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After a brief lull for the Christmas period, the professional poker circuit is now back in full swing. Following on from the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure is the Aussie Millions, Down Under’s most prestigious tournament series. The event is frequented, not only by the Southern Hemisphere’s best and brightest, but by top class players from around the world. Preliminary events are already well underway, with three Championship Rings awarded so far.

The series got off to a record breaking start with Event #1, a $1000 AUD No Limit Hold ’em tournament. In total, 1,143 players registered, making this the largest tournament ever held in Australia. To help reach such a high volume of entrants, the Aussie Millions staff gave eliminated players a second chance to buy in. Anyone sent to the rail on Day 1a or Day 1b could rebuy back into the tournament on Day 1c. In total there were 914 players registered to start the event, with an extra 229 coming back for seconds. All these players helped boost the prize pool to over $1 million AUD.

The last big name in the tournament busted on the final table bubble. Tony Hachem, brother of former WSOP champion Joe, finished in 11th place. Joining him on the sidelines were, Sam Vakili in 10th and Aaron Wilt in 9th. Anthony Kingston then ran into a rampant Trung Tran, who dominated his pocket tens with A-A. Brad Rawiller and Glenn Croft would both fall to Tran over the next few hours, before Tran himself exited in 4th place. It took some time before Brent Thomas found himself out in third, leaving Matthew Ephraums and Brendan Edmonds to contest the first Championship Ring of the series. In the final hand of the tournament, Edmonds was all in with J-10, but could not find the cards required to beat Ephraums’ A-10. The $200,025 AUD first prize was awarded to Matthew Ephraums as the first Aussie Millions champion of 2010.

1. Matthew Ephraums – $200,025 AUD
2. Brendan Edmonds – $142,875 AUD
3. Brent Thomas – $97,155 AUD
4. Trung Tran – $74,295 AUD
5. Glenn Croft – $57,150 AUD
6. Brad Rawiller – $45,720 AUD
7. Anthony Kingston – $34,290 AUD
8. Jim Mastorakos – $22,860 AUD
9. Aaron Wilt – $13,716 AUD

Across the hall from the mammoth first tournament, Event #2 and its elite 90-player field were competing for the second Championship Ring. The $550 PokerPro No Limit Hold ’em tournament was a tightly run affair, eventually coming down to a one-on-one confrontation between Andrew Hinrichsen and Paul Schenbri. Ace-Jack looks like a pretty strong hand heads up, and Paul Schenbri obviously thought so when he called his opponent’s all-in raise. Sadly for him, he ran straight into the Aces. The board was no help and Andrew Hinrichsen took down the second title of the series and became $12,825 AUD richer.

1. Andrew Hinrichsen – $12,825 AUD
2. Paul Schenbri – $8,550 AUD
3. Shannon Vandenberg – $6,300 AUD
4. Chris Brammer – $4,500 AUD
5. Glen Goldberg – $3,600 AUD
6. Michael Dix – $2,925 AUD
7. Michael Guzzardi – $2,250 AUD
8. Gary Benson – $1,800 AUD
9. Suzy Khoueis – $1,350 AUD
10. Kalan Shuttlewood – $900 AUD

The first non-NLHE event has also reached a conclusion. This $1,100 Limit Hold ’em tournament had a cap of only 90 players, but every single seat sold out before the tournament started. The final table of Event #3 finished in just 4 hours, sure to be one of the fastest times recorded in Aussie Millions 2010. Much of the action centered around Simon Morris, who held a solid chip lead going into the final nine. By the mid-point of the contest, he had lost a large chunk of his stack, but bravely battled back to retake the lead. He eventually defeated Steve Krmpotic heads up and claimed the title for his own. As payment for his victory, Simon picked up $25,650 and a coveted Aussie Millions Championship Ring.

The only contest currently underway is Event #4, a $1,100 Pot Limit Omaha tournament. The field has played down to the final table and action was suspended for the night with the tantalizing prospect of this year’s first big-name winner. At just 21 years of age, she already has over $2.1 million in live tournament winnings and is the former WSOP Europe Main Event champion. She heads into the final nine third in chips and with a good shot at taking down her first Aussie Millions title.

The $10,500 Aussie Millions Main Event begins on Monday January 25th. Also on the schedule are a the $5k Australian Heads Up Championship, a $10,000 H.O.R.S.E. event, and the incredible $100,000 Challenge.