A total of 164 players bought in for Day 1a, and without having seen the final number of entrants for Day 1b, it's safe to say that the first APPT event held in New Zealand will be the biggest poker tournament ever played in the country.
One has to wonder what took so long. New Zealand poker players seemed incredibly excited to have the APPT in their backyard, and visitors were equally thrilled to be here.
With the APPT in the middle of its second season we're starting to see signs that it just might have the potential to be as wildly popular as its big brother the European Poker Tour. Although it's way too early to make such predictions, it's becoming obvious that PokerStars knows what it's doing in organizing these events.
By the time every player is counted there will likely be more than 300 entrants in the inaugural edition of APPT Auckland, and that's no small feat.
The shuffle up and deal announcement was preceded by one of the most unique ceremonies ever, with a group of Maori performing the traditional haka dance. The awe-inspiring New Zealand All-Blacks rugby squad perform the dance before every game, and it's amazing to see and hear in person. If guttural screaming doesn't get you pumped up for playing cards, nothing will.
In terms of poker the day was reminiscent of many Day 1's. Well-known players like Greg Raymer, Edward Sabat, Tony Hachem, Celina Lin, David Saab and Emad Tahtouh all bought in looking to win some serious cash and poker glory. Raymer was the only Team PokerStars pro, although Lee Nelson and Joe Hachem are both scheduled to play tomorrow.
Tournament organizers announced early in the day that both Day 1a and Day 1b would run for a merciful seven levels each, with 10-minute breaks every two levels. Of course getting to a final table on Day 2 may require a herculean effort, but we'll deal with that when we get there.
Getting back to Day 1a, there was a very large amount of local poker talent on display, with countless Kiwis getting in on the action.
One such local was Simon Davis, who won a satellite into this event for just $40 and finished the day with $33,000 chips.
Tahtouh was one of the early eliminations when he made an ill-timed bet with bottom pair against Greg Raymer. To Tahtouh's credit, he was severely short-stacked, but that hand would be the last he played in the tournament as the Fossilman held top pair.
Raymer would himself be eliminated in the last 30 minutes of play when he shoved TT into pocket jacks and got no favors from the poker gods.
The highlight of the day was having the always-vocal Australian David Saab at the same table as the incredibly talkative Tony Hachem. The two verbally jousted with each other through a good portion of the day, with Hachem calling Saab a "luckbox" among other things while Saab accumulated a huge stack of chips.
Surprisingly, it would be Saab who would bow out before the end of the day. The pro admitted he got involved in a train wreck of a hand where he bet into a player with a full house while he only had top pair. It didn't take very many hands for Saab to go from $40,000 to $0.
At the end of the day just 59 players remained, which meant we had burned through 105 players in seven levels of play. Not bad for a day's work.
Tony Hachem and Celina Lin will both be seeing Day 2, while Nathanael Seet from Singapore is in the best shape with $75,000.
Here's a look at the top 10 chip leaders of Day 1a:
|1. Nathanael Seet||$75,500|
|2. Jeffrey Dunbar||$70,600|
|3. Andrew Pantling||$62,800|
|4. Wang Che Jung||$56,100|
|5. Michael Mariakis||$52,900|
|6. Yasuki Shino||$47,400|
|7. Luke Standford||$46,500|
|8. Karl-Oskar Fosker||$45,700|
|9. Jamie Wilson||$44,800|
|10. Peter Aristidou||$43,000|
Join us tomorrow as Joe Hachem and Lee Nelson take part in the Day 1b of the first APPT event in Auckland. It's gonna be sweet!