The Aussie Millions is the biggest tournament series in the Southern Hemisphere (only recently rivaled by the World Series of Poker Asia-Pacific), and as such, it attracts some of the best players from around the world to compete for prizes worth millions of dollars.
But despite an impressive and dangerous field, it was local amateur player Manny Stavropolous who came out on top to claim the latest Aussie Millions Main Event crown.
The Main Event began with 648 players, but by the time the final table was reached, there were few familiar names left. Perhaps the last superstar in the field was Brian Rast, who would ultimately go out in 5th place to win A$315,000 ($245,000).
By the time heads-up play was reached, Stavropolous found himself up against German player Lennart Uphoff in a battle between two players who had never managed a six-figure score in a poker tournament but were playing for well over $1 million in prize money.
Uphoff began the heads-up duel with approximately a two-to-one chip lead, but Stavropolous fought back to take the lead.
At that point, the players agreed to a deal that guaranteed both players more than A$1.2 million ($930,000), while still leaving another A$100,000 ($78,000) on the table, along with the title to play for.
On the final hand, Uphoff moved all-in on a board that read 8A978. Stavropoulous called immediately, and both players showed down straights.
Unfortunately for Uphoff, T6 was no match for the JT of Stavropoulous, which gave the Melbourne local the better straight and the tournament victory. Stavropoulous claimed a prize of A$1,385,500 ($1,079,000) for his first major tournament win.
While the Main Event may be the most prestigious tournament of the series, however, there was even more money on the line in a special high-roller event.
The LK Boutique $250,000 Challenge saw 25 entrants put up a quarter-million (about $195,000 in US dollars) each in order to prove themselves against some of the world’s top high-stakes poker players.
As the tournament drew to a close, there were plenty of big names fighting for the top prize.
After the money bubble broke and just five players remained, Erik Seidel and Scott Seiver were still in contention, though they would go out in 5th and 4th places respectively.
After Doug Polk went out in third place, that left Mike “Timex” McDonald to go up against the legendary Phil Ivey for the top prize of A$2,205,000 ($1.72 million).
The heads-up battle saw Ivey holding a slight chip lead that he built into a more commanding position before the final hand, when Ivey moved all in with KQs only to be called by McDonald’s AQ.
Ivey was behind, but Ivey caught a king on the flop to take the lead. McDonald wasn’t able to catch up, and Ivey had won the most expensive tournament in Australia.
For Ivey, the win was his second consecutive triumph in the event, having won the last LK Boutique $250,000 Challenge in 2014, and his third overall (he also won the tournament in 2012).
The win brought his career tournament earnings up to just under $23.2 million, moving him back into third place on the all-time money list behind only Daniel Negreanu ($29.9 million) and Antonio Esfandiari ($26.3 million).