APPT Melbourne Day 1: Levels 1-2 (blinds 100-200)
2:15pm: Ten-minute break
2:10pm: Hachem happy to be home
Tony Hachem has already been able to bring up some of his run-good from the 2011 WSOP Main Event to increase his stack to more than 55,000 in chips.
As Hachem recalled to us, an opponent limped in from early position before he raised to 600 from late position. The early position player called, making it heads-up to the flop of 6♥8♥J♣. From there, Hachem's adversary fired out a whopping 6,000-chip bet into a pot worth just over 2,400, leaving only 11,000 behind.
"All right, I'm all in," Hachem said. The opponent called, but before tabling his cards, Hachem asked if he had ace-jack. The opponent, gob-smacked, turned over A-J. "How did you know?" the opponent asked.
"I've just been playing this game for a long time now," was Hachem's reply as he rolled over pocket kings.
Hachem improved to a set on the turn of the K♥, which held up after the 3♥ fell on the river. With his opponent holding no heart, Hachem scored the massive double-up.
2:00pm The sick life of a poker pro
A couple of late-comers to take their seats in today's field including the trio of Mitch Carle, Jarred Graham and Jay Kinkade. Nothing newsworthy there other than the fact that we spotted them a little earlier sitting up in the high stakes cash game area in Crown's "Big Game".
"Yeah, we played all night," admitted Carle as we wandered past his table. The three would've been exchanging pots that would make our APPT final table blush, but that hasn't stopped them from halting proceedings and jumping straight into the Main Event. The lure of tournament championships glory too much to resist.
So if you spot a few guys doing star jumps in the aisles of the poker room to stay awake, now you know why!
1:50pm: Elementary, my dear Watson!
Australian PokerStars Player Andrew Watson has just joined Will Jones up in the 60K club after taking down a sizeable pot against an opponent.
The action folded around to the player in the small blind who raised to 675 preflop before Watson made it 1,800 to go from the big blind. The small blind called, then check-raised to 5,200 after Watson opened for 2,050 on the flop of A♠8♠7♣. Watson called before the small blind fired out another 8,500 on the turn of the 6♥.
Watson went into the tank for some time before making the call, but then quickly called the small blind's bet of 9,500 after the dealer peeled off the 9♠ on the river. The small blind showed down A♣K♣ for top-top, but Watson rolled up 9♦8♥ for two pair. Scoopy scoopy!
1:45pm: Rubie rollin'
Catching the action on a flop of A♥7♥Q♠, action had checked around to Australian poker legend Leo Boxell who tossed out a bet of 800. One call on the button and two folds from the blinds and the action was with one of Australia's finest young players in Brendon Rubie. He may look innocent at the table, but Rubie packs a fierce game and he let his table know all about it as he check-raised to 3,500. Boxell instantly folded and the button player followed to give Rubie a handy early pot.
After making his WSOP debut this year, Rubie gave up an extended holiday around the States just to be part of this APPT Melbourne event so he'll be looking to make the most of it.
1:30pm: Welcome to the game, Mr. Dunwoodie
Earlier in the day, the PokerStars Blog team bumped into three of Melbourne's most prominent players - Steve "The Big Show" Topakas (who's back after a rather long spell away from the game), as well as Sean Keeton and Sean Dunwoodie.
Topakas and Keeton were already seated across the felt from each other on table 42, but Dunwoodie, who scored an Aussie Millions championship ring in January this year, wasn't so keen, lamenting that he had spent quite a bit of money on satellites for this event but to no avail, then suffering even more at the cash game tables the night before.
However, we've now spotted him on table 27. As we walked past, he shot us a grin and quipped, "I couldn't resist!" Hopefully the APPT Melbourne Main Event will provide him with that opportunity to turn things around!
1:15pm: Level up, blinds 100-200
1:10pm: The hits just keep on coming!
Within the first hour of play, we've seen a plethora of pros saunter their way into the poker room, including 2005 WSOP Main Event champion and Aussie Team PokerStars Pro Joe Hachem, who's over on table 45 with Liam Moffett, Jai Kemp and Jackie Glazier, who has brought back a nice piece of silverware from the Venetian Deep Stack Series in the States.
