It may be Spring Carnival at the moment but the biggest race before the Melbourne Cup is the ANZPT Player of the Year which will be decided in Darwin at the PokerStars.net ANZPT Darwin Main Event.
A star-studded field battled it out on the felt for Day 1b as a further 22 from a starting field of just 31 made it safely to day 2. Many of the top weights of the ANZPT leaderboard were out in force, with reigning ANZPT Player of the Year Tony Hachem keeping a close eye on the action as he eyes back-to-back titles from his current third position in the rankings. If Hachem is to repeat history he will need to overcome the current leader John Maklouf who has a narrow lead over Andrew Scarf. The only other player in contention to overtake the leaders for line honours is 2009 APPT Sydney champion Aaron Benton who sits just below. Benton ended the day on 29,825, while Hachem finished fifth in chips with 39,325.
Michael Spilkin and Rennie Carevale failed to improve on their current 5th and 6th rankings after disappointing eliminations in today’s flight. Carnevale suffered a particularly rough ride out the door as he turned a full house with all the chips in on the river only to find out that Daniel Laidlaw had flopped quads. Crippled from the cooler, it wasn’t long until his hopes of a second ANZPT title and shot at the POTY title was completely lost.
At the end of day’s play it was the Englishman Anthony Flanagan who stole the chip lead (72,475) away from Clint Dixon (65,600), a local who qualified through SKYCITY Darwin Casino. Daniel Laidlaw (52,600) was putting in some good early ground work with hopes of seeing another ANZPT final table after his recent ninth place in Melbourne.
Daniel Neilson, Matthew Pearson and ANZPT Melbourne champ Martin Kozlov are amongst the survivors who will be looking to improve their short stacks when Day 2 kicks off on Thursday.
Tomorrow we will see the final day one flight play out and we expect the top two players of the ANZPT, John Maklouf and Andrew Scarf to begin their final campaign in the big race.
While the action continued at SKYCITY Darwin a number of PokerStars qualifiers took advantage of their online package deal which included a tourism component. Yesterday’s chip leader Andy Hinrichsen along with Tom Grigg, Tim English and Luke Edwards were some of the qualifiers who today visited the wildlife park, got up close and personal with some stingrays and cruised amongst the mangroves and crocs along the Darwin river. It was a million miles away from the casino and the perfect taste of the Top End. Trips such as these highlight the strong growth towards poker travel destinations - it kind of eases the blow of an early bust out when your alternative is to explore some really unique places of our beautiful country. And Darwin is hard to top.
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PokerStars qualifiers enjoying their wildlife tour around Darwin today
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