The Rise and Rise of (Mini) Master Minh Quach
by Heath Cram.
24 year old small business owner from Melbourne, Minh Quach, was one of the revelations to come out of Day 1 at the 2007 Aussie Millions at Crown Casino.
In Flight 1 of Day 1 at the Millions, the $16+R PokerStars qualifier built his stack up progressively throughout the day, to as high as 75k, before blinding down in the last level (400/800 + 100 ante), retaining an above-average chip count of 48.8k.
For a Main Event debutante, Quach was very sure of himself and confident in his approach, playing in his hometown casino
"I wanted to have 30-40k in chips at the end of Day 1, so I'm still very happy, despite having as much as 75k before the final break", said Quach.
Minh spends most of his time playing online poker at PokerStars in his own bottle shop by day, and home games at night at the back of the same shop, and was grateful for the cards falling his way later in the day, with his prized possession, girlfriend Stella looking on from the rail.
"All I have to do is keep flopping the nuts now on the other days!" said Quach with a grin that conveyed composure and confidence.
Seated at the same table as several seasoned poker professionals including the world renowned high stakes player Doug Lee, Minh Quach was referring to the remarkable three full-houses that he flopped.
After getting nothing but cold cards at the 150/300 level and being blinded down 6k, Quach looked down at his first playable hand (pocket 8's) in an early hand after the well-earned one hour dinner break.
It was a sign of things to come.
Minh limped in for 400 with his 88, only to be raised 2k pre-flop by a fresh face to the table, who was on the button and steaming. Minh obliged, calling his raise, with heads-up action to the flop.
The flop came: 6 6 8, filling Minh up.
Minh stuck with his read of the new player being on tilt, and checked to him, praying for a bet.
And a bet he got.
The button pushed all-in for another 13k, and Minh was giggling as he called. Minh showed his full-house, with the player on the button reluctantly turning over a hapless AJ off-suit.
The remainder of the hand was merely formality, with Minh catching an 8 on the river to make a good thing of it, officially giving him quads.
Only half an hour later it appeared everything he now touched turned to gold, flopping 7's full of Kings against Doug Lee and 10's full of 9's (holding pocket 10's), against a Scandinavian opponent who pushed over 16k into the pot (all-in), after Minh had, again, filled up.
"I was just very lucky that every time I made a monster, someone wanted to bet into me. Those Scandinavian players are crazy!"
Every poker player will agree that it is not hard to play good poker when you are flopping full-houses, but don’t be deceived by this bright young talent's modesty. Some early aggression by Minh followed by pure patience when the cards dried up for nearly 2 hours, meant that Minh had deserved each and every chip earned when the cards finally fell his way.
Arguably, Minh's biggest hand that set the scene for the rest of his day was a stone cold bluff with 46 off-suit into High Stakes Professional Doug Lee.
"I don’t normally show, but with a pro like him (Lee), it probably helps that I did", said Quach.
Minh was 100% correct. The outstanding bluff helped him to later get paid off by Lee, when flopping one of his three boats.
The last thing pro's of the calibre of Doug Lee expect or confront from an amateur online player like Quach, is to be pushed around, strung along, suckered in or bluffed off pots, but that is exactly what he encountered from the fearless Quach, whose poker savvy earned him a place among the chip front-runners midway through the day.
When asked what he would do if he won the Aussie Millions, Quach replied quickly, with a beaming smile and his typical air of confidence.
"Sell the bottleshop to add to the bankroll, turn pro and travel the world playing poker", he said.
Most importantly, when prompted about the likelihood of taking his lone railbird and number 1 supporter, girlfriend Stella, Quach wisely responded, "Of course Stella can come too, that’s for sure."
If you see a PokerStars shirt sported on the final table, it is expected to come from the likes of 2005 World Champion Joe Hachem, 2004 World Champion Greg Raymer or 2006 Aussie Millions champ Lee Nelson, however don’t be at all surprised if the PokerStars cap is actually worn by one Minh Quach. Watch this space…