Travel Page by Planet Ranger
Free Travel Web Page at
Home search About Advice

Travel Page

Aussie Millions Trip

This is Ray and Russell's daily account of our trip to Melbourne for Russell to play in the Aussie Millions Poker Tournament, January 14th-20th, 2007

Diary Entries

Thursday, 18 January 2007

Friday January 19th-morning
Yesterday was another hot day,back up to about 35 degrees. I went searching for yet another wool shop, only to find a coffee shop - been there two weeks and the wool shop was now out in the suburbs- No wool this trip.
We saw a little poker - was narrowed from 9 players to 7 so there wasn't much action yesterday. Today they will be in the "TV" room and showing it on the big screens.
We both managed a run yesterday - first 10 minutes is ok but the heat gets to you pretty quickly. We went to the Australian Open tennis last night, it's about a 15 minute walk from here. You can get a night pass for $20 and see everything but the main event at the large arena (Rod Laver Arena). There are several large open arenas and many smaller court areas on one large grounds. Lots of action and activity as the whole Open is an "event", with thousand of people. I believe they had 50,000 people on opening day.
Again, we met up with Arlen and caught a few matches- the end of Maria Sharapova's match, the number 1 women's seed and a match with the number 12 seed on the men's side- Tony Haas from Germany. It was quite enjoyable - the crowd gets into it, chanting, flag waving etc. Watching it live allows to see how fast that ball really moves and how quick the game is.
I have a few photos- not bad considering they do not allow telephoto lenses but you can take photos for personal use. They did check my camera- it seems you can do anything you want with a little digital camera, but not a big one (they would not allow my big camera in the poker room and said there were no photos but everyone was using cell phone cameras or small digital cameras)


Wednesday, 17 January 2007

January 16th and 17th.
I missed posting yesterday as Russell was doing a physics assignment plus he managed to get in a little on-line cash games poker, apparently making $300.00 in a little over an hour -He finished his physics assignment also and didn't miss any school as McMaster was closed due to the ice/snow storm so it was an ok day for him.
We didn't do much yesterday - Russell slept in and by the time he was up it was 35 Degrees and went up to 40 by mid afternoon, cooling off to 34 at bed time. Stinking hot - a few of the tennis players had problems in the heat - can't imagine playing for 3 hours in that heat. I walked around downtown and found the wool shop Joanne said I might want to visit- turns out to be an empty room now. But she has given me a few more suggestions.
Russell and I went to the Melbourne Aquarium, right across the river from the hotel. It was interesting, well done. We saw the feeding of the sharks and stringrays (mostly stingrays) and went on a "scary" undersea rollercoaster ride. It's not quite the same when your kids are 19-years old doing this stuff.

Today was the big day - 11 hour trip along the Great Ocean Road. We rented a car (just asked at the front desk -they arranged it, brought the paper work to the room and had the car out front in the morning). Arlen joined us as driver and tour guide. Had lots of good discussions. We headed out of town for Torquay, the surf capital of the south. Unfortunately there was no surf today. The weather was cloudy and hazy - they keep saying rain. The temperature was 32 when we left and by the time we got to Torquay about (an hour and a half) it was 18 degrees - not what they predicted, but it did stay cloudy and sprinkled a little bit.
The drive is almost all coastal (west of Melbourne) with sandstone cliffs along most of the drive and the very windy road snaking along the edge of the cliff most of the way. On the other side of the road is rain forest, or grazing lands where it has been carved out of the rain forest. However, they have had very little rain in the last five years and it was incredibly dry.
Highlights of the 250 km drive (one way), beyond the drive itself and the scenery, are the Twelve Apostles, the Arch and London Bridge, all rock formations in the ocean, near the end of the coastal drive. It's easier to show the pictures then explain so we'll see how the internet acts uploading them tonight. Russell has gone over to check out the poker action so I have some time to work with this.
We might take in some tennis tomorrow.


Monday, 15 January 2007

January 15th- evening
Well it wasn't Russell's day today. He had no cards, didn't hit any flops, and was seated in a bad position, the players there were conservative players on his right and aggressive players on his left (they bet after Russell). The guy on his left was Jamil Dia from New Zealand- he won the Aussie millions in 2005. Russell could explain what happened better than me, but he would rather be playing poker, now that he came this far. Anyways to make a long story short, he got crippled, losing most of his chips when he had pocket aces - he lost to 3-sevens with this opponent catching the 3rd seven on the river card (last card). He would have been in good shape winning that one - the guy only had 2 chances on the last card so the odds were heavily in Russell's favour. Such is one tournament as opposed to playing many games on line. Jamil Dia was also knocked out so it shows how the game goes. A number of the pros are out. Maybe he'll try for the Bahamas next year - it's a lot closer.

Now we need to figure out what to do for the rest of the week.

Me, I didn't see staying around for the Tournament as I couldn't see Russell anyways, I just saw him head to his table - I would catch up to him at dinner break. They have a 15 minute break every 90 minutes and a one hour break about 7 hours into the play.

