Henderson speeds ahead at ANZPT Darwin

For many years, the Northern Territory was well known as one of the only locations in the world where there were no speed restrictions on its roads. That's right, with hundreds of kilometres between outback towns, it was perfectly legal to speed along as fast as you wanted to. Of course, that is now no longer the case, with speed limits introduced in 2007 that have thankfully reduced the road toll.

We're also thankful there are no speed restrictions in poker tournaments, because the road toll today was dangerously high, providing a hugely entertaining day of poker in the SKYCITY Darwin Casino.

Day 2 of the PokerStars.net ANZPT Darwin Main Event claimed 40 casualties today, as our field of 72 was reduced to just 32 within five levels of play. At that point ANZPT Commissioner Danny McDonagh had seen enough carnage and called it a day.

Ricky Kroesen and Aaron Benton were fast out of the blocks while overnight chip leader Andy Hinrichsen was involved in one almighty head-on collision with Mark Chin. Hinrichsen held pocket eights while Chin tabled pocket jacks, so the chips were always going to fly when the flop landed 8♦2♠J♥. Hinrichsen couldn't find a one-outer and was eliminated soon after as Chin flew out to a massive chip lead as the first player across the 100,000-chip barrier.


Mark Chin disposed of Andrew Hinrichsen and grabbed the early chip lead

Sam Rotar and Mishel Anunu were also soon on the rail while Ricky Kroesen's fall from grace was also sudden. After accidentally mucking the best hand at showdown, a rattled Kroesen pushed with middle pair holding 4♣5♣ on a 2♠T♠4♥ flop, only to see Clint Dixon make the call with Q♥T♦. Kroesen didn't even stick around to watch the result as he made a hasty exit as the A♠ turn and 8♦ river completed the board.

Tim English was moving up the leaderboard, as was 2009 ANZPT Melbourne champ Chris Levick who found some justice and a double up, when his pocket queens held against the J♣T♣ of Brad Bower on a board that ran out A♣T♥7♦J♥A♦.

The big story throughout the day was the race for the ANZPT Season 2 Player of the Year title. Four players remained in contention with John Maklouf, Andrew Scarf, Tony Hachem and Aaron Benton all closely watching each other's progress.


The ANZPT POTY contenders - Andrew Scarf, Tony Hachem, John Maklouf and Aaron Benton

It seemed that all four were progressing comfortably but out of nowhere the two current points leaders in Maklouf and Scarf were eliminated simultaneously.

Maklouf ran his pocket queens into Anthony Flanagan's pocket kings while Scarf lost a preflop race with pocket eights against Peter Talias' king-queen. The double elimination blew the POTY door wide open with Hachem needing to finish 8th to be guaranteed of the title, while Benton was also a chance if he cashed and Hachem was eliminated.

This news seemed to inspire Benton as he went on a rush with the elimination of Serge Mazza to move up to 80,000. New Zealand hip hop king Brotha D was also looking strong as he continued his red hot form from Auckland after winning a side event here in Darwin during the week.

Meanwhile the rapid rate of eliminations continued as Matthew Pearson, Leo Boxell and Dan Neilson all fell away towards the later stages of the day.

However the big story of the day would only emerge in the dying minutes as Brotha D and Tony Hachem were involved in a controversial hand where Brotha D verbally indicated the strength of his hand which caused Hachem to lay down pocket kings preflop. Brotha D showed pocket aces and the table became irate at the possible breach of tournament rules. Brotha D copped a warning and it didn't seem to bother Hachem as he ironically picked up pocket aces against pocket kings moments later to bring us to our final 32 players and the end to the day.


Tony Hachem ended the day in the thick of the action

It was a significant moment that several players may reflect upon in two days time if Hachem can make a deep run towards the title and the Player of the Year honours.

Avoiding all of the minefields and controversy was Byron Henderson who collected plenty of loose change to end the day as the chip leader with 143,800.


ANZPT Darwin chip leader Byron Henderson

Mark Chin held onto his stack to end the day in second place with 139,400, while the others above the century included Anthony Flanagan (111,300), Tim English (107,700) and Jie Gao (101,300).

Team PokerStars Pro Tony Hachem finished with 66,100 while 2009 APPT Sydney champ Aaron Benton has some work ahead of him with 30,200.

Other notables safely through to Day 3 include Bruno Portaro (83,900), Ben Savage (82,400), Chris Levick (64,800), Brotha D (63,100), Daniel Laidlaw (47,500), Luke Edwards (40,400) and Billy Argyros (32,700).

Play recommences at 12:30pm local time (GMT+9:30) tomorrow as our final 32 players will play down until we reach our official final table lineup. We look forward to your company tomorrow where once again there will be no speed limits!