APPT9 Aussie Millions Day 1a: Let the show begin
"We've come a long way," Crown Melbourne's Director of Poker Jim Preston said with a hint of nostalgia as he stepped up to the podium to help kick off the first day of the 2015 Aussie Millions Main Event.
"It started back in 2003 and we've come a long way. Peter Costa won that event. He beat 121 entrants and won $394,000. It was the only event we held."
"Now let's fast forward to 2015."
"There are 21 events. More than $30 million in prize money expected this year."
Preston has no doubt been a huge part of the growth of the Aussie Millions throughout those 12 years and considering he recently announced that he was stepping away from his Director of Poker role, this is likely the last time he will launch the event he helped build.
But's he leaving it in good hands.
"I have to thank our official sponsors the Asia Pacific Poker Tour," Preston said. "Without them the future of the Aussie Millions, well, we didn't know where we were going, but the APPT helps solidify the future of this event for the next few years."
Maybe Preston will be back though.
After all, APPT President Danny McDonagh was on the Crown Poker team that launched the Aussie Millions and now here he is ten years later helping spearhead the relationship between the APPT and the Aussie Millions.
The gritty work on the floor of the Crown Poker Room is also in good hands.
"The Crown Poker Room team are the best in the world and I'm proud to be part of that team that works hard all year round," Preston added. "In particular I want to thank Tournament Director Joel Williams for all his hard work."
And at the end of the day an event like the Aussie Millions relies on the support of the players
"I want to thank all the players from far and wide that come and support the Aussie Millions," Preston said. "But in particular all you local players, you cash game grinder, without you, the Crown Poker Room wouldn't be what it is. Thankyou for your support day in and day out."
Once Preston had given a meaningful thanks to everyone involved in the Aussie Millions, perhaps for the last time, he handed the mic to a very familiar face. One that, in his own way, has helped the Aussie Millions grow bigger than anyone could have ever imagined.
"I never get tired of the Aussie Millions," 2005 WSOP champion and Crown ambassador Joe Hachem quipped. "I'm just proud of this event and I'm a proud Melbournian."
"People think I'm biased when I talk about Crown Casino and the Aussie Millions, but I think we will get 750 plus entrants this year, right Jim?"
Preston paused, smiled.
"We are doing our best," he replied to chuckles around the room.
In the current poker climate, any field comparable or larger than last year's 668 will be a great achievement.
But regardless of the exact field size, this is one of the biggest events in the world and something which is now proudly part of the APPT.
"If you consider the Aussie Millions as a poker tournament, it one of the 'majors' around the world," Hachem told the room. "There's the PCA, the WSOP, the EPT Monte Carlo Main event and there is the Aussie Millions. These are the events people really want to go to, the one's everyone wants to win."
"And with the Aussie Millions, Crown Poker simply runs a great show."
And once Hachem gave the call to shuffle up and deal, that show had begun.
More than 150 players had taken their seats during the early stages of the first Day 1 flight and registration is open all throughout what will be a 12 hour day.
Stay tuned to the PokerStarsBlog throughout the day, and the next week, as the journey to crown the next Aussie Millions champion has begun.