As far as poker went on my trip to the 2012 Crown’s Aussie Millions Poker Championship, I played cash games a few times, basically breaking even in the end. I also had the chance to play in Event #14 $550 NLHE Terminator, which featured a $100 bounty on every player’s head. There were about 220 entries, including Kevin “Kevmath” Mathers, Lance Bradley, and Lynn Gilmartin. We all managed to do quite well actually. Bradley exited about halfway through, while Gilmartin busted around 32nd place after a nasty beat. Only 20 players were slated to get paid, which made my elimination in 23rd place all the more heart wrenching. I could have grinded to the money, but in my defense, there was a flat payout from 10th-20th, so I was more focused on putting myself in contention to win. Unfortunately, a bad read cost me about half my chips, and then the other half disappeared when I got it all in preflop with ace-king of diamonds against pocket eights. I picked up a royal-flush draw on the turn, but the river was a blank. Luckily one of the crew managed to break through as Kevmath finished in sixth place for $6,233. He was extremely excited and it was nice to be there for his accomplishment.
The other big poker highlight, at least for me, was covering the $250,000 Super High Roller event, which is the biggest buy-in tournament in poker. I was the main person blogging the one-day event, and it was the most prestigious field I’ve ever covered. Sixteen players ponied up $250K including Daniel Negreanu, Erik Seidel, Jason Mercier, Dan Smith, Sam Trickett, Gus Hansen, Patrik Antonius, Winfred Yu, Tom “durrrr” Dwan, Sorel Mizzi, John Juanda, and a slew of Chinese business men. It was awesome watching these titans of poker battle it out, even if it was a Turbo format. To read exactly what happened, be sure to peruse the PokerNews blog.
The most exciting part was when action was four handed between Ivey, Antonius, Hansen, and Negreanu. I mean seriously, here are four of the most famous and skilled players in world battling it out for a $2 million first-place prize, and I get to cover it. What’s more, only three players would get paid, meaning it was an $800K bubble. Talk about intense. The air was palpable, especially when Negreanu unexpectedly busted as the bubble boy. If you want to read more about that, I recommend you check out his blog on the Aussie Millions.
As you probably known, Ivey went on to win that event, which was extra impressive considering he had just finished 12th in the Aussie Millions Main Event earlier that day. All told, the $250K took just over 12 hours to complete, and while it was grueling and tiresome, I was glad to be a part of something so special. I was there when Ivey won his eighth World Series of Poker bracelet, and now I was there for this. I like Ivey, and he’s every bit as good as people say.
By this time, my trip was winding down, though I had one last day off before having to fly back to the States. I woke up extra early, despite a very late night, to take full advantage of the day, which included Josh Bell taking me on a foot tour of downtown Melbourne. We hit up a couple of comic shops, bought some souvenirs, and took in some sights. It was a blast, though the sun and walking wore me out. We followed this up with a movie before I went out for dinner with Randy Dorfman, who is one of my favorite players on the circuit. He invited me to join him, his wife Joy, and his daughter Kim as a pretty fancy restaurant. The food was good, the conversation great, but the best part was the people. It was a great dinner and Randy and his family are among the most welcoming and kindhearted people I’ve ever met.
The next day it was off to the airport for the long trek back home. I was in a chipper mood and happily agreed to a questionnaire at the airport by a woman from the Australian Tourism Bureau, or some such organization. I like to think this gave me some run-good karma, which I soon redeemed. You see, the flight from Melbourne to L.A. is around 13 hours, so imagine my excitement when, on a near-full plane, the middle seat next to me was open. Since I was seated on the isle, I had a lavish amount of elbowroom, and wouldn’t you know it, the same thing happened on my four-hour flight from L.A. to Chicago. I felt like I was flying first class and the trip back went as smooth as possible. When it comes to air travel, you learn to appreciate the little things.
All in all, my trip to Australia was everything I had hoped. It was a great professional opportunity, and personally fulfilling. I felt completely rejuvenated after I returned home (funny how traveling has the effect). I didn’t get to do everything I would have liked (i.e. visiting the countryside, seeing some wildlife, traveling the Great Ocean Road, spending time in Sydney, etc.), but if I’m able to return next year, I’m going to be sure to stay an extra week in order to experience it all.