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Shak Shocks Ivey, Wins $100k Crown
Day-trader-turned-poker-hobbyist Dan Shak may want to consider a career change after taking on the world’s best in the Aussie Millions $100k Challenge this week and coming out on top.
“I try, in life, just in general, to keep the highs not too high and the lows not too low,” he said moments after defeating poker legend Phil Ivey heads up to take the title. “But believe me, I’m extremely excited.
“This is something I’ve been working towards for such a long time and I may not show the excitement, but inside I’m extremely excited. I’m not going to jump up and down, but inside I probably already am.”
A total of 24 players ponied up the $100k buy-in to enter the world’s most expensive poker tournament and the field played down to a final table of eight in Melbourne Saturday.
When they returned to crown a winner Monday, a short stacked Howard Lederer was the first to exit, running ace-ten into Tony G’s aces.
Start-of-day chip leader Jonathan "xMONSTERxDONGx" Karamalikis was actually the next player out. The young Aussie online legend doubled up a few of the shorter stacks before eventually running ace-ten into Shak’s nines and failing to improve.
Barry Greenstein then had his kings cracked by Tony Bloom’s jacks and the Team PokerStars Pro bubbled the money a few hands later when Bloom’s own kings held against his queen-ten.
Tony G was the next to go, getting his buy-in back when his tens lost a race with Shak’s ace-king and it wasn’t long before 2009 $100k Challenge runner-up Bloom got it in dominated by Ivey and bowed out fourth cashing for AUD$200,000.
Local cash game pro Bill Jordanou hit the rail third, collecting AUD$300,000 when he got it in with top two against Ivey’s overpair, but Ivey turned a set and rivered a flush.
Heads up started with Ivey and Shak about even, but the day trader took the veteran pro to task, building a 3:1 chip lead through a series of aggressive pre and post flop plays.
Eventually Ivey got it in with ace-ten against ace-seven, but Shak flopped a seven to suck out and while the Team Full Tilt Pro and 2009 November Niner was forced to settle for the AUD$600,000 second-place prize, pushing him up to the top spot on poker’s all-time leading money winners list, Shak booked the AUD$1.2 million win.
“I think I played well the whole heads-up match,” Shak explained. “The last hand I got lucky, there is no doubt about that, but up until that last hand I feel like I played very well.
“These guys are the best in the world, but I’d rather play with good players. I always seem to play better with good players because they are more predictable. With Phil, there’s nothing you can really say. Today I got the better cards, obviously he is the better player.”
While Shak has been recording cashes on the high-stakes tournament poker scene since 2004, including a fourth-place finish in this very event last year, his biggest score before Monday’s win was a victory in the inaugural Ante Up for Africa charity event at the 2007 World Series of Poker.
Recently divorced from wife Beth, Shak said he felt like his game is much improved and went about proving it in Australia Monday.
“I’ve been working hard on my game and I’ve had some life changes that have given me more time to concentrate on my game,” he said. “I think I’ve taken my game to a new level and I feel like I’m really playing better.”