Great minds, big decisions as Canberra hosts ANZPT

June is traditionally the time of the year for poker players to travel. For many Aussies, it's the time to escape the winter chill, jet set to the other side of the world and step out into the scorching heat of the Nevada desert for the World Series of Poker. The incredible heat rising from the tarmac will almost knock you off your feet.

We had the similar sensation this week. Feeling a little sleepy as we stepped off our early-morning flight to Canberra, we were quickly awoken by the blistering chill that smacked us in the face. Of course, Tasmanians are used to a little coolness in the air, but we certainly didn't argue when forced to carpool for a taxi - we assumed the airport staff had seen one too many frozen visitors standing in line.

So here we are in the nation's capital, and excited to be here for the $2,200 PokerStars.net ANZPT Canberra event. It's the fifth stop of Season 3 of the tour which has already seen huge events in Adelaide, Perth, Sydney and the Gold Coast.

Canberra is not your traditional tourist destination. In fact, until two days ago, it was the only state or territory capital in the country that I had yet to visit. Despite not having the profile of the bigger cities, it's the home of the country's important decision makers and is our nation's capital. How it became our capital is a story in itself.

Canberra is unique in that it is a planned city - designed back in 1908 as a compromise to settle the age-old argument between Sydney and Melbourne. Designed by American architect Walter Burley Griffin, the interesting geometric features and alignment towards key landmarks, highlight a city which is heavily influenced by its parklands and natural vegetation.

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Despite the number of politicians, Canberra does offer visitors a pleasant experience (and we're not talking porn or fireworks) with several unique attractions. Canberra has shed its suburbian tag and come of age as a vibrant city with some great restaurants, nightspots and popular tourist attractions such as the National War Museum, National Gallery and Parliament House.

It should provide an enlightening experience for those who have qualified online on PokerStars, made the short trip from Melbourne or Sydney, or ventured from further afield to Casino Canberra this week for the ANZPT Canberra Main Event.

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Some of those certain to be here are those in contention for the ANZ Player of the Year awards. With another cash on the Gold Coast, Jesse McKenzie hangs onto the lead but our current top ten is loaded with ANZPT champions and even an Aussie Millions winner.

ANZ Player of the Year leaderboard
1st Jesse McKenzie 143.90
2nd Oliver Grujic 130.45
3rd Danny Chevalier 128.60
4th Octavian Voegele 112.45
5th Leo Boxell 107.85
6th Ricky Kroesen 104.55
7th Peter Matusik 97.75
8th Sebastian Pagana 96.95
9th David Gorr 90.95
10th Grant Levy 89.50

With approximately $80,000 in sponsorship prizes up for grabs, this is a race that once again looks like it will go right down to the wire.

Last year, the cream rose to the top in Canberra as the experienced Jason Gray overcame a field of 181 players to take the title and $95,930 in prize money. Hopefully we can push those numbers once again to set up an exciting four days of poker.

Stay locked into the PokerStars Blog as we are given the important task of documenting Australian history as it unfolds. Great minds will come together, a few petty arguments will surface, before eventually the big decisions will be made. They may not change your taxes, make your broadband faster or stop carbon omissions, but they will decide upon something of even greater importance - who will become our newest champion of Australian poker. Opening statements will be delivered at 12:15pm Australian Eastern Standard Time (GMT+10). We hope you will join us then!

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