After I returned to the Netherlands from Newcastle, I decided to take a rest for a couple of days so I would be in the best possible shape to go halfway across the world.
I flew from Amsterdam to Hong Kong, a flight that takes 12 hours. I chose to go via Hong Kong because flying directly from Amsterdam to Australia is too exhausting. It's 12 hours to Asia, then you need to wait five or six hours for your nine-hour connecting flight, so as you can imagine that can never be healthy.
Being a poker player I strongly believe in the concept of "a healthy mind in a healthy body," so I decided to go to Hong Kong and stick around for a day and a half just to have a look around. I stayed in the luxurious Harbour View Metropolis hotel in Hong Kong.
As you can see in the picture I had a hot-tub-like thing in my garden. The funny thing wasn't that this hotel had a garden, but that I stayed on the 10th floor - this was the first garden on the 10th floor I ever saw :-)
So that was rather special. I dropped my suitcases and got out and just walked around and I forgot about what I was going to see: huge crowds everywhere... just unbelievable. (The last time I was in Hong Kong was in 2005.)
I did some shopping, then returned to my hotel and rested for a while before going out again for some more shopping. I went to bed early that evening and spent most of the next day shopping and just walking around downtown. I had to leave at 7 p.m. for my next destination: Down Under, where I landed around 8 a.m. the next morning.
It was pretty early when I arrived at my hotel, so you probably already guessed: my room wasn't ready yet. (Note: When you arrive in Australia, be prepared for a long wait when you get your luggage and want to clear customs. Why? They scan every bag/suitcase. Why? It's a continent/island on its own and they wanna keep all fruit/meat diseases out. If you're unlucky, a two-and-a-half hour wait is not unusual.)
I knew Greg Mueller and Brandon Cantu.
When my room was ready I dropped my bags and went to play some cash games. To my big surprise, I ran into two friends I know, Marco and Johan, from a big Dutch poker community, Pokerinfo. Johan won his seat for the Aussie Millions online and Marco (Dr. Flugel) was there to play a satellite.
They both played the satellite and after a couple of hours they came back to my table to tell me they'd both won a seat in the main event. So everybody was in a pretty good mood. We had a couple of drinks and made plans for the next day, deciding to rent a car and take a look at the "Great Ocean Road," which is known for its scenic views of the Australian coastline.
Johan drove the car, Marco did the navigation and I did the coaching from the back seat :-). Marco had a roadmap, but he isn't exactly a living "TomTom." I would rather say "DumbDumb."
If you put those two guys in a car you get a pretty good impression of Dumb and Dumber. I just couldn't stop laughing. The lack of Marco's navigation skills forced us to find a mall and buy a TomTom.
Even with the electronic navigation, we never made it to the Great Ocean Road. Instead we ended up in some small village near the coast, so we parked the car and went for a walk on the beach. On the way back we had some dinner; it was great fun.
When we were back in the casino (Crown Hotel and Casino in Melbourne), Johan wanted me to play him heads-up on one of the electronic poker tables. I agreed and we decided to play a best-of-five. After three games it was decided: I won :-)
The next day we wanted to go to the zoo, because I always wanted to see a koala. And what better place to do so than Australia? Unfortunately we weren't allowed to touch the koalas, so we went to the aqua-zoo.
Well, that was a huge disappointment. They make you pay another $25 AUD to see some fish, when I can see fish for free at the tables in any casino around the world (Hell, if I'm lucky they pay me instead of the other way around :-.
The next day, Jan. 16, we all had to play our first day, flight 1c. Again I busted pretty soon. I got low-stacked pretty early and when I found QQ in the small blind and everybody folded to me I made a raise.
The big blind re-raised me, I decided to raise him back one more time and he called. The flop came 3-5-8, I bet out again, he moved in and I thought for quite some time before finally calling. I couldn't get away anymore. The pot was too big (and I saw him overplay eights and nines).
My opponent flopped a set of threes. In normal circumstances I would have folded my hand, but for some reason I didn't. So I was out on Day 1. I decided to use my option of changing my flight (I always book tickets with flexible departure dates).
I busted around 7 p.m. and changed my flight to 12:15 a.m., so I had exactly five hours to check out from the hotel and get myself to the airport for my trip to Hong Kong & Macau.
Marco ended up cashing. I was happy for him because it was the first time he played a high-buy-in main event.
That's it for my trip to Australia; next time I'll tell a little more about Hong Kong and Macau (Vegas of the East).
Thanks for reading and take care,
-- Steve Wong (Steve@888.com)