ANZPT Queensland: Finale fires-up under the tropical sun
The face of poker in Australia will never be the same again after the first season of the PokerStars.net Australia New Zealand Poker Tour (ANZPT) so it's only appropriate that the bar is again raised for the final tournament of 2009.
After a week in New Zealand's Southern Alps for ANZPT Queenstown, the region's best players have barely had time to pack away their ski gear and take the board shorts out of storage for the trek to Australia's "Sunshine State", Queensland.
Brisbane is the only Australian capital city and Queensland the only state that has yet to experience the excitement of a major live poker tournament. That wait is finally over - not only is Queensland hosting a tournament, it's one of the most important and prestigious events to ever be played in this half of the world.
Moreover, it's one of the most innovative events ever devised for a poker tournament on Aussie soil. Two different venues - Conrad Treasury on Brisbane and Conrad Jupiters at Broadbeach on the Gold Coast - are being used on days 1A, 1B and 2, before the remaining players converge on Jupiters for the final two days.
The two locations are separated by approximately 70 kilometres but offer completely different experiences. Brisbane is home to two million people and is Australia's fastest growing city. The Treasury Casino is situated in the heart of the city, and occupies two of Australia's grandest heritage buildings, the Treasury and Land Administration buildings, which date back to the start of the 20th century.
Just over one hour's drive south on the Pacific Motorway lies the Gold Coast. When the world thinks of Australia's sun-soaked beaches, with surf rolling in from the Pacific Ocean, it thinks of the Gold Coast.
Players staying at Conrad Jupiters in Broadbeach, just a short distance south of Surfers Paradise, can gaze out from their hotel rooms over those world famous beaches to the east, and the mountains of the Gold Coast Hinterland, to the west.
Throw in some typical late-winter sunshine and mild temperatures in the low 20s thanks to the state's sub-tropical location (Queensland is sliced in half by the Tropic of Capricorn), and it's not hard to see why seats sold and satellites filled for ANZPT Queensland at an unprecedented rate.
In fact, ANZPT chief Danny McDonagh has just informed us that the two day one flights at Jupiters are sold out, and just 70 seats remain spread across both days at Treasury, meaning the prizepool has already smashed through the AUD $500,000 barrier. And no admin fee is being charged on the AUD $2500 buy-in, which means every dollar goes into the pool and back to the players.
And if that's not enough, the battle for the first ANZPT Points title has come down to the wire. PokerStars.net Team Australia Pro Tony Hachem, who has cashed in all four events so far, leads narrowly from ANZPT Melbourne champion Chris Levick. Both players have elected to play in Brisbane, where their progress will be watched with interest.
The overall points' champion will win a PokerStars.net sponsorship to the Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT). Sponsorship includes Main Event entry, accommodation and airfares. Sponsorship will apply to all Season 4 APPT Main Events during 2010. Based on the projected number of APPT events in 2010, this prize is valued at approximately AUD $60,000.
We look forward to bringing you all the action from Brisbane and Gold Coast for ANZPT Queensland over the next five days - the final event on the first season of the PokerStars.net ANZPT. Cards should be in the air at approximately 12.30pm local time (1.30am GMT)
PokerStars.net ANZPT leaderboard (after four events)
1 Tony Hachem (Victoria) PokerStars.net Team Australia 160.1
2 Chris Levick (NSW) 139.2
3 David Zhao 92.4
4 Karl Krautschneider (Victoria) 90
5 Danny Joukhader (Victoria) 84.4
6 Celina Lin PokerStars.net Team Asia 80.8
7 Bruno Portaro (Victoria) 79.6
8 Andrew Hinrichsen (Victoria) 79.5
9 Daniel Noja 79.2
10 Billy Argyros (Victoria) 79
11 Joel Dodds (NSW) 77.6
12 John Caridad (NSW) 77.4
13 Lisa Walsh (Queensland) 77.4
14 Paren Arzoomanian (NSW) 77.4
15 Chris Kittos (NSW) 73.2
16 Julius Colman (Victoria) 72
17 Kristian Lunardi (Victoria) 70.8
18 Ben Barclay 70.6
19 James Broom (Victoria) 68.4
20 Tian Shou (NSW) 67.2