All Let Us Rejoice

When I sat down at my first table of the 2010 Aussie Millions I wasn’t expecting to see Erik Seidel in seat four, Annette Obrestad in seat five and Casey Kastle in seat eight. I was in seat two wondering what had gone wrong. The reason we flew all that way was to get a nice, soft field. The Crown work tirelessly to make sure every single local player gets to qualify for this event, the satellites are run brilliantly and that’s what makes it the second best event of the year.

I sat down in seat two again this year and Annette was in seat four with Casey in seat eight. Seat three was currently empty and would be filled by a latecomer. I looked around for Erik. At least Crazy Mike wasn’t bending my ear in seat one again.

Our latecomer was Roland.

I decided to fold a lot as this was the first table to break. After 40 minutes, I’d got a much more ‘normal’ Aussie Millions table. The standard open from three of the players was six times the big blind, and nobody ever folded when they could take a flop out of position.

I got aces and A-K and won nice pots with each before I played Ah-10h on a flop of J-Q-K with one heart. I lost that one after heavy flop and turn betting. The turn was an ace and the river a jack. They seemed to match nicely with the other blokes A-J.

Sam seemed to be having the same troubles. He lost a big pot to James Keys with A-Q versus a set on a queen-high flop. I’d warned him to keep away from James and after losing with A-A to J-J versus Scott Montgomery, he was left with 2,300 and wondering about the soft field I’d promised him.

I got moved onto Adam’s table where we both played our half-average stacks well. I had to fold on the turn with another flopped straight but I finally won a race to get to average at the end. Adam lost his race to Sorel Mizzi. Sam had survived a couple of miracles and he had a decent stack. Two out of three to Day 2 seemed OK.

My Day 2 was a struggle and it ended as the Aussie Millions has all three times I’ve played it. This time ,I didn’t lose with a bad beat, but I did manage to get through 80 percent of the field without running great and, again, fail to make the money. Time to rail Sam.

I find when I’m backing people it’s so tempting to try and coach them from the sidelines. It’s really hard to bite your tongue.

Given that my style is somewhat unorthodox, it’s really better that I don’t try and change the way people play. I tried hard to keep my advice to player notes on the ones I knew, and to keep him calm and give him someone to vent his occasional frustrations to. I’m sure Sam would have done perfectly well without my help but I hope I was able to pass on some experience.

Adam and I played a few of the remaining side events so we all travelled to ‘work’ on the tram together each morning. On Day 3, we suggested one guy who might be tough to bluff.

Sam told me about shoving all-in on the river against that guy with pocket fours on an ace-high board. His read was right, the guy had a weak ace. The question was: Could he lay it down?

He got excited and showed the hand which probably helped him to play a big pot a few hands later against the same opponent. Sam’s A-A worked well against A-K and he was now the chip-leader 12-handed.

The $2 million first prize was looming into view.

Adam and I played the six-max and got on the same table again. I got mine in three-bet shoving A-A and watching the fella snap with K-9. I guess he had put a little over 4 percent of his stack in so he must have felt committed. I knew he was calling. It was only five minutes earlier he’d promised me: "If you do that again…"

Serves me right.

It was still an exciting day though. Adam would be coming back to battle for the $100,000 with 18 left and Sam would be one of nine playing for $2 million. He was fourth in chips.

It wasn’t a bad day in the end. Sam busted sixth. He didn’t run great and his final came down to one hand where his Ks-Qs matched well with the all-spade flop. He made a great fold on the turn when that damned fourth shovel showed up and was shown the As.

Adam was out early. At the start of the trip I told them both that there were only about seven good Aussie players to worry about and, at the start of the day when I told him he was to play with one of them, I kind of knew they were clashing.

We went to celebrate. We spent the rest of the trip celebrating. We had one lovely meal and the last night was spent at the tennis final.

I loved Australia this year. It’s been a bit weird being back home, which is partly why this blog has taken a while, but the company out there was great. I really enjoyed staying in the flats and the trip to Sydney made it more like a holiday. We even spent our three-hour layover there on the return swimming at Bondi. I would have happily paid $5,000 to do that for 20 minutes.

With his $225,000 cash, Sam is now a brand-new Black Belt, which means we’re giving him $10,000 every month to spend on even more events. With a spring in his step and cash on the hip, he went straight to Venice and the WPT while I headed off to Nottingham to try and win the biggest live poker tournament in UK history.

Neil ‘Bad Beat’ Channing hereby promises to catch up his blog and tell you about his trips to Nottingham and Western Ireland soon.