The stars of the poker universe were shining brightly at the Galaxy StarWorld Hotel and Casino in Macau, China as the second event of the 2008 Asian Poker Tour kicked off. With poker legends Jack Binion and Doyle Brunson announcing "Shuffle up and deal!" to the 103 players gathered for Day 1a of APT Macau, notable players in the field included Brunson's son Todd and fellow 10-time WSOP bracelet winner Johnny Chan.
David "Chino" Rheem, one of the "November Nine" who will make up the final table of the 2008 World Series of Poker Main Event was also in the field, along with Liz Lieu, Nam Le, Harry Demetriou, Yevgeniy Timoshenko and APT Manila winner David Saab.
The action was fast and furious, with much of the starting field eliminated in the ten levels of play on Day 1a. David Rheem got off to a rocky start when his opponent rivered a two-outer to crippled him early. On a flop of , Rheem checked to his opponent, who led out. Rheem flat-called, and both players checked the turn. The came on the river, and Rheem led out with an almost pot-sized bet. His opponent put in a stiff raise, and Rheem thought for a moment before calling with for a turned set of kings. His opponent tabled for the rivered bigger set, and Rheem was left with a short stack. Rheem held on for a while longer, but busted well before the dinner break.
Other early eliminations included J.C. Tran and David Saab (who busted on the same hand just before the first break), Doyle Brunson, Liz Lieu and Todd Brunson, who headed to the rail just after his legendary father busted. Johnny Chan nursed a short stack for much of the afternoon, but was finally eliminated late in the first day's play by chip magnet Carter Gill. Gill started the day hot and got nothing but hotter as play progressed. In Chan's final hand, he moved all in preflop with , and Gill called from the big blind with . The on the turn gave Gill top pair, and no ace on the river meant that Chan had to settle for a warm round of applause as he exited the field. Other notable eliminations on Day 1a included Quinn Do, Nam Le and Aaron Kanter.
Gill finished the day near the top of the leader board after a spectacular Day 1a. Early on, he claimed several scalps to take the chip lead. In one early hand, Gill fired out a bet on a board of holding for two pair. He faced a check-raise from a player in early position who moved all in over the top with for the gutshot straight and flush draws. Gill made the call and sent another to the rail when the river came down the . In another big pot, Gill tabled A-Q on a board of A-J-A-J-Q, and found one caller, who flipped over pocket queens for the smaller full house.
Only 23 players made it through Day 1a, and Guray Turkay took over the top spot as play drew to a close. Here are the top ten chip counts from Day 1a:
Guray Turkay 117,800
Carter Gill 97,300
Kou Vang 91,900
Julio Diaz 76,500
Adam Grunwald 62,700
Aditya Agarwal 58,900
Wah Cheong Wong 55,500
Alexander Jung 48,100
Martin Stewart 47,900
Yevgeniy Timoshenko 47,600
Join PokerNews at noon local time, midnight Eastern Time tomorrow for all the coverage of Day 1b, with even more superstars slated to take the felt.