A recent announcement by PokerStars that the famous online poker brand would be reformatting its live tournaments, effectively dissolving the European Poker Tour, was bound to have consequences. The first casualty has been identified as the Aussie Millions, which just declared independence from the PokerStars-sponsored Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT).
The Crown Australian Poker Championship – or Aussie Millions, as it’s best known – is the most recognized live poker tournament in the southern hemisphere, hosted each year by Victoria, Australia’s Crown Melbourne since its first showing in July of 1998.
The millionaire poker event has been a staple of the APPT since the tour’s 8th season in 2014, after which the tournament has experienced a palpable boost in entries, particularly in its high roller events.
Tournament Organizers Worried?
It will be most interesting to see if the Aussie Millions harvests as many players in 2017, without the aid of sponsorship from PokerStars and the APPT. But perhaps more interesting will be the fate of the APPT itself. Losing one of its flagship tournaments – only the stops in Macau tend to draw more foot traffic to the tables – will surely have an effect on the tour’s overall popularity.
According to Natasha Stipanov, Head of Corporate Affairs for Crown Resorts Limited, “an estimated 2,000 players from all across the world descend on Melbourne for the three week poker festival” every year, generating an “estimated AUD$30 million prize pool” across all events.
Tournament organizers are clearly looking to the 2017 Aussie Millions to draw its largest field in history, currently holding steady at 780 Main Event entrants in 2008. This year’s event saw 732 payers, and for the first time ever, the next Aussie Millions, scheduled for January 11-30, 2017, will host a trio of starting flights.
2017 Aussie Millions, Minus PokerStars APPT
The schedule for the 2017 Aussie Millions was announced over the summer, long before PokerStars decided to rearrange its live tournaments, obliterating regional tours and suffusing the poker world with large PokerStars Championships and smaller PokerStars Festival events. With or without the sponsorship of PokerStars or coordination with the APPT, it’s doubtful that schedule will change before the Australian poker series kicks off in January.
Day 1 Flights of the Main Event will take place on January 22, 23 and 24, with the same regularly scheduled AUD $10,600 buy-in. The Aussie Millions Main Event final table is set to play out on Sunday, January 29, at 12:30 p.m. local time.
A number of high roller tournaments are on the menu, as well. The first – dubbed the $25k Challenge – will feature $25,000 ($24,000 + $1,000) buy-ins, and will get started on Friday, Jan 20. The second – similarly titled the $100k Challenge – takes place Sunday, Jan 22.
Then on Sunday, Jan 29, all those high rolling poker pros out there that didn’t make the final table of the Aussie Millions Main Event will have a chance to compete in the Super High Roller, $250k Challenge. Last year’s rendition saw the lowest number of entries in history when just 15 players entered, with only 1 opting to rebuy. Ireland’s Steve O’Dwyer went on to claim the top prize of AUD $951,960.