ANZPT Sydney: Stellar field packs The Star as Day 1a kicks off

The cards are in the air in The Star Poker Room as the opening flight of the ANZPT Sydney $2,200 Main Event is underway. It's the first event of Season 4 of the PokerStars.net Australia New Zealand Poker Tour and, traditionally, the largest of the tour.

Over the years, Sydney has been home to some of the Australia's great sporting events, so it's no surprise that the harbour city also has a special place in the history of Australian poker. That history dates back to 2007 when Sydney school teacher Grant Levy claimed the first million dollar win by an Aussie on home soil when he took down the inaugural APPT Sydney title.

grant_levy_wins_sydney.jpg

With further local victories in the APPT to Martin Rowe (2008), Aaron Benton (2009) and Jonathan Karamalikis (2010), poker in Sydney was thriving and the ANZPT enjoyed the success of that growth.

The first ANZPT Sydney event was back in 2009 where a staggering 493 players took to the felt - a number that remains an ANZPT record. Back then we were down on the main gaming floor as Paren Arzoomanian was a popular winner, defeating Lisa Walsh heads-up to collect a massive $246,500 - another ANZPT record. John Caridad, Australian Poker Hall of Famer Billy Argyros, Joel Dodds and David Zhao were also part of a stacked final table.

In Season 2 it was another huge field as 446 players continued to secure Sydney's place as the most popular destination of the tour. Angelo Hanataj came from relative obscurity to win the title and $219,432 in prize money. Mike Ivin was runner up with Michael O'Grady and John Maklouf also featuring on the final table.

Last year we saw 393 players in action for the ANZPT Sydney Main Event with Michael Kanaan emerging with an impressive victory over a talented final table. Kanaan grabbed $195,714 for his win with young guns Alex Lee, Stevan Chew and Jay Kinkade also in contention on the final day of play.

While we haven't seen too much of Arzoomanian or Hanataj in recent times, Kanaan is proving himself to be a player of the future after backing up with a 5th place finish in The Star Summer Series Main Event last December for another $67,500 in prize money.

michael_kanaan_2012_anzpt_sydney.jpg

Kanaan is part of today's Day 1a field for the ANZPT Sydney as he looks for a solid defence of his crown. He won't have it easy today with a super-stacked line up this evening. We have WSOPE bracelet winner Andy Hinrichsen, previous APPT Sydney champions Aaron Benton, Jonathan Karamalikis and Grant Levy, ANZPT Melbourne champion Martin Kozlov, ANZPT Adelaide winner Octavian Voegele, international superstars Jim Collopy and Dan Kelly, 2012 Aussie Millions champion Oliver Speidel, and Australian Poker Hall of Famer Billy "The Croc" Argyros.

And that's just to name a few! There are plenty of notables from Australia and New Zealand here this evening as The Star Poker Room is at capacity - even with a couple of overflow tables stretching out into the nearby Oasis Lounge. This bodes well for another massive field here in Sydney.

Those players will be making headlines over the next four days as we look to bring you all the stories from the floor of the 2012 ANZPT Sydney Main Event.

Heath
@PokerStars in Sydney