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The jewel in the Australian poker crown, the Aussie Millions, continues to roll down under. The end of the week saw the build up to the exciting $100k Challenge and the start of the main event, there were plenty of other lucrative preliminary events to be played and won. All of these were hotly contested, with thousands of dollars and a 2010 Aussie Millions Poker Championship ring up for grabs. Last week also saw the emergence on the live scene of a young Australian pro who is looking good for a bumper 2010.

Event #5 was a $1,650 AUD No Limit Hold ‘em tournament with bounties, one of a few tournaments at the 2010 Aussie Million Poker Championship to feature a very strange structure. Bounty or knockout tournaments are not uncommon, usually featuring a few famous players with money in their heads or a portion of the buy-in sliced off and placed as a bounty on every single player. In Event #5, things were done a little differently. There was one randomly assigned bounty per table with $1000 AUD available to anyone who could eliminate him or her. In addition, although the tournament begun as a standard MTT freezeout, once there are 32 players remaining it switched to a shootout format.

The player who managed to most successfully negotiate all the madness was Australian Jonathan Karamalikis. The player known as xMONSTERxDONGx online is one of the country’s finest young talents, who appears to be making something of a name for himself at this year’s Aussie Millions. To clinch the title, he played heads up against Steve Friedlander. In the final hand of a brief one-on-one contest, the flop fell 5-J-7 and Karamalikis check raised his opponent to 175,000. Steve Friedlander wasted no time pushing all in, but was aghast to see his opponent call and flip over J-9 for top pair, dominating his own 9-7 middle pair. The final two cards missed both players and confirmed Jonathan “The Dong” Katamalikis as the $80,025 AUD Event #5 winner.

Event #6 marked the first appearance of the hallowed H.O.R.S.E. format, generally regarded as one of the toughest tests of a player’s all-round ability. Only 91 players felt well-rounded enough to take on the challenge and played down until 4:30 am in a single day to decide a winner. The players with the most stamina were Paul Ramondetta and John Joannou. In the final hand of the tournament the duo were both all-in on a round of stud, with Paul’s pair of Jacks mercilessly crushed by a nines-full boat from Joannou. The victor picked up $27,300 AUD for his efforts, while his vanquished opponent pocketed $20,020 AUD for second place.

Elsewhere in the Crown poker room, Event #7 was underway. This $1,150 AUD No Limit Hold ‘em Rebuy tournament attracted 108 players and a whole mass of rebuys and add-ons. With the figures had been tallied up, it was revealed that there would be a very healthy $464,000 AUD on offer for first place. Legendary Australian spin bowler Shane Warne demonstrated that he is no slouch on the felt by making the final table, but sadly fell away in 10th place. The eventual winner was another internet phenom, Mike “SirWatts” Watson. Mike has already proved his ability on the live circuit, picking up $1.6 million for his win in the WPT Bellagio Cup IV Championship in 2008. Back in the present, he defeated Gary Benson heads up for his first Aussie Millions title.