A total of 202 rounders took to the 2009 Aussie Millions Poker Championships main event felt, and some of the best players on God's green earth were among them.
Names like Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, Annette Obrestad, Mike "Timex" McDonald and Jeff Madsen highlighted the opening roster, but it was 2008 WSOP Pot-Limit Omaha World Champion Marty Smyth who really got things cracking Down Under today.
In just the first few hands of play, Smyth managed to flop two pair to bust one unlucky player and his pocket aces, foreshadowing the Day 1 carnage to come.
Both 2008 Aussie Millions champ Alexander Kostritsyn and the man he beat heads-up to win the title, Full Tilt's Erik Seidel, began their runs at back-to-back final-table appearances today, but neither had much luck.
Kostritsyn put his tournament life on the line with pocket kings in just the second level and a rivered flush ended his hopes for a second Aussie Millions crown. Seidel lasted a little longer, but he eventually rode pocket tens to his demise when one rather lucky foe caught one of three aces in the deck against him.
While top pros like Jeffrey Lisandro, the aforementioned Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, 2004 Aussie Millions winner Tony Bloom and 2008 PokerStars APPT Grand Final runner-up Jason Gray hit the rail today, other big names were making big stacks.
2008 WSOP Main Event runner-up and WSOPE third-place finisher Ivan Demidov put on a show of strength, forcing his opponents to make big decisions throughout the day, and will come into Day 2 Wednesday among the early tournament leaders.
Meanwhile, EPT Dortmund champ Mike McDonald had players handing him chips all day long to follow up his three final tables at the prelims here last year with a solid start in the 2009 main event.
Betfair Poker's Annette Obrestad doubled early in a set-over-set situation and held onto those chips, while Marty Smyth's incredibly early double was just a start, as he amassed enough chips to get within shouting distance of the top of the leaderboard when play wrapped a little after midnight tonight.
Of course, the Aussies were well represented with 2007 PokerStars APPT Grand Final winner Grant Levy and 2007 APPT Macau High Roller champ Eric Assadourian headlining a massive list of locals. However, Levy's up-and-down day left him with just a little above the $20k starting stack when it was all over, and the never-say-die Assadourian found himself on the bottom of the list with little more than a chip and a chair.
Brit Neil Channing and Full Tilt Pro Matt Vengrin were among the notables who also built sizable clumps of clay today, but the top of the leaderboard was really dotted with the names most of you poker fans have never heard before.
PL.com will let you know who they are if they manage to go much further here in Oz.
The 102-odd Aussie Millions dreamers who survived this second Day 1 will get back at it in two days' time with big stacks Noah "4UHaters" Schwartz, Betfair Poker's Sorel Mizzi, Full Tilt Pro Patrik Antonius and the other 73 players who came through the first flight.
However, PL.com will be back at the Crown tomorrow for the third and final Day 1 to capture all the action as a whole new crop of card players attempt to join them.
With guys like Team PokerStars Pro's Joe Hachem and Team Full Tilt pros Phil Ivey and Gus Hansen already on the list, it's expected to be a star-studded affair, so make sure you hit us up right here starting at 12:30 p.m. Melbourne time to ensure you don't miss a thing.