ANZPT Sydney: Jumpin' Jai is flyin' high
The shackles are off after a sedate start to day 1B in the PokerStars.net ANZPT Main Event at Star City Casino in Sydney. Less than 30 players had been eliminated in the first three levels, but the cry of "all-in, call" is emanating around the room.
The sun is getting low in the sky and the bars around Star City are starting to fill with workers enjoying their weekly beer o'clock festivities. But it's still office hours for the players chasing a slice of the AUD $986,000 on offer.
In a stunning charge, Jai Kemp has bolted to a massive chip lead with 167,745. That's more than Joseph Moussa (152k) finished with yesterday, and there's still five levels to go. Kemp, who finished fifth in the 2008 APPT Grand Final, is ideally positioned to once again go deep here at Star City.
Grant Levy and Celina Lin also enjoyed a successful level four after both just doubled-up. Lin's set of queens overtook Frank "The Bank" Bianco's flopped set of eights to climb back above 25,000 while Levy found aces against Dean McIver's kings to slash the Melburnian's stack almost down to the felt.
That came after he'd made the nut straight against Josh Cunningham's two-pair to take down another nice pot. As the old saying goes, Levy doesn't run like God; God runs like Levy.
Their PokerStars.net Team Australia teammate Tony Hachem has hovered just either side of the 40k mark and is now on 48k but Emad Tahtouh's tournament is on tenterhooks with barely 5000 in chips.
Tahtouh, who finished runner-up to Team PokerStars Pro Victoria Coren in the 2006 EPT London Main Event, hangs on but several big names will be free to make extended dinner plans after bowing out during level four.
The casualties included Perth's Michael Pedley, whose flush was always in strife against Michael "Halloween" Mayar's full-house that turned into quads on the river, while 2009 Aussie Millions winner Stewart Scott never got anything going today. Leo Boxell, Bryan Huang and Ali Khalil have also vacated the tournament area.
The smoking deck is currently packed to capacity as the players enjoy a 15-minute break. An even 200 players remain in contention today, with the average stack just over 25,000. When we return, blinds will be at level five (150/300 with a 25 ante).