Playing in Australia by Mark Vos

Last January, I played some of the best poker of my life at one of my all-time favorite tournaments – the Aussie Millions. And even though I failed to reach the six-handed Main Event’s final table, I came very close, busting out of the event in eighth place. For this tip, I thought I’d share the details of my final hand which, though played properly, left me on the rail.

With eight players left and the average chip stack at about 1 million, I had around 600,000 in chips. I was in the small blind and it was folded around to Shannon Shorr on the button, who limped for 40,000. At this point, I didn’t put Shannon on much of a hand. He’d been playing aggressively all day, so I thought he was pretty weak – I gave him an outside chance of a tiny pocket pair, but figured he was far more likely to have some mediocre suited or marginally connected hand.

I found K-T off-suit in the small blind. I didn’t want to raise out of position even though I liked my hand because it would have been into a quality player, so I just completed, looking to see a flop. The big blind checked and the flop came K-7-2, with two hearts. This was a great flop for my hand. I checked and the big blind bet the minimum. I figured he hit something like middle pair and was just trying to figure out if his hand was good with a small feeler bet. Shannon called. At this point, Shannon could have had a wide range of hands – he might have had a King, a flush draw, or have hit middle or bottom pair.

I decided to raise to 100K. It was a small raise that didn’t risk my whole stack, but still gave me the opportunity to define my hand. The big blind folded instantly, which is what I thought was likely to happen. Shannon thought for a while and called. It seemed to me that he really had something to think about. At this point, I thought he could possibly have a King, but it seemed more likely he had some kind of draw. I also didn’t write off the remote chance he had three of a kind.

An Ace came on the turn and, even though some might have viewed it as a scare card, I thought it was a really good card for me. I was pretty certain that Shannon would have raised pre-flop with any hand that contained an Ace, so I bet out on the turn and he moved in instantly. Now I was sure my hand was good. If he had a King, the Ace would have at least caused him to think about his hand for a while, so I now ruled out this possibility. When he moved in so quickly, I thought that he was trying to represent a hand that was bigger than what he actually had, which made me believe he couldn’t have a set. With all these pieces of information, I was confident he was on a draw and that my hand was good.

I called quickly and was happy to see that Shannon did actually have a draw. It happened to be a flush draw, which was a bit stronger than I had hoped. Unfortunately, a heart came on the river, and I busted from the tournament. Despite this outcome, I left feeling good about my play, as I knew I had made the right move.

Still, I’m looking forward to playing again this year and, hopefully, improving on my performance. For a serious poker player, the Aussie Millions offers one of best structures of any tournament anywhere. Play starts nine-handed, then moves pretty quickly to eight-handed play. They play six-handed for the final six tables, which creates a lot of action and is great fun.

I know that many Full Tilt Poker pros, including Phil Ivey, Gus Hansen, Chris Ferguson, and others will be there as well. You can join us all by playing in the Aussie Millions satellites at Full Tilt Poker which will award $18K prize packages to at least 20 players.

Mark Vos