Pregnant Aussie Millions Player Gives Birth, Husband Takes Over

One of the stranger live-poker-tournament events of recent years unfolded this week at the ongoing Aussie Millions in Melbourne, where preliminary-event participant Katrina Sheary made it through the opening flight of the series’ opening event, an $1,150 no-limit hold’em tourney.  Sheary returned home after a full day’s play, then went into labor, soon giving birth to a healthy baby boy.

Aussie_millions_logoCiting exceptional circumstances and the series’ own tournament rules, which were just flexible enough, Aussie Millions and Crown Casino (Melbourne, Australia) officials allowed Sheary’s healthy opening-day stack to her husband, Peter, who had not otherwise entered the event and who subsequently parlayed Katrina’s original Day 1 stack into a 25th-place finish, worth some AUD $6,495.  Peter Sheary’s exit from the event, inside the money but short of the big payouts, likely spared the situation from being more controversial.

The story nonetheless has more than a few virtual tongues wagging, with some of poker’s nittiest and anti-social commenters complaining about the special consideration given to the Shearys.  While it is true that in most other health-related circumstances, a forced absence by a player – regardless of reason – results in that player’s stack being blinded off.

Instead, and in what likely establishes a worthy precedent, Crown and the Aussie Millions allowed the husband Peter to continue on in wife Katrina’s stead, even if some wags had fun with the notion that playing out the stack and the tourney may have had more importance to the couple than for the husband to be at his wife’s side on their son’s first full day of existence.  (And whether that decision represents dedication or at least a tad of gambling degeneracy, this writer plans to dodge as a possible side topic.)

The important thing to note is that not all tournaments have rules to cover such situations, but the Aussie Millions does – or at least had wording close enough to matter that it could be applied to the situation.

From the Aussie Millions stated “Terms and Conditions”:

2.13: At the discretion of the Tournament Director, a Tournament entrant may transfer his/her entry to another person, provided that person is entitled to enter the Tournament in accordance with [other eligibility requirements] and he/she has not already entered the Tournament.

2.13.1: Where a substitute is nominated, entry into the Tournament will be transferred to the  substitute and the substitute will act on behalf of the entrant, commencing or continuing play in the entrant’s stead and using any applicable bank of Tournament chips allocated to or accumulated by the entrant.

All that seems quite clear.  Between the phrases “At the discretion of the Tournament Director” and “continuing play in the entrant’s stead” make it quite clear that Aussie Millions staff operated clearly within the rules in allowing husband Peter to take over for wife Katrina.  That’s despite the fact that in most such medical situations in events around the globe (including the world’s largest, the WSOP), such allowances are not given.  Social media and poker-discussion boards are already chock full of examples of players who have been blinded out of events for various and sundry reasons.

Should late-term pregnancy situations be standardized as a special circumstance?  This would take the incident into an entire different realm of consideration.  After all, it’s probably okay to differ with the Aussie Millions’ decision to allow the substitution without that differing opinion necessarily be derided as sexist or anti-social.  It is quite clear that the decision was made as a discretionary one, and some commenters have quite openly wondered whether the same special consideration would have been made if millions had been at stake such as at the final table of the WSOP main event.

Think of that possible complexity: Should any woman who is five or six months pregnant consider not entering the WSOP’s and poker’s global showcase, simply because they might find themselves given birth during the November Nine?  That seems not quite right, either: Pregnancy is not only an extended medical situation; it’s also a basic part of the human condition.

There is, of course, a valid question to be asked as to whether Katrina Sheary acted wisely in participating in the event at all.  This writer hasn’t seen any reports indicating that Sheary gave birth prematurely, which would be yet another factor, and in the absence of that, the wisdom of the whole situation has to be questioned.  An all-day immersion in the sort of psychological stress that marks any poker tournament can’t be great for any woman in a late-term pregnancy, and though I’m not a physician and don’t know for sure, I’d think that that stress indeed could be labor-inducing.

But after the fact, a lot of that doesn’t matter.  And congrats to the Shearys on the new addition to the family.

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