Pattymillion, a leader board, and an Aussie Challenge
There's a theory in poker (all right it's my theory but hear me out) that the most important tournament you can play is the one you're playing right now. When you win one it becomes history. The one you're slogging away in is the most important because you can still win it, and that's regardless of the prize pool or the quality of the opposition.
It was hard not to think about this when speaking to Patrick "Pattymillion" Millard, a laid-back roofer from Brisbane Australia this week, winner of the Aussie Challenge leader board.
In many ways, this was like any other leader board. It was tense up to the finish, and hard fought. It was also contested by players doing everything they could to score points and finish top over a period of 11 days. But in one way it wasn't like the other leader board you might read about. This was a play money contest.
"It got quite tense in the end," said Millard. "I was the leader of the challenge for about 80-90 per cent. The last two days saw some good results, and some other players getting up. So I think the last day there was the Main event and the high roller. I think I final tabled one of them.
"As we got deeper I had all the other players marked who were close to me in the leader board and I was keeping an eye on their table. I saw the guy I was up against. I was still playing in the main event and he was in the high roller. He had to finish top 3. I saw him fold ace jack and he would have made a boat, the pressure was there. It was nerve wracking, even for play money!"
Millard got his points, finished top and earned a first prize of, well, a billion chips. He also a reminder that poker at any level, even when there's nothing at stake but pride, comes with benefits.
"When it started I wasn't really sure how serious other people would be and what not. I think I won the third event, the bubble rush. I was on top of the leader board. So from that stage I was pretty keen to stay on top of the leader board.
Millard, who works as a roofer in Brisbane, starting playing in PokerStars earlier this year.
"Always had a bit of a soft spot for poker but was never that good at it to be honest," he said. "I was definitely in the low end of the buy-ins - a dollar, $11, maybe a $22 if you get a bit of a run."
And so he mixed things up between real money games and play money.
"It was about the same time as we were losing real money games here in Australia. I'm trying to grind and get a potential real money score, but at the same time I've got to try to do something in this Aussie challenge."
Millard soon got to grips with the inherent differences between real money and play money poker.
"You kind of just have to work out which guys were just calling every street with bottom pair, and which guys knew what a good hand was. It was very different to real money games in that sense."
Then he got the perfect motivation to keep playing when he found himself at the top of the leader board. Not that there weren't obstacles in the way, not least from Team PokerStars.
"A lot of other Australian players thought it was restricted to Australian players. We'd find out there were 30 Brazilians and 40 Americans registered as well. Don't' get me wrong that's great, but it kind of made it a bit difficult.
"Half way through the challenge there was poker stars pros coming in. Nanonoko, Greenstein, Celina Lin, Jason Somerville even made an appearance, coming from obscurity! It became a lot harder to win.
Millard came across a few pros himself.
"Even the great Lex Veldhuis made an appearance - I don't even think he knew. All of a sudden he was registered in this 'Aussie Challenge'."
But if recent experiences go, there's fun to be had from cleaning up in play money games, even if real money is now on hold in Australia. While the laws may be changing PokerStars still allows players to play their favourite game, with more than 450,000 play money players around the world, including the United States.
Millard will be one of them, splashing a few of his billion chips around in his favourite MTTs and reflecting on his performances this past few weeks.
"This was the first time I had any really run good over a period of time," he joked.
Still, the most important tournament is the one you're trying to win.
A great result, and indication that the game will go on PokerStars remains world's favourite iGaming destination for players in Australia.
Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog. Follow him on Twitter: @StephenBartley. What did you think about this post? Let us know on Twitter: @PokerStarsBlog.