Posted in City activities, Melbourne

At the Aussie Millions

While Melbourne is quite literally on the other side of the Earth from Europe, this does not mean that there aren’t any internationally major events being held here. (And no, dear Ossies, the Footy Final is not one of those. Sorry.) The most popular one happening right now is the Australian Open, with the F1 Grand Prix following in March.

But, down in the basement of the Crown Casino Melbourne, there is even more money to be won.

If you follow the world of Poker, you are probably familiar with the Aussie Millions, part of the Asia Pacific Poker Tour. If not, here’s a short summary.

The Aussie Millions is a yearly poker event, held at the Crown Casino Melbourne every January. It’s a three-week-long happening with dozens of Poker tournaments. For the main event, which is open to amateurs and pros alike, some 732 people signed up this year. You don’t need any qualification to enter, just a basic understanding of No Limit Holdem (a variation of Poker), and AU$ 10,600. Easy, right?

To be honest, I didn’t know about this event, either. However, this year the event is streamed on Twitch. And, since I like watching poker, I tuned in and had been watching for 30 minutes before realizing that this is actually happening around the corner from the office. So, after work, I went to have a look for myself.

The main entrance to the Crown Casino is off of Spencer street, close to the Yarra River and the waterfront.
The main entrance to the Crown Casino is off of Spencer street, close to the Yarra River and the waterfront.
The Poker Room is in the basement, giving it a bit of a tight feel.
The Poker Room is in the basement, giving it that extra bit of “casino” feel.

When I got there, the first thing I noticed was the large setup for the feature table, right by the staircase, and the huge amount of tables scattered across the rest of the room.

The feature table is the one you can see on the Twitch stream. It even has a built-in card reader, so the viewers can see the cards each player has in their hands.
The feature table is the one you can see on the Twitch stream. It even has a built-in card reader, so the viewers can see the cards each player has in their hands.
The low room was full of poker tables, with a lot of very serious people sitting around them.
The low room was full of poker tables, with a lot of very serious people sitting around them.
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Big screens set up around the room were displaying the time left in the level and the number of players still in the game.
Action happening on one of the tables.
Action happening at one of the tables.

What struck me most was the relative silence in the room. No boisterous claims, no witty remarks. All players mostly sat in silence, playing hand after hand, for days on end.

The other thing was the relative lack of spectators. For such a big event, with so many people, you would expect more people to hang around. But in the big room there were no more than 20 or 30 people watching.

I ended up staying more than two hours in that basement, without really noticing the time going by. I think I understand now what makes this “game” so interesting and the atmosphere so electric.

I guess it’s time I actually learned how to play…

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