ANZPT Melbourne: Final table profiles
Seat 1: Heath Chick (Australia) PokerStars Qualifier (283,000 in chips): His role in the local poker media has meant this Tasmanian has had little time to ply his trade on the felt. But given this opportunity, the "Tassie Devil" has rarely been out of the top 10 stacks in the PokerStars.net ANZPT Melbourne event, and the 30-year-old brings solid form to the final table after his cash in the Joe Hachem Deep Stack Series Main Event back in March.
Seat 2: Rodney Burles (Australia) Pokerstars Qualifier (168,000 in chips): It might be the smallest state in Australia, but Tasmania has two representatives at today's final table. He has a lot of work to do as the short stack, but is thrilled to have reached his first major final table. A union official, the 34-year-old qualified for the ANZPT Melbourne event on PokerStars.net. Burles says he feels "fantastic" after nursing a short stack through to the final table.
Seat 3: Sam Khouiss, Australia, (354,000 in chips): One of the Australia's most accomplished and successful poker players, the Sydney veteran's record includes eight final tables at the Aussie Millions and victory in the $1k NLHE event in 2006 plus successive Main Event cashes at the WSOP 2006 and 2007. The 47-year-old father of seven also won the 2001 Australasian Championship - the forerunner to the Aussie Millions. He looms as a real danger at today's final table
Seat 4: Chris Levick (Australia) Pokerstars Qualifier (969,000 in chips): Best known for his role in the business of poker through the Sydney-based PokerDome Group and Oz Poker Tour, the 43-year-old father-of-two is starting to make a serious mark on the regional poker scene. He is one of only a handful of players to have cashed twice on the PokerStars.net APPT, and is coming off a 12th-place finish in the recent PokerStars.net ANZPT Sydney event. He enters the final table as chip leader.
Seat 5: Jie Gao, Australia (517,000 in chips): A local Melburnian, Jie Gao has done his city proud so far, ending up at chip leader at the end of day one and continuing his stellar form on the felt, coming into today's final table third in chips on 517,000. The 48-year-old family man is softly spoken, but his style of play has been hard, fast and aggressive, earning him the respect of his tablemates.
Seat 6: Ben Savage, Australia (682,000 in chips): One of the many respected Crown players who've made their mark on home turf in recent years, this 37-year-old sales representative local was runner-up in the 2006 Victorian Championships Main Event (worth more than AUD 80,000) and has since compiled a respectable record including two Aussie Millions cashes. He is third in chips and well positioned for a charge at the PokerStars.net ANZPT Melbourne title.
Seat 7: Greg Shillig, Australia (190,000 in chips): The lone Queenslander to come back into today's final table, the 48-year-old environmental health officer's biggest highlight of the tournament so far was flopping quad fours against an opponent's pocket jacks and doubling through. Shillig, who lives in Brisbane, bought into this event directly finished fourth in the Joe Hachem Deep Stack Series Main Event.
Seat 8: Peter Aristidou, Australia (432,000 in chips): This 46-year-old Crown regular has amassed a tournament record up there with the very best local players in recent years. He was runner-up in the 2007-08 Crown Poker Player of the Year, and seven of his last 10 tournament cashes have been final table finishes. A true gentleman off the table, he is a fierce competitor and desperate to break through for his first major title.
Seat 9: Kristian Lunardi, Australia (713,000 in chips): An experienced player despite being the youngest player at the final table at age 22, this university student from Melbourne was responsible for the scalp of 2007 APPT Sydney Grand Final champion Grant Levy and has already had a lot of success playing online, especially in the cash-game sphere. He returns today in second chip position and well placed for a run at his first major title.