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Aussie Millions 2013: Players to watch

Pai Yao
Written by Pai Yao

This article first appeared in the WSOP 2012 special issue of World Gaming magazine.

With so many world-class players making the trip “down under” it’s tough to pick a winner, but there are several players worth keeping an eye on.


Oliver Speidel

The reigning Aussie Millions champion comes from a banking background and is one of the many local Melbournian players to watch out for at the tables. While he didn’t become a household name until winning the Aussie Millions, Speidel has been a consistent performer since 2010. In 2011 he won the AU$1,000 no limit hold’em rebuy event at the Aussie Millions before going on to take down the Manny Pacquiao World Poker Event in Manila in December 2011.

Since winning the Aussie Millions Main Event Speidel has gone on to show his class, final tabling the 2012 Australia New Zealand Poker Tour Sydney Main Event and the 2012 Asian Poker Tour Manila.

Oliver is a very aggressive yet canny player and will be fired up to defend his title come January – while the odds of winning back-to-back titles might be enormous, writing this young man off would be a huge mistake.


Joe Hachem

The Lebanese-Australian shot to fame after becoming the 2005 World Series of Poker Main Event champion, winning US$7.5 million in the process. In 2006 he silenced critics by taking down the Bellagio Five Diamond World Poker Classic for another US$2 million. Australia found a poker hero and Hachem has gone on to earn an impressive US$12 million in career tournament earnings, announcing to the rest of the world he is up there with poker’s elite.

The most impressive thing about Joe is that he has never let his excellent results in those two huge tournaments dampen his enthusiasm for winning. It’s this hunger and professionalism that make him a true champion.

The one title Joe wants more than anything is that of Aussie Millions Main Event champion. While Hachem finished 3rd in the 2012 $100,000 Challenge after playing some incredible poker, so far Crown has not been the happiest of hunting grounds for the Australian Poker Hall of Famer. However, we’re sure it is just a matter of when, not if.


Jonathan Karamalikis

Don’t be fooled by Jonathan Karamalikis’ youth. This online tournament specialist is one of Australia’s internet poker young guns and has had no problem making the transition to major live tournaments, something he accomplished with ease in 2007. A likeable character from South Australia, his poker travels have seen him cashing in tournaments in Australia, New Zealand and Macau, as well as picking up two cashes at last year’s WSOP.

The figures speak for themselves. In just five years of live tournament poker Karamalikis has amassed US$1,290,579 in prize money, from 33 cashes including seven first places.

Melbourne, and particularly the Aussie Millions, has been a happy hunting ground for Karamalikis. Seven of his 33 cashes, totaling $314,807, have been at the Aussie Millions, including a victory in the AU$1,650 no limit hold’em bounty event in 2010 for a US$113,247 collect. He also won the 2010 Victorian Poker Championship at Crown for a US$89,746 payday.

Karamalikis’ biggest score to date was winning the 2010 Asia Pacific Poker Tour Grand Final in Sydney, which saw him become US$454,304 richer.


Andrew Hinrichsen

Another local Melbournian, Andrew Hinrichson has been posting consistent results since 2009. By the end of 2010 he had accumulated a tidy bankroll with 2nd place in the high rollers event at the Macau Poker Cup Championship, but that was only a taste of what was to come.

While Hinrichson’s 2011 got off to a slow start with a 6th place finish in the 2011 Aussie Millions 6-handed event, he upped the tempo at the WSOP going deep in the Main Event, eventually finishing 23rd for a payday of over $300,000.

Hinrichson’s 2011 already looked like a year most players can only dream about, but he raised the bar still further in October to claim his first title with a win in the €1,000 no limit WSOPE event in Cannes, France, where he won close to $200,000. So far he has had a fairly quiet 2012 but we expect a big run at the Aussie Millions.


Gus Hansen

Another former Aussie Millions Champion the “Great Dane” is from Copenhagen, Denmark, but like many successful European poker players now resides in Monaco. Originally a backgammon player, he moved to New York to play professionally then discovered he was far more successful at poker. Since swapping the dice for cards he hasn’t looked back.

