APPT Sydney 2007: Sharks are circling in pursuit of million-dollar prize

By Sean Callander

Australians are used to travelling vast distances on their overseas travels – it’s a 14-hour flight to Los Angeles and more than 20 hours to reach any location in Western Europe.

Despite the marathon journey to Sydney, it’s amazing to watch the faces of the players arriving in reception here at Star City for the Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT) Grand Final.

Exhausted, yes, but many of the online qualifiers are making their first trip to Australia. They’re casting aside the lack of sleep to soak up the atmosphere of Australia’s largest city.

And what a venue to celebrate the final event of the first APPT. Star City is located on Darling Harbour (at the western end of Sydney’s CBD, and offers views of one of Australia’s most iconic symbols, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and the stunning city skyline.

Chris Moneymaker
Chris Moneymaker

After travelling so far, it’s almost inconceivable to think that such a modern and captivating city could exist so far from anywhere else.

For many players, they’ve jumped straight into the poker action in one of the five preliminary events or a cash-game in the Star City Poker Room, the second-biggest casino poker in the country.

Others have also been keen to make a splash shortly after arriving in Sydney, which is the capital city of the state of New South Wales and home to more than four million people. Leading by example is Team PokerStars Pro Joe Hachem.

Joe Hachem with Boxing Champ Jeff Fenech and Socceroo John Aloisi
Joe Hachem with Former World Boxing Champ Jeff Fenech and Socceroo John Aloisi

Joe is to Australian poker what beetroot is to an Australian hamburger: a symbol of what makes our country unique and an essential element to any great Aussie tournament/barbecue.

Hachem, who’s bled for PokerStars in 2007 – literally, after he cut his knuckles smashing a taekwondo block in Seoul – faced a nemesis more fearsome than a grumpy Mike Matusow when he entered the shark tank at the Sydney Aquarium to go heads-up with Australia’s number one predator: a Great White Shark.

The 2005 WSOP champion showed what he was prepared to do to win a millions dollars after a survey released this week revealed what Australians would do to earn a seven-figure sum: the guaranteed first prize for the APPT Grand Final.

Other respondents suggested they were willing to i) sleep with new Prime Minister Kevin Rudd; ii) go toe-to-toe with a professional boxer; iii) streak at a national sporting event; or iv) swim with the aforementioned monster of the deep.

The estimated 600-plus APPT Grand Final entrants won’t have to go through any such life-threatening activities.

2004 World Champion Greg Raymer
2004 World Champion Greg Raymer

Instead, they’ll have to pick through a field including Hachem, fellow Team PokerStars pros Chris Moneymaker, Greg Raymer, Isabelle Mercier, Luca Pagano and Raymond Rahme, plus a field packed with the best players from Asia and Australasia. Piece of cake! APPT Grand Final starts at 10.30am local time tomorrow with the first of the three Day 1 flights. We look forward to bringing you all the action over the next five days, plus a bit of local flavour – Aussie style.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in