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01 September 2006

WSOP proving a home away from home

 Going back to Las Vegas this year was incredible. I felt like I’d never left. It was my kingdom, my domain. The reception I got from other players and the public was so touching, it humbled me.

But at the poker table it was business as usual. There was a huge target on my backside and I used it to my advantage in the cash games but in the tournaments players, it turned against me.

One time I found AK on the button. There was a raise, I re-raised and the small blind went all in. I laid it down. It was the correct decision because unless he’d lost his mind, the guy had to have me beat. When he showed AQ, it affected me. I was really upset, but I wasn’t going to risk my tournament life on a coin flip.

I really wanted to win another bracelet. I wanted to make a couple of final tables and go deep into the Main Event. Those were my goals for myself, and I made two out of the three.

When I saw pocket aces on day four, I thought I was going to triple up. I had only reached the average stack that day, and I thought that hand would get me back in the hunt.

I was all in against AQ and JJ, and when the J came on the flop it was sick. I thought, “how many times do I have to put my money in as huge favourite, and lose?”

I had the sickest beats at the most critical times. Busting out like that (238th place) rocked me to the foundations. I was very emotional, and it was great to accept the applause of the crowd as I left the room.

I’d seen previous champions bust out, like Greg Raymer and Chris Moneymaker, my PokerStars colleagues (PokerStars sent more than 1600 qualifiers to this year’s WSOP).

It was a good feeling to be the last remaining champion in the field. I nearly high-fived myself!

It was great to have come back and shown the world I wasn’t just passing through the WSOP, this is my home.

Poker has changed so much in the year since I won. Pub poker has a lot to do with that because new players can get a feel for the game, and when they get more confident, log onto PokerStars where I play. They can practice for free on PokerStars.net, before stepping up into the live games. It’s huge.

I’ve been home with the kids every night after school, like I promised, since I got back. My only busy time was the Victorian Championships at Crown. But now I’m off to Barcelona and London for the European Poker Tour. My goal for the next 12 months is to win an EPT event, and then go back to Vegas and win the next WSOP.” Talk to you again in the next issue.

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