When Shurane ‘Shaz’ Vijayaram walked away from the Aussie Millions Poker Championship with $1.6 million and a dream come true.

Vijayaram’s big win was his first win at a live tournament table and long way away from his humble beginning as a small stakes pub player.

The plucky amateur fought his way through the tournament to find himself squaring off against Ben Heath at the final table. Vijayaram called Heath with a pair of fives and a 3.2 million chip wager in the final hand. Heath, who had nothing, lost the hand and the crown.

Vijayaram would later call that bet, “the toughest toughest call of my baby poker career.”

In his post-victory interviews, Vijayaram remained humble and invoked his coach’s pre-tournament advice saying:

My coach told me at the start of the tournament that at the end of the day, the pros are just people like us and they have to get cards just like us.

If Vijayaram’s story sounds familiar, it’s because it echoes the story of one of the most famous underdogs in gambling history, Chris Moneymaker.

Back in 2003, Moneymaker turned a $86 investment in an online World Series of Poker (WSOP) satellite tournament into a $2.5 million win at the final table. In doing so, Moneymaker inspired a generation of online players to turn pro and revolutionized the face of professional poker.

While Vijayaram’s long-term success depends largely on the luck of the draw, his short-term plans include a few things that most of would spend a windfall on, a few home improvement projects and a new boat.


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