The 2016 Aussie Millions $25,000 Challenge attracted 100 of the game's best to Crown Melbourne on Friday. In the first eight levels 22 of them took advantage of the single reentry option, which brought the total field up to 122 entries, up from 104 the year prior.
The huge turnout created a AUD$2.928 million prize pool that will be distributed to the top 14 finishers with the eventual winner taking home AUD$790,560. After 12 levels of play, just 26 players remained in contention for the top prize, with Steve O'Dwyer and his stack of 519,000 leading the way. O'Dwyer is looking for yet another high roller score after winning the PCA $50,000 Singe-Day High Roller for $945,495.
"It went good almost the whole way," O'Dwyer said after bagging. "One bad hour, but now I'm at my peak."
Others who bagged on Day 1 were Jason Les (406,000), who sits in second place; Australian big stacks Alexander Lynskey (346,000) and Michael Egan (326,000), online stars Ben Tollerene 263,500 and Daniel Cates (221,000); former champ Igor Kurganov (314,000), and Team PokerStars Pros Eugene Katchalov (399,000) and Yaxi Zhu (219,500).
Of course not everyone was so lucky. Among those to take a shot only to bust – in some cases twice – were Brian Rast, Antonio Esfandiari, John Juanda, 2014 Aussie Millions champ Ami Barer, Team PokerStars Pro Jason Mercier, and defending champ Alex Trevallion.
The surviving players will return at 2:30 p.m. local time on Saturday with the plan of playing down to a winner. Be sure to join us then as the PokerNews Live Reporting Team brings you all the action straight from the tournament floor.