After another marathon day in Melbourne we're down to the final table at the 2009 Aussie Millions main event, with eight players remaining in the hunt for that $2 million AUD first prize.
Tournament director Jonno Pittock and his staff have crafted one of the most player-friendly structures since the World Series of Poker Europe Main Event (and we know how that turned out), with two-hour levels and mad deep stacks that make any elimination not predicated by a brutal cooler look like the most foolish thing since Wee Man's claiming he could scarf 150 apples in anything less than a lifetime.
Yeah, it's a deep-stack tournament, and even with only 28 players having returned to the basement of the Crown for the penultimate day of play, the march to the final eight final-table finalists took about 13 hours to reach finality.
When the dust finally settled, it was Barny Boatman, the marquee member of the January Eight and Hendon Mobster, who played the short stack to perfection throughout the day, earning himself some TV time for his tenacity.
Boatman earns the top billing in tomorrow's final table not so much because of his status as the most ballingest geezer with the most ballingest hat, but rather by virtue of the fact that Friday's Day 4 action claimed the tournament lives of other notable poker luminaries like Annette Obrestad, Sorel Mizzi and Kelly Kim, none of whom managed to survive to the dinner break.
Also hitting the road disappointingly quickly was Day 3 chip leader Michael Tureniec, who spent the day in a virtual free fall, finding himself at the brink of elimination very quickly. He then caught a reprieve, however brief, with a fortuitous rivered straight with eights against aces.
Tureniec's stay of execution would be temporary, however, as the EPT5 London runner-up would fall to Zach Gruneberg a few rounds later, claiming the 19th spot and taking $50,000 for his efforts.
Fourteen players would survive to the dinner break and Peter Rho led them all, becoming the first man to break the $2 million chip barrier after waking up with aces against Zach Fellows' A-K and fading a king-high flop.
Rho wouldn't hold on to his chip leader mantle for much longer than the 90 minutes allotted for food, relinquishing the title to Stewart Scott after the Aussie played a massive pot with Christian Heich, who at the time trailed only Rho and Scott on the chip leaderboard.
The hand saw Heich commit his million-dollar-plus stack on a 8♥ 6♦ 2♦ flop with a pocket pair of tens, only to see Scott look him up with a surprising T♥ 9♥. Needing to fade a heart to stay alive, Heich saw the 2♥ fall on the turn, all but crushing his million-dollar dreams.
As day turned to evening turned to night, eliminations slowed to a glacial pace, with sole-surviving female Annica Ivert dropping out in 11th place as the field prepared to enter the sixth level of the day.
With the final table scheduled to be a seven-handed affair, chances looked good that we'd be playing until around dawn, but the combination of a couple of quick eliminations (Tino Lechich and Zac Fellows) and the T.D.'s decision to halt play with eight combatants remaining meant the day was done at about 1:30 a.m. local time.
The aforementioned Scott enters the final table with a stranglehold on the chip leaderboard, holding $4.5 million to runner-up Rho's $2.42 million, while Boatman (also aforementioned) brings up the rear with only $349,000 to his name. Check the full chip counts here.
That said, we're playing with $12k/$24k blinds so even Boatman isn't short-stacked. And if there's one thing we've learned from the Aussie Millions, it's that Derbyshire can't interview a pretty girl to save his life. Also that a great structure makes for a long, player-friendly final table.
Hit us back for the thrilling conclusion, starting at 12:30 p.m. local time in the Crown Casino in Melbourne!
Look, I know you want to be at that final table playing with Barny Boatman. You can't. But you can play with the main geezer on Full Tilt Poker, along with lesser-known pros like Phil Ivey, Gus Hansen and Patrik Antonius. Just sign up for an account using our tasty bonuses and make it rain on them pros!