ANZPT Queenstown: Hachem sends cards into the air

What a way to start the day - a stroll along the shores of Lake Wakatipu, a steaming hot latte in the crisp but brilliant sunshine and a midday start for day 1A of the NZD $2500 buy-in PokerStars.net ANZPT Queenstown Main Event. Mornings don't come much better!

A total of 27 players have taken their seats for the opening 50/100 level after a welcome from PokerStars.net Team Australia Pro Tony Hachem and SKYCITY Queenstown's Executive Manager Michelle Baillie.

"With SKYCITY Queenstown hosting such a world class tournament in one of New Zealand's best tourist destinations, the added tourist options and accommodation over the week will increase the economic benefit to the region. It's great to see you all here," Baillie said.

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PokerStars.net Team Australia Pro Tony Hachem quickly gets settled on day 1A

Fresh from reaching day three of the 2009 WSOP Main Event, Hachem has quickly refocussed for the race towards the overall ANZPT Points title. The battle between Hachem, currently second on the points tally, and leader ANZPT Melbourne champ Chris Levick promises to be one of the many highlights of this event.

As always, Hachem has been quick to put his stamp on the room: "C'mon boys, it's all a bit serious with you all sitting there in your Hugo Armani sunglasses," he quipped.

Two others prominent names are in action today. Kristian Lunardi finished seventh in the ANZPT Melbourne Main Event and just days later was equal 10th in the Melbourne Poker Championships Main Event and is recognised as one of the rising stars on the Aussie scene: both live and online.

PokerStars qualifier Darko Balaban - a well known Melbourne cash and tournament players - is also playing today, and wasted little time making a statement of his intentions with an all-in bet to scare Aussie PokerStars qualifier Mark Measey out of a pot.

Players start with 20,000 in chips and to ensure players have the maximum opportunity to enjoy this stunning locale, ANZPT chieftain Danny McDonagh has scheduled just five 60-minute levels today.

Level 1: 50/100
Level 2: 75/150
Level 3: 100/200
Level 4: 100/200 (ante 25)
Level 5: 150/300 (ante 25)