Day 1b of the 2014 World Series of Poker Asia Pacific Main Event has come to a close with local pro Tam Truong emerging as the end-of-day chip leader with a stack of 155,875 chips. It’s a little short of Tobias Reinkemeier’s mark on Day 1a, but still enough to top the 112 players who survived the six levels of play on Day 1b.
The day started out a little slowly with most tables only four or five handed, but slowly the late registrations trickled in to boost the Day 1b numbers to a healthy 195 players. That puts the total number up over 320, and with registration open until the start of play on Day 2, it looks like a pretty solid number in store for the WSOP APAC Main Event.
Some of those in action included Vanessa Rousso, Jeff Rossiter, Brian Roberts, Brandon Shack-Harris, Brendon Rubie, Van Marcus, Michiel Brummelhuis, Antonio Esfandiari, Bruno Politano, Jason Gray, Brian Rast, Tony Hachem, Eddy Sabat, Shane Warne, Aussie Millions winners Oliver Speidel and Tyron Krost, former world champs Greg Merson, Joe Hachem and Jonathan Duhamel, recent WSOP APAC bracelet winner George Danzer and the defending WSOP APAC Main Event champion, Daniel Negreanu.
The early levels of the day belonged to Victor Teng. Before some players had even taken their seats in the event, Teng had already eliminated multiple opponents on his way to a six-figure stack.
Teng got his day going flopping a set against a flush draw as the chips went flying into the middle. Teng had to avoid a club and he did so successfully to double his stack in the opening minutes of the day.
He then followed that up on a hand that extended into the second break of the day. There was heavy action on the board of Q96J4 with Teng check-raising with K8 for the flush as Tien Pham shoved his stack with T8 for the straight. With that, Teng was up over 110,000 chips and we were only a third of the way through the day!
Another big stack belonged to Australian Michael O’Grady. He had some good fortune with the elimination of Team PokerStars Pro Vanessa Rousso. O’Grady opened from under the gun and found one caller before Rousso squeezed out a three-bet. O’Grady wasn’t done yet as he four-bet to get the pot heads-up, but Rousso moved her last chips into the middle. By then O’Grady was pot committed and made the call with 88 to trail Rousso’s KK. ‘Lady Maverick’ was all set for a big double up but an eight on the flop brought her tournament to an early end as O’Grady joined the chip leaders.
As the players started to drop away, more big stacks started to emerge with one of them belonging to Aussie young gun Kahle Burns.
It’s already been a big WSOP APAC series for Burns with two final table appearances, but even more notable was his fifth place finish in last year’s WSOP APAC Main Event. It was Burns’ biggest tournament cash and since then he seems to have gone from strength to strength, both in the cash games and the select tournaments that he plays.
“Last year I think I had less than average at this point,” reflected Burns approaching the final level of the day as he looked down at a healthy six-figure stack. “I mean, I was down to 4k at some point on day one last year. I can’t remember exactly where I finished the day, but obviously this is way better!”
Eighteen months is a long time in poker, and life, and Burns feels that the experience he has gained in that time will allow him to make a push towards historic back-to-back WSOP APAC final table appearances.
“I think all the experience you have just adds up,” said Burns. “I think I’ve definitely got better in the last year, but there’s so much variance in tournament poker. You just have to expect you’re going to bust four out of five times, but you know in the long run you’re making money.”
Burns would end up bagging 152,050 in chips, to be narrowly pipped at the post for the chip lead by Tam Truong. Brian Rast also has a top ten stack while other notables to make it through the day include Gary Benson, Jonathan Duhamel, Frank Kassela, Ismael Bojang, Greg Merson, George Danzer, Ami Barer, Winfred Yu, Brandon Shack-Harris, Casey Kastle, Jeff Gross, the Hachem brothers, Joe and Tony, and Australian cricket legend Shane Warne who made a tremendous preflop laydown during the evening with pocket kings when his opponent held pocket aces!
Also safely making it through the day with a stack of 33,800 was American Eddy Sabat.
“The day went well. The table was good,” said Sabat. “I just lost one hand with queens against aces but other than that, I was just hanging in there.”
Sabat only arrived in Melbourne a couple of days ago, solely to play in the Main Event. He says he lure of the bracelet in one of his favourite places was too much to resist.
“I love Australia. I do well here. I’ve won a tournament and final tabled two tournaments here I think. The 16-hour flight doesn’t bother me. I had some stuff to do back home in California, so I just came down for the Main. I wanted to get that bracelet!”
Of course Sabat knows exactly what it’s like to make a big run at the biggest prize in poker. Just this year in the WSOP Main Event in Vegas, Sabat clawed his way to 16th place in the big dance, good for nearly $350,000 in prize money. If people weren’t already aware of the friendly Californian with the cool afro, they will probably learn a little more about him once they see the WSOP coverage on ESPN.
“I haven’t been on TV that much so far, but I’ve heard that I was in the episode this Sunday. Friends back home have been sending me stills of the TV!” laughed Sabat. “It’s kinda surreal. I grew up watching the WSOP on TV and now I’m on it. It still doesn’t feel real. I like the feeling though!”
So did anyone at his table recognize him from the ESPN coverage so far?
“Gary Benson is on my left and we final tabled the World Poker Tour event together this past December, so he recognized me. He blew my cover but that’s fine, I don’t mind either way!”
Much like Burns, Sabat says that his experience on the big stage will help him here in the WSOP APAC Main Event, and future events, as his thirst for the game is as strong as ever.
“I feel like I have improved my game by at least 50% just playing those seven days at the WSOP Main Event in Vegas,” explained Sabat. “Just experiencing that type of pressure, and just the way people react to high-pressure situations. It gives you a whole new outlook. You don’t know what poker is until you’ve gone that deep in the Main. It’s the biggest tournament in the world!”
“I’m definitely a better player for it, that’s why I want to keep playing a bunch. Even if I have to fly 16 hours to play the World Series!”
Sabat will be able to enjoy a little rest before returning to the Crown Poker Room on Tuesday to continue his battle in the WSOP APAC Main Event.
WSOP APAC Main Event Day 1b Top Ten
Tam Truong – 155,875
Kahle Burns – 152,050
Michael O’Grady – 148,475
Victor Teng – 140,325
Suraj Dutt – 135,400
Vincent Chua – 119,150
Timo Pfutzenreuter – 113,000
Kyle Montgomery – 109,025
Brian Rast – 107,925
Baden Logan – 107,275
The Main Event continues
Have ten grand and want to play some poker? It’s not too late to enter the WSOP APAC Main Event. Registration is open until the first cards are dealt on Day 2 on Tuesday, so get down to the Crown Poker Room if you want a shot at glory. Play recommences at 12:30pm local time where another six levels will be played.
The 2014 World Series of Poker Asia Pacific runs from October 2-18 in the Crown Poker Room in Melbourne, Australia.
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