Since my last blog my focus has been on finishing off managing end of year IT system deployments during the Christmas holidays and start preparing for the Aussie Millions in Melbourne in the last week of January. During the two weeks prior to the Aussie Millions main event I entered a number of '6-phase' satellites on PokerStars to a main event seat but after several attempts (including one were I went deep into phase 5) I unfortunately fell just short of scoring a seat.
So after my online failures I was ready to finally take a well earned week off work and head to Melbourne with Fi. We stayed close to the Crown Casino on South Bank and we were in for a week full of poker, catching up with some friends and of course every blokes nightmare - being subjected to change room complications while shopping in a coupe of the city's finest Direct Factory Outlets (and for the record I did score a couple of bargains).
The first thing I noticed upon arrival (apart from the much warmer weather than in Sydney of recent times) were the huge number of Sydney players that had made the trip down and with many just playing in the satellites and cash games trying their luck to enter the main event. After many mutual well wishes it was down to business.
I too decided to try and satellite into the main event rather than immediately dipping into the poker bankroll. I started immediately on the same Saturday afternoon of arrival and entered the 4pm Phase 2 $250 satellite where the winners would win a seat into the $1150 Phase 3 satellite. The starting stacks were 5K with 20 min blind levels and as expected the action was wild from the get go. To my delight after 3 hours I emerged with a phase 3 seat as a final 20 were left from the original 100 odd starters.
The good thing about getting through the phase-2 satellite on the first attempt (apart from saving on some satellite buy-ins) was that I did not have to play two further phase-2 satellites at 10pm on the Saturday and at 10am on the Sunday morning as well as the 6pm phase-3 on the Sunday night. This minor success meant that I had time to catch a cab over to Richmond and have dinner with Fi and one of her friends at the Kingston Hotel before getting a good night's sleep.
The next day we did the usual breakfast, shopping, lunch and afternoon break before I had to turn up at 6.15pm for the phase 3 satellite. I enjoyed the sights and scenes Melbourne had to offer along the Yarra river including the difficulty with crossing a certain plaza on the South Bank that was being constantly roped off for the filming of what I later learnt was a Sprite Commercial. The amount of quality buskers on South Bank were entertaining and quite good I thought but to the old fella on his buggy singing his Johnny Cash version of ABBA's Fernando on loud speaker - it is never too late to get a day job or retire gracefully.
The phase-3 satellite was quite uneventful for me. The usual card dead event with no decent spots to bluff or squeeze some chips - or maybe this has been my problem of late - not working harder on my game to recognise some subtle spots. In the end and two hours in with a small stack of 12BBs I open shoved from middle position with AQs only to run into the small blinds pocket Queens - and of course I never hit my Ace so that was the end of that. One positive during this satellite was meeting a young gentlemen from NZ by the name of Slade Fisher who's current line of work is seasonal fishing (I'm not taking the mickey here!) and playing poker online. This was Slade's first main event anywhere and as we'll see later - he had a very good result.
In terms of tournament entry payment the organisers were accepting VISA/MasterCard but only at least 24 hours before the scheduled start otherwise you had to pay the entry in full in cash. Weighing up the options I decided it was best to just enter on Sunday night for the Day 1 flight 3 on Tuesday and take the Monday off to spend time with Fi and make it over to the Australian Open tennis which is the first time we've ever been live to a tennis grand-slam event.
We booked in some tickets to watch the 4th Round matches Women: Sharapova vs Lisicki and in the Men: Djokovic vs Hewitt. It was a great night of tennis with two longer than expected matches and I learnt a couple of things 1. Sharapova is even louder with her grunting in real life than on TV; and 2. Lleyton Hewitt doesn't need to scream that stupid 'Come On!' with the reversed emu hand sign in his face in order to play a respectful and admirable game of tennis against the world no. 1. The only downside was that the tennis took so long to end that we only managed to get to bed very late that morning which wasn't ideal preparation for my main event day 1. However with noon starts and midnight to 1am finishes Fi pointed out that going to be late the night before played right into my game plan!
On the Tuesday morning we were ready to go out for a late breakfast when on the TV appeared what seemed to be an ex-spicegirl doing a commercial for Jenny Craig weight loss describing herself as an ex Bombara-to-Bombarda body type. Mel-B I can tell you that you have some Bombarda left but there is nothing wrong with that. Once my mind was off the fitness regime I needed to get back into I was determined to focus on having a good main event. Present for this Aussie Millions main event were a number of pros including Phil Ivey, Barry Greenstein, Tom Dwan, Tony G, KC Tran and WSOP main event final tabler Eoghan O'Dea from Ireland. The field this year was a little lower than previous years with 659 entrants coughing up the $10,600 entry fee and first prize being lower than recent years at $1.6Million AUD and despite some murmurs of disappointment in this I don't think anyone was really complaining.
Fi decided to stay and watch the poker for the early sessions and give me some support which I really appreciated with what was going to be a tough day. The huge screen in the main playing area was showing the cricket test match between Australia and India and lucky for me I had my back to it so I could concentrate on the poker. A lot of the players were being distracted by the sport and arguing with the tournament directors over whether the cricket or tennis should be put onto the big screen. I was hoping this would work in my favour but one thing that was confirmed is that a lot of poker players are also degenerate sports betting freaks.
