ANZPT Sydney: Roses among the thorns

The Star City poker room has taken on a surreal atmosphere this afternoon as the race for the money heats-up in the PokerStars.net ANZPT Sydney Main Event.

Over the past few days, a bevy of stunning swimwear models have been staying at Star City, culminating in last night's salubrious and prestigious Ralph Magazine Australian Swimwear Model of the Year.

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The Ralph girls are here, but we promise our attention won't be diverted from the Main Event.

A hush fell over the room, the chips stopped clinking, the cards fell dead halfway through the air and the heads all turned in one direction as the Ralph girls made their way through the poker room for their own promotional poker tournament. The temptation to make a thousand bad puns is almost irresistible, but we will contain ourselves - for now.

Oh yeh, back to the tournament. PokerStars.net Team Australia player Eric Assadourian has been steadily climbing the chip count throughout the day, and raked in another big pot when Mathew Rolfe folded on the river after a bet of 35k from Eric with the board showing K♦ 5♣ A♦ 7♥ 3♠.

In contrast, Trung Tran's tournament has just come to a sudden end. After climbing back from the felt in the early going, he picked the wrong moment to push all-in with the board showing Q♠ 5♣ [10d] Q♦.

Lisa Walsh couldn't believe her luck, called and showed 5♠ 5♥ for a full house, while Tran's 6♦ 7♦ was in a world of hurt. The river fell 2♥, leaving down to a handful of chips.

Another player whose enjoyed a solid day is Majed Haddad. He recently finished second in a major Australian Poker League tournament, which earned him a seta in the 2009 WSOP Main Event.

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The 30-year-old truck driver has been playing in the pub-based competition for the past three years and said he'd love to buy a Ferrari - "or two" - should he win the big one in November. For now, he's travelling nicely towards the cash and a shot at the first ANZPT Sydney title.

The race for chip lead has become a close tussle between PokerStars qualifier Yue Wang (330,000), Nathan Davis (320,000) and Paren "Puzz" Arzoomanian (290,000). Players have just returned from their second break of the day, with blinds up to 1500/3000 and a 500 ante.