ANZPT Auckland: Angie Leads; Guzzardi Close Behind

The second stop on Season Five of the Australia New Zealand Poker Tour began today, with PokerStars returning to the beautiful city of Auckland. The 66 players who began the day were eager to get in their seats and start making their way to becoming the first champion of Auckland poker since Danny 'Brotha D' Leaoasavaii won the APPT Auckland Main Event in 2010.

While it may have felt like PokerStars had never left Auckland, there was certainly a new vibe and that was due to the poker room now being located in the famous "Nation's Clubrooms". Usually playing host to some of the biggest sporting players in New Zealand, the Nation's Clubrooms is the new home of the SKYCITY Auckland poker room.


Poker room extraordinaire, The Nation's Clubrooms

Wandering around the tables today and there was clearly a majority of local players. One of the New Zealand locals who took to the felt today was poker veteran Graeme "KiwiG" Putt and at the end of the night, Putt was bagging up some chips. Also at the felt was Putt's fellow poker stalwart Leo Boxell. While Boxell couldn't survive the night, Putt will be in the mix come Saturday's Day 2.

One of the biggest talking points of today's action was the huge boxing match between Australia's Danny Green and New Zealand's Shane Cameron. The rivalry between the Aussies and the Kiwis is clearly rampant and that really showed once the title bout was sprayed across the screens of the poker room.


Kiwis and Aussies battled it out in more ways than one

The boxing match was eventually completed, with Danny Green bringing it home for Australia and then it was back to focusing on the poker. Perhaps taking inspiration from his fellow Australian, Michael Guzzardi would be the player to storm the chip leader board late into the evening. Guzzardi managed to hold onto his stack at the end of the night, bagging up an impressive 98,000.


Michael Guzzardi can't be stopped

Guzzardi recently finished third in the ANZPT Melbourne Main Event, collecting a very nice AUD$112,000 when he chopped the event three handed. Interestingly, the two players who were involved in that deal also partook in today's action and both of them will join Guzzardi on Day 2. ANZPT Melbourne 2nd-place finisher Ashley Warner bagged up 20,600 at the end of the night, while Kiwi local and ANZPT Melbourne champion Paul Hockin managed to finish with a healthy 60,300.

While Guzzardi may have had great day at the felt, no player had a better time than Angie Fitzgerald. It was a bit of a roller coaster for Fitzgerald, seeing her stack quickly move up above 100,000 early in the day and then fall below 70,000. However bumpy the ride may have been, what matters is the giant 113,500-chip stack that will see Fitzgerald head into Day 2 as the chip leader. Fitzgerald leads the 26 players who secured a Day 2 berth.


A Pyramid of chips for Angie Fitzgerald

Speaking of Day 2, that won't take place until Saturday. First we need to get through a couple more Day 1 flights! Tomorrow's Day 1b action begins at 6.30 pm NZPT and so, off to bed we go. Thanks for tuning in and be sure to return tomorrow. Until then, enjoy Lynn Gilmartin and Mateusz Pater as they bring you the 'Day 1a Nightly Notables'.

Joshua Bell
@PokerStars in Auckland