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Date Posted: January 26th, 2011 (10:04pm)

The biggest buy-in tournament in the history of poker ever played out January 26th at the Aussie Millions at the Crown Casino in Melbourne, Australia. Twenty players ponied up $250k each to enter the most expensive tournament in history. The PCA and AM Super High Roller events only had 38 players each, so this is something special to create, at the last minute, such a special tournament with a $5 million prize pool from 20 players. There were extra players that would have played (e.g. Patrik Antonius who was one of the leaders in the AM main event going on at the same time) if it had been scheduled not to compete.


Here's the order of finish:

  1. Erik Seidel
  2. Sam Trickett
  3. David Benyamine
  4. Wang Qiang
  5. Richard Yong
  6. Chris Ferguson
  7. Andrew Feldman
  8. Phil Ivey
  9. Nikolay Evdakov
  10. Daniel Cates
  11. Paul Phua
  12. Tony Bloom
  13. Annette Obrestad
  14. Eugene Katchalov
  15. John Juanda
  16. Alexander Kostritsyn
  17. Roland de Wolfe
  18. Tom Dwan
  19. James Bord
  20. James Obst

The payouts ended up being negotiated to AUD$2.5 million, AUD$1.4 million and AUD$1.1 million for third.


Amazingly Erik Seidel came back from a 5-1 chip deficit heads up to win the massive top prize. He got third in the PCA $100k SHR event and is off to an amazing 2011. What about these super high buy-in events brings out the best in him, I'm not sure.


He defeated young British player Sam Trickett heads up. Tricket has also had an amazing 2011 already having won AUD$1.5 million last week in the $100k AM High Roller event only to come back this week and win another AUD$1.4 million. He played great once he grabbed the lead and he also seems to have a knack for these high profile and high pressure events.


But I wanted to mention how fickle poker can be. You can play great and lose, play poorly and advance far if the poker gods shine on you. The difference between the top top players is often just timing and luck.


Mid way through the event, Sam was sitting on a below average stack of around 330k stack when this hand came up...


The action started with Tony Bloom, raising it up to 29,000. Wang Qiang made the call, and action folded to Sam Trickett in the small blind. He thought for his full 30 second allotment, and then tossed his time bank chip into the pot for an additional thirty seconds. After using up only a few seconds of his extra 30 seconds, he announced he was all in.

Paul Phua, in the big blind took back his big blind, which was yet to be changed out for the 12k big blind from the brown 25k chip he had thrown in. There was a bit of confusion for a moment, as it looked like he just wanted to take back his blind, until he decided to slide in his entire stack of brown 25k chips into the middle. This prompted Tony Bloom to bust a move and push his chips front and center as well.


When they turned over their hands, Tricket saw he was in a world of trouble.

Sam Trickett: "{6-Hearts}""{6-Diamonds}"
Paul Phua: "{a-Clubs}""{k-Clubs}"
Tony Bloom: "{a-Spades}""{a-Diamonds}"


He held 20% equity in a hand worth 1.1 million and the clear chip lead. He hit his two outer 6 on the flop, won the hand and more than tripled up. From there he dominated, applying pressure and building his stack all the way until heads up where all the cards seem to fall Erik Seidel's way.
Congratulations to Erik Seidel, who with the win moves to $13.1 million in lifetime live tournament winnings, good for third place behind Daniel Negreanu and Phil Ivey.


Earlier version of this blog...

What I find fascinating is how much power the players are given to decide things. If you pay enough to buy in you have extreme influence over negotiating the terms of your tournament. Low buy-in tournaments give players no real time input into the terms of a tournament. They are dictated to players, with some input afterwards to influence future versions of the event.

High stakes poker players are used to negotiating. They constantly negotiate prop bets, sports bets, credit card roulette and poker games terms.


It reminds me of my experiences in Africa years ago where few if anything has fixed prices. You must negotiate for most things. It requires a lot more energy to do so, but you are more personally involved in the process. Frankly, I prefer the simpler American model of accepting or rejecting a "fixed" price in the US. Most of the time I don't want to invest extra energy to negotiate every last thing. But I certainly understand how these high stakes players want to have considerable input on where their $250k is going to go.


During the time it took to write this, we have had our first heart-breaking bust out a few minutes in when James Obst K's went all in pre-flop only to have the sick feeling when Erik Seidel turned over his A's, which held up and doubled up to 500,000 chips.


The action is much like a turbo sit and go as each player is only given 30 seconds to act, with two additional 30 second chips to be used in special occasions. They will play down to a winner today.


In fact Tom Dwan has already used both of his on a hand where his overpair of 10's went all in on over Alexander Kostritsyn big bet with a turned set, but the river completed the four flush that Dwan needed to double back up to around his starting stack.


James Bord was the second bust out in quick fashion against Malaysian businessman Wang Qiang.


As I head out the door, they are on level 3 with 18 players remaining and the blinds at 2k/4k with a 500 ante.


Seidel currently leads with 495k, Dwan 485k, Qiang 467k, Rhua 413k, Ivey 321k and Ferguson with 303k.


I'll try to report more when I get home in a couple hours.

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