massive to grow that wave worldwide. We would see more players trying their hand and chasing the dream through tournament poker. Aussie Millions can play a key role in this, should we see it in the global poker schedule once again.

Conclusion: The Legacy and Uncertain Future of Aussie Millions

Does Aussie Millions have a bright future? We don’t know, but it would certainly be pleasing to see one. Tbh, we cannot help but anticipate the revival of the Aussie Millions! But can you tell when the beacon of excellence will spring back to life? Only time will tell…

Author: Justin Watson