We've also spotted Hong Kong-based Aussie and high stakes specialist David Steicke, as well as inaugural APPT Sydney Main Event champion Grant Levy. Minh Nguyen, Sammy Youssef, 2010 ANZPT Melbourne Main Event runner-up James Obst and Michael Guzzardi are also here and are all parked on table 14.
However, we've come across a very interesting seat draw on table 28. Melbourne fashion designer and Crown regular Jim Sachinidis was one of the last to take his seat there, but he's now up against Aussie Andrew Hinrichsen and two-time ANZ Player of the Year Tony Hachem, who were the last two Aussies standing in this year's WSOP Main Event.
12:55pm: Another tough table
We just walked past an under-the-weather Ricky Kroesen who isn't feeling much better after taking one look at his starting table. Van Marcus, Brendon Edmonds, Sam Rotar and PokerStars WCOOP bracelet winner Roman Priplotski are amongst those keeping Kroesen warm this afternoon.
A few other random names spotted on nearby tables include Peter Aristidou, Brendon Rubie, Jay Kinkade, Ali Khalil, Martin Drewe, Leo Boxell and Jason Gray.
What a field!
12:40pm: Tassie running hot
We have an early chip leader as young Tasmanian Will Jones has doubled his stack in the first few minutes of play.
Jones recalled to us that he raised it up with A♥T♥ on a table that was only four-handed and made a backdoor flush that was paid off in full by a player holding 7♥4♥ for a smaller flush.
Fresh off the back of a memorable victory in the annual State of Origin event earlier in the week (ok, so I waited 25 minutes to casually mention that!), Jones will be looking for his second trophy of the week as he's up to a double stack of 60,000.
12:35pm: Early squeeze for Moneymaker
It hasn't taken long for Team PokerStars Pro Chris Moneymaker to flex his muscle at his table to put his opponents on the back foot early on. With ANZPT Sydney champion Michael Kanaan opening from early position to 250 and finding a couple of callers, Moneymaker put on the squeeze with a raise to 1,500 from the small blind. It works as Kanaan reluctantly folded and the others quickly followed.
He probably doesn't even realise it, but it's a relatively solid start table for the 2003 World Champion with ANZPT Gold Coast final tablist Norah Greer, "Mr. Macau" Charles Chua, Maryann Farrugia as well as Kanaan set to keep Moneymaker on his toes.
12.30pm: Superstars under the Southern Cross
With 72 tables in the Crown Casino Poker Room (making it the largest poker room in the Southern hemisphere), this year's PokerStars.net APPT Melbourne Main Event is unique in the fact that for the first time in APPT history, the entire tournament will be played out in four days. No multiple Day 1 flights here!
This has also given us one of the most star-studded fields ever assembled. Having given the order to shuffle up and deal earlier, 2003 WSOP Main Event champion and American Team PokerStars Pro Chris Moneymaker has taken his seat on table 32, while fellow PokerStars Team Pro Bryan Huang is also here, sitting on table 49 with 2010 Western Classic Main Event champion Vesko Zmukic and young guns Jackon Zheng and Liam O'Rourke. Australian Team PokerStars Online Pro Keiran Harris is also here sharing space with 2010 ANZPT Player of the Year runner-up John Maklouf.
We've also got a few APPT champions in the field in the form of Grant Levy, Aaron Benton and Jonathan Karamalikis. Karamilikis is up against some stiff competition, sharing space with Julius Colman, Ivan Tan and reigning Aussie Millions Main Event champion David Gorr.
However, the "table of death" award goes to table 33, where 2009 APPT Auckland Main Event champion Simon Watt is up against Kyle Cheong, 2011 ANZPT Perth High Stakes Event winner Daniel Neilson and iconic Aussie old schoolers Michael "Sticky" Guttman and Antonis "Toothpick" Kambouroglou!
12:15pm: Shuffle up and deal
We've found our way to the familiar confines of the Crown Poker Room in readiness for Day 1 of the PokerStars.net Asia Pacific Poker Tour Melbourne Main Event.
It's taken a few minutes for the huge field to take their seats as the Crown Poker Room is buzzing in anticipation for a big day of poker ahead.
APPT President Danny McDonagh welcomed the players before the microphone was handed to 2003 World Champion Chris Moneymaker who uttered the immortal words, "Shuffle up and deal!"