Now Live EPT Malta APPT Sydney, Day 1a: Phillip Willcocks Claims Early Lead APPT Sydney, Day 1a: Phillip Willcocks Claims Early Lead 0001

Players from all over the world descended upon the Star City Casino in Sydney on Tuesday for the Asia Pacific Poker Tour Grand Final, including David Saab, Celina Lin, Julian Powell, Tony "Bond18" Dunst and Team PokerStars pros Vanessa Rousso and Chad Brown. 108 players took the field on Day 1a, as 2007 champion Grant Levy uttered the command to "shuffle up and deal."

Action was fast-paced, with over half the field heading to the rail on Day 1a. Among the early bustouts were Matthew Kirk, James "Andy McLEOD" Obst and Vanessa Rousso. Obst went bust when he got all his chips in the middle with two pair on a board of {2-Diamonds}{7-Diamonds}{5-Diamonds}{q-Hearts}, but his {5-Spades}{7-Spades} couldn't fill up on the river to crack Harris Pavlou's flopped flush. Rousso was one of many players on Day 1a to run into aces for her exit hand, this time at the hands of Greg Cook. Rousso raised under the gun with pocket jacks, then called Cook's re-raise preflop. The flop brought the {5-Clubs}{10-Diamonds}{2-Hearts}, and Rousso check-raised all in after Cook bet. Cook quickly called with his aces, and Rousso needed help to survive. The turn was the {7-Hearts}, and the river the {3-Hearts} as Rousso's tournament ended early.

Other notable eliminations on Day 1a included Jay "SeaBeast" Kinkade, Joel "Strong Play" Dodds, David Saab and Josh Pang Ang. Ang rode a rollercoaster of a stack all day before falling to Day 1a chip leader Phil Willcocks. All the money went in on the flop when the board read {10-Clubs}{4-Clubs}{8-Hearts}. Ang tabled {k-Clubs}{2-Clubs} for a flush draw, while Willcocks showed {j-Clubs}{9-Clubs} for a smaller flush draw with an open-ended straight draw. The {7-Diamonds} on the turn gave Willcocks the straight and he faded a club on the river to send Ang packing.

Willcocks claimed another big scalp late in the day when he busted Team PokerStars pro Chad Brown. Brown got off to a roaring start, amassing a huge stack in the first few levels, but the wheels came off late in the day and he fell to big stack Phil Willcocks late in the day. Brown turned two pair with K-3 on a board of J-7-3-K, but when he check-raised all in, Willcocks quickly called with K-J for a bigger two pair. Brown got no help on the river, and he headed to the rail as Willcocks steamed ahead.

Willcocks finished the day with the chip lead as 48 players made it through the minefield of Day 1a. Other survivors included Tony Dunst, Shane Dye, Sam Jessop, David Lovell and Greg Cook. Join PokerNews at 12:30 PM local time on Wednesday (Tuesday evening in North America) for all the live action as Day 1b kicks off. The top ten chip counts from Day 1a action.

Phil Willcocks - 129,000

Steven Musca - 103,200

Daniel Kowalski - 98,500

David Lovell - 92,500

Greg Cook - 85,100

Kevin Wagler - 78,900

Ray Lapitan - 77,200

Daniel Ginnane - 69,200

John Cordue - 69,100

Michael Russell - 66,900

Derrick Wall - 66,700

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