It was an unbelievable way to end an absolutely epic event, with Ari Engel becoming the 2016 Aussie Millions Main Event champion inside Crown Poker Room on Sunday.
Engel's AU$1.6 million victory came at the end of a hard-fought heads-up battle when Tony Dunst attempted to make a tough hero call to double up. Unfortunately for Dunst, his fourth pair was no good against Engel's top pair and he had to settle for a second-place finish worth AU$1 million.
For Engel, the win marked the most remarkable one of his career, but he's certainly no stranger to success. A Canadian that regularly travels the poker tournament circuit across the globe, he spent eight early years of his life living in Melbourne. His travels returned him to the city for the 2016 Aussie Millions and it's all come full circle thanks to this impressive victory. Engel can now add the bracelet to his trophy case was smiling from ear to ear after the huge payday he earned.
At the start of Sunday's final table, seven players remained from a starting field of 732 — the fourth-largest Aussie Millions Main Event in its 19-year history. First to go was Australia's own John Apostolidis, and he was followed out the door by one of two female players to reach the final table, Kitty Kuo. Apostolidis took home AU$210,000, and Kuo scored AU$270,000.
The next two places on the payout sheet were filled in by two more Australians. First it was Dylan Honeyman falling in fifth place for $340,000, and then Alexander Lynskey took fourth for AU$445,000. For Lynskey, the run to the final table was extra sweet after he suffered a heartbreaking result in last year's Aussie Millions Main Event. He took a severe beat late in the event and ended in ninth place after promise showed he was ripe for the final table.
Along with the aforementioned Kuo, Samantha Abernathy was the other woman at the final table, and she advanced into the tournament's last trio of players. While she held her own throughout the day, the big stacks of Engel and Dunst proved too much to overcome. In the end, she moved all in with ten-eight and lost to Engel's ace-nine.
Dunst entered the heads-up duel with the lead, and what a duel it was. The first five eliminations of the final table took 92 hands of play, but heads-up play took 123. Over the course of a few hours, Dunst and Engel traded blow after blow, but it was Engel's punches that were landing with a bit more power as he ground his opponent down. Then, on the 203rd hand of the day, Dunst doubled back to just about even before the two headed into a 45-minute dinner break.
When the couple returned to action, it didn't take long for Engel to go right back on the offensive in a big way. He made an impressive call with fourth pair to pick off Dunst's five-high bluff, and this proved an interesting hand as it was then Dunst who eventually called off his stack incorrectly with four pair to lose out.
For Dunst, a cool seven-figure payday will help him wake up with a smile in the morning, but Sunday was on Engel.
"Thanks so much," Engel said with a smile upon receiving congratulations after his win. "It feels awesome!"
Final Table Results
|6||Kitty Kuo||Chinese Taipei||$270,000|
Byron Kaverman Leads the LK Boutique $250,000 Challenge
The 2015 GPI Player of the Year, Byron Kaverman, bagged up the chip lead after the first day of the LK Boutique $250,000 Challenge at the 2016 Aussie Millions. Kaverman leads a field of 12 survivors with 708,000, with late registration and reentries still possible until the start of Day 2 tomorrow.
The day started with four players, Igor Kurganov, Ben Tollerene, Paul Newey and Fedor Holz, and the latter was the first player to get knocked out. Holz fell to Newey when he ended up all in on the turn holding both straight a flush draws against the pocket aces of his opponent. A blank river sent Holz back to the cashier, and he reentered shortly thereafter.
Phil Ivey was the fifth player to enter the event, which he's managed to win in 2012, 2014 and 2015. These three victories are also Ivey's three biggest cashes, totaling AU$8.205 million. Day 1 wasn't kind to Ivey, since despite getting a late double up through Holz, he bagged up just 52,500. On the last hand of the night, Ivey was crippled by Steve O'Dwyer, who bagged up 388,500. Holz meanwhile took 440,500 to Day 2, on his second bullet.
