APPT9 Aussie Millions Day 1c: Where it was, how far it's come & what it means

"I'm all about the enormity and history of the Aussie Millions," Crown Poker Tournament Director Joel Williams tells us with a glint in his eye.

Williams has been in the role as head honcho of the room for just under 18 months.

This is only his second Aussie Millions.

But it's been a long time coming.

"I've been involved in the Crown Poker Room at so many different levels since its inception. I've seen it grow so much. And while I may not have had any influence 13 years ago when Peter Costa won, I remember it, I was there. I dealt the winning hand to Jamil Dia a year later."

"So I'm absolutely constantly reminded of where the Aussie Millions was, how far it's come and what it means"

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Joel Williams on the tournament floor of Crown Poker

Williams has quite a legacy to live up to with past tournament directors like Jonno Pittock, Christian Vaughan and current APPT President Danny McDonagh leaving him with tough shoes to fill.

The magnitude of the role isn't lost on him.

"With a role like this you are taking over something that's been going before you and will keep going long after you are gone. You just want to give it off in a better state than when you found. At the end of the day, that's how I will be judged when I hand it off to someone in 2 years or 10 years."

"Whether people judge the state of the event purely on numbers or variety of events, or player feedback or competency of staff, however you want to judge, it's just leaving it in a better state and being proud of how you handball it off."

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Joel Williams consulting with one of his team members

At the very moment that we spoke to Williams the third Day 1 flight of the Aussie Millions Main Event had 286 entrants. Late registration is still open, but it's looking like the number will be around 20 players short of topping the 2014 number.

"Overall we are pretty happy being up over 640 players. The last week of satellites have been phenomenal. We gave away 21 seats last night, 19 the night before."

"Look, it's probably unrealistic to expect 20% growth year on year anyway. Of course, you would like it, but it's just not realistic. But given the satellite numbers and the involvement from the online side of things, we are happy."

It's the online side of things that have been hugely successful for Williams and the relationship with the APPT is something he hopes will be a long and fruitful one.

"That relationship has given the event even more credibility. It's probably given some people a more familiar brand to come halfway across the world to. It's no secret everyone is trying to tap into the Asian poker market and who better to get help from than the Asia Pacific Poker Tour."

Right now Williams is being kept extremely busy with the current Aussie Millions Main Event only just kicking off, but he's already thinking about the future. And it's a future that was recently thrown a curve ball with Director of Poker and arguably the international face and correspondent of the Aussie Millions, Jim Preston, announcing that this will be his last Aussie Millions.

"Jim Preston leaving is a huge hole. The guy has relationships with players all over the world. His knowledge of poker is phenomenal and his customer service levels are astronomical. It's up to us to step up and fill his shoes."

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Jim Preston (right) with 2005 WSOP champ Joe Hachem

Regardless of the future of the Crown Poker Room without Preston, the Aussie Millions is still one of the biggest events in the world and Williams has high hopes and big plans to keep it that way.

"I think the number can definitely go back over 700 again one day."

"What we need to do is continue to capitalise on our regular cash game players and continue to capture the top end of the town with the High Roller events."

"We also have to nurture that relationship with the APPT and keep that growing. They brought 200 plus players this year, what's stopping them bringing 250 plus and 300 plus in the future. And we satellited in excess of 250 into the Main Event this year and we simply can't rest at that."

"Really, you have to consider that Australia is a little bit different to the rest of the world in that we have so many factors outside of our control like the dollar and the location and time of year."

"All we can really do is keep providing the best possible tournament in the southern hemisphere over and over and over again."

Joshua Bell
@PokerStars in Aussie Millions