ANZPT Sydney: Australasia's stars discover poker paradise

Sydney has a well-earned reputation as the home of the two PokerStars tours that operate in the Asia-Pacific region. Over the past three years, Sydney has hosted the largest and richest events on both the Asia Pacific and Australia New Zealand poker tours.

The early signs are positive for another record-breaking field in the fifth PokerStars tour event to be held at Sydney's Star City Casino, as Australia's largest metropolis welcomes players to town for the third event on season two of the PokerStars.net ANZPT.

In 2009, there was no bigger event on the PokerStars.net ANZPT than the ANZPT Sydney Main Event. A massive field of 496 players created a prizepool just shy of AUD $1 million. Winner Paren Arzoomanian took home one of the biggest payouts of the year: $246,500.

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Paren Arzoomanian celebrates victory after the inaugural ANZPT Sydney Main Event

Half a world away from the chaos being created by volcanic ash over Europe, Australasia's best players haven't had any trouble making the short flight to Sydney for a shot at ANZPT glory. We hate to rub salt into the wounds of our European friends, but Sydney is also experiencing an "Indian summer" with another week of temperatures in the mid-high 20s expected. Winter is barely a month away!

In addition to the vast array of natural wonders that amaze international visitors on their arrival in the land Down Under, this week also marks the opening of the Sydney Comedy Festival and the final weekend of the Autumn Horse Racing Carnival. Sunday also marks the 95th year of ANZAC Day commemorations, Australia's national day of remembrance.

Plenty of reasons to take a walk outside Star City Casino, but over the past week, players have packed the state-of-the-art Star City poker room for a vast array of preliminary events, including an AUD $330 buy-in No Limit Hold'em Bounty event named in honour of reigning ANZPT Player of the Year and PokerStars.net Team Australia Pro Tony Hachem.

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Man on a mission: reigning ANZPT Player of the Year Tony Hachem

The younger brother of 2005 WSOP champion Joe Hachem has been the headline act in the first two events of the ANZPT in 2010. He final-tabled the first tournament in Adelaide (placing seventh) before breaking through for his first major career title in Perth last month.

Hachem again tops the ANZPT leaderboard after two events but with five more stops this year, a repeat victory for Tony is far from assured. And there's no better place for a rival to launch an assault on the ANZPT overall points title than Sydney, which will almost certainly be the largest event on this year's tour. That means there'll be a swag of points up for grabs.

It's said that the first man you must beat in any such contest is your teammate, and Hachem will need to be on his toes as the lion's share of the hometown support will be with Star City ambassadors and past APPT champions Grant Levy and Eric Assadourian. Fellow PokerStars.net Team Australia players Lee "Final Table" Nelson and Emad Tahtouh are also expected to line-up for a shot at the ANZPT Sydney title.

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Good to be back: the magnificent view of the city skyline down Sydney Harbour

Join us from 12.30pm tomorrow for the first of two day one flights in the 2010 PokerStars.net ANZPT Sydney Main Event, from Star City Casino overlooking the stunning Darling Harbour and Sydney Harbour Bridge just across from the Sydney CBD.

ANZPT Leaderboard (after two events)

1 Tony Hachem (Vic) 114.10
2 Chris Evans (Australia) 76.05
3 Rennie Carnevale (NSW) 71.75
4 Aleks Lackovic (WA) 69.50
5 Andy Kemmler (Australia) 68.40
6 Octavian Voegele (SA) 67.15
7 Andrew Scarf (NSW) 61.75
8 Billy Argryos (Vic) 60.25
9 Todd Butcher (SA) 56.80
10 Eric Assadourian (NSW) 55.65
11 Vesko Zmukic (WA) 55.10
12 Michael Sellars (Australia) 53.70
13 Peter Aristidou (Vic) 52.20
14 Dale Marsland (WA) 51.80
15 Daniel Neilson (NSW) 51.40
16 Matt Rolfe (Australia) 51.05
17 Alek Givotsky (USA) 49.90
18 Tu Le (WA) 49.60
19 Bruno de Silva (Qld) 48.75
20 Daniel Laidlaw (Australia) 48.60