ANZPT Melbourne: Khouiss closing on the lead

We're getting down to the business end of things here at Crown Casino with only 33 players in contention of the 218 who started the chase for the PokerStars.net ANZPT Melbourne title. In the last level, we saw Andy Meldrum, Michael Guzzardi, Sam Youssef, John Apostolidis, Mario Doria, Jimmy Siu, Rodger Heath and Grant Harris join the list of eliminations for the day.

Siu's stack was decimated when Nikolaos Haidaris made a gutsy all-in call at showdown with the board showing [10c] 2♥ 8♠ 7♣ 7♥. Haidaris held A♦ [10d] to just nose Siu's K♥ [10h], and he departed soon after.

Former chip leader Kristian Lunardi is in freefall after losing two big pots - first when Sam Khouiss hit a set of queens on the river against his kings, then David Zhao flopped a wheel to leave Lunardi with barely 100,000. Queens were again the weapon of choice for Khouiss when he KOed Tino Lechich, who held A-J.

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One of Australia's most experienced players, Sam Khouiss, is on the charge

Those hands left Khouiss, a controversial omission from the first intake of players into the Australian Poker Hall of Fame, in outright second chip position behind Brent Thomas and ahead of ANZPT Sydney ninth-place finisher David Zhao, Ben Barclay and Peter Aristidou.

PokerStars freeroll qualifier Jack Stewart is also hanging tough, having just KOed fellow PokerStars qualifier Andrew Hinrichsen when he flopped a set of sevens.

Our last remaining PokerStars.net Team Australia man Tony Hachem is still in contention for a third successive ANZPT but holds one of the smaller stacks in the room.

Players are taking their second break for the day and when they return, blinds will be up to 1500/3000 with an ante 500 (level 14) with just 15 spots remaining until the bubble bursts.