Aussie Millions Main Event Day 1A
By Alison Lightman
Players are halfway through the final Level of the day and their weariness is apparent. With less than half an hour to go, there are 153 remaining from the starting field of 358.
The average stack is 41 871 with the blinds at 40/800 and a 100 ante, and the action has slowed considerably - apart from on Jimmy Fricke's table.
By now everyone in the room has heard of Jimmy, our teenage PokerStars qualifier from the USA. Jimmy promised me last night he was going to own this tourney, and he's looking deadly serious about that tonight with a stack of more than 130k. He has just knocked out Willy Tan and Jack Lee in the same hand.
Jack had bullets and Willy had pocket Jacks, and our Jimmy had AsQs. All the money went in the middle on a board of 8 7 9 with two spades. Jimmy more than had them covered. The the turn card came 10s, giving Jimmy the nut flush, and the river was a repeater 7, both pro's were sent to the rail.
Players have gone on their last break for the evening and will be back for one more ninety minute level.
Dennis Petronack 100k
Jimmy Fricke 95k
Giuseppe Famulari 48k
Lee Nelson 37k
Don De Rota 30k
David Pham 40k
Sherif Deria OUT
Minh Quach from Melbourne has flopped three boats in this Level to push his stack up to some 75k.
Meantime, Wayne Stichling, our qualifier from Perth, has been knocked out. He was badly crippled after losing a 45k pot. He put all his chips in with QQ only to find his opponent holding KK.
Wayne pushed all in for his remaining 4.5k when he found KQ on the button, but his opponent, holding pp4's, flopped a set.
We have lost another PokerStars qualifier, in young Sydney player Halil Delialioglu.He was getting short-stacked so pushed all in with AJ, and ran straight into KK. There was no Ace coming his way, but it was a great effort for someone playing his first major tournament, especially as he drew a table with defending champion Lee Nelson, Gary Benson (knocked out) and Jason Gray.
Jimmy "gobboboy" Fricke is showing great style and guts for a nineteen year old who has only been playing poker a couple of years, taking on consummate professional Erik Seidel with a handful of nothing, and winning.
The teenager from Illinois, who quit his Math and Computer studies to turn pro, has just told me how it went down. Jimmy had made it 1200 to go and got a re-raise from Seidel. "He'd been doing it to me a lot" he said. Jimmy more than had him covered so pushed in 25k. Seidel folded, and Jimmy showed the nervous table his Qh5h.
Our PokerStars qualifier from Perth, Wayne Stichling, has just claimed the scalp of Jeffrey Lisandro. Jeff got all his chips in with pocket 6's, only to run into Wayne's 10 10.
Gerry Fitt has been knocked out. He had KcJc against Patrik Antonius' QQ. The flop came A 5 9 with two clubs, the turn was an offsuit 4, and the river was a 5.
Melbourne restaurateur Guiseppe Famulari has knocked out Sticky Micky Guttmann.
Players have gone for a well earned one hour dinner break, after four arduous levels of play that saw the starting field of 358 whittled down to 280. There are still three more ninety minute levels to play tonight, which should mean the exhausted players can head off to bed shortly after midnight.
Level 4 saw the demise of a couple of our PokerStars qualifiers. David Tran is out, and so is Randall McCowan. After losing several small pots with unhelpful flops, Randall was left with 3.5k and tossed his last chips in at the first sight of AJ.
He was left heads-up after only one player behind him called, against an opponent with 99.
The 9's held up and sadly he was eliminated.
Sherif Derias was the latest PokerStars player to take a beat with a high Ace.
Sherif held AhKh and made it 900 to go, under the gun. Jozeph Berec came over the top, with a stiff raise to 4k.
Sherif sized up both stacks before putting Berec all-in for his last 13k. Berec called with QQ and we had a pre-flop all-in.
Flop came 9h 8s 6d
Turn was 10 of hearts giving Sherif a stack of outs, drawing to the heart nut-flush, and still with 2 overcards.
But the river was a Jc and no help to Sherif.
Jozeph Berec's ladies held up, with Sherif now back to 14.5k in chips and forced to fight back as the table short-stack.
One of the notable PokerStars players remaining is the Japanese small stakes Satellite qualifier Mitsuko Kotaka, who is well placed with over 30k in chips, and is well above the average of 25 571. We're looking forward to talking with Mitsuko on the break, if she can find her interpreter.
