Not surprisingly, better than 80% of the field that got rolling just after 12:30 p.m. local time today were Aussies.
The strong domestic turnout was due in no small part to the fact this is the very same event where Sydney schoolteacher Grant Levy became the first Australian to bank a $1 million first-place prize on home soil one year ago, adding fuel to the already fiery Joe Hachem-induced Aussie poker boom.
Levy didn't play today, but he did make the call to shuffle up and deal following some bizarre Aussie karaoke-style version of Kenny Rogers' The Gambler by a local vocalist we're sure would rather remain nameless.
Less familiar with many of the local bananas as we would end up being by the end of the day, PL.com's early focus was on the few big-name pros who started the day here on the banks of Darling Harbour, including Team PokerStars power couple Chad Brown and Vanessa Rousso.
Brown got off to a huge start today, riding queens to a spot near the top of the board, but his real-life queen did not find the Sydney felt nearly as friendly. In fact, Lady Maverick lasted just two and a half levels before she shipped it with jacks on a flop full of undercards only to be shot down by an opponent's rockets.
Rousso's fall from grace seemed to coincide with a crowd of Aussies beginning to make their move, as a barrage of Crow Eaters, Cockroaches, Sandgropers and the like laid claim to the early chip lead one after another.
First it was Brisbane's Harris Pavlou who made quad deuces to get it up into the $70k range and grab hold of the lead. Then Sydneyite Warwick Mirzikinian rode a wave of pocket pairs to kangaroo-hop Pavlou.
But while 2007 Aussie Millions heads-up and 2008 APT Manila champ David Saab and fellow Aussie Julian Powell both busted after being outshined on their slab of felt by Aussie horse racing legend Shan Dye, it was a Kiwi PokerStars qualifier who grabbed the Day 1a lead and never let go.
New Zealander Phillip Willcocks emerged as the chip leader just before the dinner break thanks to a $30k pot he collected by turning an open-ended straight flush draw into a straight. Willcocks then became the first player over $100k when he flopped a set, got it in against an opponent who turned top two and managed to river quads.
His day was capped when he took out the aforementioned Brown after he made a series of loose and ill-advised check-calls and check-raises before finding out his two pair was severely pipped by Willcocks'.
This Sheepshagger, as the Aussies affectionately call their Kiwi neighbors, ended the day with close to $130,000 in chips and will head into Day 2 two days from now as the Day 1a chip leader at the very least.
When play wrapped around 11 p.m. local time following seven levels of play, just 46 players survived. Among them were 2008 WSOP final tablist Tony Dunst and the previously mentioned Dye, Pavlou and Mirzikinian.
And although there were only a handful of them on the roster, Willcocks wasn't the only PokerStars Qualifier to have a big day here in Sydney.
Daniel Kowalski got it up close to $100k as well and, although she was short for most of it, Sydney's Kristine Milinkovic ended the day on a high note, getting her stack up into the $40k range, giving you every reason in the world to click right here and start taking your very own steps toward poker immortality.
The second of three Day 1's begins tomorrow at 12:30 local time here in Sydney and unless we get mugged in Kings Cross tonight, PL.com will be here to witness it all.
There are already 139 registered to play and with Levy and Team PokerStars Pro members Gavin Griffin, Lee Nelson and Raymond Rahme expected to headline the group, it should definitely be worth watching.