The first of two starting flights for the PokerStars Asia Pacific Poker Tour Manila Main Event attracted a field of 260 entries, which was a significant number considering it was the exact total for last year's entire event.
"I was always confident that we would exceed last year's field size but to do it in a single day is remarkable," said APPT President Danny McDonagh. "400 players was my Main Event prediction before the poker festival began but now I'm hopeful it will be closer to 500."
Things are certainly different here in 2015 as the tournament has moved from the tight spaces of the Metro Card Club across town to the opulent confines of the City of Dreams, a fully integrated resort and casino complex which opened in Manila late last year.
While the event had a small, local feel to it in 2014, all indications from the Day 1a player list is that APPT Manila has gone International with dozens of countries and several continents represented. Through nine levels of play a total of 75 survived and will return to play Day 2 Saturday with aspirations of making Sunday's final table.
PokerStars Team Pro Bryan Huang is one of them. He picked up aces to pick up a big pot halfway through the day and climb the counts. Then, as the day wore on, he won a flip with queens over big slick to climb to the top of them. Meanwhile, Manila's own Jessie Leonarez flirted with the lead several times, cracking aces to move his stack into the six-figure range and keeping his foot on the gas throughout.
A late run from Norwegian Rolf Galasen saw him bag over 200,000, making him one of only two players to push past that mark. He flopped the nut straight, knocking one player out midway through the day, then picked up a ton of premium hands in the last few levels of the night. All this despite having to deal with Huang and fellow PokerStars Team Pro Celina Lin at his table for most of the day, while also trying to win a bet made at the bar the night before that he could get away with removing his shirt for an orbit without any trouble from security. He went on to win that bet.
However, it was Sweden's Douglas Olsson who bagged the biggest stack at the end of nine levels. He used a ton of pressure and well-time aggression to chip up early, busted one player with big slick over to get among the leaders midday, and bagged 207,500 in the end thanks to a late level surge.
Other notables advancing to Day 2 include Lin (74,900), Red Dragon champion Terry Fan (111,000), Sam Razavi (50,500), Winfred Yu (19,800) and reigning Asia Player of the Year Pete Chen (21,500). Of course not everyone did so well. Team PokerStars Pros Aditya Agarwal and Kosei Ichinose were sent to the rail as were Roger Spets and local favorite Wally Sombero.
Top 10 Day 1a Chip Counts
While this group will have to wait until Saturday for more action, the APPT Manila Main Event will continue Friday with Day 1b kicking off at 14:30 local time in the Philippines. Of course, the PokerNews Live Reporting Team will be on hand to bring you all the action from start to finish.