Day 1b of the 2009 PokerStars.net Asia Pacific Poker Tour Auckland Main Event brought 128 players to the felt to create a field of 263. This number was down compared to last year's but the first-place prize of $209,085 NZD certainly tickled the fancy of those hard at work on the felt today, especially Lance Climo who ended the night with more chips than anyone else.
It was a good day for many of our notable players with PokerStars Team Australia Pros Tony Hachem and Eric Assadourian advancing through the field relatively unscathed. Hachem, in particular, had a day to remember courtesy of a rare royal flush. Unfortunately, he didn't get paid off on the river but still collected a nice pot to see himself end the day well-placed. Lynn Gilmartin caught up with Hachem and Assadourian to discuss their days.
Bruno Portaro and Jai Kemp didn't have as much good fortune; they were among the early casualties and were soon joined by PokerStars Team Asia Pro Bryan Huang. Unfortunately for Huang, he was crippled after firing a healthy bet of 15,000 at a board of only to be called by Wendy Cook holding just . Huang couldn't better Cook's pair of eights and was soon eliminated.
Meanwhile, Raj Ramakrishnan, who made the Aussie Millions final table, looked set to challenge Emad Tahtouh's massive chip lead after gathering up 100,000 chips midway through the day. Ramakrishnan collected his chips holding for two pair on a flop against Ralf Westphal's pocket queens. The turn and river bricked out and Ramakrishnan was well in front; however, that was about his peak as he slowly slipped back in the pack during the rest of the day.
In the last level of play, we saw the eliminations of Ali Khalil and then Tony Dunst, who gave most of his chips to Lance Climo who emerged from the field late in the day to become the chip leader.
When the bags were tagged, Climo's 134,400 was at the top of the 63 remaining players, ahead of Gerome Guitteau (99,300), Soren Eriksen (84,600), Tamas Lendvai (76,100) and Richard Lancaster (65,100).
Other notables to survive the day included PokerNews' own Garry Gates (64,100), Raj Ramakrishnan (59,700), Tony Hachem (53,400), Aaron Benton (44,200), Eric Assadourian (34,700), James Honeybone (30,200), Dennis Huntly (27,400) and Shirley Rosario (9,400).
The remaining 130 players will come together in the poker room for the first time tomorrow at 12:15 p.m. local time (GMT+13) with the goal of being among the top 32 players — and the money — by day's end. Join the PokerNews.com Live Reporting team for all of the live updates from the floor of the SKYCITY Casino in Auckland!