Kinkade royally rampant on Day 1a in Sydney

The Star City Casino has played host to some of Australian poker's most memorable moments. Grant Levy's historic win back in 2007, Jarred Graham going back to back in the APPT High Rollers, Paren "Puzz" Arzoomanian's emotional ANZPT win, Aaron Benton's stunning victory in 2009 and of course Jonathan Karamalikis raising the roof last December.

So we entered the Star City Poker Room today with a sense of anticipation and excitement for what might lay ahead for the first major championship in Sydney in 2011. The PokerStars.net ANZPT arrived in Sydney for what is traditionally the largest stop on the tour. In today's poker climate it will be tough to match last year's number of 446 entrants, but we were off to a solid start today with 152 passing the through the turnstiles.

Some of those amongst the action today included Leo Boxell, Kristian Lunardi, Jackie Glazier, Sam Rotar, Dale Marsland, John Caridad, Toothpick Tony, Jai Kemp, Mike Ivin, Andrew Watson, Liam Moffett, Richard Lancaster and past ANZPT champs Julian Cohen, Jason Gray, Scott Kerr and Brotha D.

While Tom Grigg, Andrew Jeffreys, Martin Drewe, David Steicke and Jarred Graham were amongst some of the notable eliminations during the day, the top end of the chips counts were dominated during the day by the fast play of Isaac Lau and Andrew Hinrichsen.

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Hinrichsen has a habit of accumulating a massive stack on day one. He brings a super-aggressive style that is relentless on his opponents. A straight over straight shot Hinrichsen into the chip lead before he put a stop to the hot run of Isaac Lau when the two chip leaders found themselves on the same table. Lau had been on a mad rush until that point - hitting quads twice and eliminating players with ease.

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"What a rollercoaster day that was!" sighed a relieved Lau who managed to get himself back to 100,000 chips by the end of the day to be amongst the leaders.

However despite hitting quads twice, Lau didn't get the distinction of the biggest hand of the day. That honour went to the man they call "SEABEAST".

He's a mighty beast, that's for sure. He's the 2008 Victorian Poker Championships winner, been the number one online player in the country for years, and dropped in and out of poker retirement more times than you can count. Despite limited appearances on the live circuit, Kinkade is still one of the most feared players going around and today he proved why.

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With a minimum of fuss Kinkade was able to quietly accumulate the biggest stack in the room. There was no fanfare, it was just business as usual - even when Kinkade landed the ultimate in poker hands, the Royal Flush.

Kinkade held A♦Q♦ and got his chips in the middle on a K♦T♦J♣Q♣ board against an opponent's ace-king. Kinkade spiked a magical J♦ on the river to give him a beautiful Royal Flush and get his day motoring. It's hard to stop good players with good cards!

Kinkade bagged up 148,150 for the chip lead ahead of Mike Ivin (113,700), Elliott Nicholls (113,525), Brett Murtagh (108,750) and Isaac Lau (100,000). Andrew Hinrichsen slipped back to the pack but made it safely though the day as 65 players survived. For a full list of counts head to the Day 1a End of Day Counts page.

The ANZPT Sydney Main Event will see a 200-plus field hit the Star City Poker Room felt tomorrow at 12:30pm local time (GMT+10) for Day 1b. It should be a super lineup with Team PokerStars well represented by Joe Hachem, Bryan Huang and reigning ANZPT Player of the Year Tony Hachem. Season 3 ANZPT winners Octavian Voegele and Grant Levy are also expected as they chase valuable POTY points to close the gap on current leader Danny Chevalier.

We look forward to your company once again tomorrow. Until then, goodnight from Sydney!