Aussie Millions 2007

I’ve been playing poker many years and for the large part I could question whether or not I could have done something more constructive with my free time. However this really was the trip of a lifetime and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

Satellite success!

I won my seat via Party Poker. They were running $200 + $15 “finals” each Sunday throughout Dec 2006 and I was lucky enough to win a seat into the Sunday final via a $3 re-buy satellite. My spend on the satellite was $9.    (entry, immediate re-buy and add on)

I had a real sweat winning my seat for the $215 final but amazingly when I played the Sunday final it was a walk in the park winning the Aussie Millions package!

The package was worth $18,000 with AUS £10,000 Main Event entry, hotel, money for flights and spending money etc.

The final had just under 220 entries so made $44,000 prize pool, so 2 full packages and about $8,000 for 3rd place.

I had one bit of luck when I was short stacked and shoved Ad, Qd in the cut off. The BB snap called, and I was up against A,K and in big trouble.

The flop brought three diamonds and just to rub it in my opponents face the turn and river were diamonds as well, and I had the one bit of luck I needed.

From then on I ran pretty hot and accumulated loads of chips.

I can’t remember when the tourney started but it could have been as early as 5.00 pm Sunday afternoon. I remember my daughter who was about 14 at the time going to bed at 10.00pm and it was still going on. She has played poker in some of my “home games” since she was about 12 so she understands the game well. She said “wake me up if you win a seat”. I said “I’ll see you in the morning” not thinking for a minute I’d get one.

By 11.30 pm we were down to 13 players and I was about 4th in chips. Now with only 2 seats I’d still got a long way to go. Then came a huge hand for me.

I was BB and a slightly smaller stack than mine opened for 2.5 BB’s, the CL called that bet. I had Qs,10s so made the call. I liked the flop it was K,J,x, and checked, the opener bet just over half the pot and the CL and I both called. On the turn I hit my straight with an Ace hitting, and checked it. The original raiser shoved in for the remainder of his chips and the CL went all-in over the top!

I called and was up against 2 x two pair but luckily for me they had the same two pair, Aces and Jacks. (So less outs to worry about)

My hand held and I eliminated the guy in 13th and devastated the (old) CL’s stack. So now we were down to 12 and I was now CL. From then on it was like a walk in the park. I personally eliminated 9 of the remaining players and everyone was scared to play a pot with me.

When we were down to 6 players I had more chips than the other 5 added together and I was getting a walk on my BB virtually every time!

When we were down to 3 players I had just over 800,000 and the other two had just under 150,000 each. Now live I can stay pretty calm no matter what the situation, but this is online and no one can see or hear me and I can tell you I was pacing up and down the room at this stage.

Three-way action didn’t actually last long and one of the short stacks KO’d the other one. It was now 12.30am Monday morning! I typed in and asked if my opponent wanted to carry on playing or just go all in each hand and end it?

All in, was the answer and I won the first hand with 6,2 off-suit when I flopped a straight, and that pretty much summed up my night. I’ve never ever run that good before or since online. It was the easiest win I’ve ever had online and with a value of $18,000 also the biggest.

I chatted with my opponent and found out “he” was actually a she called Pauline who lived in Australia about an hour from Melbourne. When I got there, I became good friends with her and her boyfriend they were really nice people.

At about 1.00am in the morning it sort of hit me what I’d done and I was so excited that I wanted to ring all my mates and tell them. But thought better of it. I went into my daughters’ room and sat on her bed, she half woke up and I told her I’d won! She seemed happy though I’m not sure she really knew what I’d said as she fell back asleep within 5 seconds.

When Party Poker emailed me all the details and gave me the money I booked a flight on Emirates (via Dubai) and arranged for my daughter to stay at my brothers for the two weeks I was away. I was very grateful to him and his wife as it meant they’d have to do her school run each day from Alcester to Redditch and back.

Australia here I come!

The flight was very tough even though I had loads of legroom, movies drinks etc. It took over 24 hours with the Dubai change of planes etc and I was tired when I landed as I never slept at all on the plane.

