ANZPT Sydney: Qualifiers lapping up the Aussie experience

By Landon Blackhall

The PokerStars.net ANZPT Sydney Main Event has brought together some of the biggest and best names in poker from Australia and New Zealand.

But there is a small contingent of international players who have qualified online and have made their way to Australia in an attempt to take the first ANZPT Sydney title abroad.

PokerStars qualifiers have made the long trip from the USA, Canada, United Kingdom, Sweden, Denmark, Japan and Hong Kong - there was even female online qualifier hailing from the tiny Eastern European country of Moldova, but ANZPT head honcho Danny McDonagh informed the players that she was unable to make the trip so her 16,406.45 Moldovan Leu (AUD $2000) will stay in the prize pool.

We chatted with some of the qualifiers as they slowly worked their way through level five. Daniel Alexander of the UK was thrilled to have won a seat so he could again experience the land Down Under.

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UK PokerStars Qualifier Daniel Alexander

"I came over to Australia two years ago," Alexander said. "I've already done a lot of the touristy stuff before, so I've been able to just relax and enjoy my time here at Star City, which has helped me focus on this tournament."

We then met Dennis Hanshew from the US. A diehard fan of the Chicago Cubs, Hanshew's inspiration for making the trip across the Pacific was simple - his passion for poker. However hasn't been a smooth start for him.

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Dennis Hanshew isn't about to give up after travelling this far!

"I got here a day late. I was supposed to start yesterday but my original flight was delayed. I've taken quite a few hits early and I'm now on around 8000 in chips, but I'll get there."

Given that we're able to keep a close eye on Hanshew (he's on table 26, right next to our media desk), we're happy to report that he's now back up to 18,000 in chips.

Canadian Zac Avdelopoulos is proudly wearing his Calgary Redwings hockey jersey at the table today (drawing some curious stares from the rugby and Aussie Rules-mad locals), and was happy to step away from his tables and chat to us after a hand in which he was forced to muck after his all-in opponent called time.

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Astute call? Zac Avdelopoulos sent his flopped straight to the muck

"I folded a monster. I had 10-8 offsuit in the blinds and the flop came Q-J-9. So I lead out for 3000 with the straight, but this one guy shoves all in for about 16,000 more. Another player on the button tanks, the all-in guy calls time on him and the button ends up being counted out," he said.

"I sit there and think for ages, but the guy then calls time on me too! I had no choice but to fold; for some reason I just didn't think I was good."

It seems his intuition is helping, as he's still in the tournament with 23,000. We hope that many more international players follow the lead of Zac, Dennis, Daniel and our other PokerStars qualifiers from overseas in the future - see you in Melbourne and Queenstown!