ANZPT Melbourne: Simpson putting the Texas into hold'em
By Landon Blackhall
The inaugural season of the PokerStars.net ANZPT has already produced some fantastic stories - Karl Krautschneider's first major tournament victory from out of the shadows of the poker giants who shared the final table; and Paren Arzoomanian's triumph in Sydney in the wake of his cancer battle.
Could the ANZPT Melbourne event produce another rags-to-riches story? Amanda Simpson could be just that Cinderella as she continues her charge to the final table.
Already assured the title as the highest placed female player in this event, Simpson was born and bred in the spiritual home of poker, Texas.
She arrived in Australia nine years ago with her partner, and after watching her man from the rail playing cash games and tournament poker, she was inspired to take up the game herself.
"I started playing free games with my church group every Sunday after Mass," Simpson said. "I've also played a lot of small buy-in tournaments here along with my partner. I only decided to enter this tournament for fun!"
She may still be learning the ropes when it comes to the finer points of tournament poker, but her rivals are taking her very seriously as she continues to take down pot after pot, always having the best hand and taking advantage of the opponents who dare doubt her ability. As a result, Simpson's stack of 320,000 towers over those of her rivals on table 32.
At the other end of the scale, Tony Hachem's stack is on life support but he just received a slice of divine intervention to keep his hopes of a third successive ANZPT cash alive.
The overall points leader called Jarrad Graham's all-in and found himself in good shape with A♦ K♥ against the South Australian's A♥ 6♠. But Hachem reeled when the flop came 6♦ 6♣ K♣, and the turn 3♣ also brought no joy. Sure enough, Hachem hit a two-outer K♠ to propel his stack above 65,000 and a shell-shocked Graham to the rail.
As we tick down to the dinner break, it's Amanda Simpson leading from Sam Khouiss (285,000), Brent Thomas (250,000), 2008 Western Classic winner Marc Des Anges (235,000) and David Zhao (225,000). There are 27 players remaining, nine short of the money.