ANZPT Queenstown: On the road to poker paradise

Queenstown has turned on a spectacular day - brilliant sunshine reflecting off the lake and surrounding snow-capped mountains, only the slightest breeze and just a hint of frost in the air - for the finale to the first PokerStars.net ANZPT Queenstown Main Event.

Yesterday, 92 players took their seats in two groups during the afternoon and as the clock ticked past 1.30am this morning, just 18 players remained - all guaranteed a minimum cash of NZD $3015.

It was one of the most enthralling days ever in regional tournament history, as veteran local player John Guthrie piled up corpse upon corpse to finish the day with 683,500 - more than 20 per cent of the chips in play and almost triple the stack of his nearest rival.

But like a drive through one of the narrow canyons that surround Queenstown, tournament poker can throw up plenty of twists and turns and Guthrie's massive advantage could be eradicated in the time it takes to take the leap of faith from a bungy platform.

The odds are firmly in favour of the SKYCITY Alpine Adventure trophy staying on home soil as the chip count is dominated by New Zealanders. Aussie-based Kiwi PokerStars qualifier Will Mauga has 229,500, former Queenstown mayor and polished player David Bradford is on 213,000 while former chip leader John Pye holds 171,500 to remain firmly in contention.

The Aussie charge is headed by PokerStars.net Team Australia pro Tony Hachem. After initially struggling to find his feet on the tournament scene, Hachem has stamped an indelible mark on the first season of the ANZPT by cashing in all four events so far - an incredible achievement that may be hard to surpass as fields grow in the future. But he faces a steeper challenge today than the gondola route up Bob's Peak with just 43,500 in chips.

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Bob's Peak and the Skyline Gondola, overlooking Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu

The stack of PokerStars qualifier Andrew Hinrichsen has swayed further than the Nevis Arc bungy swing over the past to days, but the young Aussie has enough chips (169,500) to muscle his way to the final table later today.

We should also make mention of the excitable Cesar Cavagnero, who made the long trek from Argentina for this event and somehow managed to scrape through after being all-in on at least 10 occasions during day two to finish with 46,000.

Raj Ramakrishnan remains on track to add a PokerStars.net ANZPT final table to his fourth place in the 2009 Aussie Millions Main Event, while Peta Golledge, the wife of Canberra PokerStars qualifier Aaron Golledge, faces another nail-biting day as her husband starts the final day as the outright short stack on 41,000.

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It's a great day for cruising on Lake Wakatipu, but it won't be quite as relaxing in the SKYCITY Casino poker room today

Cards should be in the air by 12.30pm local time (1.30am GMT) so stay with us for what promises to be another enthralling day of poker here in the Southern Alps of New Zealand and the idyllic mountain town of Queenstown at SKYCITY Casino.

Table 1

Seat 1: Mark Measey (Australia) PokerStars Qualifier 94,500
Seat 2: David Bradford (New Zealand) 213,000
Seat 3: David Bonham (New Zealand) 54,500
Seat 4: John Guthrie (New Zealand) 683,500
Seat 5: Andrew Hinrichsen (PokerStars Qualifier) 169,500
Seat 6: Robert Wang (New Zealand) 59,000
Seat 7: Paul Chisnall (New Zealand) 68,000
Seat 8: Daniel Chevalier (New Zealand) 185,000
Seat 9: Glenn Maiden (New Zealand) 93,000

Table 2

Seat 1: Mark Walker (New Zealand) 86,500
Seat 2: Steve Smith (New Zealand) 112,500
Seat 3: William Mauga (Australia) PokerStars Qualifier 229,500
Seat 4: Sam Williams (New Zealand) 67,000
Seat 5: Cesar Cavagnero (Argentina) 46,000
Seat 6: Aaron Golledge (Australia) PokerStars Qualifier 41,000
Seat 7: Raj Ramakrishnan (Australia) 55,000
Seat 8: John Pye (New Zealand) 171,500
Seat 9: Tony Hachem (Australia) Team PokerStars Australia 43,500

Today's structure

Level 15: 2000/4000 (ante 500)
Level 16: 3000/6000 (ante 500)
Level 17: 4000/8000 (ante 500)
Level 18: 5000/10,000 (ante 1000)
Level 19: 6000/12,000 (ante 1000)
Level 20: 8000/16,000 (ante 2000)
Level 21: 10,000/20,000 (ante 2000)
Level 22: 12,000/24,000 (ante 3000)
Level 23: 15,000/30,000 (ante 3000)
Level 24: 20,000/40,000 (ante 4000)
Level 25: 30,000/60,000 (ante 5000)
Level 26: 40,000/80,000 (ante 5000)
Level 27: 50,000/100,000 (ante 10,000)
Level 28: 60,000/120,000 (ante 10,000)
Level 29: 80,000/160,000 (ante 20,000)
Level 30: 100,000/200,000 (ante 30,000)