While residents of flood ravaged Queensland have been dealt a particularly bad hand in recent weeks, Kate Giouzellis has cashed the chips from her lucky poker hand into flood relief funds.

Giouzellis was the winner of the Crown Aussie Millions poker charity fundraiser two Wednesdays ago, which saw poker enthusiasts, celebrities and high rollers turning their sport into charity.

The tournament raised just under $50,000, Media Relations Manager for Crown Gaming and Corporate Natasha Stipanov said.

“Any other money raised from the night ‘Celebrity Poker Challenge’, will be donated to The Shane Warne Foundation who will then work with Variety – The Children’s Charity, to assist children who have been affected by the Queensland Flood Disaster,” Ms Stipanov said.

The Variety club will identify the flood damage to special schools and primary schools in the affected areas and then work with the schools to look at replacing playgrounds etc.

Variety will also identify children who have lost items such as bikes, wheelchairs, walking frames and any other similar items, Ms Stipanov said.

The Texas Hold ‘Em charity event, held each year in Melbourne’s Crown Casino’s studio 3, is the introduction to the high stakes Crown Aussie Millions tournament, one of the biggest poker events in the world.

Many professional poker players enter this event after the world series in Las Vegas, Giouzellis said, adding that out of four tables of 24 players, there were mostly professionals and poker celebrities.

“We played in partners, in 15 minute intervals. I’d never played that way but it was good because it makes you consider someone else,” Giouzellis said.

Giouzellis, who has played “a bit” of poker before, mainly in womens tournaments at Crown, Shane Warne Foundation and charity matches, also recently played in Las Vegas, but insists poker is “just a hobby”.

“I started a couple of years ago just having fun with friends and family. I had a few little wins, played a little online and then got more and more into it,” she said.
Giouzellis, who won the tournament with a pair of fives, said bluffing and knowing when to raise are essential.

“I love the fact you can make something out of two cards and make a hand out of something that’s usually nothing,” she said. “The key is where you raise it and how you get the rest of the table in, and where,” she added.

There were some pretty tough opponents on the night, Giouzellis said.

“There was one girl who has won the Millions series before, she was ruthless, and she’s notorious for knocking people out, so it was pretty full-on when I knocked her out of the competition,” she said.

The beauty of poker is that you never know where the game will take you, Giouzellis said.

“I kind of felt like I was having fun, I felt confident, but then anything can happen.”

Giouzellis said the key to poker is keeping your eyes on the prize. “This kind of reinforces that if I can win, anyone can win, but it’s definitely a game of concentration, and a couple of champagnes helps!”