Newey held the chip lead for quite some time on Day 1, and he was the first player to eclipse the 500,000-chip mark, but in the end he bagged up 395,500 chips. Kaverman started his ascent by hitting a flush against O'Dwyer, followed by another flush versus Erik Seidel. Kaverman busted Seidel after getting it in with a pair and a flush draw against Seidel's overpair, and the river completed Kaverman's hand.
Seidel busted out just after Team PokerStars Pro Jason Mercier hit the rail, Mercier could not find a pair on the board after getting it in with ace-queen versus Holz's pocket nines.
With 15 total entries up until this point, and 12 players remaining, the prize pool currently sits at AU$3.675 million, and the payouts would be as followed pending a large amount of new entries. Three places will get paid until there are 21 entries into this tournament, after which a fourth spot will be added.
Play will continue at 2:30 p.m. local time on Monday, and registration will close when cards are back in the air. PokerNews will have coverage all throughout the conclusion of this event, and with that the 2016 Aussie Millions.
Jarryd Godena Wins $5,000 Six-Max
In his third final table of the series so far, Australian Jarryd Godena finally got over the hump inside Crown Poker Room on Sunday, taking down the 2016 Aussie Millions Event #21: $5,000 Six-Max No-Limit Hold'em title.
Godena earned $121,070 in prize money an an LK Boutique Aussie Millions championship ring, ultimately defeating a field of 92 entries.
A total of 19 players returned Sunday to battle it out for the title with 11 spots paid. The money bubble broke when 2016 Aussie Millions standout Michael Seymour busted out and before long, fellow Aussie Jason Pritchard joined him on the rail, bubbling the final table.
The final seven started with 2014 Aussie Millions Main Event champ Ami Barer holding a big lead and fellow Canadian and start-of-day chip leader Benjamin Leblond short.
Leblond would soon get jacks cracked by Jack Salter to finish seventh, but Salter didn't last much longer, getting it in with a weak ace against Barer's queen-high and going broke when Barer paired.
Stevan Chew busted fifth to Barer, getting flushed out when they both got it in with ace-seven. Barer then appeared to be running away with it until he doubled Godena, allowing him to push slightly ahead.
Within minutes of Godena leapfrogging Barer, he ran sevens into Godena's jacks in a huge pot to say goodbye fourth and gove Godena a big lead.
George Zisimopoulos busted Brian Yoon third to send himself into a heads-up match with Godena trailing only slightly. However, it was Godena's day, and although he grinded down and doubled up Zisimopoulos twice, the third time proved the charm, allowing him to win the $5,000 Six-Max crown.
Final Table Results
Martin Finger Wins $1,150 Shot Clock Turbo Title
Martin Finger took down the 2016 Aussie Millions Event #23: $1,150 Shot Clock Turbo No-Limit Hold'em title on Sunday.
This single-day event drew 163 players creating a $167,075 prize pool that paid 18 spots.
It took just seven hours to get heads up, with Finger ultimately beating Pete Chen heads-up to collect a $42,605 first-place prize and the LK Boutique Aussie Millions Championship ring that came with it.
Finger actually came into the final table last in chips, but got all the cards he needed in cooler after cooler to run away with it.
"I ran like god," he said. "I just had good cards this entire final table."
Finger busted Mark Dube third with two pair versus top pair and took a massive lead into heads up with Chen. Chen doubled once, but could not manage it a second time, running a weak ace into Finger's pocket tens and failing to improve to take second.
Final Table Results
|7||Jan Suchanek||New Zealand||$7,935|
The Deep Freeze Final Table Is Set
Event #20: $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em Deep Freeze played down to a final table of ten Sunday. They will play down to a winner Monday with $98,635 and an LK Boutique championship ring reserved for the winner.
The 2016 Aussie Millions Poker Championship Wraps Up Monday
The 2016 Aussie Millions Poker Championship continues Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, with the final day of the LK Boutique $250,000 Challenge beginning at 2:30 p.m.
Monday will also see the the final table of Event #20: $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em Deep Freeze go off at 12:10 p.m. and the final event on the 2016 Aussie Millions schedule, Event #24: $5,000 Pot Limit Omaha, beginning at 12:15 p.m. It is a single-day event.