ANZPT Melbourne: Levels 1 & 2 (blinds 75-150)
2:10pm: Ten-minute break
1:45pm: Croc out
We've lost our first big name pro from this event as Billy "The Croc" Argyros has been eliminated at the hands of Chris Bonato.
Argyros raised it to 600 with one caller before Bonato raised to 2,100. Argyros re-raised all in for his last chips to force a fold from the player in the middle, but Bonato made the call.
Bonato tabled 7♦7♣ and spiked a set on the Q♥7♥8♥ to overtake the K♥K♣ of a disgusted Argyros. He picked up a flush draw but couldn't connect as the 2♠ turn and 3♦ river bricked the board.
1:38pm: A few late arrivals
A couple of late arrivals includes the group of Jonathan Karamalikis, Ben Delaney, Brendon Rubie and Ali Khalil who have just all taken their seats after enjoying a late breakfast together.
They were soon followed by none other than the 2005 WSOP World Champion Joe Hachem.
1:30pm: Benton bounces back early
2009 APPT Sydney champ Aaron Benton quickly found his stack halved in the first few levels of the day, but he has just as quickly found a double up to get himself back on level footing. It was Benton's pocket queens which held against the ace-king of Melbourne local Trung Tran. The board bricked out and Benton doubled back to 18,000.
1:20pm: Another table of champions
While the action is fairly quiet in the early goings we'll mention another interesting table lineup over on table 14. 2010 Aussie Millions champ Tyron Krost is in action, but he won't have it easy on a table which features Van Marcus, Mike Ivin, Dean McIver and young gun James Obst.
Another chapter in the story of James "Andy_McLEOD" Obst was written just last week when he took down the prestigious PokerStars WCOOP Player of the Series title. This honour is amongst the most respected in the game, with all of the world's best online players navigating their way through the minefields of massive fields for huge prize pool. Obst finished 3rd on four separate occasions and netted 11 cashes for over US$200,000 in winnings to capture the crown as the world's best online player.
1:10pm: Level up, blinds 75-150
12:45pm: Nothing shifty here
Another man who has enjoyed some recent success is Michael Guzzardi. Playing under the online moniker "ShiFtyFinger", Guzzardi toiled online for ten hours to capture the PokerStars Sunday Warm-Up crown and a massive US$132,910 in prize money.
Guzzardi will be all too familiar with the felt of the Crown Poker Room after previously working here as a dealer. Guzzardi burst onto the scene with a big score at the WSOP and since then has gone from strength to strength in his poker career.
Guzzardi is currently on the feature table with inaugural ANZPT champion Karl Krautschneider, ANZPT Points Leader John Maklouf and Ben Savage who final tabled this event last year.
A couple of other interesting lineups have emerged with Nobbi Tanaka, Trung Tran, Aaron Benton and Matthew Pilat seated together, while Matthew Pearson will have to contend with Donna Ciric, Andrew Watson, ANZPT Gold Coast final tablist Brad Wilson, APPT Auckland final tablist Danny Silk and Vesko Zmukic. There's also a spare seat on this table in seat three which is registered under one Ali Khalil!
12:30pm: Watt, Kroesen and Carle set for a tough day
On our first round of the Crown Poker Room we've uncovered a few interesting table lineups. Table 44 is arguably the most interesting table in the room featuring 2009 APPT Auckland champion and WSOP bracelet winner Simon Watt. He finds himself battling with ANZPT Gold Coast runner up Ricky Kroesen, high stakes cash player Mitch Carle and Crown regular John Dalessandri.
Already these four have tangled in a pot after Watt raised preflop from under the gun and all three opponents called to see a flop of T♣A♣7♥. Watt led out for 650 and Kroesen made the call. Carle folded but Dalessandri called to see the 4♥ hit the turn. Action checked to Dalessandri who fired 2,100 which was enough to force folds from his opponents.
A few other names we've spotted in the field include Vesko Zmukic, Donna Ciric, Andrew Watson, Nobbi Tanaka, Trung Tran, Andre Scarf, Tino Lechich, Billy Seri, Toothpick Tony, Liam Moffett, Phil Wilcocks, James Broom, John Caridad, Jonathan Karamalikis, Vincent Wan, Graeme Putt, Grant Levy, Jai Kemp, Sal Fazzino, Peter Aristidou, Dan Neilson, Nik Lackovic, Sean Dunwoodie and Jackie Glazier.
The last three in particular have enjoyed some great success in recent times, with Lackovic and Glazier picking up victories in preliminary events this week, while Dunwoodie landed the Adelaide Poker Championships Main Event title just last week.
12:10pm: Shuffle up and deal
The players have found their way to their seats and exchanged pleasantries in preparation of a long day together on the poker felt. As the players settled, Crown Director of Poker Operations, Jonno Pittock, welcomed the players to the Crown Poker Room which is bursting at the seams here this afternoon. He then handed the mic to ANZPT Tournament Director Danny McDonagh who issued the official "Shuffle Up and Deal".
There's a touch of excitement in the air with this event being the first time it has been held as a stand-alone series in Melbourne. While a $1 million prize pool might be a little optimistic we should get well over 300 players for this event.
With the huge capacity of the Crown Poker Room, there is only one opening flight here today, which means that all the big names are on show here this afternoon. Some of the notable we've already spotted include Team PokerStars Pros Joe Hachem, Lee Nelson and Tony Hachem, Van Marcus, Jarred Graham, Jonathan Karamalikis, Kristian Lunardi, the "PokerStar" Amanda De Cesare, 2009 APPT Sydney Champion Aaron Benton, ANZPT Adelaide champ Rennie Carnevale and the last Australian standing at the World Series of Poker, Matthew Pearson. Just to name a few!
We'll be playing ten 60-minute levels today before we bag and tag.