The PokerStars.net Asia Pacific Poker Tour Sydney Grand Final kicked off today at the Star City Hotel and Casino, and 179 of the world's top poker pros took to the felt for the finale of the first-ever APPT season. Among the stars in the event were Chris Moneymaker, Greg Raymer, Mark Vos, Mel Judah and local favorite Eric Assadourian, the Sydney native who won the APPT Macau High Rollers event last month.
When the field is littered with top pros, the play will be aggressive early, and this tournament was no exception. Assadourian found himself extremely short-stacked early in the event after a big hand, where, on a flop of , Assadourian called a bet from an opponent in middle position. The same opponent checked to Assadourian when the came on the turn, and Assadourian fired a big bet at the pot. His opponent called, then called again after Assadourian bet the river . Assadourian tabled for top pair, but his opponent had crippled him with for a flopped two pair. Assadourian was eliminated a few hands later, missing his chance at back-to-back APPT final tables.
Two former World Series of Poker Main Event champions were on hand on Day 1a in Sydney, as Greg 'Fossilman' Raymer and Chris Moneymaker joined the fray. Raymer made a play at a pot early that didn't turn out well and which led to his elimination. On a board of , Raymer check-raised Lei He, who called. Raymer pushed all in on the river , and He called with for trip queens. Raymer's meant a busted straight draw and the 2004 World Champ bowed out soon after. Moneymaker was eliminated shortly after Raymer when he got the last of his chips in the middle against two opponents, one holding pocket jacks and the other holding pocket queens. The queens held up and Moneymaker went to the rail. Other notable players eliminated on Day 1a included Mark Vos, Mel Judah, Raymond Rahme and Tino Lechich.
Team PokerStars player Terrence Chan finished Day 1a with one of the biggest chip stacks after going on a tear midway through the day. Chan posted on his blog earlier this week that he won the first major live tournament of his career this week, picking up a win in a preliminary event on Monday. Chan took the chip lead midway through Day 1a when his was good in a massive pot. On a flop of , Chan led out with a bet. His opponent raised and Chan made the call. Both players checked the on the turn, then Chan raised his opponent when the river brought the . Chan tabled his and his opponent mucked.
Chan and Grant Levy spent much of the evening passing the chip lead back and forth before Davoud Khajeh took over the top spot on the leaderboard as play ended for the night. Here are the top ten chip counts as the first of three planned opening days came to a close:
Davoud Khajeh – 297,600
Jason Lien – 278,200
Terrence Chan – 253,200
Lei He – 241,100
Michael Zowie – 228,100
Joseph Loruzzo – 194,200
Grant Levy – 173,000
Karib Karib – 155,400
John Donahue – 145,200
Luigi Apreda – 130,800
Join PokerNews.com tomorrow at 10:30 AM local time for all the updates and bustouts as even more stars begin their quest for the top prize in the PokerStars.net APPT Sydney grand championship.