The fourth season of the PokerStars.net Asia Pacific Poker Tour made its way to Auckland, New Zealand, and the SKYCITY Auckland Casino for the third stop of an already successful 2010! As the sun shone brightly on a beautiful Auckland day on Wednesday, 89 players ventured into the SKYCITY Poker Room to take seats as part of a Day 1a field. The players, staff and media members were – depending on how you viewed it – treated to a frightening and heart-pumping welcome as the traditional Haka was performed. Although believed to be a war dance performed solely by men, everyone witnessed a stimulating welcoming as the cards hit the air.
Plenty of highly talented players took to the felt to battle it out today including PokerStars.net champions Aaron Benton (APPT Sydney), Victorino Torres (APPT Macau) and Julian Cohen (ANZPT Queenstown), along with those who not only call Auckland home but have tasted victory here: Auckland Poker Championships winner James Honeybone, New Zealand Poker Open Champion Jackson Zheng and APPT High Rollers Champion Kevin Clark.
From the outset, Benton was under the close eye of his opponents as one particular player began taking notes at the table on a pot Benton captured. That player would eventually double Benton later in the day only to see the APPT Sydney Champion and ex-Big Brother contestant see two two-outers crack his pocket pairs on the turn to eventually bust just before the last break.
One of Australia’s most in-form tournament players, Ricky Kroesen, soared to the top of the leaderboard in two massive hands where his held up against on an flop before he eliminated a player who held a flopped flush when Kroesen turned a full house with his flopped two pair.
APPT Macau Champion Torres didn’t want to be left behind as he started accumulating chips steadily before bluffing in two big pots to put himself in a tough spot to survive the day. APPT Sydney Six-Handed event winner and Aussie Millions title holder Andrew Hinrichsen began the day on the wrong foot losing three-quarters of his stack before regaining his composure to mount a charge up the leaderboard courtesy of a few sets here and there.
ANZPT Sydney and Sydney Poker Championships High Rollers winner Daniel Neilson exited the tournament when his was cracked by his opponent's . Then it was PokerStars.net online qualifier Noah Vogelman of the U.S. who finished the day as chip leader once the likes of Honeybone, Zheng and Clark all bit the dust in a failed attempt to repeat their successes here over the past 12 months.
Top 10 Chip Counts
Noah Vogelman (USA) – 128,275
John Harman (NZ) – 94,300
Tao Luo (NZ) – 94,050
Sam Courtenay (NZ) – 86,525
Roger Harris – 81,925
Ricky Kroesen (AUS) – 81,900
Zack Lowrie (NZ) – 77,825
Danny Silk (AUS) – 76,650
Andrew Hinrichsen (AUS) – 69,400
Ardmore Vakalahi (NZ) – 67,650
Vogelman topped the remaining 41 players as the only player to finish the day in the six-figure club. He is trailed by New Zealanders John Harman (94,300) and Tao Luo (94,050) who accumulated chips at ease throughout the day. Online players Kroesen (81,900) and Hinrichsen (69,400) round out the top ten.
Those still in contention include APPT Macau third-place and New Zealand Poker Championships runner-up Cole Swannack (26,350), APPT Sydney Six-Handed Champion Tom Grigg (16,400), and long-time tournament veteran and local regular Constantine Hararch (8,975).
The PokerNews Live Reporting Team will again be on the floor Thursday from 12:15 p.m. local time providing continuous live updates of all the Day 1b action as players such as Team PokerStars Pros Tony Hachem and Lee Nelson, along with WSOP Bracelet-holder and local Simon Watt, all take to the felt in the 2010 PokerStars.net APPT Auckland Main Event!