Taxi to the Casino/Hotel and when I arrived it was only 10.00am local time. Check in wasn’t till 2.00 pm but I begged the lady on reception to allow me to have any room that was vacant. I needed a shower and a bed desperately! They checked my room and it was vacant but being cleaned as I arrived. I had a 15-minute wait in a chair in the lobby, and I was sound asleep when the porter came over to tell me my room was ready.

I went up to my room and it was amazing, great views up and down the Yarra river and it had a separate sitting room. There were 15 Qualifiers from Party Poker and I had an executive room on the top floor.

I had a shower which really woke me up and I thought bugger sleeping I’ll just pop into the casino and have a look at the card-room! In the end I stayed up all day and went to bed at about midnight local time. I think I’d been awake over 48 hours by the time I finally went to sleep.

The Crown casino is absolutely awesome with its own shopping mall, dozens of restaurants, 3 night clubs, dozens of bars, a multi-screen cinema, swimming pool, a sports betting hall (too posh to call it a bookies) with the biggest screen you’ve ever seen. It actually was so big it covered two floors of the building, so if you were upstairs playing roulette or blackjack it was like sitting in the circle of a theatre as you see the screen over the balcony. It had one big central screen with about 6 smaller ones round the edge. Obviously throughout the day it showed all the major sporting events (England were playing the Ashes tour and the Australian Open tennis was also on during my trip). Also it ran a live feed from the card-rooms feature table (not the TV table one which is upstairs) when any tournament was on.

I think the casino covered 4 different floors and was just huge. The card-room is immense and has it’s own cinema size screen with the same pictures as sports hall one. They can seat 5 or 6 hundred players all at once, and is the best run card-room I’ve ever played in. I don’t know if the people who run DTD have ever been there, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they have as they seem to copy a lot of the great ideas from there.

When I arrived in the card-room it was 11.00am and there were 9 full cash tables going. I stayed in the casino nearly all day, and after getting a breakfast sat at a cash table! I didn’t really want to play as such but just thought I’d get a feel for how they do things and see if there are any quirky local rules I should be aware of.

I sat at the smallest table they had 50c/$1 but I was told to take some money off the table as I put $100 down and the sit down was $60. That was the only amount you could play no more, no less which seemed a little strange, but that rule was only for the small game others had min/max buy ins.

Anyway I enjoyed it, won about $200 in just over two hours as the game was very soft. Had some good chat/banter with the locals. Sadly England were getting murdered in the cricket so I took some stick, though they were great guys and really friendly. Once they found out I was in the main event they all wished me well and were terrific.

I was sat next to one guy called Greg who actually made his living from this game. He came into the casino 5 days a week at 9.00 am and went home when he was winning $1,000. (about £400) Every day for my two weeks of the trip I went into the casino for breakfast and weekends apart he was there. I used to pop over to his table and chat to him each day. Some days I’d go past later in the day and he would be sat there with an absolute mountain of $1 chips.

That night when I got back to my hotel room I had a nice Party Poker flight bag which had been put in my room full of party branded shirts and stuff. Also an invitation to a get together for dinner the following evening.

This was great, free dinner in a nice restaurant and a free bar! Got to meet all the other Party Poker qualifiers and their guests. (I’d gone on my own) I met Pauline who won a seat when I did and her other half Paul.

$2,500 Freeroll Winner!

We were told that the following morning at 11.00am a free-roll tournament was organised just for us 15 to play. $2,500 for the winner and $1,500 and $1,000 for 2nd and 3rd. Not bad for free with 15 entries! Thanks to the free bar only eleven turned up in the morning as the others were still in bed. Of the eleven several of them still looked the worse for wear.

It started off with half the field playing like it was a free-roll and going all in with any old garbage. For my part though I was playing like I was trying to win $2,500 which happily I did. So the trip was getting better all the time!

The Main Event

I drew a main event seat for flight 2 which started on Monday 15th Jan 2007. I was pleased to get the extra day off as I was still tired as I was waking up at 4.00 am each day and just couldn’t go back to sleep.