Another international PokerStars representative, Frenchman Jacques Mercier, is fairing a little worse as one of the shorter stacks from the PokerStars contingent, and little luck pre or post-flop during the 150/300 blind level.
Jacques Mercier 11.35k
Sherif Derias 16.5k
Minh Quach 20.2k
Mitsuko Kotaka 31.8k
Randall McCowan OUT
Jimmy Fricke 60k
Michael DeGilio 56k
Gerry Fitt 38k
David Papallo 32k
Jody Thompson 30k
Alexander Stahle 20k
David Tran OUT
After dinner the blinds go up to 200 / 400, with antes of 50.
19 year old Jimmy Fricke, who predicted last night that he was going to win this tournament, is one of the chip leaders in Level 4. Jimmy, from Illinois, who dropped out of college to turn pro, has just elimated another player with a one-outer.
Jimmy raised three times the blind under the gun with QQ. The cut off and the blinds called. The flop came down Ah Kh Qh, and was checked around to Jimmy. He bet 2.5k and was re-reraised up to 8k by the cut-off.
Jimmy re-raised the cut-off all in, and got an instant call.
He showed KK, and it looked like Jimmy was going to take a hit. The turn was a 7, no help, but the river brought the card Jimmy was praying for, the case Q.
Jimmy now has 76k with the average stack at 23.5k.
Players have gone for another short break at the end of Level 3, and when they come back the blinds will be up to 150/300.
Pokerstars online qualifier Giuseppe Famulari from Melbourne has hit five flushes so far today and taken down the pot with every one. With the average stack at 22.7k, he's happy with his 41.5k
Dennis Petronack 17k
Lee Nelson 27.5k
Halil Delialioglu 21k
Don De Rota 22k
Sherif Derias approx 40k
But unfortunately the past level saw the end of our own Declan Tandy.
Declan threw the last of his stack (4k) into the middle pre-flop with AQ, but was called by Carlos Mortensen with KK. No ace arrived and the dream was over.
Declan remained optimistic about his first Main Event experience.
"I can't complain" he told our roving reporter Heath Cram. "Where else in the world do you get that entertainment for $200", said Tandy, referring to the buy-in for the satellite in which he qualifed.
"It was a tough table. There were a couple of brutal hands, but I am happy at the strong laydowns I was able to make and I can certainly take plenty out of it", said Tandy.
Back at the action table (22), Minh Quach and Sherif Derias continued to improve on their chip counts.
Minh's biggest hand came with one of his lowest holdings. With 46o in the pocket, Minh called a pre-flop raise from one of the table's key aggressors Doug Lee, out of position in the small blind.
The flop came: J 9 7
Minh continued the charade, betting out at Doug, who called.
The turn was an ace. Check, Check.
The river was a blank card and Minh proceeded to bet 1.5k into a 3k pot. Doug laid down and Minh proudly showed his 46 off.
Sherif was on the opposite end of a bluff, holding AQ. The player on the button put in a standard "blind-stealing" raise of about 3.5x the big blind. Sherif, seen below, quickly smooth called the extra bets in the big blind.
Small cards arrived on the flop with no help to Sherif, but he check-called the button's continuation bet, to try and take the pot down on the later streets. And that he did...
The turn came Ace, giving Sherif top pair with a solid kicker. Again, he check-called the 2k continuation bet from the pre-flop (button) aggressor.
The river was another Ace, giving Sherif trip Aces. Again he checked, and again the button raised, another 2k. Sherif quickly called and tossed his hand into the middle face-up. The player on the button declared that he had nothing and threw it away. A healthy pot of just over 7k, Sherif's way!
David Papallo has accumulated a heap of chips in the past half hour, in just two hands. First, he looked down in middle position and found bullets, and made the standard three times raise, getting four callers.
On a flop of 9 3 7 with two diamonds, it was checked around to David, who bet out 1.2k. It was re-raised to 2.4k on his left and folded back around to David who flat-called. The turn came 9h and David checked to his opponent, who bet 2.7k. David check-raised the turn to 7.7k and his opponent folded showing KK.
