Over 80% of Australians gamble in one form or another, whether it’s at the pokies or at proper poker tables.
Poker is picking up steam in Australia. There are multiple places to play in every state. And with government setbacks on allowing regulated online poker, there is a growing need for competition beyond the regular live games.
That’s where poker tournaments come in. At a poker tournament, you can test your skills in a competitive environment designed to separate the true pros from the posers. You face the best players in the country, if not the world.
If this kind of high-stakes gambling appeals to you, the tournament circuit may be right for you. And while one-off tournaments are bound to come and go, annual tournaments promise more regular competition.
We’ve selected five of the biggest annual tournamets anywhere in Australia for you to target as your next gambling destinations.
Read on to find out about the action.
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A Recent History of Poker in Australia
By many standards, poker is still a new game in Australia. This may be why there’s been such resistance to establishing official government regulations around online play in the country. Those in power don’t seem to understand the appeal of the game or just how widespread it is.
Many who know and love the game already know the history of poker in Australia, but for those who don’t, here’s a brief primer with some key dates.
World War II
Yes, we know this isn’t technically a date. Still, it was during the Second World War that the modern five-card game really took root in Australian. It became quite popular with American soldiers, and those who were stationed in Australia taught the locals.
The rest is literally poker history.
This is when the first casino opened in Australia. The casino sprang up in Hobart, Tasmania, and it wasn’t long before the game spread to other parts of the country.
1980s and 1990s
Casinos proliferated in Australia during these decades. You could call them the boom years.
This is when poker and other casual gaming started to gain a foothold in Australia as a real option for recreation. With the rise of casinos comes the rise of casinos as destinations for leisure travel, which is a boon to tourism.
Texas Hold’em gets introduced to Adelaide. This is the modern game of poker that is practiced in most tournaments. Shortly after this, came the appearance of poker leagues at casinos and pubs.
This is in the middle of when the World Series of Poker blew up, thanks to its Caesars sponsorship. Even though the WSOP takes place in Vegas, Australian card sharks took notice.
The reason we selected this year in particular to highlight the WSOP is that it is the year when Australian Joe Hachem won the Main Event. His $7.5 million prize broke the world record for the biggest tournament prize. Joe Hachem’s presence on the Australian poker scene has caused public interest in the game to skyrocket.
Big Names in Australian Poker
Other than Joe Hachem, who are the big players on the Australian poker scene, past and present? Who are the heroes you’ll be gunning for in your own quest for tournament glory?
With more than $12 million in winnings, Joe Hachem is still firmly in first place on the Australia All Time Money List, but here are some of his challengers.
Jeff is third on the Australian All-Time Money List.
He earned that place by being one of the best seven-card-stud players in the world. He swept these events–Stud High, Stud High-Low, and Razz–at the World Series of Poker in 2009. For his efforts, he earned the Player of the Year award that year.
Kahle Burns is a bit of rising star, and he has assembled an impressive poker resume in his relatively few years on the scene.
Kahle is seventh on the Australian All-Time Money List, and many of his winnings have come from Macau. He has yet to break through in America. But his winnings in other parts of the world, including a $1.3 million prize in one tournament, make him one to watch and emulate.
Aristomenis Manny Stavropoulos
Yes, Manny is 23rd on the Australian All-Time Money List. Yes, he won the 2015 Aussie Millions Main Event, which we’ll talk more about below.
But we’ll be honest. The reason we chose to highlight Aristomenis Manny Stavropoulos is that he has the coolest name of any player in the top 25 of the All-Time Money list.
Making the Transition From Online to Live Events
All of the players above have experience battling it out at live games. No matter how many hats or kinds of glasses they wear, they can see their competitors. And they must react to their play in real time with their own strategy and tactics.
But what do you do if you’re an online player who has no idea how to make the transition to live tournament play? Don’t fear! We’ve got a few handy tips for you.
Get Used to Slower Play
Rarely are there timers at live events. The games take as long as they take. This is one of the big differences between online and live play.
Practice with the slower pace of play. Find ways to make use of your down time.
Get Ready for Multi-Way Contested Pots
Many online games are nearly over by the time of the flop. Not so in live play.
Since there are more players at live tables than in typical online play, there are greater chances that players have real hands with which to contest each other.
Just Play the Game You Play
If you’ve been playing poker online for a reasonable amount of time, you know your style. You may have to adapt it a bit to live play, but stick to your guns. Find ways to bring your online tactics to the table in ways that work for you.
Annual Poker Tournaments in Australia
You know how poker made it to and got popular in Australia. You know some of the biggest names on the country’s scene. And you’ve had a primer on how to prepare for the switch from online to live table play.
Now it’s time to set your sights on a destination.
Here are the five biggest annual Australian poker tournaments that we’ve chosen to highlight.
1. The Aussie Millions, aka Australian Poker Championship
You could call it the Australian Poker Championship, but only if you don’t mind standing out.
Aussie Millions is the big kahuna of Australian annual poker tournaments. It’s a series of poker tournaments held at the Crown Casino in Melbourne.
The first one took place in 1998. It featured a $1,000 buy-in for a total prize of $74,000. Let’s just say those numbers have increased significantly in the 20 years since.
The 2017 prize for winning the Main Event was $1.6 million.
2. Crown Poker Championship
This is a newer tournament that the Crown Casino holds, thanks to the success of Aussie Millions. The 2018 event took place over nearly two weeks at the end of April.
The CPC costs $300 to enter, and there is a guarantee of at least a $100,000 prize pool. That’s a smaller chunk of change than Aussie Millions, though what isn’t? Plus, it’s the largest prize pool guarantee at CPC outside of Aussie Millions, so it’s still significant.
3. Melbourne Poker Championship
We know, we know. It’s another annual tournament Crown Casino hosts.
This is true, but there’s a reason the Melbourne casino has made our list three times. The folks at Crown know their poker, and put on some of the biggest events in the country. Instead of blaming them (or us) for so many appearances, ask the country’s other casinos to step up their game.
This year’s MPC Main Event featured a buy-in of $1,650. The total prize pool was $784,500.
4. Sydney Championships
The Star Sydney hosts this tournament, which first appeared on the circuit in 2009. In the time since then, the prize for winning the Main Event has grown from $121,500 to $300,000.
Kahle Burns won the Sydney Championships Main Event in 2016. And here’s a
fun fact: Errolyn Strang became the only female winner of the event in 2011.
5. World Series of Poker (WSOP) International Circuit
The World Series of Poker is an unwieldy beast to try to cover as a single tournament. Suffice it to say, Australia has established itself as a hub on the circuit.
In 2017, the Star Sydney hosted more than a dozen WSOP events over the course of almost a month, from late November through to mid-December.
Play On, Player
Now that we’ve crammed your brain full of poker knowledge, make sure you retain it long enough to book your next poker trip. Poker tournaments in Australia and these five are just a great place to start.
If you want a temporary break from poker, why not take a look at our guide to sports betting in Australia?