Erik Seidel Pockets $2.5 Million At Aussie Millions

After the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure added a $100,000 buy-in to their tournament schedule, the good folks at the Aussie Millions decided that their own $100,000 Challenge just wasn’t big enough anymore. As a result, at the last minute the tournament’s organizers added a 21st event – a $250,000 buy-in super high roller of their own that would once again make them the sole holders of the title of the highest live tournament buy-in.

Since the news was announced, people have been speculating about the tournament format. A heads-up event seemed likely; after all, how many players would actually pony up a quarter million? Finally, it was decided that the event would be a single table NL Hold’em tournament. But when entries were opened, it soon became clear that one table wouldn’t be enough. Altogether 17 pros plus the now infamous trio of Chinese businessmen (Paul Phua, Wang Qiang and Richard Yong) paid their dues, giving the first Aussie Millions Super High Roller event a prize pool of an even $5 million. Only the top three players would see a piece of it, though.

The two starting tables were the stuff of legends; Tom Dwan, Phil Ivey, Chris Ferguson, John Juanda and Tony Bloom were at one with Annette Obrestad, David Benyamine, Erik Seidel, Daniel Cates and 2011 $100,000 Challenge winner Sam Trickett at another. Roland de Wolfe and James Bord bought late seats, taking each table up to 9, then there was a brief delay as organizers discussed the option of adding a third table. They decided against it but allowed Andrew Feldman and Eugene Katchalov to join the existing two tables.

It took little more than eight hours to determine who would take the top prize of AUD $2.5 million. James Obst was the first man down in a dramatic all-in that put his pocket kings up against Seidel’s pocket aces. Latecomer Bord was next, getting very little play for his big buy-in. Each table was playing pretty tight at nine hands before Dwan hit the rail at the beginning of Level 4. De Wolfe followed him out only five minutes later. Kostritsyn was the only player to eat it in Level 5 followed by Juanda in Level 6. Katchalov and Obrestad were both Level 7 casualties.

Erik Seidel had been jockeying with the Chinese businessmen for the front position when Trickett came out of nowhere in Level 8. Trickett shoved all in with pocket sixes against Phua’s A-K suited and Bloom’s pocket rockets. A ten on the turn and another on the river sealed the deal, tripling Trickett’s stack in one hand and simultaneously crippling both Phua and Bloom. It’s no surprise that Phua went out next, and when Cates was eliminated only a few minutes later the tournament was down to its final table.

There was no blood in Level 10 as all the finalists clung to their seats, but Level 11 saw the end of Evdakov, Ivey and Feldman. It’s worth noting that Ivey tried to double up several times over the course of the tournament only to see his table fold every time. When Level 12 started, the table was only three players away from the money. Ferguson went in 6th, then Yong in 5th, and finally the last of the businessmen – Qiang – finished in 4th.

The final three were Erik Seidel, David Benyamine and Sam Trickett. Seidel and Benyamine wanted to cut a deal, but Trickett was betting on himself. Ultimately all they could agree on was an additional $100K consolation prize for third, making the payouts AUD $2.5 million, AUD $1.4 million and AUD $1.1 million. Twenty minutes later, Benyamine claimed that consolation prize when Trickett finished him off in third. Less than an hour into the heads-up action, Trickett hit the rail on a relatively uneventful hand, making Seidel the first winner of the biggest buy-in tournament in history.

It’s worth noting that the AUD $2.5 million prize was enough to catapult Seidel from ninth to third place for lifetime earnings behind his unlucky Super High Roller opponent Phil Ivey and Canadian pro Daniel Negreanu. It’s also been an awesome Aussie Millions for Sam Trickett who’s thus far nearly tripled his own lifetime earnings at the tournament.

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