On the Saturday I met up with someone who was a friend of a friend called Rony Cotecha. (pronounced Ronnie) He won a seat for the Aussie Millions via a competition run in the Broadway Casino in Birmingham. I’d played on the same table as Rony on only one occasion and he did impress me as a player but obviously I had no idea what he was like as a person. By the end of the trip we were the very best of friends and I can’t speak of him highly enough.

Now our mutual friend told me that Rony was a terrific player and if he had a fault it was that he didn’t seem to realise just how good he was! We met up in the card-room bar, which was where we spent a lot of our “down time”. Although there were many different nationalities there for the event the bar was mainly full of UK lads.

Mad Marty and Mrs Mad Marty (Katharine Hartree) seemed to be in the bar more than most along with Michael Grecho. It’s strange that even though you’ve never met these people in your life before, as a UK player abroad they all seemed to band together as a big happy family. Some nights there were 20 of us, all sat in one big group. We had a great laugh and it was lots of fun.

Rony and I went into the card-room to watch the official start of the Main Event day 1a. They put on a big show with a lot of razzmatazz. Dancing girls, singers and all sorts. They had a few speeches, including one from local hero Joe Hatchem. Then it was under way!

Terrific buzz around the room and we went off to watch the downstairs feature table which had Negreanu and Ivey on it. Now don’t get me wrong I’d love to win a seat for the WSOP main event, but it has 8,000 players and about 200 really well known top pros in it. The great thing about the Aussie Millions is that it had 747 runners and about 200 really well known top pros in it!

You just must have some of these guys on your table if you are in it any length of time. To give you an example the Aussie girl Pauline who won a seat with me had a day 1 seat draw that put her on the same table as Gus Hansen, Mike Mattesow and Tony G.

On the morning of my start to the tournamnet (day 1b) I woke ridiculously early again and couldn’t go back to sleep. Ended up watching Australian breakfast telly in bed until 7.00am when I finally gave up and got up and went to get breakfast. Start time was 2.00pm and it was a long wait!

I was very nervous before I left my hotel room but as I got to the lift I suddenly had a thought. “You’re off to play poker” and I realised that I love that so why should I be nervous? Suddenly I came over all calm and relaxed. I met Rony in the poker room bar as he was playing the same day as me.

My seat draw was table 8 seat 1, and when play started seat 4 had a stack of chips but no player. It was over half an hour before Tony “The Lizard” Bloom turned up and sat in seat 4. Tony won the event in 2004 and is well known as a sports gambler. Before Tony arrived at the table there were just 8 nits playing 25/50 and some big blinds had a walk that’s how tight we were playing!

I’d made my mind up within 5 minutes that all of us were online qualifiers and all of us except me seemed very nervous. 3 BB raises were taking all the early pots usually with no callers or just one then fold to a cbet. I thought if this keeps up the antes can’t start quick enough for me. Though that was some way away at 90 minute blind levels.

Starting stacks were 20,000 and I won the first two pots I got involved in and was up about 500 chips when I pick up Aces on the button. By this time Tony Bloom had managed to get the table to loosen up a little as he was calling every pre-flop raise and hoping to hit something. (I don’t think he won a single pot). Anyway versus my Aces, Tony opened under the gun and picked up two callers I three bet and only Tony called but he folded to my cbet. I was up to about 22, 500 so was starting to feel good.

On my next big blind the hand that made my day occurred. UTG opened for 350 (it was now 50/100) two callers behind and when I looked at my cards I had 10h,10d. Now the initial raiser had literally played one hand in two hours when he won a big pot with Aces, he had about 27,000. So there was no way I was going to three bet him here, so I just made the call.

Now I’m seat one so when the dealers turn the flop cards over I can see the door card before anyone else. It’s a TEN!!!!! I check immediately so it actually looks like I’m checking in the dark. There was 1,450 in the pot and the board was 10c, 8h, 3d which is just about perfect.

