ANZPT Melbourne: Hungry Hungry Hachems

The PokerStars.net Australia New Zealand Poker Tour (ANZPT) has ventured south to the city of Melbourne for the penultimate event of Season Two. We're in the beautiful confines of the Crown Casino for the next three days as the $2,700 PokerStars.net ANZPT Melbourne Main Event is set to fill the tables of the Crown Poker Room.

Over the years the Crown Poker Room has laid witness to many of the greatest moments in Australian poker history. Recognized as the premier poker room in the country, it is the home of many of Australia's biggest poker series' including the largest poker tournament in the Southern Hemisphere, the Aussie Millions.

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Melbourne's world class Crown Casino

The city of Melbourne offers a proud sporting culture and tradition all of its own, and it's a wonderful time to be part of this great city. Just last week nearly 100,000 crammed into the colossal Melbourne Cricket Ground to witness an historic replay in the Australian Football League Grand Final, while the Spring Racing Carnival and Melbourne Cup is an event of International proportions.

Melbourne has long been a breeding ground of great sporting champions, and in poker it has produced another in 2005 WSOP Champion Joe Hachem.

Just yesterday Hachem was a man under the spotlight. Literally. While the preliminary events of the ANZPT were in full swing, the iconic figure of Hachem stood alone at one end of the Crown Poker Room with lights and cameras focussed in his direction as he shot some promotional footage for Crown Casino. Hachem a proud ambassador of the Crown Poker Room and the Team PokerStars Pro would love nothing more than to capture a trophy in his own backyard in this event.

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Joe Hachem went close to the coveted "Triple Crown" at the recent PokerStars.net EPT London Main Event

It will certainly be a "who's who" of the Australasian poker world when play gets underway in the ANZPT Melbourne Main Event, as the region's finest players have overcome the delights (read dramas) of domestic travel to arrive safe and sound.

Fellow Team PokerStars Pros Lee "Final Table" Nelson and Tony Hachem will no doubt be in attendance as two of the marquee players of this event. Nelson looks to be in a rich vein of form as he busily amassed a monster stack in last night's preliminary event, while Hachem was no doubt in fine form at the player's party at Tangerine Bar!

Of course Hachem is currently locked in a dogged fight for the ANZPT Player of the Year title with John Maklouf. There are only a few points separating the top players with Maklouf holding a narrow lead over Hachem, with Andrew Scarf, Aaron Benton and Mike Spilkin all lurking within striking distance.

With a big turnout expected in Melbourne, there's going to be plenty of bonus points on offer. There have also been a few murmurs about a potential $1,000,000 prize pool which would be a first for the ANZPT. With 95 PokerStars qualifiers taking to the felt, it's expected that 350 players is a distinct possibility.

Of course last year it was Sydney's Chris Levick who emerged over a field of 218 players to claim the title and AU$158,050. With mixed emotions I should make mention that the unfortunate runner up in that event was yours truly. They told me to not give up my day job, so I'll be behind the computer this time around, while we believe that Levick is still in Sydney and will not be making the trip down to defend his title.

That means we'll be crowning a new champion, and unlike the AFL Grand Final, there will be no replay. We'll be playing this out until we find a winner and the latest champion of the PokerStars.net ANZPT.

Stay locked into the PokerStars blog as we bring you all the live updates from the Crown Poker Room from 12pm local time.