Now Live EPT 2016 EPT Season 13 Malta APPT Manila, Day 1b: Natasha Ellis Tops Session APPT Manila, Day 1b: Natasha Ellis Tops Session 0001

A slightly smaller field took to the felt at the Hyatt Hotel and Casino in Manila yesterday for Day 1b of the Asia Pacific Poker Tour Main Event. With only 136 players on Day 1b, compared to the 149 on Day 1a, there were certainly more champions per capita in the field. 2007 Manila champion Brett Parise joined the action on Day 1b, as did fellow APPT champions Yoshihiro Tasaka and Eddy Sabat, not to mention PokerNews Cup champion Nali Kaselias and multiple WSOP champ John "The Razor" Phan.

The press hovered around both the former champions and Table 17 as well, where former Miss Earth Priscilla Meirelles also competed on Day 1b, finishing the day with a healthy stack. It was a good day for the ladies all around, as Meirelles and Celina Lin both moved on to Day 2, while Natasha Ellis was the woman in the top spot, finishing the day with the overall chip lead and as the only player with more than 100,000 chips.

Day 1b was less kind to several notable players, including Carter Gill, J.J. Liu, and David Steicke, who busted at the hands of Eddy Sabat early in the day. Sabat raised preflop, and Steicke defended his big blind with Q-10. Steicke led out on the flop of 2-2-5, and Sabat put out a small raise. Steicke made the call as another deuce landed on the turn. Steicke fired another bet on the turn, and Sabat called again. The river was a blank and Steicke moved all in. Sabat thought for a long moment before making the hero call with A-J and sending Steicke to the rail.

John Phan has enjoyed a monster 2008, with multiple WPT cashes, multiple WSOP cashes, two WSOP bracelets and a WPT title, but he failed to add an APPT title to his resume when he busted on Day 1b in Manila. All the chips went in on the turn as Henrik Hvidberg bet enough to put Phan all in on a board of {q-Diamonds}{7-Diamonds}{9-Hearts}{2-Hearts}. Phan thought for a moment before calling with {7-Hearts}{8-Hearts} for one pair with a flush draw. Hvidberg showed {k-Spades}{k-Hearts} for the overpair, and the {3-Clubs} on the river sent Phan packing.

Chip leaders Van Marcus and Tasha Ellis spent much of the evening tangling, with Marcus doubling through Ellis in one of the biggest pots of the night. Ellis opened the action with a preflop raise, and Marcus three-bet from the small blind. Ellis called and the flop came down {3-Hearts}{q-Spades}{6-Diamonds}. Marcus led out with a sizable bet, and Ellis again called. Action checked around when the {9-Diamonds} came on the turn, and Marcus moved all in when the river brought the {9-Clubs}. Ellis went into the tank for several minutes before calling, only to find Marcus holding {a-Clubs}{a-Diamonds} for the overpair. Ellis mucked, and Marcus was in good shape to finish the day near the top of the leader board.

Ellis finished the day on top, thanks to several big hands throughout the day. In one confrontation just before the dinner break, she sent three opponents to the rail in a single hand. Ellis called three all-in bets with {a-Diamonds}{k-Clubs} and needed to improve as her opponents tabled {j-Hearts}{10-Spades}, pocket tens and pocket nines. With an ace in the window, Ellis took the lead in the hand and was never headed. The final board ran out {a-Hearts}{2-Clubs}{8-Hearts}{5-Hearts}{6-Spades}, and Ellis claimed three victims, including one belonging to APPT Seoul champion Yoshihiro Tasaka, in the huge hand.

As Day 1b drew to a close, Ellis and Marcus topped the standings. Other notable survivors included Brett Parise, James Obst, Celina Lin, Priscilla Meirelles and Lee "Final Table" Nelson. The survivors from Day 1b will combine with the remainder of the Day 1a field for Day 2 action Saturday at 12:30 PM Manila time (late night Friday for North American readers), so be sure to join PokerNews for all the live updates from Manila. The top ten chip counts from Day 1b play:

Natasha Ellis - 112,100

Van Marcus - 69,700

Jeppe Drivsholm - 65,400

Dimitrios Pappis - 63,300

Sang Beom Chris Roh - 57,500

Melvin Alvarez Matibag – 56,200

Tae Jun Noh - 53,300

Chi Kan Tang - 44,000

June Canlas Caberoy - 41,300

Goto Toshiki - 38,900

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