So I'm back from Melbourne, and I have to admit that I had the time of my life. The coincidence of the Australian Open and the Aussie Millions is definitely one I'll be taking advantage of in the future; I'm even thinking about perhaps playing one of the smaller events at next year's Millions, maybe one of the $240 satellites into the main event. But even if not, the week was just fantastic. Marsha and Kenna really know how to show someone a good time, and meeting all those poker players I knew from TV was an amazing (if sometimes intimidating!) experience. My back dealt with the week rather well, and although I had several times where I had to sit down (sometimes because my back was sore, sometimes my legs - I'm still a little weak from spending ten weeks lying down), it was great to be able to cheer Kenna on during the Millions. He ended up busting out in 53rd position, but at least he cashed (for $20,000), which was an OK result. I'm sure he would have liked to have done better, but we're all proud of him!
So I'm sure you'll all want photos, and I'm in the process of uploading them now, but here are a few of the big names I met:
Me with Jennifer Tilly, Academy Award nominee and WSOP bracelet winner
Me and Marsha with "Crocodile" Billy Argyros, winner of the H.O.R.S.E tournament at the 2008 Aussie Millions
Me with Joe Hachem, 2005 champion in the main event of the WSOP
The last few days were pretty much like the first few - I watched a lot of poker, got a pile of autographs (I got signatures from Joe Hachem, Billy Argyros, Lee Nelson, Chip Jett, Kristy Gazes, Clonie Gowen, Howard Lederer, Gus Hansen and Chris Ferguson, among others), and went to the tennis three times. We watched some awesome matches; we saw Casey Dellacqua beat Amelie Mauresmo, Philipp Kohlschreiber beat Andy Roddick, and Lleyton Hewitt beat Steve Darcis. I actually went to that last match with Kenna and Chip Jett, who was a barrel of laughs - that was a great day out! On top of all that, I finished the week a total of $67 ahead, and would have been more like $300 ahead if I hadn't had pocket Queens cracked on my last night (Saturday) against the A7 off-suit when my opponent managed to pick up an Ace on the flop; I had $100 on the table, had moved all-in with my Queens against a much larger stack pre-flop, got called, and he got lucky. But that's poker, baby, and I did manage to get back up to square that night with ♦A ♥J against ♥A ♣K when the flop came ♣J ♠2 ♣2 and filled out with rags. As Kenna said to me, if you get a bad beat and can still come out even, then it's been a winning session.
Aside from all the shenanigans at the casino, I also got the chance to catch up with Rachel and Kent and their family, cousins of my father's whom we haven't seen in about 15 years, not since they moved away from Brisbane. It's incredible to see everyone you knew a decade and a half ago again - and even more incredible to see cousins I had never even met. We had a barbeque lunch/dinner at their place on Sunday afternoon, which was thoroughly enjoyed by all; it was great to see them all again, and 15 years gives you a lot to catch up on!
So in all, I've come to the conclusion that (a) I need to travel more often; (b) I should play poker more often, even just in free games; (c) I need to see my relatives more often, and (d) life's too short to waste it at home doing nothing.
So I'm going to ask Sarah out on a date tomorrow.