My Aussie Millions Adventure

One of the benefits of being a professional poker player is getting to travel to some glamorous destinations.

This January poker has brought me down under to Melbourne, Australia for the 2014 Aussie Millions Tournament.

With all this travel and these exotic locations, it begs the question “how do poker players stay focused and profitable without home-court advantage?”

I arrived on January 9th at 3:30am and everything had gone wrong. My luggage was lost (looking at you WestJet). Despite numerous emails back-and-forth, the rental car agency didn’t leave the car out! I was almost not even allowed to come to Australia because I hadn’t filled out an Electronic Visa. Despite all this I arrived safely and sorted out the details.

After a few hours of sleep and finally finding a rental car, I explored the city and the Crown Casino (host of the Aussie Millions Tournament). This is a big must-do: take a test run of the casino before you actually begin to play. Something I learned was that parking is crazy expensive unless you have a casino rewards card (even then your free parking is for your next visit). I also learned that despite the heat outside it was very cold in the poker room. Mental note to go shopping for summer AND winter clothes.

On my first day at the casino the Poker Room was running a $25/50NL that I would have loved to jump into. Tip number two: that’s a rookie move. With only a few hours of sleep, a drama-filled trip, and a lack of knowledge regarding house rules, I would have been at a definite disadvantage. Instead, I railed and learnt the chip denomination colours and watched for any unique rulings. It’s extremely tilting to be in a big pot and be forced to make an unplanned play because of some house rule you’re unaware of.

As far as I could see the rules seemed pretty standard. The rake is pretty high but manageable. I did notice a turbo game with a shot clock (I know a lot of you, including Daniel Negreanu, have been wanting a clock for some time). The clocked game is a cash game. I won’t get into all the rules, but you basically have ten seconds to act and you have to pay $1 more for 30-seconds additional time. Timed-games are ten-handed at the Crown while raked-games are nine-handed.

Crown Casino uses last aggressor rules, so if the river goes check check the player who bet/raised last must open his or her hand first.

Once I have had a good night’s sleep and taken a test-run of the casino, then I allow myself to play poker. I have to think of Poker as a job – a really fun job but a job just the same. I can’t expect to perform well if I am not in a great mental state. Making sure to understand the difference between being here for work and being on holiday will be crucial in making sure my trip is profitable.

I arrived in Australia more than a week before the start of the tournament. I didn’t spend all this time learning that the Poker Room is really cold, I also made time to do touristy stuff with friends. We visited a penguin sanctuary where, at night, we watched hundreds of penguins arrive from the ocean and waddle along to their burrows to feed their young. We also took a trip to Healsville where we hung out with Australian wildlife. On the way back we went Wine and Beer tasting in the Yarra Valley.

Unlike the Poker Room, the last few days have been too hot to do anything. The Australian Open is in Melbourne, and officials were forced to delay some matches due to the blistering heat.

After a week of touring, it’s time for me to earn my trip; to buckle down and grind. My focus now turns from being a tourist to being a poker pro. I’ve been playing cash games and earning Australian dollars. I’m expecting a lot of action and a big field in this tournament. Good luck to all the players participating.

I look forward to talking to you on the other side. If you want to follow my Aussie Adventure follow me on twitter at @GillEpp