The PokerStars.net Asia Pacific Poker Tour resumed with the largest poker tournament in New Zealand history in Auckland on Thursday. With 164 players taking the field on Day 1a, the SKYCITY Hotel and Casino played host to some of poker's biggest names in any hemisphere, including 2003 WSOP World Champion Greg "FossilMan" Raymer. Joining Raymer in the field on Day 1a were Tony Hachem, Emad Tahtouh, Eric Assadourian and APPT Macau Main Event winner Edward Sabat.
Play was fairly sedate through most of Day 1a, as the players cautiously worked around their opponents and the PokerStars online qualifiers, who made up about a third of the field, tried out their live game. Emad Tahtouh became one of the first notable eliminations late in the day when he and Greg Raymer tangled in a big hand. Tahtouh raised preflop with A-2 from middle position, and found one caller in Raymer. The flop of K-10-2 wasn't great for Tahtouh, but when Raymer checked, he fired out a bet. Raymer moved all in with K-J and the pot-committed Tahtouh made the call. With no help on the turn or river, Tahtouh was finished.
APT Manila champ David Saab also saw his tournament end on Day 1a when he ran afoul of chip leader Nathanael Ren Hao Seet. Seet bet out at the river on a board of , and Saab raised. Seet moved all in, and Saab went into the tank before saying, "All right, show me your cards," as he made the call. Seet showed for a flopped set and rivered full house, as Saab flashed the for top pair and headed to the rail. "It's a hand I'm destined to lose money on," commented Saab. "Our ranges are just so wide there."
As the clock wound down for the night, the action picked up as Jeff Dunbar took out two big names to close the day. In the first hand, Dunbar raised preflop with pocket jacks and found himself quickly facing an all-in bet from Greg Raymer. Dunbar thought for a moment before calling to see Raymer's pocket tens. The board of brought no help to the dominated Raymer, and Dunbar moved into the healthy region of the leader board as the former world champ headed out.
A few hands later, Dunbar fired out at a flop of and Edward Sabat moved all in. Dunbar re-raised, and the third player in the hand folded.
"Do you at least have deuce-four?" asked Sabat. When Dunbar tabled , Sabat seemed a little prescient. His was still in a lot of trouble, and the on the turn was no help. The on the river gave the check mark to Dunbar, and Sabat was eliminated.
That hand put Dunbar firmly in the #2 spot on the leader board, as Nathanael Seet took the chip lead at the end of Day 1a. Other notable survivors included Celina Lin and Tony Hachem, as the top ten chip stacks looked like this:
Nathanael Seet - 75,500
Jeffrey Dunbar - 70,600
Andrew Pantling - 62,800
Wang Che Jung - 56,100
Michael Mariakis - 52,900
Yasuki Shino - 47,400
Luke Stanford - 46,500
Karl-Oskar Fösker - 45,700
Jamie Wilson - 44,800
Peter Aristidou - 43,000
Join PokerNews at 12:00pm local time for all the live updates from SKYCITY on Day 1b.