A little over three hours ago the final table of the 2009 Aussie Millions Poker Championship $100k No-Limit Hold'em Challenge began with six players left in the hunt for the $1.2 million AUD first-place prize.
Pokerlistings.com was there to follow all the action and bring it to you live, but unfortunately, the incompetent IT staff at Crown Casino here in Melbourne could not get us connected to the Internet - even locking us out of our computers in their attempts to get us up and running.
Not much can keep the PL.com crew down, but not having access to the Internet is our kryptonite.
However, we followed the action for the first two and a half levels of play before retreating to a destination where a connection could be procured and now we will endeavor to get you, our valued readers, up to speed.
Play started slowly with the beginning of Level 9 and blinds at $5,000/$10,000.
David Steicke came in with the chip lead on $631,000 and J.C. Tran was next on $528,000. John Juanda started with $480k and despite the fact he showed up 10 minutes late, delaying play, Dan Shak had $356,000 to play with.
2004 Aussie Millions champ Tony Bloom started on $181,000, and the shortest stack was local Aussie Bill Jordanou with $139,000.
The six-handed final table began like a heavyweight title fight, with the boxers feeling each other out, until one massive hand played out halfway through the level, changing the shape of the entire tournament.
The biggest hand of the early going started with a $26k opening raise from Juanda and a call from Bloom. Tran flatted in the big blind and the flop came T♣ 6♣ 4♦. After Tran checked, Juanda c-bet $52k, but Bloom and Tran both made the call.
The turn brought the J♦ and another Tran check. This time Juanda fired $113k at the pot and as the 30-second countdown came on Bloom, he pushed all-in for just $35k more. Tran mucked and while he took the full 30 seconds to do it, Juanda surprisingly passed as well - getting as much as 15-1 on his money.
Suddenly Bloom was back up over $400k in chips and Juanda had fallen under $200,000.
Tony Bloom wasted little time adding to his stack, pushing J.C. Tran of a Q♦ T♣ 4♦ flop with a check-raise, and suddenly found himself in the chip lead with over $650k at that point.
He continued to pick up the blinds with a series of opening raises and it seemed no one was willing to challenge him. A few hands later he pushed David Steicke off a 9♣ 7♠ 2♦ flop with another check-raise and looked destined to run away with the tournament on almost $700,000.
Bill Jordanou found himself even shorter as the day progressed and finally was forced to make a stand. He raised it to $25k pre-flop. J.C Tran asked for a count and put him all-in for about $60k total. Jordanou obliged with A♥ T♠ and would need help against Tran's 8♠ 8♦.
Like manna from heaven, Jordanou was all over the miracle K♦ Q♠ J♥ flop that made him the joint and he rode safely to a double on a 2♠ turn and 9♣ river.
Level 10 began shortly after and Jordanou found himself all-in again. This time he raised, Dan Shak pushed him in and he tanked for a good while, pulling out the Time Breaker button before making the call with A♦ Q♠. He had Shak's A♠ J♦ dominated and a board of bricks brought him up over $200k and back in the hunt.
Halfway through Level 10 John Juanda suddenly found himself down to $170k and looking to make a move. He made it $32k to see a flop and J.C. Tran protected his big blind with a call. The flop came Q♠ Q♦ T♥ and after Tran checked, Juanda took the lead, betting $33k.
Tran looked over the Team Full Tilt pro's stack and min-raised it up to $70k. Juanda went into the tank. He emerged, tossing the Time Breaker in, and the rest of his chips would soon follow. Tran insta-called with Q♥ 4♥ and JJ's J♥ J♠ was as good as dead.
The 4♠ turn and T♦ river sent Juanda to the rail sixth and Tran was suddenly in contention for the lead again on $730k.
Just a few hands into five-handed play Bill Jordanou found himself at the wrong end of a massive cooler. David Steicke raised, Jordanou potted and Steicke pushed all-in over the top.
Jordanou looked down at Q♠ Q♦ and decided to put his tournament life on the line once again. Steicke had K♠ K♦ and when the board brought no more Jordanou miracles, he became the fifth-place finisher here in Melbourne, just missing the money.
The Million-Dollar Man
Following Jordanou's elimination, Steicke found himself back on top again as the only player over $1 million in chips. Tony Bloom and J.C. Tran were sitting with a little over $500k each and Dan Shak was the short stack with $150k.
That's how Level 11 began, but right after the blinds went up to $8,000/$16,000, we lost our fourth-place finisher.
A short-stacked Dan Shak made a raise for the majority of his stack, and then called all-in when David Steicke pushed. Shak's 3♣ 3♦ needed some serious help against Steicke's 7♥ 7♣, but got absolutely none from the 7♠ 7♦ 9♦ flop that made Steicke quads for the second time in this event.
The turn and river were meaningless and as Shak was sent to the cage to collect the $200k fourth-place prize, Steicke was adding to his chip lead again.
That's where things stand right now and PL.com will now attempt to head back over to the Crown Poker Room and catch the rest of the action three-handed ...
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