It wasn't exactly the WSOP final table but on the other hand it felt good to finally begin an event without the November Nine lingering in the background.
A total of 149 players made it out for Day 1a of APPT Manila, but we're already hearing that Day 1b should be even bigger, so we expect to easily shatter last season's record-setting 255 players.
The day started out with some intense drumming from local Filipino performers and it did wonders for all the players struggling with hangovers from the patented PokerStars party held the night before.
As you might have guessed, well-known players were at a premium on Day 1a of APPT Manila. David Saab, Tony Phillips and Bryan Huang were some of the most famous players that hit the tables.
One positive trend was the huge contingent of Filipino players, including the likes of Derick Fernandez (the highest-placing Filipino in last year's Manila event), local legend Wally "The Dream" Sombrero and the charming Sunshine Samson.
Fifty of the 149 players who registered for Day 1a were from the Philippines - more than from any other country. It was a positive step for developing the game in the country, and the local poker media seemed extremely enthusiastic about the number of Filipinos getting involved.
Surprisingly, we did have a World Champion in the room with Brad Daugherty. Daugherty isn't the best-known WSOP Main Event winner, as he did it back in 1991 before the contest had thousands of players. In fact, APPT Manila will have more players than the Main Event did when Daugherty won it in '91.
The reason Daugherty played in the event was that he lives on a nearby island in the Philippines. If that's not living the poker dream, we don't know what is. Remember that story kids and maybe someday you too can win a giant poker tournament and then move to a tropical paradise in Southeast Asia.
Unfortunately for Daugherty his dreams of winning another major poker tournament were cut short early when his top pair, top kicker fell to an opponent's two pair.
It took a while for the action to heat up on the first day of APPT Manila as there were few eliminations in the first couple of levels, but once things got going it was like fire in a barn packed with gasoline.
Andrew Scott, Sid Kim, Jimmy Cha and Bryan Huang were all among the players to hit the rail on Day 1a of APPT Manila.
In fact, the eliminations were coming so quickly that tournament director Danny McDonagh was forced to call the night early, as several more eliminations might have affected Day 1b.
Only eight and a half levels were played, and by the end only 38 players would be continuing on to Day 2. U.S. PokerStars qualifier Michael Shell and Korea's Chang Yong Suk are both near the chip lead.
Join us tomorrow at 12:30 local time as players like Edward Sabat, Celina Lin, JJ Liu, John Phan, Bret Parise and Team PokerStars Pro's Lee Nelson are all scheduled to play.
Here are the top 10 chip leaders at the end of Day 1a:
|1. Michael Shell||$124,300|
|2. Chang Yong Suk||$124,300|
|3. Josh Pang Ang||$88,800|
|4. Hans Daniel Nordstron||$75,200|
|5. Donny Michael Morris||$71,700|
|6. Victorino Torres||$64,800|
|7. Wally Sombrero||$60,100|
|8. Jong Sung Kim||$55,800|
|9. Ramil Soriano Tandoc||$53,800|
|10. Tony Phillips||$52,400|