Event 1 of the Aussie Millions is a regular item on the Aussie Hold’em Poker (AHP) calendar. CEO Alex Wooster, who runs their operations from Newcastle in NSW, organises a group of players to attend the $1100 NLH Event 1 in January each year, having qualified them through various events conducted by AHP.
This year a group of about 30 have travelled down from Newcastle to Melbourne to experience the hype and excitement of the Aussie Millions at the renowned Crown poker room. Part of the group this year includes Brent Nichols, 2nd place finisher at the recent APT Summer Series Main Event at The Star, as well as Greg Mallia (pictured), Aussie Hold’em Poker Player of the Year for 2013. We caught up with Greg ahead of his first Aussie Millions experience:
Greg Mallia – Aussie Hold’em Poker ‘Player of the Year’ 2013
Where are you from Greg?
Newcastle. I’ve lived there for the last 15 years. Prior to that I lived in Sydney.
When did you start playing poker?
2013 was my first year of playing. I started off playing free poker on the computer at home. I thought this was good and I was doing all right, so I thought I’d try my luck at the pub. I was doing all right there too so I thought I’d keep it up. I then realised that I could play for POTY (player of the year) points. The points you get through the year become the number of chips you get at the end of the year at the POTY tournament. So I set my sights on that. My priority wasn’t winning each week, it was getting POTY points. I wanted to be in that main game at the end of the year to win the trip to the Aussie Millions Event 1. And I won it!
Terrific! How did you qualify to the final game to play for the trip?
At an event, if you get in the money you get a ticket to the TOC (tournament of champions), which is once a month. That’s a bigger tournament where you can win more money and you qualify for the POTY by getting points for money finishes. As you get POTY points throughout the year they add up. I ended the year with 56k. The biggest stack at the end of year tournament was a lady who had about 115k. That put me about 15th but not everyone played the tournament so I started with about the 5th largest stack. So I had a good start. I took it easy, just played good hands, and got through to the last two. At that time the TD took us aside, reminding us that the first prize was a full package to the Aussie Millions Event 1 and 2nd place was entry to a smaller tournament. So I said to myself that I’m going to win the full package, and I did, I won it!
How often do you play poker?
I play three nights a week at two venues in Newcastle.
What is it that you like about poker?
It’s the whole package, the players, it’s a social game, and it’s my outing each week. That’s where my friends are these days. We play together, if they win I don’t care, good on them, I don’t get upset about losing. It’s just a social thing for me.
I then set my sights on winning the trip to Melbourne for the Aussie Millions Event 1 package. When I won it I turned around and said to my mates “I won!” I just couldn’t believe it, I couldn’t believe that I’d won.
Have you been to Melbourne before?
I have but not for poker. I came for a holiday last year so it’s my second visit.
What’s the biggest tournament that you’ve played?
This will be – Event 1 of the Aussie Millions.
What do you hope to achieve through poker?
Just to have a good group of friends and have a fun time with them while playing poker. It’s just about the social side of it. I was a homebody before I started going to the pub to play poker. I was a house husband, I’d look after the house while my wife went to work. She said to me to do something, you can’t be stuck here, the kids are big and they don’t need you here. So I signed up to TAFE and I’ve been doing a bunch of different courses over the last three years. So I now do me TAFE and play poker, that’s what I do.
Who in poker do you admire most?
The ones who are winning millions of dollars! I don’t really follow any of the professional players though.
What type of player would you describe yourself?
I mix it up so that the other players don’t know where I’m coming from. That’s what I learned to do. When I started I didn’t have a very good poker face. I’d get nervous and shake when I got into big hands. But I’ve learned to control that a bit now by playing different ways, different variations. I just learned by playing and watching the other people to find out how they play. You have to play to how the other players play as well as my way of playing. I try to read the other players.
Have you played at Crown before and/or played any events at the Aussie Millions Poker Championships?
I haven’t played at Crown before so playing in Event 1 will be a great experience. When I walked into the room here it was a bit overwhelming, I’d never seen so many poker tables! Some advice I was told about the Aussie Millions was that I should keep my eyes open, watch the good players – the name players – and just learn whatever you can. I’m here just to learn. It hasn’t been daunting though; I’ve just been walking around watching and becoming comfortable with the room. I see other people playing, they’re just the same as me, so it’s not daunting.
What events will you play at the 2014 Aussie Millions Poker Championships?
I’ll just play Event 1. But I’ll play some cash ahead of the tournament to get me primed up.
How do you prepare ahead of playing a big poker tournament?
Play a cash game first but other than that it’s just a normal day. Life as normal.
What are the best things about Aussie Hold’em Poker?
I like that it’s a family. Everyone knows each other. You can go to a different event and there’ll be people that you know from somewhere else. All around Newcastle it’s like that. You bump into people from all over the events. It’s a big social network for me. Like I said, I didn’t have a lot of friends before. My father said when I was growing up, he warned me about friends who can take advantage of you or will do you over, so I’ve lived my life like that. I’ve had acquaintances but no real close friends. But now I have. I’ve found friends through poker, which is good. That’s why I love the game. It’s not just the cards. I’ve made a lot of good friends. And Aussie Hold’em Poker is a family as well. In Newcastle and the Central Coast, there are other companies there, and I played a few games with others. However, I didn’t like the way they run their games but I like how Aussie run theirs so that’s why I stick with Aussie Hold’em.
Best of luck in the tournament Greg.
Thanks mate, cheers.