The initial raiser bets 1,200 the other two fold and after a suitable dwell I make the call. The turn is the 2c and I check again. This time he bets 3,000 and I decide that he has Aces again and figure he maybe can’t find a fold so I raise it up to 7,250. To my amazement he ships all in and I can’t call quick enough. He turns over KK, so I just have to dodge a K and my hand holds. Boom, I’m up-to 45,000 chips and feeling REAL GOOD.

There is a break soon after and meet Rony in the bar and we excitedly exchange news. He is up to 30,000 having been on an extremely active table with 2 Scandinavian pro’s who’s names I can’t remember and Kenna James.

Eric Lindgren

About 30 minutes before the break Tony Bloom had been eliminated and the seat remained empty until just after the break when Eric Lindgren turned up and took the seat.

When he got moved to our table after 4 hours or so, I was the chip leader on it, with about $45,000 (starting chips $20k). No one else had more than $25,000.

When Eric sat down he had a quick look round the table, at the stacks not the people and only looked up at anyone when he got to my stack. (I was dead opposite him in seat 1, he was in seat 4.) He smiled at me and said “ you doing?

I just smiled back at him as I knew what he was up to.

I did chat to him though as time went by, and he seemed a genuinely nice guy with a great sense of humour and some great one liners. He said a couple of funny things about Matusow and Phil Ivey too.

Button Ante’s

One thing I remember was when we had a hand where someone missed posting the ante and it took a few minutes to sort out, he mentioned an idea I’d not heard before. He said that he wished poker would change the rules so just one player posted the antes for the whole table to save time. He suggested the button should do it. 2007 he told me that and I’ve suggested it ever since as it seemed a great time saving idea.

We stayed out of each others way and in all the time we played together he raised my blind only once, and when I passed he showed me A,K and that was the only time he showed his hand voluntarily all day.

I raised his BB only once. It was passed round to me and I had 6,7 suited and couldn’t resist it. I was glad he passed though. I really didn’t fancy my chances of outplaying him after the flop!

He is an amazing player. When he sat down he had about $27,000, and he never won a pot with more than $4 or $5k in it all day. But somehow at the end of the day he had passed me and had $70,800 to my $67,000. To this day I still don’t know exactly how he did it.

It was a joy to watch though, and his reading ability of peoples hands was simply jaw dropping. On one occasion he passed on the river and said to the guy I think you have A,J. Trust me there was nothing obvious to suggest those cards. The guy was so shocked that he’d named his exact 2 cards that he turned them over for all to see.

He always looked to keep the pots small, and only raised sensible amounts, but just enough to put a little pressure on his opponents and keep them guessing. He won countless pots without showing down a hand.

Now I know he was more talkative to me than anyone else at the table as he wanted me onside as I was CL, but after we’d bagged our chips and were about to leave the table Eric took the trouble to come round the table to me and say “GL tomorrow buddy”.

He didn’t have to do that but it just shows you the sort of guy he is. IMO he seemed like a real class act.

Suffice to say that it was just a great experience and I enjoyed every minute of it. Day one didn’t have any other critical hands for me and I gradually edged my way up and ended on 67,000 chips. I was way above chip average and in good shape for day two. Rony finished the day on 54,000 so we were both rightly pleased with ourselves. That night Kenna James came into the bar and had a drink with Rony and I. After playing on the same table all day they were now best friends! That’s what Rony is like, everybody loves him. Kenna invited him down to London on our return to the UK as he was playing in a TV event there.

Edit to this post: It’s a shame that Eric has had so many issues, most of them self inflicted due to his degenerate gambling habits, and he has filed for bankruptcy more than once since I met him. He owes a lot of people a lot of money by all accounts and most of it is due to being a compulsive gambler. As a poker player though he is certainly one of the best I’ve ever shared a table with and it’s difficult for me not to still admire him as he was totally charming. (As so many problem gamblers/lovable rogues are)

Aussie Millions Day 2

On day two I was drawn on a table with just one “name” player, Russian Pro Kirill Gerasimov. I had a bad start as I raised with A,J and got called by a fish with A,6 the flop came A,6,x so that cost me some chips. I just couldn’t win a damn pot which was annoying as Kirill apart it was a very soft table. I thought I’d eventually be OK but before I could turn it around they broke our table.

