ANZPT Darwin Day 1B: Levels 1 & 2 (blinds 75-150)

2:35pm: Fifteen-minute break

2:30pm: Rennie misses

Rennie Carnevale is one of the contenders in the ANZPT Player of the Year race, but he's chances of securing one of the top three prizes have just taken a huge blow after doubling up the short stack of Philippe Bitar.

The chips went in on a flop of 5♥J♦7♦ as Carnevale pushed with his Q♦9♦ flush draw and Bitar called off his last chips with A♦J♣ for top pair, top kicker.

The turn was the 6♣ to give Carnevale more outs with a straight draw, but the river bricked the 6♥. Bitar doubled up to around starting stack to leave Carnevale with just 8,000 in chips.

2:20pm: Neilson's secret - you can't win when you fold

Daniel Neilson is one of the hottest players on the Australasian circuit right now. Neilson was already the leader in the PokerNetwork Player of the Year award before he collected a huge win last week in the Western Poker Classic in Perth.

He's now hopped off the plane and straight onto the felt here in Darwin and continuing right where he left off as we saw him make an excellent river call against Philippe Bitar. The board read a rather innocent 2♣3♠T♥9♦5♣ as Bitar tossed out 1,600 into the middle. Neilson studied his opponent for several minutes before making the call. Bitar showed ace-queen as Neilson took the pot with his ace-king.

"See, you don't need sets to win!" commented tablemate Rennie Carnevale.

"I just don't like to fold," replied Neilson. "You can't win when you fold."

2:02pm: Another man down

Our second elimination of the day is PokerStars qualifier Danny Martin. He lost the majority of his chips when he ran his pocket kings into the set of eights of Mathew Brown. The board read 5♣J♥8♠J♦ when the chips went into the middle and Martin couldn't find a king to save himself on the Q♥ river.

Martin was down to just 1,125 in chips which disappeared a few hands later, as Brown is now up to 33,000 chips.

1:50pm: It was the mo'!

We're not sure what led to Aaron Benton and Sal Fazzino getting to this point, but the end result was rather interesting. The board read 9♣4♣3♥8♣4♦ when we arrived at the table with a bet of 2,850 in front of Fazzino. Benton deliberated for some time before making a reluctant call.

"You're not going to like it," said Fazzino as he opened 8♥4♥ for a creative full house. Benton flashed K♥K♦ before his cards hit the muck.

"What was the action preflop?" asked tablemate Josh Barrett.

"I raised, and he called with eight-four!" exclaimed Benton.

"It was the moustache, it put me off!" replied Fazzino referring to Benton's new facial feature.

Benton is a big supporter of "Movember" which raises awareness for men's health, and more specifically prostate cancer, an illness which has affected the lives of Benton's own family. Although Movember doesn't officially kick off until the start of November, Benton told us that he needed to get a head start in order to work on his new-found mo'.

For more information about Movember or to make a donation, head to //


Aaron Benton distracting opponents and raising awareness with the mo'

1:35pm: Level up, blinds 75-150

1:30pm: Turning top pair

Catching the action on a flop of 2♥5♦4♥, Michael Spilkin led out with a bet of 525 but was met with resistance from Matthew Brown in the cutoff who popped it up to 1,300. Action folded back to Spilkin who quickly called as the T♠ hit the turn.

Spilkin checked and then called when Brown released another 1,700 into the middle as the 7♥ completed a few draws on the river and slowed both players to check it down.
Spilkin opened A♠5♥ but Brown caught good on the turn as his A♣T♦ collected a nice pot. Brown is up to 23,000 with Spilkin down to 18,000.

1:15pm: Early action on table one

"It's been all action on this table so far!" exclaimed Angelo Limanis as we wandered past his table. He then recalled to us a hand that involved a three-bet, a cold-call, a four-bet by Martin Kozlov and finally a five-bet by Christian Meza. That was enough to force Limanis to fold his queens and Kozlov claimed to have folded pocket kings as Meza took the pot and flashed pocket aces!

We've also had an early casualty on this table with Nick Putt being our first elimination of the day as Mark Chin is now sitting in seat one with a double stack as our early chip leader.

