There's always been a lot of debate as to whether poker is considered a sport or not. Is it just a silly game of cards or is it more than just that? Sure, players do just sit around on their backsides all take and everyone of all physical shapes and sizes can play against each other. And while opinions are divided, the argument for poker being a sport couldn't have stronger than today's epic Day 2 at the PokerStars.net ANZPT Melbourne Main Event.
Poker is not just a game of mental endurance, but it requires a great deal of stamina to be able to concentrate and play at your best for 14 hours straight until two in the morning. Throw in the fact that there's $156,550 up top, and suddenly droplets of perspiration aren't so unrealistic.
So whether or not you agree with the whole sport argument, you can't deny the fact that our eleven final soldiers have had to overcome a very challenging two days of gruelling poker to reach the final frontier.
At the start of the day it was Ryan Hong who led the 113 survivors into Day 2 play and one by one they dropped away. Some of the notable casualties included Octavian Voegele, Tom Grigg, Julian Cohen, Luke McLean, Kristina Jeney, Julius Colman, Josh Budin, Liam Moffett, Daniel Laidlaw and Paul Ravesi as we reached the dinner break with 38 players remaining. Two would not enjoy their dessert as they would miss the money while the final 36 would be in the money.
Martyn Poytress was the first post-dinner casualty before a couple of remarkable bubble hands played out. Jesse McKenzie showed he was playing for the win and not the ANZ Player of the Year points when he five-bet jammed with Q♣5♣ while a fearless Aaron Benton moved all in on a ten-high flop with pocket jacks and managed to get Aun Lim to fold pocket kings.
While we were watching the short stacks we were shocked to discover that the bubble had burst on high-stakes player Jarred Graham. Surely it wasn't true? One of the most feared players in any tournament, Graham aggressively shoved his ace-jack and lost the race against Brett Chalhoub's pocket tens to earn the unwanted title of bubble boy.
It was the start of a great run for Chalhoub who is proving himself as a very consistent performer - both in qualifying for these events online on PokerStars, and when he gets the opportunity on the live felt. Chalhoub continued to pound on his opponents throughout the rest of the evening and is well-placed for a run at the title tomorrow.
Benn Skender (31st), Paul Khoury (28th), Peng Khoo (27th), Ben Savage (25th), John Apostolidis (24th), Nali Kaselias (23rd) and Ben Gilholme (22nd) were some of the first to visit the cashier before the tournament took a twist when Jesse McKenzie went from hero to zero in a matter of moments.
McKenzie had been in cruise control for most of the day, and looked unstoppable as he headed towards a final table, but a flopped set by Danny Chevalier got paid off in full to leave McKenzie crippled and eliminated moments later in 18th place. While Chevalier can challenge for the Player of the Year awards, the elimination of McKenzie leaves Leo Boxell in prime position to claim the prestigious honour.
Overnight chip leader, Ryan Hong fell in 17th while Aaron Benton couldn't double up his short stack to be eliminated in 15th place.
As the early hours of the morning rolled around, it was PokerStars qualifier Tom Wing who emerged from the pack, spurred on by a vocal group of railbirds. In the final minutes of the day Wing was responsible for the elimination of overnight short stack Pat Dillon in 12th place to cement his spot as top dog. Wing has an impressive online record and will be looking to make his mark on the live poker scene on the final table tomorrow.
Day 3 Redraw
Seat 1: Justin Sanchez (Australia) - 635,000
Seat 2: Karan Punjabi (Australia) - 372,000
Seat 3: Danny Chevalier (Australia) - 883,000
Seat 4: Stephen Eliesen (Australia) (PokerStars Player) - 219,000
Seat 5: Nick Georgoulas (Australia) - 249,000
Seat 1: Erich Stadler (New Zealand) - 267,000
Seat 2: Tom Wing (Australia) (PokerStars Qualifier) - 1,027,000
Seat 3: Seong Lee Ang (Australia) - 530,000
Seat 4: Brett Chalhoub (Australia) (PokerStars Qualifier) - 530,000
Seat 5: Lee Nelson (New Zealand) - 750,000
Seat 6: Phil Willcocks (New Zealand) - 559,000
We have several talented young players, a few fresh faces, and a couple of hardened professionals, which should produce a cracking final day. Play will recommence at 2:10pm (GMT+10) tomorrow afternoon and we look forward to your company once again. Until then, goodnight from Melbourne!