Aussie Millions: Tough day at the office
by Heath Cram.
With several key PokerStars players eliminated in Day 1, including 2004 World Champion Greg Raymer, today it is up to the likes of the 2005 WSOP Champion Joe Hachem and 2006 Aussie Millions Champion Lee Nelson to fly the flag for Team PokerStars. 19 year old American Jimmy Fricke was the chip leader from the PokerStars contingent with 139.3k.
Yesterday was a very tough day at work for Joe Hachem who hovered around the 12k chip mark for the majority of the day. Joe was forced to put his stack in the middle several times but not for a second did he give up the charge. Joe showed all of his fighting qualities and short-stack expertise in the final 400/800 (100 ante) blind level, taking his finishing stack back up to 22.4k.
At the end of the night, Joe raised his arms in the air, just as he did when he claimed his World Title, and rightly so, was proud of his achievement on the short stack.
"To finish the day with over 20k...That's the most I've had all day!" said Hachem.
When given a well-deserved pat on the back for his short stack effort, he responded by saying, "that's my specialty".
Joe worked hard for many pots in the last session to stay alive and avoid being blinded off, protecting his big blind with pre and post-flop raises on numerous occasions.
Joe will call on all of his poker experience and expertise today, as he begins the climb back into tournament contention.
PokerStars own Greece-based Simon Cook staged a tremendous comeback on Day 2, after falling as low as 6k in chips, Cook spent a lot of the middle levels with about 13k to his credit. By the end of the final session, he had amassed 59.6k to be above the average stack.
Simon rallied with a cunning bluffing exhibition, the highlight of the key pots he won.
With J-10 in the hole, Simon called pre-flop.
The flop came: 8 7 4 and his opponent bet out 2k. Simon called, with obvious intentions of taking the pot down on the later streets.
The turn came: 5
Again Simon's opponent bet, this time 5k, but with the 1 card straight on the board, Simon came over the top for another 17k, setting his opponent all-in. After deliberating, thinking, shaking his head and squirming, the initial raiser flashed his K8 (top pair, second best kicker) to the gallery and threw it away.
Simon cheekily showed his JT bluff to the table and took down another pot.
Simon Cook is one player who mixes his game up enough and plays a wide range of hands, as all of the top (aggressive) tournament pros do, to give him a chance of figuring the finish on the back of his first day performance.
The much publicized Minh Quach didn’t have to wait long to be thrown into the deep end again. Minh has found himself on the table of Hall Of Fame Superstar Gus Hansen who has more tricks in his arsenal then Houdini. Quach’s display against Doug Lee on Day 1 suggests the 24 year old will not be fazed and will give a very good account of himself at the higher blind levels.
The "sleeper" in the PokerStars team has been Adrian Pitt.
Adrian played steady poker throughout the day and consolidated his position, with 34k in chips. Based on his display today, he won't be easy to take chips from.
"I had a few goes at the $16 satellites to get here, but couldn't qualify, so I thought what the hell and bought in direct (to the Sunday PokerStars tourney) for over $500", said Pitt.
"I only ever play online and I think the fact I had outlayed over $500 gave me greater incentive to do well and a top 3 finish ensured I'm here today", said Pitt.
With that said, Adrian has a much bigger incentive to do well today with the tournament paying 80 places, with a $15k award for the 80th placed finisher. $1.5million for first should guarantee that Pitt brings his A-Game today.
Somewhat typical of a successful online tournament player, Adrian Pitt played predominantly tight and solid poker in the early blind levels and proved he could lay down a big hand, without making that known to his more experienced opposition.
"I threw away QQ twice", said Pitt.
"One was pre-flop after a decent raise and a call, and the flop came A K 6, so I'm sure I dodged a bullet there. The second time, I threw it away post flop even though the flop wasn't TOO bad, I had a player to act behind me. The guy who went on to win the pot at the end, showed down AA", said Pitt.
Between Jimmy Fricke’s stack size, Lee Nelson’s tournament experience, Joe Hachem's superstar quality, Simon Cook's gear changes, Minh Quach's confidence and "game", and Adrian Pitt's solidarity, one feels that PokerStars can expect a great showing from its team and qualifiers on days 3 and 4.