The Day 1b field, when combined with the Day 1a runners, bumped the total number of entrants in APPT Auckland up to 306, which further proved just how poker-starved the people of New Zealand really are.
As on Day 1a, play began with a Maori performance of the traditional haka dance complete with spears and grass skirts.
Day 1b received some extra star power from the aforementioned Hachem and Nelson in addition to Mark Vos, Carter Gill, Tony "bond18" Dunst, Grant Levy and Eric Assadourian.
Assadourian actually won the Skycity Poker Festival Pot-Limit Omaha event the night before for $12,000 but must have used up all his run-good, because he was gone within 15 minutes of the start of play.
In the bizarre hand that finished him, Assadourian shoved with KK on a raggedy flop only to have his opponent, Raymond Walker, call with JJ and then hit the two-outer on the river. Good game; thanks for playing.
PokerStars released the players' nationalities on Day 1b and New Zealand was well represented, with 157 from the country for 50% of the total field. Australia was second with 54 players, while the United States was a distant third with 28 players. Of the 306 players, 67 qualified on PokerStars.com.
The rail grew immensely on Day 1b with a very pro-New Zealand contingent cheering on their favorite players. Lee Nelson and James Honeybone, in particular, received some outstanding support from the hometown fans.
Honeybone, who made the final table of APPT Korea in the first season of the tour, had two women proudly brandishing a couple of New Zealand flags on the rail; they even posed for a couple of pictures with the skilled player. Perhaps inspired by his fans, Honeybone made it to Day 2, albeit with a small stack.
Nelson was probably the best-known player in the field - there didn't seem to be a New Zealand fan who didn't know him. The doctor-turned-poker pro, coauthor of Kill Phil and Kill Everyone, had an extremely up-and-down day, peaking at around $25,000 before stumbling down to $4,000 and then working his way back up to $17,000.
Near the halfway mark of the day the New Zealand poker legend was finally ousted when he shoved with an open-ended straight draw and missed. The room thundered with applause for their hero as Nelson headed for the exit.
Other eliminations included Carter Gill and Mark Vos got into one of those A-K vs. A-K vs. AA situations you hate to be in unless you have the pocket aces - and Vos certainly did not.
At the end of the day Joe Hachem, Grant Levy and James Honeybone were all still standing, but the players with the majority of the chips are relatively unknown. Bryan Huang was the player who had the aces in that Vos bust-out. He continued to tear it up throughout the day, finally finishing with $93,500, just below chip leader Amant Nauhria, who had $94,000 when the chips were put away.
Join us tomorrow as the action, much like the weather in Auckland, will only be heating up as the week continues.
Before we go, here's a look at the top 10 chip leaders from Day 1b:
|1. Amant Nauhria||$94,000|
|2. Bryan Huang||$93,500|
|3. Mathew Michell||$49,900|
|4. Mat Cheer||$47,200|
|5. Chris Tau||$44,300|
|6. Jerome Dyer||$43,600|
|7. Sreten Cvetkovski||$41,300|
|8. Zane Kopua||$39,500|
|9. Daniel Craker||$38,300|
|10. Grant Levy||$32,900|