The Joey Del Experience: Star City, Sydney Champs and Playing In Your Home Town

Posted at 14:06 2009-09-06
In these articles I have often spoken about having to travel down to Melbourne for poker tournaments. A lot of Australia’s premier poker events are held down in Melbourne and when you look at the class and quality of the Crown Casino Poker Room it is little wonder why. They have long since been the shining beacon at the top of the Australian Poker Room list however a change of management and a new found focus has seen Sydney’s Star City Poker Room catching up at an alarming rate.
First Sydney held the APPT Grand Final, one of the biggest events on the Asian poker calendar and this was followed by a leg of the PokerStars ANZPT - a tour exclusively set in Australia and New Zealand. The success of these tournaments in Sydney has been unquestionable. The poker room is bigger than ever, the staff is friendly and helpful and literally millions of dollars have been poured into the poker room to bring it up to par with the rest of the world. However there has been one thing missing.
There has not been a truly Sydney event for quite some time. The two events mentioned above are both part of larger tours and although Star City host some fantastic weekly tournaments for local Sydney players there has been nothing head turning that Sydney could call their own...until now! The inaugural running of the “Big Game Poker Sydney Championships” kicks off this Monday night (Sydney time) and the Sydney poker community is excited. The Sydney Champs are run in the same theme of the Melbourne Champs where the Main Event has a buy in of $1,650 - the kind of amount that sits just below your standard 3-5k buy in but is enough to build up a sizeable prize pool. It is going to be an action packed week of poker. With three lead up events ($550 deep stack event, $770 PLO event and $1100 Bounty event) as well as the PokerNews Magazine High Rollers tournament!
Usually when I want to go and play in larger scale tournaments, a fortnight of living out of a suitcase is what is needed, so I am more than happy to see Star City “up the ante” on tournament poker and give us poker lovers living here in the Harbour city the chance to play a bit more on home soil. Staying in a hotel is a funny thing, some people love it and some people hate it. Staying alone in a hotel can be quite boring but at least you get to focus on the tournaments that you are there to play. However the opposite is true for sharing with friends. Living with friends for a few days in a different city can only mean one thing, good times, as the party basically never stops when you are with a group of your mates. It is not however, the best environment for playing marathon four day poker tournaments. You learn very quickly that you and your friends have different body clocks. You will say right, I have a big day tomorrow so I am going to try and get a good night’s sleep tonight, this plan all seems relatively simple until your friends decide that a case of beer and a night of high stakes Chinese Poker is what is needed. You are lying there in bed by yourself trying to do the right thing, you can hear the laughter and yelling coming from the other room and you realise that this is never going to happen. You tell yourself “If you can’t beat them, join them” and get up to drink and gamble the night away. This is why so many poker players have red eyes and heavy heads when you see them on the table of a poker tournament, they are not deep in concentration, they’re just wasted from the night before.
However the home town tournament is not without its own set of problems. I am lucky living only ten minutes away from Star City so it is quite easy to focus my day around the poker tournament. However one thing that you realise about playing poker in another city, that you only recognise when you play at home, is that when you are away, everyone around you is all concentrating on poker. Nothing else exists. When you are at home you are surrounded by a whole group of people that couldn’t care less about your poker tournament. It will be an hour before the event and you will be getting yourself mentally prepared and the phone will ring. “Joseph, it is your mother, I need you, come here, it is urgent!” What could it be? I put everything on hold and start rushing over towards her. I get there and as soon as I walk in the door I can see something is bothering her. Messy hair, bags under her eyes...Oh my God, is it something serious? “Joseph, I need your help, I can’t find my Neil Diamond CD anywhere! Help me look for it!” That’s it? You called me all the way over here to help you find a Neil Diamond CD?!?!
This as well as other distractions from those who supposedly love you including “Can you pick up the milk”, “I booked us in to look at the apartment at 2pm” and “The Robertsons are coming over for dinner at 7...you better be here” are what happens when you are at home. People seem to go out of their way to ruin your chances of victory and inadvertently your life!
Anyway it is great to see some more first class poker being played in Sydney. I will be back next week to give you all the low down from the tournament floor.
Have a great week and good luck in whatever it is you do!


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