Poker Ashes 2003

The Poker Ashes 2003

Ashes Trophy

After the success of last year’s inaugural Poker Ashes and the media attention guaranteed by Shane Warne’s involvement it was agreed that The Poker Ashes 2003 would be a bigger, better affair. Two teams of eleven players would represent their countries in eleven heads up no limit hold-em matches spread over the four days leading up to the headline Million Dollar event at the Crown Casino in Melbourne.

The Ashes kicked off with an exhibition match between Ian ‘Beefy’ Botham and Aussie players Colin ‘Funky’ Miller and Dean Jones. Perhaps we should have seen the writing on the wall when, after a long back and forth battle the Aussies emerged victorious and won the right to choose the recipient of the $10,000 charity donation from the teams and Crown Casino.

Celebs with Captains

Lucy V Leo

The victory also determined that the Aussies won the ‘toss’ and Aussie Captain Billy the Croc put England in to bat. Barny had no hesitation in giving Lucy Rokash the responsibility of being first to the crease. Billy sent top tourney payer Leo ‘the Wombat’ Boxall in to bowl. Lucy knocked him for six and the Poms were off to the perfect start.

Billy then put tall rangy Peter Selby in to bat and, to cancel out the height advantage Barny sent in the towering figure of Joe ‘The Elegance’ Beevers. Once Joe gained the upper hand he never relinquished it and the score went to 2-0. The Aussies were beginning to fear a rout. Next up to bat was Willie ‘The Dice Man’ Tann, Billy sent in the granite man Gary Benson and with the light fading Gary played a strong attacking game to peg one back and bring the Ashes to life.


Peter V Joe

Willie V Gary


Nicky V Milo

Day two and Billy sent in heavyweight Milo Nadolin to try to even the scores. Barny chose the tenacious Nicky ‘The Bulldog’ Katz to take him on. Nicky started fast and was wearing Milo down. ‘If you can’t beat him eat him’ yelled Billy. But Nicky was the one getting his teeth in. Then it all went wrong. Milo made a big bet and Nicky moved over the top to set him in. Milo called instantly with A,J and Nicky showed A,10. When the dust settled Nicky was down to the felt. ‘Back to work’ said the undaunted Bulldog, stacking his last few chips. And sure enough he came back to give us a 3-1 lead! Great stuff.



Barny now sent up the in-form Carlo Citrone who had already won one hold-em comp during the festival. Billy chose the wily Dr River to take him on. Again it was Carlo who won the early skirmishes but a key pot developed on a flop of 10,8,4. Carlo had an overpair and Dr River had top two. No help on the turn or river and Carlo was reduced to a few hundred chips. Incredibly, he fought right back and came within reach of levelling the stacks. But Dr River prevailed and at 3-2 we knew we had a match.

Carlo V Dr David


Steve V Joe

It was Billy’s turn to send a player in and he chose former world Karate champ Joe Meissner. In what looked like the mismatch of the century Barny put in pint size team mascot Steve ‘Shortstack’ Templeman to nip at his ankles. They battled through the night and the team awoke on day three to learn that Steve had worn down the super tight Joe to give us a priceless 4-2 lead.



First to the crease on day three was world class tournament pro John ‘Large’ Kabbaj. Billy sent in boy wonder Jason Gray to try to keep the Aussies in touch. Jason prevailed in a cagey match and once again the Aussies had a chance to level the scores.


 John V Jason


Billy now sent up the in form international player, World Series bracelet holder,  Mel Judah, fresh from winning the previous day’s tournament. Barny decided it was time to put himself in. So far, all the English captain’s bowling decisions had resulted in wins but in this case it was different. A  long gruelling match ended in victory for Mel and with the scores levelled at 4-4 the Aussies saw a chance to seize the initiative.



Barny now sent in the greatest tournament player of 2002, the unstoppable and super-confident Peter Costa. The crafty Croc responded by sending in the supreme gambler, a very laid back Tino Lechich. For the past year Peter the Poet has hit form all over the planet but in this key Ashes match it was to desert him. In a decisive hand Peter flopped two pairs with Tino hitting top pair. Tino improved to a second pair, and the damage was done. The gallant Aussies who had never let their heads drop had taken a well earned lead going into the final day.

Peter V Tino

Billy V Ram

With two of the world’s greatest tournament performers still to play for us, we knew the Ashes was still in our grasp and the atmosphere was electric on the evening of day four when Billy ‘The Croc’ sat down to play Ram ‘Crazy Horse’ Vaswani. The crowd yelled and cheered as the chips moved back and forth. Both players kept their cool and when the yelling stopped Ram had emerged victorious to keep our Ashes dream alive.



Barny had one last batsman to send in. And what an anchorman to have in your corner, the incomparable Simon ‘Aces’ Trumper who had taken time out from a round the world trip to represent his country. All week Sam Khouiss. ’The Mouth from the South’ had been loudly calling for ‘Deuces Trumpeter’ to step up and do battle. As the final Aussie bowler he was to get his wish.

What followed was a fitting climax to the Ashes epic. In a four hour battle of wits, nerves, character and temperament both players put on a supreme exhibition for the packed, excited crowd. At one point Sam seemed to have won with trips only for Simon ‘Deuces’ Trumper to roll over pocket two’s to delight the English supporters with a well disguised full house.


Simon V Sam



t was a great match, but there could only be one winner. In the end Sam outlasted Simon and it was impossible even for the Poms, not to take pleasure in the joyful celebrations of the victorious Aussie team.

This was a truly great Ashes tour. The best team won, and whatever happens the Aussies can never be seen as underdogs again.



We proved at the Crown in Melbourne that poker can be a team game. With national  pride, team spirit and great individual performances, it really can be an exiting spectator sport. We’ll be back in Melbourne next time doing our best to bring the Ashes back home. Why not come and be part of it ?

Click Here for the 2003 Poker Ashes promotional video

Click Here to see video footage from Channel 9 of the Poker Ashes 2002