The only player ever to win four WPT titles – although one of these came in the invitation-only Bad Boys of Poker event – Hansen has also won a WSOP bracelet taking down the £10,000 2010 WSOPE high roller heads-up event, winning £288,409 (US$444,925) in the process.

With over US$10.2 million in career tournament earnings Hansen is a formidable player. His book Every Hand Revealed, which chronicled his 2007 Aussie Millions win, showed a keen mathematical mind lurks behind his extremely loose-aggressive image.

No stranger to success in Australia, in addition to his 2007 Aussie Millions Main Event win Hansen finished 23rd in 2010 for over US$46,000 and came 3rd in the 2012 AU$250,000 Super High Roller for over US$800,000. With over 20 percent of his career tournament earnings coming from the Aussie Millions, Hansen is definitely one to watch in January.


Patrik Antonius

A former professional tennis player and coach the Finnish poker pro first popped up on the radar back in 2005 with deep runs in three WPT events, three cashes at the WSOP and a 3rd place finish at the EPT Barcelona. Less than one month later Antonius announced his presence on the world stage taking down the EPT Baden Classic.

To date Antonius has earned US$5.3 million in career tournament earnings, although aside from his EPT title has been unsuccessful in claiming either a WPT title or a WSOP bracelet. However, this is probably because he prefers to concentrate on high stakes cash games rather than a lack of skill. Antonius is the second most successful online player ever winning over US$11.8 million in the nosebleed high stakes cash games.

Antonius’ record at the Aussie Millions Main Event is impressive with a 13th place finish in 2007, a 41st place finish in 2009 and a final table appearance in 2011 where he eventually finished 8th for over US$120,000. He topped that off by finishing runner-up to Ivey in the 2012 AU$250,000 Challenge for a monstrous US$1.23 million payday.


Sam Trickett

A regular on the UK circuit since 2007 this fearless British pro has cemented his place in the upper echelons of the poker world with some superb results over the last 18 months.

Trickett defeated a star-studded field to take down the 2011 Aussie Millions AU$100,000 event for over US$1.5 million before going on to finish runner-up to Erik Seidel in the AU$250,000 Super High Roller less than a week later for over US$1.3 million.

He followed this up with a final table appearance at the WPT Diamond Championship in Paris before taking down the Partouche Poker Tour Main Event in Cannes for €1 million and bagging a 4th place finish in the WSOPE €5,000 PLO event for over US$107,000.

This earned Trickett a monstrous US$4.59 million in tournament winnings for 2011 bringing his total career tournament earnings to over US$6.3 million, putting him in the number one spot on England’s all-time money list.

In addition to his tournament success Trickett is a regular in Macau’s “big game” where he competes against high-caliber players such as Phil Ivey and Tom Dwan and has booked wins of over US$1.5 million in a single session.


Phil Ivey

Widely regarded as the world’s best poker player Philip Dennis Ivey Jr., better known to the poker world as Phil Ivey, is often referred to as the “Tiger Woods of Poker” and when you see his results it’s easy to see why.

In addition to being poker’s most successful online cash game winner with total profits of over US$19 million, Ivey currently sits 3rd in poker’s all-time money list with career tournament earnings of over US$16.1 million.

With an impressive 42 WSOP cashes including 23 final tables, Ivey has won eight WSOP bracelets across a wide range of poker variants including pot limit omaha, 7-card stud, 7-card stud hi-lo, 2-7 draw and mixed games like SHOE and HORSE.

Ivey has had several notable results in Australia, finishing 2nd at the 2010 Aussie Millions AU$100,000 Challenge for US$553,776 and coming 12th in the Main Event in 2012. In addition to this Ivey took down the massive 2012 Aussie Millions AU$250,000 Challenge for over US$2 million. While he has yet to make the final table of the Aussie Millions Main Event this may be because the stakes aren’t big enough!


