It’s summer time in Australia, which was a shock to the system of those of us that flew in from the recently snow ravaged region of London! We are down under for the Main Event of the Aussie Millions, a tournament that continues to grow in popularity, especially for players from countries around the world. The event is held at Crown Casino, which is an amazing complex of hotels, shops, restaurants, entertainment and of course a casino!
43 PartyPoker.com players made the trip to Melbourne with us, flying in from 14 different countries. The group of players includes several of our Palladium VIP poker players, who earned their way into the tournament by grinding it out in our November Gladiator promotion.
The PartyGaming staff arrived early to get the players checked in on Friday. Players were given an amazing, retro line of PartyPoker.com clothing to wear. In other words, hats, t-shirts and polo shirts with the Party logo! Yes, we do things in style. The staff here done under include myself, Naomi and Lucinda (our very own Party Girls) and Justin and Henrik.
With the players all checked in on Friday, Saturday was a day to enjoy some of the culture and sport that Melbourne has to offer. I took a select group of our Palladium VIPs to play a round of golf at the Capital Golf Club. Capital is no ordinary golf course. One of our VIP’s told me he has been trying to get on the course for 10 years. You see, Capital is not a course you can walk on and pay to play, and there are no members. It is invite only. Being a Palladium VIP has it’s priveledges!
“High rollers from the Melbourne casino and the social and sporting elite including past Presidents of the United States, Prime Minister’s of Australia, State Premiers and contemporary golf icons like Tiger Woods, Greg Norman and Sergio Garcia have all enjoyed the tranquillity of the Capital fairways. Whilst sadly a course solely for the fortunate few, the Capital Golf Club is clearly one of Australia’s finest golf experiences.”
While we were on the golf course, Naomi and Lucinda hosted the rest of the players at a Summer BBQ reception at Breezes terraced restaurant. And since I wasn’t there, I left it to Lucinda to provide a recap of what went down:
The indoor/outdoor venue proved perfect for the qualifiers to enjoy blue skies and sunshine despite an earlier summer shower. As local online qualifier Wendy Boxal said, “You get four seasons in one day in Melbourne!” Luckily, the authentic PartyPoker.com akubra hats provided both sun and rain protection, and were very popular with all the players (although some went so far as to wear their baseball caps as well, which made for an interesting look…)
The menu was prepared by an English Gordon Ramsey-trained chef, who treated the qualifiers and guests to a delicious starter of seafood platter followed by T-bone steak, marinated salmon, mixed grill, lamb skewers, grilled chicken and local seafood specialty, baby barramundi. For those who still had space, there was an assortment of ice-creams and sorbet to finish, although for one Italian qualifier Claudio Barbieri there was extra dessert in the form of a chocolate cake to celebrate his 41st birthday. Being serenaded ‘Happy Birthday’ by his fellow poker qualifiers is one birthday Claudio will probably remember (although hopefully the singing he’ll forget!)
The afternoon came to a close with speeches given by PartyPoker’s Henrick and last year’s Aussie Millions Champion, Stewart Scott. Stewart talked about how much it meant to him to win, how he’s looking forward to defending his current title, and finished by wishing everybody luck in coming “a well-deserved second place!”. Finally Stewart’s motivation coach shared some words of wisdom, encouraging the players to stay focussed on each hand in turn and not to allow themselves to become fazed by the overall event. All in all everybody had a great afternoon, and would definitely welcome another chance to throw another shrimp on the barbie!”
Although the Main Event doesn’t start until Sunday, Saturday saw some real high level action in the form of the Aussie Millions $100,000 Challenge. With a $100,000 buy-in, this is one of the biggest tournaments of the year. And that was reflected in the 24 players, a literal who’s who in the poker world, that coughed up $100,000 each.
As the tournament was set to commence, all of the players took their seats quietly. All of the players except one. Invoking the image of one Phil Hellmuth and his grand entrances, our very own Team Party player Tony G, no stranger to making a scene, came rolling into the tournament on his PartyPoker.com bicycle, with his personal concierge Jessie on his lap.
The crowd roared as Tony hopped off his back, in stark contrast to his personal catchphrase “on yer bike”. Tony took his seat, not so quietly, explaining to his fellow table mates that the first person to be knocked by him, would be riding his trusted bike straight out of the casino.
Later in the tournament Tony busted Tom “Durrr” Dwan. Tony grabbed his bike and tried in vain to get Dwan to ride it out of the studio. He came back to the table and said, “He won’t ride the bike, he needs a trike.”
The bike may be just what Tony G has been looking for, as he survived the day, making the final table. Let’s hope the last person to ride the bike out of the casino is, Tony, along with the $1.2m first place prize.
We ended an eventful Saturday in Melbourne by taking several of our Palladium VIPs to the Rod Laver Arena for the Australian Open Tennis.
Players were treated to food and drink in a VIP Superbox, and what would turn out to be some not so exciting tennis matches.
In the first match Australian Lleyton Hewitt defeated Marcos Baghdatis in the second sent, when Baghdatis was forced to retire with an injury. The second match of the night saw Danish sensation Caroline Wozniacki defeat Shahar Peer of Israel 6-4, 4-0.
Sunday will see about 1/3 of our players hit the felt for the first of three starting days in the Aussie Millions Main Event. Yes, there is poker to be played here Down Under!