My take on the 2014 Aussie Millions Schedule - Part 2

By: Jonno Pittock

When the 2014 Aussie Millions schedule was released, former Crown Poker Tournament Director Jonno Pittock sat down and shared his unique thoughts on the tournament. In Part 1 of his 2014 Aussie Millions analysis, Jonno discussed the bigger events and the timing of the schedule overall. Now he takes a deeper look at the side events on the schedule, and those which were removed from last year's schedule. 

The bigger bankrolled players are not the only ones who have been catered for nicely in the 2014 Aussie Millions schedule as the overwhelming majority of tournament players are going to love it. 

The Opening Event remains unchanged, spreading over three Day 1 Flights on the opening weekend, and will be sure to bring another massive field and probable million dollar prize pool.  Interestingly, there is an $1100 No Limit Holdem/ Pot Limit Omaha event on Sunday 26th January at 2:15pm, brought forward from last year’s schedule where it was played later in the week.  This is a fantastic event that will surely get an increase of player’s year-on-year.  It is an interesting time slot for the event, as it is only two hours after the restart of the Opening Event, which should bring back somewhere in the vicinity of 300+ players.  Possibly moving it back to the 4:15pm timeslot may have generated an even bigger field size, allowing more players to bust from the Opening Event and enter, and would also alleviate the possible congestion at the registration desk.  Without seeing the satellite schedule, it is hard to see if this is part of a broader strategy, and given that the following day is a public holiday it is likely that they are trying to keep tournament tables to a minimum into the late evening in preference of the higher yielding cash games.

Events 3, 4 & 5 are essentially the same as in previous years, albeit shuffled around to different days.  There is a Shootout on Monday 27th January, which is the Australia Day public holiday, No Limit Holdem 6 Max the following day, and Pot Limit Omaha on Wednesday 29th Jan, all at the $1100 price point. All of these are fantastic events that have become staples on the Aussie Millions schedule.  It’s interesting to see that the Shootout is scheduled on the public holiday, particularly given the amount of table time and labour they eat up and the potential extra cost involved.

One of the six events to have been removed, and possibly the most controversial, is the $1k Rebuy event.  It has been removed in 2014, and replaced with a two flight, $1100 Accumulator event, running from Thursday 30th Jan – Saturday 1st Feb.  The $1k rebuy event was always popular with the bigger bankrolled players and international guests, and will be sorely missed from the schedule.  The Aussie Millions was one of the last major Championships with a dedicated Rebuy event, and was one of the things that gave the Aussie Millions its point of difference.  It’s a shame to see it go, however the number of entries have steadily declined over the past few years, so I can understand why the decision was made, particularly given what it was replaced with.  The Accumulator format is one that’s very close to my heart, and I was rapt to see it used during the WSOP APAC earlier this year, and am even more so to see it added to the Aussie Millions schedule.  This event should easily draw a $750k+ prize pool, and will appeal to the masses far more than the Rebuy event ever did.

The middle weekend is where the action traditionally starts to heat up, with the Bounty tournament, Main Event satellites and Main Event Day 1 Flight 1 all cramming the schedule.  The 2014 schedule is no exception, and has all of these things; however the Bounty Event has been moved to the Sunday, and starts two hours before the Main Event.  There are a number of potential logistical issues that Tournament staff will need to contend with here.  The sheer volume of players in the Poker Room will be the biggest issue, and will need some careful management.  The Bounty tournament usually attracts between 350 – 500 players, and Flight 1 of the Main Event should get around 200 or so, let alone all the spectators that flock to the Room every year to see their hero’s play in the Main Event.  That is alot of people to house in a Poker Room with 75 tables, let alone register them all into each event.  Late registration for the Bounty Event will be open at the same time as the Main Event, so the line at the booth and all the spectators may make it fairly crowded.  Later that day the $25,000 Challenge is also scheduled, and on top of that, there are usually heaps of last chance satellites throughout the day to get into Flights 2 & 3 of the Main Event. 

