ANZPT Melbourne: Welcome to Joe's house

Crown has played a pivotal role in establishing such a strong poker presence in Australia. Well before Crown signed Team PokerStars Pro Joe Hachem as its poker ambassador in the wake of his 2005 WSOP Main Event triumph, poker has been played at Australia's largest casino.

Today's players can thanks a small core of poker aficionados who lobbied hard for a poker room to be included as part of the casino when it moved from an "annex" site to its current position on the southern bank of the Yarra River.

As such, Crown was ideally positioned to gain a stranglehold on the poker market when the trickle of new players became a flood as Hachem's win drove the popularity in poker to unprecedented heights in Australia.


Crown: the jewel of Aussie poker

In mid-2006, Crown completed a $1.3 million refurbishment of its poker room, creating a new high stakes area, and last week it was announced that the casino had received permission to add an extra 50 poker tables.

Crown's poker room can rightly considered among the best in the world in terms of the quantity and quality of games, the room's amenities and comfort and its tournament schedule.

It's also home to a core of highly skilled but ultra dangerous players barely known beyond the Melbourne city limits. One of those players is Peter Aristidou. Runner-up in last year's Crown Poker Player of the Year race, Aristidou's record in his home poker room is astounding - luckily for players based outside Melbourne, he rarely travels interstate or abroad.


Home turf: Melbourne's own Peter Aristidou

We just witnessed the ultimate battle between youth and experience when Aristidou butted heads with Australia's number one ranked online player, Perth's Jay SEABEAST Kinkade.

The money was in pre-flop with the short-stacked Kinkade showing A♦ A♣ against Aristidou's A♠ K♠. The flop of 7♠ K♥ 4♣ gave Aristidou hope, but it was the turn 3♠ and river 8♠ that drove a dagger through Kinkade's heart.

In contrast, the tournament is over for two of the other major hometown hopes - PokerStars Supernova Van Marcus and cult hero Steve "The Big Show" Topakas. Players have just completed level three, with an ante of 25 about to be added to the blinds of 100/200.