The PokerStars.com Australia New Zealand Poker Tour (ANZPT) got off to a successful start with its inaugural event in February. The Adelaide event found a solid field of 215 players and more than $586K in the prize pool, and the region anxiously began to plan for the second event.
Sydney was the second stop on the tour and began its tournament at the Star City Casino on April 30. Though it was competing against the EPT Grand Finale in Monte Carlo, the second stop on the ANZPT offered a reasonable AUD $3,000 buy-in for the local players who were looking for great tournament action. With expectations of a field of more than 400 players, event organizers established two starting days to properly accommodate all competitors.
Day 1A found 233 players at the tables, already topping the first event’s total field. Numerous big names were in the crowd, including Jeff Lisandro, Eric Assadourian, Jason Gray, Martin Rowe, Billy Argyros, Graeme Putt, and ANZPT Adelaide champion Karl Krautschneider.
When the first nine levels were complete, only 89 survivors were there to bag their chips and take a day of rest before returning for their second day of play. In the chip lead was Joseph Moussa with 151,900 chips. He was followed by Ola Jernberg, Xin Zhao, Thorsten Schafer, and Joey Lawrence to round out the top five on the leaderboard.
Day 1B brought another 260 players to the tournament room, bringing the grand total of the field to 493 and creating a prize pool of $986,000. As it turned out, it was the largest pool for a $3,000 in local history. And players that came out for the event on the second starting day included Tony Hachem, Emad Tahtouh, Celina Lin, Grant Levy, Dennis Huntly, and 2009 Aussie Millions winner Stewart Scott.
When the day came to a close, there were 96 remaining, and Adam Cusenza was the chip leader with 177,200, coming in ahead of the Day 1A leader. Following Cusenza was Johnny Huynh in second chip position.
Day 2 started with all 185 players coming together on the felt to play toward the money and edge closer to the final table. Action was fast from the start, as 40 players were eliminated during the first level and 20 more during the second. As the field approached the money bubble, play slowed a bit until Mark Lasarow finally had to move all-in with his last 1,000 chips with K-7. But Robert Acton was there with K-Q, and the board produced blanks to eliminate Lasarow in 46th place.
The final 45 played on for at least $4,437 in prize money, and inevitably, some like Monica Nguyen and Eric Assadourian left the tournament in the money. When it was over for the day, there were only 26 left and famed Australian player Billy “The Croc” Argyros held down the lead with 853,000 chips. Second on the leaderboard was Ben Barclay, Majed Haddad was in third, last female standing Lisa Walsh was in fourth, and Peter Ling rounded out the top five. Notable Tony Hachem was in ninth place on the board.
Day 3 was set to be a long day/night as the 26 players standing would be playing toward the final table and to determine the ultimate victor. It started quickly with Phil Luu exiting first and Danny Joukhader following, with a total of eight players leaving in the first level of the day. The action quickly moved toward the final two tables, at which point, David Hibbott left in 18th place and Tony Hachem left in 17th.
Finally, with the elimination of Marcial Dias in 11th place, the short-stacked Hugh Cohen pushed all-in with on the final table bubble. Lisa Walsch called with , but the dealer delivered a queen on the flop and added to the board of to send Cohen out in tenth place with $11,832 for the effort.
With that, the final table was set in Level 22 with blinds at 12,000/24,000 and a 3,000 ante, and players with chip counts as follows:
Seat 1: Lisa Walsh 1,481,000
Seat 2: Billy Argyros 789,000
Seat 3: David Zhao 456,000
Seat 4: Joel Dodds 483,000
Seat 5: Chris Kittos 1,287,000
Seat 6: Paren Arzoomanian 2,065,000
Seat 7: John Caridad 638,000
Seat 8: James Newhan 989,000
Seat 9: Majed Haddad 1,689,000
Action took a bit to pick up, but it soon did when one of the short stacks seemed ready to move it or lose it. After an initial raise from Argyros, Zhao pushed all-in with to the pocket jacks of Argyros. The board came , and David Zhao was suddenly gone in ninth place with a cash prize of $16,762.
Walsh then took a hit when Dodds doubled through her, but she was prepared to make a stellar comeback. She got involved with Newhan, who moved all-in for his last 572K with , but Walsh was there with pocket kings. The board blanked for the all-in player when it came to eliminate James Newhan in eighth place with $24,650.
Next to feel the wrath of Walsh was Dodds, who pushed all-in with pocket threes against the of Walsh. The flop gave her the advantage with , and the on the turn did one better with the straight. An on the river ended it for Joel Dodds, who received $34,510 for seventh place.
After a dinner break, action sped up for the remaining six. Argyros raised, and Caridad called to see the flop of , at which point Argyros moved all-in with pocket kings, but Caridad check-called with for top two pair. The turn was a and river a to end the run of Billy “The Croc” Argyros in sixth place, which was worth $44,370.
Then it was Walsh back in the driver’s seat, taking a monster 4.6 million chip pot from Haddad to cripple him. Haddad then pushed all-in with his last chips on the next hand, and Caridad and Arzoomanian called. They checked through the board of , and Arzoomanian showed to take the pot. Haddad had only , and that left Majed Haddad out in fifth place with $55,709.
Caridad then took the chip lead from Walsh, courtesy of a double-up, and Walsh fell further when Arzoomanian doubled through her as well.
Meanwhile, Kittos put his tournament life on the line with against the pocket threes of Walsh, and the board brought to leave Chris Kittos out in fourth place with $69,020.
Caridad then made another move, this time with , but Walsh had him dominated with . The board blanked with , and John Caridad was eliminated in third place with $93,670.
Heads-up play finally arrived with the following counts:
Paren Arzoomanian 5,600,000
Lisa Walsh 4,100,000
Walsh looked to win the biggest poker tournament prize ever for a female player in Australia, and she was on her way as she soon took the chip lead from Arzoomanian. But her opponent took it back soon after.
It came down to a key hand in which Walsh had become short-stacked and sought a double-up by pushing all-in with . But Arzoomanian was there to make the call with , and the board came to end the tournament. Lisa Walsh finished in second place with a well-deserved $162,690 cash prize.
Paren Arzoomanian won the ANZPT Sydney tournament after quite a long day and some serious competition. For the victory, he took a trophy, the priceless title, and $246,500 in first-place cash.
(Thanks to the PokerStars blog for live updates.)