ANZPT Queenstown: Friendly game for a friendly town

What a contrast - after covering the 2009 WSOP Main Event and single-day fields of almost 3000 players, following the 23 players in action on day 1A of the ANZPT Queenstown Main Event is very refreshing.

It's more like a home game atmosphere - introductions have been made, the hands have been mostly friendly and the banter cheerful. With four no-shows, 23 players remain making the average stack 20,125.

Few big pots have been played, although Team Australia Pro has found a sparring partner in Mark Anstey, a PokerStars qualifier from Brisbane playing in his first tournament.


Cindy Anstey keeps an eye on husband Mark during the opening level of play

Anstey's wife Cindy and son Joel have just returned in time from a flight to Milford Sound, a stunning fjord located on the west coast about a 45-minute flight from Queenstown, to see Mark reclaim some of his chips from Tony thanks to some aggressive betting that put Hachem Jnr on the back foot.

Considering the field is relatively small today, it's great to see a number of players have made the commitment to trek long distances for the opportunity to combine a trip to New Zealand and an international standard poker event.

We have PokerStars qualifiers from across Australia and New Zealand, but our early chip leader is Spencer Padway, who made the arduous journey across the Pacific from the small town of Alameda near San Francisco, California for the SKYCITY Alpine Adventure. The 21-year-old is on 34,500 and is the early chip leader.

Players have returned from their first break of the day, and blinds are now at level three (100/200).