A little bit later he got involved again with David Tran another PokerStars qualifier. The board was 10 10 9 2, and it was checked to David Tran, who led out 5.2k into a 5k pot. David Papallo re-raised to 15k, Tran folded, and Papallo showed he'd made trip 10's on the flop.
David Tran is now lamenting his 6k, while David Papallo has 52k.
Gerry Fitt is also comfortably placed with approximately 58k after taking down a nice pot. The flop came A 9 9 with two diamonds. Gerry, in the small blind, checked to the cut-off, who bet out 2k. Gerry called. The turn was an offsuit 4 which Gerry checked again. The cut-off put 5k into an 8k pot, and Gerry check-raised to 15k, and his opponent mucked.
Some second break chip counts, with the blinds at 100/200,
Randall McCowan 11.9k
Declan Tandy 9k
Jacques Mercier 20.8k
Minh Quach 27k
Sherif Derias 28k
Mitsuko Kotaka 20.5k
Last night at our qualifers party, I had the pleasure of meeting Giuseppe Famulari, who won his seat in a $16 PokerStars satellite last October. Giuseppe told me he learned to play poker the year I was born - which should tell those of you who know me that he is very, very experienced.
His experience is showing, when I last checked he had a healthy 31k. Giuseppe took down an 11k pot with pocket JJ against "sticky" Mick Guttmann's pocket KK, when he caught a four-card flush on the river.
He's been playing on PokerStars for 2 years, when he's not playing mine host at his two restaurants in Melbourne, "Curly Joe's".
Dennis Petronack has 27k.
A quick lap around the tournament floor shows some of our players building healthy stacks early in the competition. With the average stack at 21.5k, David Papallo has 40k and Jimmy Fricke, who told me last night (see PokerStars Party report) "Ma'am I am going to crush this tournament" is on a very pretty 43k.
Jody Thompson still has 20k that he started with, but David Tran is down to 14k and Michael Degilio is even less happy about his 13k.
Roving PokerStars reporter Heath Cram has been keeping a close eye on the action involving our PokerStars qualifiers and is happy to report here they're doing us all proud, consolidating their start of 20k and relishing the 90 minute blind levels and superb tournament structure. The play is fairly standard early on, with "raise-fold-fold" type of poker, as can be expected, but our players are getting involved.
Some more chip counts from the start of Level 2:
Randall McCowan 20k
Declan Tandy 23.5k
Mitsuko Kotaka 20k
Minh Quach 26k
Sherif Derias 22.5
Jacques Mercier 24k
Randall McCowan, Jacques Mercier and Japanese Satellite qualifier Mitsuko Kotaka are playing steady poker early, taking enough small pots to remain at their starting stack, or better.
There are plenty of lights, cameras and a jam packed rail at Randall's table, to see Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, but Randall hasn't been overawed, playing solid poker and protecting his blinds, winning enough small pots pre-flop to stay well in the hunt early on.
Mitsuko found her way to Melbourne after first winning a $10 mini satellite in a special promotion put on by PokerStars and the Japan Poker Players Association. "I am having fun", said Mitsuko. "I am only winning small pots, with small pocket pairs, but I have about the same chips as I started with, which is good", she said delightedly.
Sydney-sider Declan Tandy made a late decision to escape the Sydney PokerStars office and try his hand at Crown Casino's live Satellites into to the Southern Hempisphere's richest Poker event. Declan did not have to wait long to confirm his place in the final field of the main event, worth $1.5million (AUD) to the winner, qualifying at his first attempt in a $200 rebuy, without requiring a rebuy or add-on!
Declan is looking comfortable early on with 3.5k more chips than he started with, but it wasn't his pre-flop blind steals, or post-flop raises that were most significant in his first session of play. Big laydowns have been the order of the day, with a monster laydown that he may look back at, at the end of the tournament.
Declan peered down at bullets under the gun and posted a raise of 3 times the blind, the same size raise he had been successfully employing to steal the blinds in hands earlier on. Declan earned himself 4 callers.
Flop came: 10 8 2 rainbow.
In first position Declan bet out 1k and it was folded around to the button, who put in a healthy re-raise. Declan proceeded to riffle and twirl his chips pondering a call, eventually folding (face-up) after much deliberation. His opponent had a look of surprise and approval as he mucked his hand and declared "great laydown". I guess we'll never "really" know.
