APPT Auckland: Diamonds are Hachem's best friend

One for the grandkids ... the orders have just been dispatched for a round of drinks after Team Australia Pro Tony Hachem just made a royal flush.

Midway through level six on day 1B of the APPT Auckland Main Event at SKYCITY Casino, Hachem declared he was all-in on a board of K♦ [10d] 2♦ K♠ Q♦. There was no call, but he was only too happy to show A♦ J♦ for the best possible hand in poker.

After years in the poker shadow of his older brother, 2005 WSOP champion and fellow Team Australia Pro Joe Hachem, Tony has forged a place for himself after a remarkable run in the first season of the Australia New Zealand Poker Tour.


Tony Hachem welcomes players at the start of day 1B

He cashed in the first four events of the new tour in 2009 - an amazing record - which ensured him the title of ANZPT Player of the Year. Hachem is on 35,000 and looking good for another shot at the money.

Special mention should also go to US PokerStars Player Garry Gates, who is also well placed to advance to day two, currently holding 55,000 in chips.

Gates, who heads the global PokerNews reporting team, has swapped laptop for tabletop today. He's lucky to be here though - Gates endured a nightmare trip from the USA and spent last night battling a chronic case of petty bureaucracy in Sydney before arriving here this morning. Good karma for GG though, who is out to show he can walk the walk.


The joys of travel ... persistence is paying dividends so far today for Garry Gates

There is just over an hour to play on day 1B, with Raj Ramakrishnan (110,000) still leading from Nil Echeverria (70,000) with popular Sydney poker identity/playboy Ali "Peppermint Hippo" Khalil joining them near the top of the chip count on 60,000.

In the meantime, share a few moments with Team Asia Pro Bryan Huang, one of the most respected and popular young players on the regional circuit:

Watch APPT Auckland 09 : Bryan Huang on