ANZPT Melbourne Day 1: Levels 1 & 2 (blinds 75-150)
2:15pm: Ten-minute break
2:10pm: One for Nelson
Lee Nelson will be heading to the break with a little momentum after raking in some chips on the final hand of the level. We caught the action from the turn with Nelson's chips in the middle on a board of T♠2♦2♠A♦.
Nelson's opponent reluctantly folded, flashing the A♥ with obvious kicker problems as Nelson claimed to have held ace-king as he raked in the chips to move up to 15,500.
1:50pm: Kemp looking for the hat trick
As we continue to patrol the room a few more familiar faces are starting to pop up around the room. One man we've just spotted in the far corner of the room is the man of the moment, Jai Kemp.
Victorious last night in the High Rollers Event to add to his trophy in the Bounty event earlier in the week, Kemp is looking for his third trophy of the week - a feat that, we're guessing, has never been achieved before in this country.
However when we went to congratulate Kemp on his win and grab a few quotes, the friendly Sydneysider was surprisingly tight-lipped. It wasn't until he pointed to the player in Seat 10 that we realised why. Sitting on the other side of the dealer was none other than the man he defeated heads-up last night in the High Rollers Event, Andy Hinrichsen.
1:30pm: Wu doesn't believe in a chip and a chair
When you've been doing this job long you sometimes think you've seen it all. But poker is a funny game so it's exciting when we see something we've never seen before.
It wasn't so exciting for Stanley Wu who was the unfortunate soul in the middle of this rarity. He's just clashed in a massive pot with ANZPT Gold Coast champion Peter Matusik.
We arrived on the turn with the board reading T♥T♣9♦Q♥ and a bet of 6,200 in front of Matusik in position. From the big blind, Wu was in the tank for several minutes before announcing himself all in. It was around 12,000 more but Matusik didn't wait for a count as he sighed, "I guess I have to call!"
Wu opened A♦A♣ and saw the bad news as he Matusik showed K♦T♦ for trips. The river was a bricky 4♣ and Wu walked away from the table thinking he was eliminated.
In fact after a countdown of chips Wu was left with 275 in change - good for almost two big blinds. The floorstaff chased him down and told him he had chips behind so Wu returned to the table. When he arrived and saw what was left he exclaimed "Leave it. Let it blind out!"
Despite a few quick "chip and a chair" quotes being thrown at Wu, he was not interested, and in a very rare occurrence, exited the poker room with chips still in play.
Meanwhile Matusik is happily sitting with a double stack of 40,000 chips.
1:20pm: Broom sails past Wing
We didn't catch all of the details but James Broom has just landed a handy double up through Tom Wing. The board read J♦T♠4♥T♦K♣ where Wing fired out a bet. Broom responded by moving all in and Wing made the call.
Wing tabled pocket fours for a full house but Broom had caught very good with his K♥T♣ building a bigger house for the double up. He's back above starting stack with 20,600 as Wing slips to 12,400.
1:15pm: Level up, blinds 75-150
12:55pm: Nightmare table draw
There are plenty of solid tables around the room today but we should pay special mention to table 18 which we've labelled today's Table of Death. This is not the sort of table you want to wake up to at 12:10pm for the start of your tournament day.
The hyper-aggressive James Broom takes Seat 1 with the hyper-lethargic Dan Neilson two seats to his left. We then have ANZPT Adelaide champion Octavian Voegele in the middle of the table, while PokerStars qualifier Tom Wing must be cursing his luck as he sits to Voegele's left. In Seat 9 we have Australian poker stalwart Julius Colman, while Luke McLean, who won the opening event of this series, rounds out the table. Ouch!
We should also mention a table over near the big screen of the Crown Poker Room where Jesse McKenzie and Leo Boxell have found themselves seated on the very same table. A rather interesting table draw as these guys are currently sitting first and second in the ANZ Player of the Year race!
12:50pm: Celina arrives
We've just had one more notable late arrival as PokerStars Team Asia Pro Celina Lin has made a fashionably late arrival to the ANZPT Melbourne Main Event. It's been a while since we saw the Queen of Asian poker on the ANZPT so it's great to have her part of this event. She's taken her seat on Table 14 and will be pretty pleased to look around at a table of relatively unknown players.
12:40pm: Bruno dodges bullets
Bruno Portaro is seated on the feature table directly in front of our blogging desk, and despite us denying his request for hand-for-hand coverage including hole card cams, we did catch him in an early confrontation.
Portaro had been splashing around early, and when faced with a bet of 1,075 on a 7♣Q♣2♠ flop, Portaro raised it up to 2,500. His opponent decided to make a stand and moved all in for a total of 19,075.
"God I'm a dill," sighed Portaro as he flashed the Q♥ and folded. His opponent returned serve by showing A♣A♦.
Portaro decided to straddle from under the gun a few hands later and won the pot to pull a few chips back. He's certainly in the thick of the action in the early goings.
12:35pm: A sea of friendly faces
We might just get over 300 entrants here today as we seem to have around 30 tables in action. There are many previous ANZPT champions, online young guns and notable players amongst the field.
Some of those we've spotted include Oliver Grujic, Bruno Portaro, Dennis Huntly, Josh Barrett, Liam Moffett, Liam O'Rourke, Sam Khouiss, Lee Nelson, Peter Aristidou, Jeff Rossiter, Mario Ljubicic, Jackie Glazier, Leo Boxell, Julian Powell, Benn Skender, Billy Jordanou, Michael Kanaan and the defending champion Martin Kozlov.
Many of today's field qualified for this event through an online satellite held on PokerStars. 90 of them in fact. Scrolling through the list of qualifiers, there's the usual suspects including Aaron Benton, Ben Delaney, Brendon Rubie, Daniel Laidlaw, Jai Kemp, Jesse McKenzie, Octavian Voegele, Paul "The Voice" Khoury, Ricky Kroesen, Sal Fazzino, Sam Rotar, Tom Grigg, Tom Wing and Tim English.
There was also one name which we don't usually associate with the list of online qualifiers and that was old schooler Graeme Putt.
"So who played on your account?" laughed Danny McDonagh with tongue-in-cheek when Putt told him the news.
12:20pm: Today's format
As usual for the ANZPT, players will start with a 20,000-chip start bank and enjoy generous one hour levels. With the blinds starting at 50-100, there's plenty of game time to donk off some chips!
The beauty of the massive Crown Poker Room is that there is no need for multiple opening flights, as it easily caters for everyone in just one opening day. That also means that we'll be in for a longer day than usual on the ANZPT, with ten levels of play scheduled for today.
12:15pm: ANZPT Melbourne Main Event is underway!
The Crown Poker Room is bubbling with activity as a healthy collection of eager poker players have gathered for the start of the PokerStars.net ANZPT Melbourne Main Event.
The locals appear to be out in force, but several interstaters have arrived into town for the big dance, while a few have already enjoyed success this week with 2009 APPT Sydney champion Aaron Benton and fellow Sydneysider Jai Kemp collecting titles during the week. In fact Kemp is likely to have to pay some excess baggage on his way back home after winning the $5,000 High Rollers Event last night for his second trophy after also winning the Bounty event earlier in the week.
Early guestimates have the field at around 250, but whispers are that we may even push towards 300 which would be an excellent result.
The players have taken their seats and exchanged pleasantries as the immortal words have been uttered to shuffle up and deal!