As usual I started the tournament solidly but lately I have been trying to open up my game a lot more and try a little harder to get a larger stack than usual and try to avoid playing the push-fold game too early in order to double up and keep surviving. With 30K in starting chips and 90 minute levels there was a decent amount of time to build things. After hearing about many of the pros being knocked out on the earlier day 1 flights and looking at my table draw with me in seat 1 and the rest mainly local players and the only foreigners being Mohamad Kowssarie from Sweden who actually made the final table in this event and Jamil Dia who was the Aussie Millions 2005 champion.
I started day 1 well mixing it up early and even having the honour of knocking out the 2005 champion who had a small stack in a race with AQs vs JJ. Jamil just didn't have any luck at all and twice in the early going his JJ hit a set only to be out-flopped by the villain's nut straight (yes - sometimes I can be the villain too!). Apart from a good start day 1 was frustrating for me - after level three I managed to chip up to 38K at the end of level 3 and was in an ongoing battle with a loose aggressive young Indian chap to my right who was trash talking the table.
During level 4 my stack had dropped to 24K after a couple of bad beats and now there was one interesting (critical?) moment I had with the trash talker when the blinds were at 200/400/25. I was in the small blind with AQ and he open raised the button to 850 and I 3-bet to 2200. He sat and tanked for ages shuffling his chips and making very direct looks at my stack and his 60K stack that easily covered me. He finally 4-bet re-raised me to 8K and although my exterior was composed I was now confused and started to tank. He made a move I most certainly thought he could make as a bluff but this was the first time he had 4-bet me to 1/3rd of my stack. Obviously I cannot just call off 1/3rd of my stack and then fold - but against this LAG could I ship with AQ when we are still so deep with me having 60BBs and this was his first 4-bet of the day? I finally wimped out and folded - he showed an Ace before throwing his hand into the muck. To this moment I don't know if he had me dominated with AA or AK or if I had him dominated and missed a good opportunity...one thing I did know by now was that the room was absolutely freezing as our table was directly under the air conditioning vent and it could not have been much warmer than 10 degrees centigrade - enough people starting buying Aussie Millions hoodies to combat the cold conditions which made me wonder if this was a marketing ploy. Lucky for me Fi retrieved my hoodie from the hotel room for the last three levels of the night.
After this moment I didn't really recovered and struggled for the rest of my card dead day 1 bouncing between 20K-30K in chips and finishing day 1 on 30.2K in chips which was basically 30BBs for the start of day 2.
Like day 1 - day 2 also started promisingly as I soon got into push-fold mode and grew my chip stack to 47K early but again I was hit with a long streak of being card dead and lack of any opportunity to bluff or squeeze even in button vs blind or blind vs blind scenarios. At one point when I was still on around 40K (~30BB) the young Adelaide star James Obst who had a 55K stack had just been moved to my table and when I open raised with AQ in the cut off, the button folded and Obst 3-bet me a small amount from the small blind. I knew that he could definitely be doing this light and I thought this was my opportunity to finally to re-shove and take some chips, or double up to 80K+ or bust out like a man. Unfortunately for me the big blind who was a fairly tight player pushed all-in over the top of both of us with his 55K stack and I was again gob smacked - it didn't feel like AQ was ahead of this players range I thought. So I humbly folded and saw Obst instantly fold as well which made me think what do I have to do in order get a good spot in this tournament? Maybe I'm just reading too much into these spots and I should be calling these re-raised shoves with AQ and just risk looking like a goose to get a stack or just bust me out of my misery? One thing I know for sure is that if I keep folding in these spots I'm never going to be chip leader in these major tournaments...
My starting table on day 2 had now been broken up and I was moved to a very tough table and at the 7.45pm dinner break I was down to 19K and basically push-folding my small stack. After coming back at 8.30pm I had a miserable 90 minutes after this where I was constantly shoving and no one was calling (even after a good player raised and was getting odds to call with any two) and finally at 10pm my button shove with A8 was called by the big blind's 33 and no surprise his tiny pair held and I was out in 114th place out of 659 starters and no prize money. It amazes me how these players will happily raise and re-raise with QJ and KJ all day yet they don't call a 10BB re-shove (~15K) with these hands when they have 250K in chips.
Here is the Poker News summary and results of the main event: 2012 Aussie Millions Day 18 Summary.
Despite my poor main event there were some positives. As mentioned earlier in this post Slade Fisher managed to finish in 17th place for $60,000 in prize money and this being his first major live event I'm sure that we won't see the end of him too soon. I understand that he might be planning his trip to Vegas for WSOP 2012. Also I'm coming to the conclusion that my game in these events needs to open up a lot more still and I am starting to apply this more online over the past week since the Aussie Millions.
I spent this weekend back at home playing online all day Saturday and was happy with a very LAG style of play and despite only managing some average cashes I did go deep enough in a few of the events and held a big stack during the money stages that this approach seems promising. Of course it was also a weekend where all my big pairs got busted by smaller pairs and rags and when this is happening I don't believe there is much more to look at in terms of adjusting strategy.
For now its back to moving house, IT work and a lot of poker reading and study before Vegas. I have just learnt there is also an APPT event at The Star in March and this would also provide another opportunity before Vegas.
So until next time I wish everyone a happy poker experience and may all your bankrolls grow and big pairs hold!