The second day of the 2009 Asian Poker Tour Main Event brought expectations of a 200+ player field, but the final figure fell just short of that mark, with 193 hopefuls hitting the felt for Day 1B action. This brought the total number of entrants for the event to 326 which represented a growth in numbers from last year’s 257 entrants and a small increase in the overall prize pool. The most exciting aspect of this growth was that around half of those entrants were local to the region which bodes well for the future.
Day 1B would see the APT Poker Pack out in full force, however, it wasn’t a great day for some of these high-profile poker prodigies as Chino Rheem and Tommy Le were among the first eliminations of the day. Rheem was rivered by an opponent slow-playing pocket kings when the two-outer king spiked on the river, while Le’s bad beat story was similar when his 6-8 flopped two pair, only for his check-raising opponent to spike a two-outer three on the turn with his pocket threes.
The high-profile eliminations continued early, as duel APT runner-up Steve Yeh was gone before the blind levels had increased, and he was soon followed by the likes of Quinn Do, Amnon Filippi, John Juanda, and WSOP November Nine member James Akenhead.
At the other end of the spectrum, 2009 Aussie Millions champ Stewart Scott recovered from some early grief to remain prominent thanks to his spiking an ace on the flop on a board of to stay alive and double up against an opponent’s pocket kings.
However things only really started to heat up after the dinner break. Dom Carmona jumped from his chair and straight to the chip lead after a huge pot that brought many chuckles and even a round of applause from those seated nearby. The hand itself was not even that important – Carmona made a great call with ace-high to rake in a healthy pot – but the theatrics associated with it were a sight to behold. Carmona ran down the aisles between tables in boisterous celebrations to rival a World Cup soccer goal as he grabbed the attention of the entire tournament.
As the poker divas in Liz Lieu and Liv Boeree fell away, one other lady also caught the attention of photographers as poker-celebrity Cecilia Nordenstam began to amass an impressive stack.
Meanwhile one of the remaining Poker Pack members, duel WSOP bracelet winner J.C. Tran, had to overcome a very rough start to the day to fight back from the short stack. Tran was lucky to stay alive when his last chips were in the middle with up against two dominant opponents with and . Tran survived when the board ran out to make a straight and from there he never looked back.
Tran was able to slowly gather chips and momentum to become very dangerous after the dinner break. One of Tran’s key hands came when he opened from under the gun and found one caller in position. Tran then check-called on all three streets on a board of – the final call of 8,000 representing the majority of his stack. His opponent flipped for the triple-barrel bluff as Tran’s creative and nerves of steel won him the healthy pot.
When the 51 remaining players tagged and bagged their chips, it was Eugene Teh who had quietly surged late in the day to finish as our likely overnight chip leader with around 95,000 chips. He was closely followed by Stewart Scott (90,700), Rami Bouai (86,300), Don Carmona (84,900) and Nick Wong (79,700) rounding out our top five.
Others to survive include ten-time WSOP bracelet winner Johnny Chan, four-time WSOP bracelet winner David Chiu, Steve Sung, Steve Wong, and Kuok Cheong.
With a first place prize of HK $3,035,000 (approx US $390k) up for grabs, the 88 remaining players will come together for the first time tomorrow from 12 noon local time to play down to a final table.
As always stay tuned to the Live Reporting section for up to the minute updates from the tournament floor as we look to add a new jewel to the Asian poker crown.