Declan later found himself heads-up with seasoned professional Carlos Mortensen in a pot of peculiar circumstances.
Mortensen flat called under the gun, and Declan bumped it up to 800 with 10 10 in his hand, on the button. Mortensen declared "re-raise", and put a staggering 10k into the pot.
Declan immediately tossed his hand into the muck, whilst Mortensen had the table in hysterics, stating "oops, wrong chips"! Mortensen meant to min. raise, but threw in two "yellows" (5k each). If only Declan had AA in this spot! Mortensen didn't show his hand, but one feels Declan was probably behind after a limp UTG, followed by an "intended" min raise.
The action between the PokerStars players has been intense at Table 22, with online satellite qualifiers Sherif Derias and Minh Quach engaged in an intriguing heads-up battle early on.
Minh called with pocket 4's on the button, with Sherif checking his option (with J5) in the big blind.
Flop came: 4 6 J
Sherif bet out with his top pair and low kicker, and it was folded around to Minh who smooth called after catching bottom set.
The turn came King and the two players checked.
The river was a Jack, giving Sherif trip Jacks and filling Minh up, 4's full of jacks.
Sherif checked on the river to Minh who casually tossed 500 more into the 3k pot. Sherif quickly called only to see Minh's boat.
Minh Quach qualified via a $16k rebuy online satellite and was very happy with his position at the first break.
"I am aiming for about 30k at the end of day 1, so to have 26k at this point of time is perfect", said Quach.
Sherif bounced back after losing this pot to Minh, on what is largely an aggressive table, featuring Douglas Lee.
"I played solid early, with plenty of action up the other end of the table", said Sherif.
"I just waited on a hand, and finally looked down at KK in first decision. I decided to play it a bit slower than usual post-flop to try and get the action players betting", said Sherif.
Sherif made it 350 to go, under the gun with his KK and got two calls as he expected from David Heskin and Doug Lee. Sherif then checked a suitable (low) flop, and bet out at the turn to which he got one call. He received no more action on the river and took the pot without showing.
Sherif then found himself in 4-way action (typical of this table), raising two high cards and receiving several pre-flop calls. The flop came 2s 7d 5c to which Sherif bet the pot of 1400 and took it down. Immediately he is back up to 20k.
Players have been away for their first break of the day, and to give you an idea how our PokerStars qualifiers are faring, here are the most recent approximate chip counts:
David Papallo 16k
Jody Thompson 25k
Jimmy Fricke 35k
Michael Degilio 20k
Gerry Fitt 45k
Alexander Stahle 17k
David Tran 22k
Don de Rota 15.5k
Giuseppe Famulari 24k
Dennis Petronack 30k
Halil Delialioglu 13k
Defending champion Lee "final table" Nelson is still hovering around 19k, after running his straight with a straight flush draw into a higher straight before the break.
*** see above for updates***
The 2007 Aussie Millions Main Event is underway.
Kicking off the largest poker tournament outside the USA were a few guys who know something about claiming sporting pride for Australia. PokerStars' own Joe Hachem, the 2005 WSOP champion, cricketing legend Shane Warne, and tennis ace Mark Phillipoussis.
While players listened to their rousing words of encouragement I suspect most eyes were on poker-playing Hollywood star, Shannon Elizabeth.
Warney, who admitted to the crowd that he rated his poker game as "poor" nevertheless went straight from the stage to table 43 where at least he can commiserate with table neighbour the Poo.
Defending Champion Lee Nelson is seated with PokerStars team mate Gary Benson, who won the $1000 rebuy No Limit Hold'Em event to cash $148 480 and another top-rated Aussie player Jason Gray.
As half the room went to their first break today, Lee Nelson was down just slightly to around 19k from a starting stack of 20k. Holding 5h 6h, the flop came 7h 8h 9s giving him a straight with a straight flush draw. The turn was a 6d, the river a repeater 7, and it went to a showdown his opponent holding A 10 had made a higher straight.
David Pham is sitting pretty on about 25k, and fellow PokerStars qualifier seated alongside him Halil Delialioglu has taken a wallop and is on around 12.5k.
Our PokerStars blogging team will be following the progress of more than forty online PokerStars qualifers from at home and abroad during the event, so check here for regular updates.