I rented a bike and met up with Arlen for a bike ride along the docklands, and bay to St. Kilda, a beach resort/residential area about 15 km away from the downtown. The morning was very hazy with smoke from fires to the Northeast. Temperture was about 22 degrees, so it was pleasent. You could smell the smoke on occasion. Not very good conditions for light and taking pictures but I will post a few of the area to show what it is like.
It is supposed to go up to 39 degrees tomorrow - too hot, but I suppose you are digging out back home so there won't be any sympathy.
Anyways, it was a pleasant trip along the beach for about half the time- with a bike path along the beach. We had lunch in St. Kilda, in the tourist area- lots of shops and restaurants and an old amusement park - straight out of the fifties.

The Australian Open tennis started today- apparently they had a riot - rival countries fans, about 150 of them were going at it and the police had to be called in. I didn't realize there were tennis houligans.

Well thats it for now - not sure what Russell wants to do. I tried to talk him into using the money he won and play some more poker, or put it all into the slot machines - but I think he'll stick with online playing for awhile. It has been fun for him, seeing how it all works, meeting and playing against some of the stars.


Sunday, 14 January 2007

January 14th-2007
A quiet day today. Russell starts play tomorrow- going to be a long day. The First group started today at 12:30 it is now 9:30 pm and there are 273 left out of 358 and they would like to cut it in half so it could be a long first day for Russell. Of note, the 20-year old qualifer that came second yesterday in the free roll tournament was just knocked out - he had Aces against Kings and and a King came on the river (last card). Daniel Negraunu from Toronto was just knocked out- one of the top pros. There is a web site to get live updates and I will post that tomorrow- assuming Russell survives the day.
I just did some local touring today. I was going to go for a bike ride but all the bikes were rented- very busy Sunday out there. Pleasant temperature, high about 22 degrees, nice breeze. I hope to get out for a ride tomorrow with Arlen.
There are a few photos to check out - a good one of Russell on the pro tour. They all may not be there as our internet connection goes on us on a regular basis.

Saturday, 13 January 2007

January 13th-night
Well we didn't do much today, other than poker, as Russell was in the free roll tournament- 95 Full Tilt Qualifiers and 28 pros from Full Tilt.
Russell was a little nervous at first. I got to watch up close - but I stayed away as I didn't want to look like I was hovering over Russell. He had a few pros at the Table including Andy Bloch, one of the top players in the world, a former MIT blackjack team member. I watched for an hour without much happening so I left Russell to it. When I came back he was still hanging in and had picked up a few chips. Later he almost knocked Andy Bloch out, going all in, but Andy had a 300 more chips than Russell so Russell didn't get the bounty money on him as he didn't knoack him out.
Russell kept rolling along until lunch break about 3 hours into it. He managed to keep going and make it to the money - 18 people(two tables). He did double his chips at one point as they move towrds knocking people out to get to the final table. He went all in with Ace-Jack and someone called with Ace-nine. The other guy hit a nine on the flop (first three cards) but Russell hit jack-jack on the last two cards.
He managed to make it to the final table (9 people) 3 pros and 6 qualifiers. He was really short-stacked (not many chips) so was forced to go all in early with queen-10- Two guys called him, one with Ace-queen and the other with pocket nines- an ace came on the flop and Russell hit a 10 - not good enough. It was a good run and he got to play against Allen Cunningham, one of the best in the world (UCLA engineering grad) and Clonie Gowen the top female tournament player in the world. He did manage to win $1383.75 US. First place was $16605

What a great experience and good practice for the Main Event- about 750 people and $10,000 buyin - first place is about a million dollars. Camera crews were filming all day, and all the players had fun pros joking with the qualifiers- so it was quite entertaining-although it was about 7 hours of poker.
Russell plays in the Main event starting on Monday so hopefully he hasn't used up all his luck
See some photos I took before they told me I couldn't do that - the Full tilt guys take pictures all day but no one is allowed to take pictures in the Casino.

Friday, 12 January 2007

Well this is Day 3 and Russell is playing in a free roll tournament (that means you don't have to pay) with the Full Tilt Poker Team. He is about an hour into it - 130 people and has just above above average stack of chips. We'll see how it goes - his first live tournament. About 75k in prize money. He looked a little nervous at first but is more relaxed now. I can watch from about 15 feet away but don't want to stand over him the whole time.
Yesterday was a slow day - Russell slept in until after 10:00 and then went and watched apart of a small tournament - 100k buyin and one million first prize - 18 people, most of the big poker pros, Phil Ivey, Daniel Negruano, Gus Hansen and others.

We each got a run in the afternoon, around the Royal Botanical Gardens, near the hotel. A little hot and dry but not bad.

We went on a dinner cruise on the Yarra River with Team Full Tilt. Russell got to mingle with the pros and had lots of fun. He talked to a few at our table and once they found out he has not used any of his own money and paid for school and built a bank roll, they jokingly suggested that he was wasting his time in school. This drew a few complaints from some of the other pros, saying they shouldn't talk like that with his Dad present- at least graduate then play poker.

