Sunday 30 January 2011

Melbourne / Aussie Millions Trip Report

After an overnight flight from Singapore, in which I didn't get any sleep despite traveling business class, I arrived in Melbourne, Australia at 7:30am feeling extremely tired.

I looked forward to getting out of the airport and to my hotel for some sleep before playing the first event of the 2011 Aussie Millions that evening. I had ran good with airports so far on my travels, with no flight delays and zipping through immigration at each stage. Some butch Aussie Sheila was about to change all that.

In almost all countries what happens at immigration is you hand over your passport, they stamp it, you collect your suitcase and you GTFO. Apparently what happens in Australia is you hand your passport over to butch Sheila and she looks at you and says "Are you alright? You look ill".

I told Sheila that "I just flew overnight from Singapore and didn't sleep.". She looked surprised "ohhhh, oh, you've been in Asia?". I said "Yes, I got off the flight that just landed from Singapore, along with everyone else in the queue." She shouts for assistance "Bruce, BRUCE, come over here, this guy has been in Asia!".....

Bruce takes me to one side and starts with the 10-15 minute interrogation:

Bruce: "Hmmm, so you were in Singapore? What were you doing there?"
Me: "Oh, tourist."
Bruce: "And where were you before that? I see a stamp from Malaysia."
Me: "Yeah, I was in Malaysia."
Bruce: "What were you doing in Malaysia?"
Me: "I'm a tourist"
Bruce: "What's this stamp, Liban?"
Me: "That's Lebanon"
Bruce: "Oh really, when were you in Lebnon?"
Me: "Before I went to Malaysia."
Bruce: "Why were you in Lebanon?"
Me: "I'm a tourist"

I was losing the will to live at that point. He starts asking me about why I'm planning to stay "as long as 15 days" in Australia, like 15 days is something out of the ordinary for a visit to the country. Given that the Aussie Open tennis was on for the length of my stay I told him that I will be watching the tennis and playing some poker at the Crown. He then asked me to show him my tickets for the Tennis, which I obviously didn't have because I was just going to buy them at the stadium, and he made a big fuss over that.

I couldn't understand what the hell was happening, and why they were putting me through this crap. Eventually the bastard let me go and I just wanted to grab my suitcase and GTFO. Oh no. I had to wait a full half hour for my suitcase to appear on the carousel, then as soon as I picked my suitcase up two guys in uniform were standing either side of me, telling me to go with them.

I then had to go through a massive interview and full search. The bastards took my suitcase apart in front of me and they examined, X-rayed every single thing, as well as test for traces of narcotics. They were even looking at the photos on my camera, trying to find out what I was up to. I had 8 different containers of vitamins and they tested all of those for drugs. The whole ordeal took 2 hours, then after they couldn't find anything dodgy about me whatsoever they let me into their stupid, overpriced, at the peak of an economic bubble that is about to burst, country!

I got to my hotel only a few hours before I had to play poker, so didn't get much of a rest. Here is a quick room tour of where I was staying at Skylounge Apartments:

So the first event I played at Aussie Millions was a NLHE Double Shootout on PokerPro electronic tables, which are a bit of a fail. The concept of electronic tables is a nice one but the touch screens were just so damn insensitive. I had to press on it a certain way and often multiple times to get it to do what I wanted. TILT. My table was very soft, except for a few recognisable pros, including Rupert Elder. I ran pretty good to get heads up with a 2:1 chiplead versus an old English guy who played 100% VPIP and 0% Fold to C Bet. He wasn't the ideal opponent to be card-dead against. Eventually the stacks were even and the blinds were shallow, he raised, I shoved with JJ, he called with AQ and hit an A on the turn FTW. GG. So close to a final table and a cash at my first attempt :(

I went back to the hotel for a long sleep then straight back to the casino to play the PLO event that I was very much looking forward to. Unfortunately it was full-ring playing 9 or 10-handed. I'm not too fond of playing full ring PLO, it playing much better short-handed. I was really card dead and missed every flop all the way through and couldn't make anything happen because so many players seen every flop that there was always someone holding the nuts. Eventually, when stacks were shallow I jammed for about 2/3 of my stack with a suited rundown over a raise and bunch of callers. The original raiser snap re-jammed, and obviously had an AAxx hand, but I was well committed obviously. I was something like 40-45% to win but couldn't make it happen unfortunately :-(

That day was my birthday, which sucked. Sucks being in a foreign country, where you don't know anyone and getting your ass kicked at poker on your birthday.

Another day, another tourney. My third tourney in three days was another NLHE Shootout event but this time on real tables. This one only lasted a few levels for me. I lost almost half my stack early after I raised with AK, got 3bet, and shoved. The guy called for 35-40bbs with pocket 9s and won the hand. And I lost the rest after that when I raised JJ, got 3bet, and shoved. The guy called with AQ and won. Story of my life, I get it with plenty of fold equity, being the aggressor, and someone calls looking for a coin-flip, gets their coin-flip and wins it. SIGH!

