Alison Lockwood Jumps from Bar League to Battling Bryn Kenney
If you asked most poker players to picture themselves as an animal, they'd likely pick something fierce and intimidating. A tiger perhaps, or a bull running over the opposition.
On Day 2 of the 2020 Aussie Millions Main Event, Alison Lockwood said she's trying to be a sponge.
"I'm gonna absorb everything that they do," she said on the first break of the day. "Why would you waste an opportunity to be in front of the best people in the world doing what they do?"
"Why would you waste an opportunity to be in front of the best people in the world doing what they do?"
"They" is the incredibly daunting lineup for Table 1, at which Lockwood drew Seat 8 to begin the day. Most of the table would not have looked out of place in a $25K. There was Manig Loeser on her left. Igor Yaroshevskyy a couple of seats over from that. Mikita Badziakouski in Seat 5.
Oh, and none other than defending champ Bryn Kenney in Seat 4.
If you're counting, that's just shy of $100 million in live tournament cashes. But, Lockwood isn't.
"I purposefully tried not to [look everyone up]," she said with a smile.
Not to worry, as her poker friends were on it. She has plenty, having connected with many Australian poker players as part of her work with the Australian Poker League. Played in bars, pubs and clubs across the country, the league has created a network of entry-level poker players, some of whom saddled up and fired Aussie Millions along with Lockwood.
And more so than Lockwood, it seems, they knew what she was up against.
"Everybody's pretty excited, pretty scared for me I guess," she said. "My strategy for today is just to be myself, do what I do."
From Industry Worker to Aussie Millions Player
What she normally does is host, tournament direct and deal APL tournaments. What she's doing now is butting heads with some of the best players on the planet. Luckily for her, a very strong Day 1 saw her amass a stack that covered each of her opponents by fairly comfortable margins heading into Day 2.
Holding one's own against such sharks would likely be termed a win by most players. However, just the very act of being in the seat represented the completion of a goal for Lockwood.
For players across the country, Aussie Millions is seen as the pinnacle of poker, and Lockwood counts among that number. Every time she would find the time to play a tournament that "meant something," she'd get in a mindset as if she was competing in Aussie Millions.
She said that after overcoming some recent difficulties in life, she set some goals, one of which was winning a ticket into the tournament. She did so in the very first satellite she played.
"It's catapulting me, I feel like, into recognizing my own abilities," she said. "I'm really harnessing that adrenaline and that energy and taking every bit of it in. It's like Disneyland to me."
Bringing Vibes and Saving Dogs
Lockwood described her normal APL events as "really fun, social vibes."
While the Aussie Millions carries stakes orders of magnitude higher — there's A$1,850,000 earmarked for this year's winner — Lockwood has tried bringing some of those vibes to her tables. On Day 1, when she played with established pro Andrew Moreno, it worked.
"She said it's her first big tournament and she's crushing it," he said as she amassed a stack near the lead late in the day.
"I feel a little bit of the table talk gave me a little bit of the sense that they actually have more respect for recreational players the last couple of years"
"He said I was a breath of fresh air," Lockwood said. "Of course, it means a lot coming from someone of his stature. It gave me the biggest boost of confidence.
"I had a lot of respect for his game and I think he appreciated my general attitude. I'm not trying to be somebody I'm not or anything."
That mutual respect, Lockwood said, extended to her Day 2 table. While many might expect elite pros to look down upon their recreational opponents when stepping down in stakes, Lockwood sensed quite the contrary.
"I feel a little bit of the table talk gave me a little bit of the sense that they actually have more respect for recreational players the last couple of years," she said. "They're not the fish they used to play against."
The nightmare table only got tougher after an early elimination. Another former champ, Toby Lewis, filled Seat 2. The road had just gotten harder, but Lockwood soldiered through and picked up around 160,000 when the table finally broke and the players dispersed to presumably easier locales.
Should Lockwood manage to keep up her success, she has charitable plans for any money won. While the country rallies to raise money in an effort to mitigate the damage from the devastating fires hitting Australia, Lockwood has another cause in mind. She plans to donate 10% of any cash to Save-A-Dog Scheme, a non-profit animal welfare organization in Melbourne.
"That's definitely a really big motivation for me because it's close to my heart. So, hopefully we can do something."