ANZPT Melbourne Day 1: Levels 5 & 6 (blinds 200-400, ante 50)

6:35pm: 45-minute dinner break

Approximately 180 players are heading off to dinner with the big stacks including Brett Watson, Tom Grigg, Phil Willcocks and Jarred Graham.

We'll be back at 7:20pm local time.

6:15pm: Benton breaking even

Aaron Benton's table just broke and as he was racking up his chips he lamented to us about what might have been.

"I just lost 40,000!" exclaimed Benton. "It was jacks and queens against my kings and he flopped a set of queens! But I got it back next hand with pocket queens against ace-ten!"

Benton recalled to us that after a limp from Dennis Huntly, Benton raised to 1,850 before the player to his direct left decided his best move was to move all in for about 25,000 with ace-ten. Huntly folded and Benton called with his queens which held when the board bricked out.

Benton heads to his new home with about 42,000 chips.

6:00pm: Delaney done

After finishing third in Event #28 of the PokerStars WCOOP for a lazy US$110,016 score, Ben Delaney was looking to bring that online form into the live arena for the ANZPT Melbourne Main Event. Unfortunately it didn't quite go to plan.

It was recalled to us that Delaney jammed all in for his last 5,000 or so chips holding pocket nines over the top of a preflop raiser who made the call with [q][9]. A queen on the flop and another on the turn was more than enough to see Delaney head to the rail.

5:50pm: Grigg gets loose

Tom Grigg has steam-rolled his way to 76,000 in chips after an unusual hand that has put his opponent into "Silent Rage" mode.

Grigg opened from early position to 950 and picked up a caller before the button-player popped it to 4,000. Grigg checked his opponent's stack before matching the bet as the third player stepped aside.

It appeared that the hand was going nowhere when the two checked until the river on the board of 7♠9♥K♠9♠K♦ however when Grigg led out with an overbet of 15,000 everyone once again took notice. It was almost double the size of the pot and Grigg's opponent was clearly perplexed.

He eventually made a crying call, as Grigg tabled a creative 9♣6♣ full house and maximum value as his disgruntled opponent tossed his cards into the muck.


The creative play of Tom Grigg is starting to tilt his table

5:35pm: Level up, blinds 200-400, ante 50

5:30pm: Grigg barrels Steicke

David Steicke has slipped to 11,000 after being unable to sustain a triple-barrel barrage from Tom Grigg. The board was 8♠9♦4♠K♥2♠ with Steicke check-calling 1,400 on the flop and 2,700 on the turn. When Grigg fired another 6,700 on the river, the price was too much for Steicke as he let it go.

Grigg has a habit of accumulating a big stack on Day 1 as he's now motored his way to 52,000.

5:20pm: On The Mac in the lead

Jesse McKenzie needs a big result here in Melbourne to challenge Leo Boxell for the ANZ Player of the Year lead and he's making a great fist of it so far after eliminating an opponent to jump into the tournament chip led.

With a raise to 800 in front, McKenzie popped it to 1,850 in position with Lauren McIver flat-calling from the small blind. The preflop aggressor came along as well to see a flop of 7♠9♣T♠.

Action checked around to McKenzie who tossed out 3,750. Action was then with McIver who cut down her chips before tossing out a check-raise to 7,000. Since this was an under-sized raise, she was forced to min-raise to 7,500. The third player escaped and McKenzie took a glance at McIver's stack before declaring himself all in. McIver thought for a moment, shrugged and made the call.

McKenzie showed A♠J♠ for a big draw but two of his outs were in the hands of McIver as she opened 8♥8♦. McKenzie was looking for a straight or flush but the A♥ on the turn was jsut as good as he claimed the lead before improving to his flush on the 3♠ river.

McIver is out as McKenzie is now flying with 67,000 chips.


Jesse McKenzie flushes another opponent at the ANZPT Melbourne

5:00pm: Sammy on song

Making a rare appearance this afternoon, Sam Khouiss is motoring along nicely in the ANZPT Melbourne Main Event after eliminating a short-stacked opponent.

The chips went in on the 5♠5♥Q♦ flop with Khouiss holding A♠Q♠ for the best hand against his opponent's dominated K♠Q♥.

The 6♣ turn and 6♥ river changed nothing as another player is sent to the rail.

Khouiss is an enigmatic character on the Australian poker circuit with over three quarters of a million dollars in tournament winnings to put him the all-time Australian top 20. His resume also includes a final table in this very event back in 2009. Khouiss will be hoping to at least match that performance as he chips up to 40,000.


Sam Khouiss in action at the ANZPT Melbourne Main Event

4:40pm: Bruno busto

After losing a large chunk of change holding trips when an opponent caught a gutshot straight, Portaro got his last chips in with king-queen against an opponent's pocket nines.
All looked good for Portaro on the Q♦K♦3♦ flop but the 9♣ on the turn gave his opponent a set which remained in front on the 8♣ river.

"Oh well, there's always Darwin!" sighed Portaro as he headed to the bar.

4:35pm: Play resumes

The players are back following the break with roughly 235 players still in contention from our starting field of 310. We'll play another two levels before a scheduled dinner break at 6:35pm.

Notable chip leaders include Ben Gilholme, Peter Matusik, Mario Ljubicic and Michael Pedley.