ANZPT Canberra: It's heating up in our chilly capital
Stepping from an airport into brilliant sunshine is not a foreign experience for poker players at this time of the year. For the vast majority, that means arriving at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas for a shot at World Series of Poker.
But over the past two days, Aussies and Kiwis who've yet to make the long trek across the Pacific or have decided to give Vegas a miss this year have been converging on the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) for the first PokerStars.net ANZPT Canberra tournament.
Yep, the sun was shining today but the mercury lies at the other end of the scale compared to Vegas as winter takes hold in the Southern Highlands (we creaked to 9°C today). Indeed, the local snow season kicks-off this weekend, and the nearby peaks to the city's south have a healthy cover of the white stuff.
One of three new events in season two of the region's premier tour, ANZPT Canberra marks a return to the former home of Australian poker. For a brief period from 1996-2002, players journeyed to the Canberra where the National Champion was crowned.
A quick look at the honour role of the National Championships reveals names like Australian Poker Hall of Fame members Gary Benson, Jeff Lisandro, Billy Argryos and Lee Nelson. Over the next four days, a new generation of poker players will be chasing glory in Casino Canberra, which lies in the heart of Australia's largest inland city.
For those following this event from afar, Canberra is located between Australia's two biggest cities - about 300 kilometres south-west of Sydney and 600 kilometres north-east of Melbourne. It is one of the few entirely planned cities anywhere in the world.
At the turn of the 20th century in the earliest days of federated Australia, politicians feuded about which city should be considered the nation's capital. A compromise plan was proposed and in 1908, the site was selected. The plan of US architect Walter Burley Griffin (who'd never even stepped foot in Australia) was chosen with construction commencing in 1913.
Long derided as a "series of suburbs in search of a city", Canberra's 340,000 residents are now proud of their garden city, which seems hidden amid the park and bushland that slices significant swathes through the metropolis.
Over the next few days, we'll bring you some of the quirky facts about this unique city and its residents, many of who are in the employ of the nation - the ACT's largest single employer.
But arguably the busiest folk in town over the next few days will be the dealers and staff of Casino Canberra, who have a skip in their step ahead of the opening day's play tomorrow.
ANZPT Canberra looks set to surpass all expectations, with the two day one flights filling rapidly.
ANZPT commissioner Danny McDonagh told us that flight two is already full and accepting alternates, and flight one will also go close to capacity. That means a capacity Main Event field of 200 (plus alternates) is likely.
All eyes will be on PokerStars.net Team Australia's Tony Hachem, who tops the ANZPT Player of the Year after three events. Hachem is aiming for an astounding ninth cash in 10 ANZPT events and back-to-back points titles. He faces some stern competition in the AUD $2200 buy-in Main Event - we'll be ringside for the opening bell tomorrow, which is due to sound at 12.15pm.
2010 ANZPT Player of the Year leaderboard (after three events)
1 Tony Hachem 151.65
2 Peter Aristidou 88.30
3 Chris Evans 86.05
4 Dale Marsland 83.55
5 Angelo Hanataj 82.50
6 Rennie Carnevale 81.75
7 Aleks Lackovic 79.50
8 Andy Kemmler 78.40
9 Octavian Voegele 77.15
10 Mike Ivin 75.25