Now when they do this they come to the table with 9 seat cards and shuffle them and put them face down on the table. The TD tells us that one of the seats is for the TV table upstairs. I never like to pick a card for seat draw and prefer to have the last one that no one else picks. When it was down to two cards the TV seat was still there, but thankfully the other guy picked it.

I drew a new table which wasn’t great as I was sat in the seat next to Rony! What are the chances? Over 740 runners and we get sat right by each other. Thirty minutes later they break this table and again there is a TV table seat up for grabs. Exactly the same thing happens two cards left and I miss it again!

This time I get moved onto a nightmare table, it’s just a bunch of maniacs including such players I recognised as Lee Nelson, Paul Wasicka, Julius Colman, and the scariest of them all Alex Jacob.

I played a few pots with Jacob and I don’t think I knew where I was in any of them. When they broke this table I was really glad. I thought the next one couldn’t possibly be worse, which just shows you how wrong I can be.

If that table was a nightmare the next one was a Weston-Super-Mare. The old saying “when you can’t spot the fish at the table, it’s you” started to go through my mind.

Seat One, Marek Kolk who’d just won the TV comp run by for $250,000 he was a terrific player. Seat Two, Me. Seat Three, some guy called Chris “Jesus” Ferguson. Seat Five, Australian Nick Georgoulas who seemed useful and Seat 6, some young Aussie kid who seemed determined to show that he was more aggressive than anyone else at the table. Seat Eight was Kristy Gazes, but only for a short while as they big blinded her off and took her upstairs to the TV table. Seat Nine, was a German pro called Hans Martin Vogl. (He wasn’t then, but later became a Full Tilt pro).

The other players weren’t players I recognised but they were all good and I was now getting to the point in the tournament where I was starting to feel under pressure as the weak spot at the table. (As I normally play comps with buy-ins from £50 to £100 that hadn’t ever happened to me before but I’m honest enough to admit it was the case here)

I quickly made up my mind that I had to start really playing strong poker otherwise I was just going to get run over. At this point I was down to 40k having started day 2 with 67k and the blinds were 800/1600/100 so all pots were pretty big. No pot went un-opened and most were being three bet or four bet!

The Aussie kid didn’t seem to understand the word “call” only raise (or re-raise) and he and Marek Kolk were at the starting point of a personal war that was going to get very messy later.

I won a real nice pot when I flopped a set of 7’s and moved up to 60k, five minutes later I four bet with AhKh and took the pot. I then won a couple of pots with three bets (I had real hands but didn’t show) and another medium pot with KK,  so I climbed up to 98k.

In a sick way I was really beginning to enjoy this and was relishing the challenge. Though I always dreaded being the BB as it was as if the players couldn’t wait to raise it. Strangely though the next time I was BB it got folded to Vogl on the button. Blinds were now 1000/2000/200 and he made it 5,500 with 27k behind. Kolk folded the SB and I looked and found pocket 6’s.

I started to think how I was going to play them post flop and came to the conclusion that the answer was probably “badly”. I therefore decided to shove all in and make it easy on myself.

Vogl quickly pushed his last 27k over the line and showed pocket 8’s. The flop bricked but I hit a miracle 6 on the turn and Vogl’s tournament life was hanging by a thread. FFFFFF’s he hits a river 8 and doubles through me. From that position he goes on to make the Final Table and finishes 5th for $400,000. (Jammy git, but at least I’m not bitter and twisted about it)

I’m down to about 60k and not too thrilled about it though I still had 30 BB’s. The very next hand I’m in the SB and Furguson is the BB (still 1k/2k).

Now his was the only BB that had any respect as even the Aussie kid and Kolk didn’t appear to be taking any liberties with him. At the start of the hand I just have him covered as he has about 50k. Unusually the whole table folded round to me in the SB. I look and see ACES!!!!

Now I fear flat calling and getting outdrawn and being made to look stupid, so I raise it to 6k. He looks then goes into his trademark stare, elbows on the table, hands on chin. Cowboy hat and shades, the full monty.

