The world’s largest and richest poker tour has arrived “Down Under” as the 2014 World Series of Poker Asia Pacific officially launched in the Crown Poker Room in Melbourne on Thursday. Ten championship events — twice as many bracelets as last year — will be awarded during the 17-day poker series which is set to attract the world’s finest players and capture the imaginations of local poker fans.
The partnership between the World Series of Poker and Crown Casino may only be in its second year, but there’s no denying the potential of the WSOP APAC in the Asia-Pacific region.
“We’re excited to be back at Crown and host our biggest ever international event in our 45 year history,” said Seth Palansky, Vice President of Corporate Communications for Caesars Interactive Entertainment.
The WSOP APAC series kicked off with a bang with a solid field turning out for Day 1a of the $1,100 No Limit Hold’em Accumulator Event. This unique format, which was first conceived in the Crown Poker Room, sees players potentially enter one, two or all three opening day flights and if they are successful enough to survive the day, they can “accumulate” all of their stacks together for Day 2 on Saturday. It’s a unique format that fits in nicely with a WSOP APAC schedule that offers players plenty of variety from the usual No Limit Hold’em grind.
“We’re excited to offer Dealers Choice and Mixed Game formats in the WSOP APAC schedule — events rarely, if ever, seen Down Under,” added Palansky. “The WSOP is about all the variants of poker and we’re excited to spend the next three weeks in Melbourne bringing the WSOP experience to the Asia-Pacific region.”
If players weren’t already inspired as they took their seats for a shot at WSOP glory, the microphone was handed to Australia’s queen of poker, Jackie Glazier, for the official shuffle up and deal honours.
Last November, Glazier joined an elite group of Australian players to win a WSOP bracelet with her victory in the Ladies Event at the WSOP Europe and now she’s looking to add some more jewellery to her collection in her home town.
As Glazier officially kicked off the series, she flashed the coveted bracelet to the audience, warning her opponents that they were “playing for second place” as the cards were launched into the air.
At the 2013 WSOP APAC, the Opening Event attracted 1,085 entrants with American Bryan Piccioli becoming the first player in history to win a WSOP APAC bracelet when he pocketed the top prize of AU$211,575.
It would take a big effort to match those sorts of numbers this year, and when registration officially closed after six levels, there would be a total of 197 players for the opening flight of Event #1. That figure is well down on the 329 players who sat for this equivalent flight in 2013, which indicates that we might fall short of a four-figure field.
It may only be early in the series, with several big name pros yet to stamp their passports, but there were still plenty of notables who took their seats as the first hands of the series were dealt. Team PokerStars Pros Vanessa Rousso, Jonathan Duhamel and George Danzer were in the mix, as was 888poker sponsored pros Russell Thomas and Jackie Glazier. Two-time WSOP bracelet winner Scott Clements was chasing more gold, along with some of Asia’s best in Darian Tan, Juicy Li and Kitty Kuo. There were previous title winners such as reigning Aussie Millions champion Ami Barer and Australian WSOP bracelet winners Andy Hinrichsen, Gary Benson and Aaron Lim. And the icing on the cake was the appearance of the reigning World Champion in Ryan Riess.
Riess had a particularly tough table draw to start the day as he had to contend with the above-mentioned Danzer, Lim and Thomas as well as talented locals Aleks Brkovic and Mikel Habb who final tabled the WSOP APAC Main Event last year. In the end, Riess made a move with a four-bet shove holding AT but couldn’t win the coin flip against Australia’s own Jonathan Karamalikis who held pocket nines.
Better Late Than Never
One of the last players to join the field was none other than 13-time WSOP bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth:
— phil_hellmuth (@phil_hellmuth) October 2, 2014
It wasn’t until Level 6 that Hellmuth made his appearance, and clearly not deterred by a starting stack of just fifteen big blinds, he ground himself down to less than the price of the big blind before being forced all in, only to lose a coin flip with with A8 against pocket fours.
“What time do we start tomorrow? I should probably show up before 15 bigs,” sighed Hellmuth before heading back to his hotel room.
Ground and Pound
While Hellmuth was on the grind’em down strategy, Aaron Lim’s strategy was more ground and pound.
The talented young Aussie is well-known for his aggressive style, and the bigger his stack grew throughout the day, the more aggressive his play became.
“When you’ve got chips, you really have to push people around a bit. It’s dependant on stack size, but you can put a lot of pressure on people with stacks of around 15-20 big blinds if you pick your spots well,” explained Lim, giving us a small insight into the mindset of Australia’s first WSOP APAC bracelet winner.
It was a strategy that saw Lim threaten for the chip lead late in the day, but a disastrous final level would see Lim slim back to the pack where he would ultimately bag up 10,125 in chips. So will Lim be back to try and accumulate a few more?
“Nah, I’m just going to come back on Saturday and try and run up my 10k stack!” laughed Lim. “To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of the Accumulator format. I don’t think a lot of professional players are big fans of it. I much prefer re-entries or rebuy tournaments. I don’t know how many professionals are really going to accumulate the next day. It’s probably only good for recreational players who are not going to try and accumulate.”
One player who we’re pretty sure won’t be worrying about accumulating is American Scott Clements. Fresh off the plane, Clements dove head first into the action in Melbourne, but it wasn’t until the last level of the day where the cream rose to the top.
It was a one-two blow to Australian online young gun Dylan Honeyman that did the damage. First, Clements collected a nice pot with a backdoor flush, before flopping a straight against Honeyman’s top pair to eliminate the local.
After eight levels of play Clements was a clear chip leader as just 30 players survived the carnage. With over US$6 million in career earnings and two WSOP bracelets already to his name, Clements is in great shape to add to both of those numbers in Melbourne.
Event #1: $1,100 NLHE Accumulator Day 1a Top Ten Chip Counts
Scott Clements – 76,575
Marko Piper – 36,825
Zane Ly – 36,400
Jamie Pickering – 34,150
Jonathan Karamalikis – 30,900
Robert Clarke – 30,775
Kahle Burns – 27,150
Michael Addamo – 24,875
George Danzer – 24,625
David Leas – 23,875
Accumulate, Accumulate, Accumulate!
Friday is set to be a very long and busy day inside the Crown Poker Room with not one, but two more flights in the $1,100 No Limit Hold’em Accumulator Event. Flight 1b will start at 12:10pm and if that’s not enough action for you, hang around for flight 1c which starts at 6:10pm. Of course, all players are welcome to buy into any or all of the opening flights to attempt to navigate their way to Day 2 on Saturday.
The 2014 WSOP APAC runs in the Crown Poker Room in Melbourne, Australia from October 2-18.
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