Enjoy the photos of the cruise - I will let you know how Russell does in the free roll

Thursday, 11 January 2007

Well we finally made it to Melbourne, barely. The trip went as follows:
We met up with John Keen at the Toronto Airport to bring a "pouch" to Arlen, his son, who is a university in Melbourne. Then we checked in or at least tried to.
-Toronto airport self-service check in ate my Aeroplan card, and wouldn't accept information, Russell information was fine.
-Then we went through the usual long customs clearance line
boarded the plane, taxied out to fly, waited - found out a kid on the plane had a nose bleed that wouldn't stop, taxied back to the gate, had a doctor come on board assess the situation and decided he couldn't fly. Therefore, his family and luggage had to be taken off the plane. So we were delayed 1 hour and 40 minutes which really cut into or 2 hours and 20 minutes time to catch our connection in Los Angeles, at a different terminal far away from where we were to land.
The airlines said they would arrange for someone to meet with the people making this connection and speed things up. Turns out there were about 18 of us in the same position.
Of course there was no one to meet us and they did not know what we were talking about so it was "every man for himself", although Russell and I followed a 16 year old female tennis player heading down to the Australian Open, as she had been through this before.
We ran - yes everyone was really running- outside to catch the shuttle bus from Terminal 2 to 7 -then ran back inside to clear security again. Of course since we originally were supposed to be at the airport for over two hours I had some juice that I would have drank (picked it up after clearance in Toronto), which the baggage check people didn't like, resulting in a full bag search with less than 10 minutes until our plane was to leave. We ran all the way through the terminal (Russell broke the carrying strap on his laptop while running), arrived with about 2 minutes to spare until the plane left. Great, except they won't let you on the plane if your luggage isn't on it, so we all had to wait half an hour to see if the luggage would make it. All 18 of us waited around as nobody at the check in counter new what was going on. We finally got the word - yes the luggage made it.
We boarded the plane - with Russell and I having different seat assignments then they gave us in Toronto - and when we got to our seats there were people already in them. Soooo, after another 10 minutes of checking things we did get our seats. Then we were told that all the bags did not in fact make the plane - 21 of 31 bags for our group made it.
After a long plane ride - 14.5 hrs, mostly in the dark we arrived in Sydney to change planes for Melbourne- a simple walk through the secure area of the airport and go to the next plane - except that we had to go through security checks twice more, full bag checks, patted down etc yet we hadn't left the secure area.
Well, we finally arrived in Melbourne, nice views on the flight, but hazy with all the smoke from the fires in the area. Our bags were there so maybe we were lucky.
We arrrived athe Crown Promenade Hotel about noon after being enroute for 28 hours.
To say the place is huge is an understatement. A block long Casino and every form of fast food, expensive restaurants, entertainment, and retail outlet imaginable. We checked out the poker room and it is quite fascinating. Russell will have detailed discussions msn-ing the poker crowd at home so I won't detail here, but all the big poker stars are here and you can walk around an watch the games and players.

In the quick look around, the City Of Melbourne is a great city. Lots to see and do, the downtown is along theYarra river so a real mixture of business people and tourists. Lots of bike trails so I will get some biking in. It was 33 degrees and hot and windy. It cooled off overnight. I have a few pictures in the photo section- I had to make them small so the site would take them so I am still working on how best to do the photos. As we tour around the city more and get into the poker we will provide updates.

Photos - Click Below

Leave a Message


Email (optional):


Travelling Soon?

Get Your own Planet Ranger Travel Page. Click Here

Recent Messages

From Larry / Jo - Ann
Congratulations, you have done fantastic. We are all very proud of you.
From Russell
Despite the fact I,m not a big fan of Poker, You did well. Relax now and enjoy the rest of your yime in Aust. Gram.
From Bill
Well no doubt it was a great experience. You would have regretted if you didn't go and hey, you did win something. Have fun the rest of the week. The airport should be cleaned up by the time you get back.
From Bruce & Jen
Great stories and pic's so far, guys. All the vert best, Russell, in the tourney. Have a blast!

Enjoy the scene & the scenery, Ray.

Bruce & Jen.
From Bill
The main website has the results posted.The last results posted were for Friday's event 8. I'll look to see if Russell is listed in the next update.
We're finally getting some snow here but none up around Blue. I'll check late tonight EST to see if you have anything posted. Cheers!
From Graeme MacDonald
russell is my hero
From Carolyn Mincham
Greetings from across the ditch, as they say in this part of the world. We've enjoyed reading about the trip (and seeing the photos) so far and look forward to further installments. Good luck Russell, you're off to a great start!
Carolyn & Bruce
From Bill
It really does sound like the best experience you could have..playing against those players.
Is this going to be live or only slightly time delayed on TV?
Advertising with the hat I see.
Good luck on Monday!!!
Response: It's delayed by a lot. There is lots of footage taken but mainly of a "feature" table with some of the pros and then when they are deep into the tournament.
From Bill
This is my reason for not doing too much travelling. Sounds more stressfull than a civil court case.
Pictures look great! This website is a perfect way to keep people posted.
I'm off to the CVC in 12 degree weather to discuss infiltration rates with Hazel and Hugh Whitely.
Response: Yea but it is worth it once you get here- The city is pretty nice considering I don't like cities-
Have fun with Hazel and Hugh-