He tanks for about 2 minutes and then announces, “all in”. Fekin hell I think, I’m sure I had Aces. I quickly look again as I don’t want to call and find I have A,4. “Yes call” I announce to the dealer as fast as I can. Fergie turns over pocket 9’s.

Now our table is on the rail of the main walk through in the card-room and not only that it’s the 1st one at the bottom of the wide staircase. So the one side of the stairs is being used by dozens of railers to watch our table and the rail is full. I figure most are there to see me but obviously Fergie has a few fans as well. (this was prior to Black Friday and no one knew he was a crook then).

A buzz goes round when everyone sees that Jesus is at risk. At this point of the tournament (about 20 off the money) the TV crews are roaming the floor looking for all-ins to film. The dealers have been told to call the floor if there is an all-in and call so the TD is called over. He sees its Fergie at risk and tells the dealer to wait and not deal the flop.

The TV crew is summonsed, and Jesus takes his shades off and we chat while we wait. I’m tempted to tell him that if he outdraws me I’ll crucify him, but think better of it. It takes a few minutes for them to get set up but eventually we are ready for the flop. The TD on the microphone has already asked my name and when the pictures get beamed up onto the big screen in the card-room he announces that Fergusson is all in with 9’s versus David Griffiths’s Aces. At this point Greg the Aussie cash player runs over from the $1 game to the rail. Also several of the Party Poker players who have been eliminated and their WAGS dashed over to watch as well.

The flop was an uneventful J,J,4. From then on though it got about as eventful as my dodgy ticker could stand. The turn is a kick in the dangly bits as Fergie hits a boat with a 9. I look to the heavens as although I won’t be eliminated, I will be on life support after this. I think my exact words were “Jesus fekin Christ” though they edited that bit out of the TV show.

Now I’ve been playing a while and I’m usually pretty good at spotting what outs I have, but my brain is completely scrambled by the nine on the turn. I think I only have 2 Aces to hit and I’m blissfully unaware that I actually have two Jacks that can win it for me as well. (If I’d known that I could have felt a lot more relaxed about it). Another player at the table says “hearts” as there are now three hearts in the middle and I have the Ace of hearts. (On the video you can hear Furguson say “hearts no good” as he has a boat)

The river is a Jack, and there is a slight delayed reaction (only half a second, but it seemed ages to me) before I realised that I’d won.

Wow what a hand. Because of the size of the tournament and the importance of the hand, who it was against, the fact that we are 20 off the money (Min cash is $15,000) and the way the hand went one way then the other and then back again, it was all I could do to stack the chips and keep my hands from shaking.

A few minutes later Pokernews asked if they could interview me but the blinds were coming around and I was having enough trouble defending them when I was at the table so I declined.

Unsurprisingly that hand made the final edit and was shown on the TV programme.

That pot put me just over 100k and the chip average was about 130k. I then win some more pots and get up to 150k but the table is going into meltdown. Ferguson had been keeping things a little under control as he was stopping the real maniacs from going berserk. With him gone it was like someone lit the blue touch paper.

Vogl, Kolk and the Aussie kid were just going at each other and anyone else who dared mix it with them like I’ve never seen before (or since). Vogl was now up to 220k, Aussie had 180k and Kolk 200k and we were losing players from our table like it was a triple turbo.

The Aussie kid made the best bluff I’ve ever seen in a 3 way pot with Kolk and Vogl and turned over Jd3d after they folded for complete air. I always remember that hand and anytime I get dealt Jd,3d it always makes me smile. Since returning from Australia I often raise with it and it’s been lucky for me on several occasions.

I lose a big pot when I’m BB. The Aussie kid opens for 3bb’s, nothing new, and Kolk 3 bets (also not unusual) from the SB. I have Ac,Qc in the BB and rather weakly just call. Looking back I should have shipped in or passed, but sadly did neither.

