After seven days of play and 756 eliminations Max Pescatori and Erik Seidel were the only high-profile players left. Both players had large stacks so many poker fans had them pegged to breeze to the final table. Things did not work out quite as planned.
Instead of Pescatori and Seidel it was Nico Behling and Michael Chrisanthopoulos who raked most of the large pots early.
Max Pescatori, also known as the Italian Pirate, got off to a decent start by eliminating Steve Miller while holding K♦ T♦ against Miller's A♦ J♠. A ten hit on the river and that was it for Miller.
It all started to go poorly for Pescatori when he lost a massive pot to Nico Behling. After the hand Pescatori was left with just $900,000 while Behling was up to $2.2 million. Pescatori had to take a quick break from his table after the disastrous hand.
Apparently Pescatori was still rattled, however, because approximately 30 minutes after the hand the Italian Pirate was eliminated.
In the hand Pescatori opened for $56,000 and local Antonio Casale re-raised to $135,000. Pescatori made the call. The flop came down jack-high, all spades and Casale pushed all-in covering Pescatori. Pescatori made the call and flipped over A♦ Q♠ for ace-high and the flush draw while Casale showed 8♣ 8♥. Casale managed to dodge any ace, queen or spade and eliminated Pescatori.
Seidel was a different story. He managed to slowly climb up the chip ranks throughout the day and quietly build his stack to $1.4 million by the end of the day. Seidel is the only high-profile player to make it through to the final table and it will be interesting to see what The Gentle Giant can do versus six relatively unknown players.
Seidel has never won the Aussie Millions but last year he came in second to Erick Lindgren in the $100,000 buy-in event and in the process won $437,000. It's safe to say that Seidel is probably a big fan of the country. Seidel's most recent win was at the 2007 WSOP when he won the Deuce-to-Seven Lowball with re-buys event.
The biggest meltdown of the day, probably of the tournament, would have to go to Nico Behling, who was one of the day's chip leaders and had $2.2 million when the final eight players sat down to decide who the seven players to make the final table would be. Behling was second only to Michael "Longest Name in Poker" Chrisanthopoulos and it would indeed be Chrisanthopoulos who would cause him problems.
In the last hand of the day Behling raised to $65,000 and Chrisanthopoulos made the call. The flop came A♠ Q♦ 3♦ and Chrisanthopoulos checked but Behling bet out $100,000. Chrisanthopoulos would re-raise to $400,000 and Behling called.
The turn came 3♣ and Chrisanthopoulos decided to bet $550,000. Behling made the call and the river fell 2♣. Chrisanthopoulos moved all-in and after a couple minutes Behling, who may have felt pot-committed, made the call.
Chrisanthopoulos flipped over A♣ 3♥ for the full house and Behling instantly mucked. PokerListings later learned that Behling held A-Q for the flopped two pair. It was a very nasty turn card for Behling that ended up costing him a seat at the final table.
The final-table roster is made up of players who are relatively unknown, with the exception of Seidel. Antonio Casale is a local favorite and his fans maintain that he has played at the Crown Casino ever since it opened.
Five of the remaining seven players come from Australia so it's definitely a good news story for locals. Chrisanthopoulos is one of the Australians and he had significant success in the 2007 PokerNews Cup. Peter Mobbs is another Melbourne local who wasn't extremely well-known before this tournament but probably will be after. Nino Marotta hails from Perth, Australia and has one cash in the Victorian Championships. Peter Ling is yet another Australian with a couple cashes in last year's Aussie Millions preliminary events.
Finally Alexander Kostritsyn is a relatively unknown player from Russia with some minor cashes while Seidel is of course one of the world's most well-known poker players and currently resides in the U.S.A.
Will Seidel be able to triumph against a talented group of Aussies or will Kostritsyn pull off a surprising victory and give even more poker in Russia more credibility?
Tune in tomorrow to find out. PokerListings will be kicking off the festivities at 12:30 p.m. Australian time. Set your alarm now!