Even though the World Series of Poker has set up home in Oz, along with PokerStars' ANZPT and APPT tours, there's really only one truly Australian series that gets the homegrown poker crowd excited: the Aussie Millions.
Now a major event on the international poker circuit, and a 'must play' championship for any serious poker pro, the Australian Poker Championship – or Aussie Millions – takes place every January at Melbourne's Crown Casino, with a Main Event that carries a buy-in of AUD$10,600. While the world's best tennis players are competing the Australian Open a few miles away, the world's best poker pros are serving up 'aces' of a different kind in the air-conditioned comfort of the Crown.
The 2013 Championship series saw 26 official events on the schedule, and a total combined prize pool of AUD $19,403,100. The Main Event, meanwhile, saw 629 players compete for a first prize of $1.6 million - incredible when you consider the first Aussie Millions in 2001 attracted just 40 runners.
Malaysian amateur player Mervin Chan was victorious at the Crown, breaking the hold that Aussie players had had on the Main Event title in recent years.
If you think the Aussie Millions only attracts players from Oz, think again. Many of the world's best players make the long trip across the world to sit down, and it's no wonder some of the game's legends have taken down the title over the years.
Following some Pommie success from the likes of Peter Costa and Tony Bloom in the Aussie Millions' early days, Gus Hansen brought the event to a global audience when he defeated 747 runners in 2007 to win the AUD$1.5 million first prize.
It's with the Championship's High Roller events that more headlines have been made in recent years, however, with the AUD$100,000 and AUD$250,000 buy-in events seeing the likes of Erik Seidel and Sam Trickett do battle at the Crown felt.
Key Aussie Winners
Recent years have seen plenty of homegrown champs, with Stewart Scott in 2009 taking down the Main Event. The title was kept on home soil in 2010 when student, Tyron Krost, bagged the biggest prize in Australia, and the following year a 67-year-old granddad from Melbourne, David Gorr, fought off a final table including world-famous pros to take down the AUD$2,000,000 first prize.
Oliver Speidel kept the "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie" chants coming in 2012 when he collected a whopping $1.6 million in prize money after winning the Main Event, overcoming a field of 659 entrants.
How You Can Qualify
The Aussie Millions these days is not just the $10,000 Main Event – in 2013 there was a schedule including some 27 tournaments, from cheap AUD$1,000 No Limit Hold'em and Pot Limit Omaha tournaments, to events in Chinese Poker, HORSE and Turbo games.
If you're in the Melbourne area, you can qualify for the Aussie Millions Main Event via a series of live satellites held at the casino during the autumn. Head to the Crown Poker Room and play in a Melbourne Cup Sweep Qualifier for your chance to win three Aussie Millions Main Event Seats.
However, online sites do run wallet-friendly qualifiers starting at just a few dollars. 888poker, PokerStars and TitanPoker all run good-value Sit 'n' Gos and MTT routes, with guaranteed packages for the final winners that include Main Event buy-ins and travel costs. With so many qualifying routes open to online poker players in Oz, there's really no excuse not to bag your seat at the Aussie Millions today.