The flop came 9c, 8c, Qd which looks great for me. Kolk checks (he has a set of 8’s), I check utterly convinced the Aussie is gonna bet and he does about 40% of the pot (he has a set of 9’s). Kolk calls. Now that actually surprised me as him and Aussie were raising each other’s bets so often that I think it’s actually suspicious that he just calls and suspect he is trapping. They are maniacs but they are also exceptionally good players so I just call whilst silently praying for a club. The turn is the 4h. Everyone checks!

River is an 8, and I know I have showdown value so check after Kolk checks. Aussie bets about the size of the pot and Kolk raises real big.

I fold, the Aussie goes all in and Kolk wins a monster pot with quads over boat.

That hand put me right back down, if the poker Gods had wanted me to run deep in the event they would have turned me the nut flush and bricked the river! Still it wasn’t to be.

Bubble Time

Not long after this we were told that play would stop for the day when the money bubble burst. The top 80 got paid and there were about 88 left at this point. Sadly one of the Party Poker lads I got to know quite well got knocked out in 86th when he flopped trips and had Jimmy Fricke hit a middle pin straight on him after all the chips went in on the turn. Fricke was on his table throughout the whole day and apparently, he was binking cards non-stop. He eventually lost HU to Gus Hansen for $1 million.

It got pretty tense for me from here on in. I’d bubbled a final table of the Midlands Masters once previously at Walsall (which was £1,000 buy in) and thought I could handle the pressure OK, but I was short stacked now and Furguson’s seat had been taken by Ryan Fisler a Canadian Pro and he was huge stacked (nearly 280k) and bullying as well as my other 3 problems, Kolk, Vogl and the Aussie kid who had by this time doubled back up and was back as a force at the table.

I’d promised my daughter that if I cashed for any amount, bearing in mind that the min cash was $15k Aussie dollars about £6,000 at the time, I would buy her a laptop computer when I returned home. This put pressure on me and also I didn’t want to travel twice round the world only to bubble. It wasn’t like a 30-minute drive home from the Broadway! Also, I figured it would be good to say “yeah I cashed in the Aussie Millions”.

So unashamedly I locked down tighter than a camels arse in a sandstorm. I think I won only one pot from then on when I three bet with A,Q on the button after Kolk had opened in the cut off. His range was so wide that I suspected that I was way ahead, though I had planned to fold to any 4 bet so it was a big gamble on my part as Filser and Kolk were more than capable of 4 betting light. I was just praying that my tight image would stop them from doing it and they’d put me on Aces or Kings.

Fisler folded the SB after studying me for a few minutes. I knew the BB would fold as he was in the same situation as me but when it got back to Kolk he went into the tank. Eventually he folded and I picked up, along with Kolk’s bet, some blinds and antes which were badly needed.

When it got to 81 players we had 9 x 9 seat tables, all playing hand for hand. They stopped the clock and it took one and a half hours for the bubble to burst! It was the longest hour and a half of my poker life.

After an hour and twenty minutes the TD that asked my name for the Fergie hand was nearby and I asked him if there were any short stacks on other tables. Don’t worry he said there is a guy over there with only 4k and two others with less than 10k.

Blinds were 3,000/6000/400 so I could relax a little, even though I was the big blind in the next hand and knew I was going to have to kiss it goodbye. On my big blind there was an under the gun raise from Fisler, a 3 bet from the Aussie and a 4 bet from Vogl before it got to me. I was fairly certain most of them if not all of them were “at it” and had nothing at all though there was no way I was playing even Aces at this stage. But I really made the table sit up and take notice when I announced that I was “undecided what to do”.

I paused then with all eyes on me said “I’m not sure whether to look and fold or just fold”. Everybody really laughed and it helped release some of the undoubted tension I was feeling.

I did look and saw Q,Q I dwelled for about 2 seconds looking at Rony who was on the rail (having sadly busted earlier in the day) I raised my eyebrows to him and just mucked them. I immediately walked round to Rony and he said “you had a hand didn’t you?” I told him what I had and he said “I don’t blame you”.

While this was happening Fisler (UTG) was still in the tank and after another minute he 5 bet shoved all in. When everybody folded he showed AA. So it was a good job I was a coward!

Two or three hands later it was over and the 4k guy was eliminated, by Gus Hansen I think.

