Mere hours after the end of Main Event of the PokerStars Asia Pacific Poker Tour Macau, even more top-flight poker pros took to the tables at the Grand Waldo Casino for the $15,000 buy-in 'High Rollers' Tournament. Among the competitors were Main Event Final Table finishers Joe Hachem and Liz Lieu, along with top pros like Scotty Nguyen, John Juanda and Isabelle Mercier, who were also on hand for the Main Event. Some other big names in the field flew in just for the High Rollers tournament, like Kirk Morrison and Barry Greenstein.
With the bigger buy-in and the packed field, the level of play didn't falter at all from the Main Event, and the 64 players who participated in the High Rollers Tournament were actually vying for a bigger first place prize than in the Main Event. With 64 entrants, the tournament was set to pay out the top 8 finishers, with first place taking down $368,640!
Day 1 was a marathon that saw 64 of the world's best tournament poker players play down to an 8-handed final table, with Team PokerStars pro Emad Tahtouh ending the day with the big stack. Tahtouh started his day off with a bang, sending fellow PokerStars player Bertrand 'ElkY' Grospellier, who also made the final table in the Main Event the day before, to the rail early in the day. On a flop of , Tahtouh led out, and Grospellier raised all in. Tahtouh called with , dominating Grospellier's . No help for Grospellier on the turn or river, and he was gone early in the day.
In a battle of the big online poker sites, Team Full Tilt pro John Juanda took out Team PokerStars player Vanessa Rousso. After Juanda's raise preflop, both players checked the flop of of . Rousso led out on the turn, Juanda raised, and Rousso quickly went all in. Juanda made the call with 2-2 for a flopped set, and Rousso was drawing dead with . Other notable eliminations in the early rounds included Barry Greenstein, Terrence Chan and Joe Hachem, who went to the rail when his pocket fours were outflopped by Scott Numoto's on a board of . No four on the turn or river for Hachem, and he was eliminated.
As the players dwindled, the structure shifted to six-handed tables until the final table of eight could be set. John Juanda continued to do his part to thin the field, busting Gary Benson in 10th place, then chip leader Emad Tahtouh took out Aliansandr Dzianisan on the bubble to set the final table. Dzianisan raised preflop, then smooth-called Tahtouh's re-raise. Tahtouh led out on the flop of , and Dzianisan shoved all in over the top. Tahtouh called with , and Dzianisan tabled . The on the turn left Dzianisan drawing dead, and set up the final table for the eight remaining players.
The last big pot of the night left Emad Tahtouh with a commanding 2.5 – 1 chip lead over the 2nd-place player as the final table was set, and set up Liz Lieu's second final table in two days after her 7th-place finish at the APPT Macau Main Event. The chip stacks looked like this as play ended on Day 1 of the High Rollers Tournament at the Grand Waldo Casino in Macau –
Emad Tahtouh – 343,500
David Paul Steicke – 142,000
Bo Sehlstedt – 127,000
Eric Assadourian - 120,500
John Juanda – 74,000
Tony Ng – 57,500
Liz Lieu – 48,500
Scott Numoto – 47,000
Join PokerNews tomorrow at 3PM local time as the remaining 8 players fight it out for the $368,640 first place prize money!