ANZPT Player of the Year set for thrilling finale

One of the most intriguing aspects to the ANZPT finale here in Darwin is the Player of the Year race which has provided some thrilling moments throughout the year. After his early form, including a win in Perth, Team PokerStars Pro Tony Hachem looked like he was set to make it back-to-back ANZPT POTY titles. However John Makouf with three final tables and four cashes surged into the points lead, narrowly ahead of Andrew Scarf with two final tables and four cashes to his credit.

There are approximately AU$90,000 in prizes being awarded to the top three players, and with the ANZPT Darwin event the last chance to grab points, there are several players playing today from the top ten who are still a chance to grab one of the top three prizes.

1st John Maklouf - 203.8
2nd Andrew Scarf - 202.65
3rd Tony Hachem - 191.65
4th Aaron Benton - 174.45
5th Michael Spilkin - 162.9
6th Rennie Carnevale - 159.55
7th Ricky Kroesen - 148.65
8th Daniel Neilson - 139.55
9th Bradley Bower - 138.75
10th Vesko Zmukic - 136.1

12:58pm: Hachem keeping a close eye on things

There's a couple of interesting table draws here today, and with the small number of players, most of them are likely to be sitting together all day.

Aaron Benton finds himself seated with Sal Fazzino and Josh Barrett, while Tony Hachem will have to contend with the latest ANZPT champion in Martin Kozlov on his direct right. Rennie Carnevale and Daniel Laidlaw are next-door neighbours, while Michael Spilkin, Matthew Pearson and Danny Silk are all next to each other. Although we did have to do a double take, as you'll see in the pic below.

"Danny..." called Michael Spilkin to tournament direct Danny McDonagh, "Can we move this poster of Tony so we don't have to look at him all day?"


Michael Spilkin, Matthew Pearson, (Tony Hachem) and Danny Silk

12:45pm: A few names

Some of the other notables in today's field include Nick Putt, Jie Gao, Daniel Laidlaw, Michael Spilkin, Danny Silk, Sal Fazzino and Josh Barrett.

We currently have four tables and 31 players in action in today's flight, but registration is still open if you're in Darwin and thinking about taking your shot at ANZPT glory!

12:35pm: A historical day welcomes players to Day 1B

Undoubtedly the Northern Territory provides one of the most culturally-rich experiences for visitors and tourists to Australia. With an abundance of flora and fauna, unique landmarks and deep traditions, the Northern Territory is the true representation of the Australian "outback".

One of the great natural icons of the Northern Territory and Australia is Uluru. The giant "rock" located south-west of Alice Springs in the centre of the country, stands a massive 348 metres high and measures 9.4 kilometres in circumference. A breathtaking sight with its rich colours as different light strikes the sandstone surface at different times of the day, Uluru is immediately recognizable as one of Australia's great landmarks.


One of Australia's great natural icons, Uluru
(image courtesy of Australia Adventures)

While we're distracted by a little poker up here in Darwin, today is a very significant day in the history of this great landmark and the indigenous people.

Crowds will gather today in the nation's centre at Alice Springs for the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the handback of Uluru (previously known as Ayers Rock) to the indigenous people. On October 26th 1985 the government returned the title for Uluru and the Kata Tjuta National Park to its traditional owners, known as Anangu. It is considered a significant moment for indigenous land rights in Austrlalia.

Hundreds will gather today to celebrate not only the past, but the future, in a cultural festival including traditional dancing, art displays and performances by local bands.

We're expecting a performance of a different kind here today in Darwin, as several big name pros have made their way to the SKYCITY Casino for Day 1b of the ANZPT Main Event. Looking to put on a show will be ANZPT Adelaide champ Rennie Carnevale, 2009 APPT Sydney winner Aaron Benton, the last Aussie standing at this year's WSOP Main Event Matthew Pearson, Western Poker Classic winner Daniel Neilson, ANZPT Melbourne champion Martin Kozlov and ANZPT Perth champ & Team PokerStars Pro Tony Hachem.

SKYCITY Darwin Poker Tournament Director Tony Jackson has welcomed the players to their seats and uttered the immortal words "Shuffle up and deal!"

Day 1b is now officially underway!