I bagged up my measly chip stack of about 40k but was happy I’d survived. In fairness the good players had played really well/fearlessly on the bubble and it was probably more likely that one of them would get eliminated as they were really going at each other.

In the later stages of the day I was short of chips, short of talent and short of bottle to fight against them. Though it was a terrific experience to be at the table to witness and learn from it.

Day 3

I get a seat draw that puts me with Ross Boatman, Full Tilt Pro Marc Karam (He didn’t strike me as a particularly warm human being though maybe my first impression was wrong) an Irish pro called Fintan Gavin who was a really nice guy, Kath Hartree (Mrs Mad Marty), the Russian Pro Kirill Gerasimov (again) and another Party Poker Qualifier.

Amazingly of the fifteen Party qualifiers ten of us made the money a fantastic achievement. Several of us made the min cash but some went even deeper with a builder from Essex who looked like Yul Brenner cashing for $60,000 (took it all in cash, typical builder) another won $90,000 and best of all was Emanuel “Curly” Seal who finished 10th only just missing out on the FT when he got unlucky. Though he did get $120,000 for his trouble.

Day three didn’t last long for me as I was desperate to shove and win the blinds or hopefully double up. When I found K,J off-suit that was enough and I shipped in. Marc Karam, who is a top Canadian pro, was in the BB and called with Ks,Js. He hadn’t got many more chips than me as he’d just lost a big pot to Ross.

The flop came K,J,x however the x was to be crucial as it was a spade. He hit runner, runner spades to send me to the rail. From that position Marc Karam went on to make the Final Table finishing 6th for $300,000. (Jammy git, but at least I’m not bitter and twisted about it)

My main event was over, and as I went to the rail I had quite group waiting for me. Rony and loads of the Party team, so I didn’t feel too bad. Probably a lot better to go home on a bad beat than a bad play.

I think I did pretty well all in all and went about as far as I could have expected. I know I learned more about tournament poker in the three days of that comp, than I had in the previous 20 years.

Ever since then when it gets to bubble time in a £25-£100 comp at one of my local casinos I absolutely relish it. I play so much better and really try to be the one applying pressure. What’s to be scared of? If I can survive one and a half hours of total torture nothing frightens me now!

I’d played against some wonderful players and Eric Lingren, Alex Jacob and my three torturers at bubble time had been the stand out players for me.

Melbourne what a city

The fun didn’t end there, I had a great time for the rest of my holiday and after arriving in Oz with $5,000 I went home with $38,000 after not only cashing in the main event and winning $2,500 in the free-roll but also murdering the $5/10 cash games.

As I was flush with cash and the games were so soft I played $5/10 with Rony after I was out of the ME. I also had one drunken session of Caribbian Stud where I ran like amazingly well. I was p1ssed a lot after the ME as I’d hardly had a drink until that point.

Rony won an absolute fortune at cash playing $5/10. Just a word on Rony, he was devastated when he got knocked out and when I went into the bar on a break I could see from the look on his face from 20 yards away that he’d just been eliminated.

The first thing he said after he told me how it happened was that he was going to be on the rail for me every minute from then on and his only job was to support me. That is a measure of the man, thinking of others. Now strangely before the event started we didn’t mention swapping any of our action, (I suppose he’d heard about my ability or lack of it!) but I told him I was going to give him 5% of my action but he refused to take it. So that night I told him not to bring any money with him and we had a great meal then tried to visit as many bars and clubs as we could. We both ended stupid drunk and had a great evening.

A couple of days later we went to the “player party” which they hold on the night the final table ends. All players, guests and tournament staff are invited, and I got some great photo’s including one with Gus Hansen. It was really a great evening and one I shall long remember.

The whole Australia thing was great, fantastic friendly people, and Melbourne is a wonderful city. I would urge anyone who can to go there and if you can win a seat for the Aussie Millions so much the better.

As a single parent I had no option but to go home and I had really missed my little girl by the end of the two weeks. Though I have to say that if I was young free and single I would probably still be there now, grinding the cash games with Greg.

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