Gareth "Gaz the Hippy" Smirthwaite

We recently unveiled the full MILLIONS Online schedule but the Main Event satellites have been running for a few weeks now. Some 90 players have already won their $5,300 MILLIONS Online Main Event seats and will hit the partypoker tables hoping to secure as much of the $5 million guaranteed prize pool as possible.

Gareth “Gaz the Hippy” Smirthwaite is one of those 90 seat winners, although his story is a little more special than simply winning a $5,300 seat. Why? Because Gaz won his seat for $0.01 via one of our popular centrolls! That $0.01 investment has given Gaz the chance to become the latest MILLIONS Online Main Event champion. This is his story.

“I have been playing poker for about 20 years now but I have always played card games of some sort since childhood,” said the 48-year-old Kent-based grinder. “I started out playing mainly freerolls and building a bankroll across a few sites. I have always preferred tournaments over cash games due to the fact you could turn a small investment into a big score.”

“I also love satellites for the same reason. I have always seemed to have a knack for satellites and have qualified for lots of live events for a fraction of the buy-in. I play mainly mid-stakes tournaments, but I love to play higher when I can satellite into larger events.”

“Over the last 18 months of the pandemic, I have actually put more effort into studying the game as previously I just learned through playing, and trial and error, so now I am happier with the way I play and I have seen an improvement in my results. I’ve just got to keep learning and putting that knowledge into practice.”

Rising to the Challenge

Gaz is an active member of our UK and Irish Community on Facebook. It was here that Colette Stewart set a MILLIONS Online challenge inviting members to try and win their way into the MILLIONS Online Main Event from the $0.01 centrolls. Whoever made it, or goes the deepest in the Main Event if multiple players make it, win a $142 Daily Legends ticket package. Gaz set about completing the challenge.

“The first few days trying did not go great as the hyper satellites are a minefield with people willing to gamble with any two card. But then, on a Tuesday, I had a golden run through the first few stages, and I managed to get into the $109 Phase with a 120,000 chip stack. This phase only had myself and two other players in it so it did not take long to get through to the final phase with 320,000 chips.”

“This was a bit annoying as it put me into the final as the third shortest stack with only 32 big blinds to try and spin up. I managed to get an early double though when ace-king suited versus ace-queen offsuit on an ace-high flop, and fro there I continued to build. I was a bit handcuffed towards the end because I had the monster chip leader on my direct left, but I picked my spots well and kept an eye on the other tables waiting for people to bust. Chip preservation was the key factor as most players were short stacked towards the end, so I just let the others bust and cruised into the seats.”

Praying to the Poker Gods

We know Gaz has qualified for dozens of tournaments in his career but we have a feeling the MILLIONS Online Main Event will be the most expensive he has won his way into.

“Yes, this will be the largest buy-in online event I have played and I am looking forward to it. To prepare, I will do a bit of extra studying and lots of praying to the poker Gods for a decent table draw and good cards, LOL!”

Should those poker Gods answer Gaz’s prayers, it is not out of the realm of possibility for him to go all the way and become the latest in a stellar line of MILLIONS Online Main Event champions.

“It would be amazing to go deep in this event and go up against the many crushers that will be in the field. If I could go all the way and win it would be a bloody good Christmas and New Year! But seriously, a win would be amazing but it’s going to be tough to go that deep, so one step at a time; I’m targeting making Day 2 first.”

There will, no doubt, be a few of our players reading this article but who are still on the fence about trying to qualify for such a big buy-in, even bigger guaranteed poker event. Gaz has some advice for you.

“Go for it! The $0.01 games are very volatile being hyper tournaments but they are fun and a great opportunity to get into events for literally pennies. I would say mainly that you need to be patient and not to get into marginal spots late on in the satellites. You don’t need to win the satellite, you just need to finish in the seats!”

Before Gaz headed off to either say some poker prayers, put in some off-the-table studying, or watch his beloved West Ham United, he left the partypoker blog with this little comment.

“I would like to thank partypoker for the promotion as I would have probably tried to get into the MILLIONS anyway, but the added prize for doing it for a penny will be a bonus. Now I just have to wait to see if anyone else can manage it.”

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