Tom Dwan

The New Jersey native first came to the poker world’s attention as an online poker phenomenon back in 2006 where he became renowned for playing in the nosebleed high stakes games on Full Tilt.

Before Black Friday Dwan amassed US$2.4 million in online cash game winnings, though his biggest high came in June 2009 when he was up a sizable US$7.2 million. Since then Dwan has moved into the live arena and is a regular in Macau’s “big game” where the stakes range from HK$5,000/10,000 to HK$20,000/40,000 and higher (about US$650/1,300 to US$2,600/5,200).

Probably one of the best poker players yet to win a WSOP bracelet Dwan has come agonizingly close, losing out to New Zealand’s Simon Watt in a 2010 WSOP US$1,500 no limit event. Despite never winning a major title Dwan has amassed over US$2.1 million in career tournament earnings, final tabling two WPT events and cashing in an EPT.

The 2013 Aussie Millions might just be where Dwan finally gets the tournament monkey off his back and he has already had some success finishing 2nd in the 2008 AU$3,000 PLO event.


Daniel Negreanu

One of the friendliest and most recognizable players in the game the Canadian professional known as “Kid Poker” has been a firm fixture on the live circuit since 1997. As famous for his outspoken views as much as for his outgoing personality and impressive tournament record Negreanu is a firm fan favorite.

With an impressive 51 WSOP cashes that include 26 final tables, Negreanu has won four bracelets in pot limit hold’em, limit hold’em and SHOE. Add this to two WPT titles, 18 WPT cashes that include eight final tables and three EPT final tables for career tournament earnings of over US$16.1 million and you can see why Negreanu currently sits 2nd in poker’s all-time money list.

While he has yet to make his mark at the Aussie Millions Negreanu has had some success in Australia, final tabling the 2010 AU$6,000 APPT in Sydney, so it is likely just a matter of time before he enjoys some success in Melbourne.


Jason Mercier

First exploding on the international poker scene after taking down the 2008 EPT Sanremo for over US$1.3 million, US poker pro Jason Mercier is a force to be reckoned with on the live tournament circuit.

Currently second in the rankings on the global poker index, just behind Bertrand Grospellier, the Florida native has earned over US$100,000 so far in 2012 with a final table at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in January (he final tabled the same event in 2011) and a deep run at the WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star in March.

This comes on the back of an incredible 2011 where Mercier earned his second WSOP bracelet and cashed in four other WSOP events, took down the NAPT Mohegan Sun US$10,000 High Roller, won the EPT Champion of Champions Grand Final in Madrid, went on several deep runs at the WSOPE and won the US$100,000 High Roller at the Doyle Brunson Five Diamond Classic.

Mercier’s other notable results are too numerous to mention but include an EPT Barcelona final table, an NAPT final table, 2 WSOPE final tables and an EPT London win. This brings Mercier’s career tournament earnings to over US$7.6 million and while he has yet to bag himself a title on Aussie soil the time cannot be far off.


David Steicke

A Hong-Kong based commodities trader originally from Australia, Steicke is one of the Asia Pacific region’s most successful high stakes tournament specialists.

Steicke’s commodities background has proven invaluable at the tables and he made a stylish entrance to the world of tournament poker at the 2007 Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT), finishing 3rd in the US$15,000 high roller event for US$110,592. A 6th place finish in a 2008 Aussie Millions AU$1,000 no limit hold’em event for over US$23,000 quickly followed.

With multiple cashes in the WSOP, including a 2008 4th place finish in a US$2,000 no limit hold’em event, Steicke has gone on to final table everything from the EPT Grand Final High Roller in Monte Carlo to the WPT Warsaw High Roller and boasts career tournament earnings of over US$2.7 million.

Steicke’s first significant victory came on a return trip to the Aussie Millions in 2009 which saw him take down the AU$100,000 Challenge for US$852,442. Definitely one to watch, Steicke has cashed at the Aussie Millions every year since 2008 with multiple AU$100,000 Challenge results and Main Event cashes in addition to final table appearances in several side events.

 

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