Since I busted so quickly the day was still early, in the late afternoon. I decided to cheer myself up a bit by taking a trip to Melbourne Zoo. I've been to tons of zoos around the world, it's a good way to get outside, do a bit of walking and see some cool creatures!

The next day I was feeling good and went to play the NLHE 6-Max event. I started off playing really great in this event and had quadrupled my stack up pretty early, to be the, or at least amongst the chipleaders. I was getting a lot of attention from Poker News and one of their bloggers was writing down hands I played and including them in the live updates.

My table was extremely soft and we were playing 5-handed because we had a dead stack blinding off at our table, strongly rumored to belong to Phil Ivey. I had a guy to my right called Dennis Huntley who used to be some big porn king in Australia. He made Australia's first porn movie and owned some adult shops. We were friendly and chatting a lot so it was a fun table to be at. I was having fun and constantly increasing my stack so I was having a ton of fun in this event.

Near the bubble I got into a huge pot that would have equaled a bit chip-lead or at the very least top 3 in chips. I had JT spades, was pre-flop aggressor in position and got flatted by BB and UTG, Flop was J98 with 2 hearts. It was checked to me, I bet, got check-raised, and jammed in my stack. He tanked a full 5 minutes at least, and decided he was going to call me with AJo, and he obviously held. I hate how he played AJ there, when he makes his call he's doing horrible against my range, but he was ahead and he won, so congrats to him and gg to me. Again I was the one to shove, with a ton of fold equity and actual equity in the pot, just to get called and lose the hand.

Looking for non-poker things to do, so as not to make my trip to Australia a totally miserable experience, I did a walking tour of Melbourne which was a great way to see the city:

So I was hoping my first success at Aussie Millions would be in the AUD $10,600 Main Event. I actually got really unlucky with the table draw with the few seats either side of me willed with young Scandinavian and American online pros. There was one complete fish at the table, who was reading a poker book, at the table, as he played the main event. WTF? Reading a book on how to play poker, while playing a 10K, seriously? I took a sneaky little photo:

Well I wasn't card dead in this tourney at all. I kept making very strong hands but they'd always be second best. I lost a big pot where i 3bet TT pre, flopped a set, turn and river completed flush and straight draws and guy leads into me and I have to fold. In the second level I only had 6000 from the 20,000 starting stack, but I easily could have went broke before that if I had played less conservatively.

On the very first hand of Level 3, where it was BB200 with 25 ante, a Scandie raised the button, his Scandie friend in the SB flatted, and I shoved from the BB with 66 for 30BBs. Scandie in the SB called with AQ and flopped the A.

G f'ing G.

I was really gutted. I now had 5 free days, that I had originally planned to go visit Sydney if I busted the main event on day 1. But since I was running bad, and hadn't been able to play much online so far in the year, I decided I would just stay and grind online from my hotel for 5 days. It didn't work out well for me, I had 4 sessions in a row where I ran miles bellow all-in ev and lost most of what I had in my account. I attempted to run my account back up playing $114 SNGs. I played in 25 of them and cashed in 2. 2 and 3 outers crushing me left, right and centre. G f'ing G to my bankroll.

I just tried to find more non-poker things to do to take my mind off the heart-breaking poker results.

A great experience was visiting Melbourne Aquarium that is near the Crown Casino. I loved the penguins!

And I had a full day out at the tennis. I got a premium seat ticket for Rod Laver area for a day that included the Women's Doubles Final and Murray vs Ferrer in the Men's Semi Finals of the 2011 Australian Open.

I celebrated 'Australia Day' at an outdoor concert at Federation Square. That was fun.

6 days after busting the Main Event at the Aussie Millions I was back to play the Bounty Feature Event. This event is NLHE and has one pro per table who is designated as a bounty. I had Team PokerStars Pro - Tony Hachem on my direct left who was our table's bounty. I've met, played and chatted with Tony before, live and online, so we got on well and had a good laugh, until I doubled up through him. I 5-bet shoved KK pre and he called with JJ and for once in my entire life I won a pot. Unfortunately he had me slightly covered so I didn't get the bounty, and then he was on my left with a crippled stack. I ended up min-raising and limping into most pots because he was so short stacked and the bounty was significant. It wasn't to be though, they broke our table table!!!!

The new table wasn't so kind to me. I turned 2 pair versus a flopped set and was lucky to only lose 2/3 of my stack. I ended up busting when I raised and got called, flopped 2 pair with A8 on A83 and got check-raised. I shoved it in and he snapped with AK, but I couldn't fade the K for the 60bb pot and my tournament life.

On my last day i played the Turbo NLHE event and got close to cashing before a battle of the blinds versus a Scandie, where we got it in pre and his JT owned my AQ with a T on the river. So 0 for 7 in cashes at Aussie Millions, not what I was hoping for.

I left Australia disappointed and headed off to Bali, Indonesia to relax for 4 days.

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