255 players from 34 countries squared off in the opening event of the PokerStars Asia Pacific Poker Tour in Manila, Philippines today. Team PokerStars players Vanessa Rousso, Daniel Negreanu and 2005 WSOP Main Event Champion Joe Hachem joined poker players from all over the globe to vie for the $179,775 first prize and the honor of being the first PokerStars APPT champion.
The prize pool for this three-day event is as follows:
10th - 12th: $8,390
13th - 16th: $5,993
17th - 24th: $4,794
The action was fast throughout the day, as the field whittled from 255 to 72 in only nine levels of play. Within the first orbit, Carlo Gosselin got all his chips in the middle preflop with , only to run into the classic cooler, Nick Blackburn's . When Gosselin hit his two-out king on the river, it crippled Blackburn, who had 400 chips at the end of the hand. Blackburn was eliminated shortly thereafter.
Not long after that hand, Tony Hachem was involved in a huge hand pre-flop, where three of the four players involved had to make massive laydowns. Hachem raised under the gun and was called by Guihe De Villers Thibaut, a French player on his immediate left. Andreas Bardun also called and Emad Tahtouh then re-raised from the button. John King called from the small blind, and Hachem re-raised again.
De Villars moved all-in, and Bardun folded, leaving Tahtouh to consider his hand. Tahtouh considered for a moment, and folded, as King went into the tank for a while before folding, but not before showing his to Tahtouh. Hachem then went deep into the tank before open-folding his , and De Villars showed his as he raked the massive pre-flop pot.
Daniel Negreanu was the first member of Team PokerStars to be eliminated, as he open-raised from the cutoff and was called by Brett Miller on the button. The flop came , and Negreanu moved all in. Miller insta-called, tabling his , and Negreanu was eliminated when his didn't improve. Negreanu had spent part of the early going determining the best local golf courses, so instead of heading to the rail, "Kid Poker" headed to the links when he was eliminated.
Japanese player Manlee Wan was eliminated early in the day when his pocket fours couldn't hold up against Filipin Oded Kiblitski's . Kiblitski opened for a raise preflop, and Wan pushed all-in over the top. Kiblitski made the call, and the flop of looked pretty good for both men, leaving Kiblitski with two overs and a flush draw, and Wan with a baby pair and an inside straight draw. The on the turn helped neither player, but the on the river gave Kiblitski a higher pair, and sent Manlee Wan to the rail.
Vanessa Rousso followed shortly behind Wan, as she pushed all-in preflop with , only to run onto the from the big blind. Rousso picked up an eight but the flop of gave her opponent a set, and running sixes on the turn and river eliminated Rousso. Alec Torelli ran his full house into a bigger full house held by Ulf Martensson for his elimination, when the board of left Torelli in what he through was the driver's seat with his . Unfortunately for Torelli, Martensson tabled his for a bigger boat, and Torelli was eliminated.
Joe Hachem made it past the dinner break, but did not survive into Day 2, as he was eliminated by Thailand's Mortin Kaspersen. Hachem raised pre-flop, and was called by Kaspersen and one other late position player. All three checked around on the flop of , and Hachem led out for 3,000 on the turn of . Kaspersen raised to 9,000, and the other player folded. Hachem thought for a moment before saying, "Am I going to go broke on this hand? Because it doesn't make sense."
After a moment's thought, Hachem went all in, and Kaspersen quickly called, revealing . Hachem was drawing dead with , and the on the river meant nothing to either man, as the 2005 WSOP Main Event Champion was eliminated.
David Saab was one of the most active players in the latter stages of Day 1, kicking his game into high gear as the evening wore on. Saab was the first player to cross the 100,000 chip mark, finishing Day 1 as the chip leader, after receiving an official warning from the tournament staff, ostensibly for excessive chatter. Saab is well-known for his talkative table manner and aggressive play. In a key hand for Saab, he open-raised from late position, and called his opponent's all-in saying "Ok, you've got me... but I call anyway." Saab was in better shape than he appeared to expect, tabling versus his opponent's . The board of added 67,000 to Saab's stack, another scalp to his belt, and the temporary title of chip leader to his name.
Late in the evening, play ramped up another notch as the competitors looked to double up or get tomorrow off. Alex Paguliyan was the last PokerStars sponsored player standing when he pushed all in over the top of Kelly Flynn's re-raise with . Flynn made the call against the world-class pool champ and revealed . The board of improved neither hand, and Paguliyan doubled up.
His feat was mirrored soon after by high-stakes Japanese player Masaaki Kagawa, when Kagawa pushed all-in with and was called by the big blind's . Kagawa caught a queen on the flop, and the turn and river brought the and to double Kagawa up.
The last hand of the night was exciting for Robert Lim and Van Marcus, but in drastically different ways. Lim was eliminated when his hit the flop of , but not as hard as Andreas Bardon, who called his all-in with and his flopped set. No help for Lim on the turn or river, and he was eliminated. On another table, Marcus got all his chips in the middle against the chip leader David Saab with against Saab's . Marcus caught his ace on the flop, and Saab didn't improve as Marcus doubled through on the last hand of the night.
Saab finished the day atop the leader board with over 100,000 in chips, followed closely behind by Roger Spets and Kelly Flynn. Join PokerNews' 'Live Reporting' tomorrow at 2PM local time (GMT +8), or 2am ET, for all the action from Day 2 of the PokerStars APPT in Manila.