Looking at the schedule, and based on previous years, the Poker Room would need about 85 – 90 tables to operate efficiently on Sunday 2nd Jan in order to run all the scheduled tournament and keep the cash games open.  The Bounty tournament is also listed as a one day event this year, so it will be interesting to see if it keeps the semi-shootout format.  In previous years, play has stopped at 32 players and been redrawn to 4 tables of 8 and run as a shootout the following day, with the top 2 from each table progressing to the final table.  It is the same format Matt Savage uses for the Bay 101 Shooting Star event, and has been hugely popular with the players every year.  The issue is that it takes such a long time so has always been run over 2 days.  In a one day format, it will likely run well past 4am, taking at least 16+ hours to complete taking into account the staggered breaking times of the 4 shootouts. 

It is the second week of the schedule where the majority of the changes have been made.  Along with the $1k Rebuy tournament, the 5 other tournaments that have been removed from the schedule for 2014 are as follows:

·         $1100 No Limit Holdem Teams Event

·         $2,500 Limit Omaha Hi Lo

·         $5,000 Chinese Poker

·         $1,100 Pot Limit Omaha Hi Lo

·         $600/500 1xRA Turbo No Limit Holdem Cubed

For the most part, I don’t have a problem with these events being removed, although it will be sure to ruffle some player’s feathers.  Chinese Poker has been on the schedule for the past 2 years to coincide with Chinese New Year, but never really worked so now that CNY no longer falls during the business end of the schedule it makes sense to get rid of it.  The Omaha Hi Lo events don’t generally draw a big field every year so I can see why they were taken off, but they also gave the Aussie Millions the feel of a well-rounded Championship.  Personally, I would have liked to see at least one of them stay on the schedule just for diversity.  There is a vacant spot on the schedule on the evening of Thursday 6th Feb that would have accommodated a $2,500 Limit Omaha Hi Lo event nicely. 

I also would have left the Teams event in.  At $1100 to enter, it still justifies being on the schedule, but allows smaller players to team up with a mate and play an Aussie Millions event for only $550.  It also allows the Poker Room to host twice as many players on the same amount of tables so as an acquisition tool it is perfect, particularly on those days where the room is full to the brim with other events – like Sunday 2nd Feb.  The Cubed event was an easy one to drop off the schedule, as it was more of a novelty anyway.  It is more of an online concept trialled in a live setting, but the players will turn up for a straight No Limit Holdem event regardless.  Anthony Hachem will be happy as he will be the only one to have an Aussie Millions ring in that discipline!

There is still plenty of variety on the schedule, even with these specialty games removed.  There is an $1100 Terminator No Limit Holdem, $2500 8 Game Mixed Event and $2,500 H.O.R.S.E., as well as a $2,500 Pot Limit Omaha.  The $2,500 6 Max Event has become a “Shot Clock” event, meaning players have 20 seconds to act on their hand, and is a one day event this year.  The “Australian Poker Hall of Fame Classic” has been moved to the final Saturday of the schedule, which I’m sure will be welcomed by the HoF given it will bring more players into that event.  The only downside to that is the scheduling of the $5k Six Max event later that afternoon, which is sure to make players choose not to play in the HoF event.  The $5k Six Max could possibly have been put on the next day as the only events running on Sunday 9th are the Main Event Final Table and the $250,000k Challenge.  There is a real dead spot in the schedule there.

Overall, I think Crown have done a great job with the 2014 Aussie Millions schedule.  It is always difficult to cater to everyone in the Poker world, but I think this schedule comes pretty close.  The high stakes players have their tournaments all clumped together without conflicting, meaning they can fly in for a few days and play big.  The average No Limit Holdem player has a plethora of events that will draw big fields and award life changing money for first prize, and there is just enough variety to ensure the event still has validity as a “Poker Championship” as opposed to a “Holdem Championship”.  The TV crew will be happy as everything fits tightly for them, and hopefully given the timing, the Hotel rooms may not be as expensive as previous years as it may not be as full from the tennis.  Time will tell whether players will be forced to choose between the Aussie Millions and the WSOP APAC, but on its merits I think the 2014 Aussie Millions schedule stands up, albeit without the Bracelets.   

Follow Jonno on Twitter @JonnoPittock