ANZPT Auckland: Only One Can Lead

It was inevitable that we get to the late stages of the tournament eventually and here we are. There is just over an hour to go before Day 1b of the ANZPT Auckland Main Event enters the record books. As is usually the case, one player has managed to become the leader of the chip counts. That man goes by the name Jie Gao and it was only recently that he watched his stack skyrocket towards the six-figure category.

When we first had a look at the tournament floor, there were three players with large chip stacks. One was Jason Lee, one was Peter Field and the other was Richard Lancaster. Gao was nowhere to be seen. But that quickly changed when he was involved in a big pot with Lancaster.

The hand in question saw Gao get all his chips in holding A♥9♥ on a T♥8♣7♥ board. Lancaster had Gao and one other all-in opponent covered, with Lancaster holding pocket kings. The other at-risk player held A♠T♠ and Lancaster was looking like he could eliminate two players. The 2♣ turn was great for Lancaster, but the J♠ river gave Gao the straight and he watched his chip stack hit just under 100,000.

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Jie Gao is all smiles tonight

Gao is no stranger to the Australia New Zealand Poker Tour, with four Main Event cashes over the last couple of years. Not only did he post multiple deep runs, but he even finished 3rd in the Season 2 ANZPT Darwin Main Event. That score was worth AUD$21,500 and would come just a few weeks after finishing 15th in the Season 2 ANZPT Melbourne Main Event.

While the above results may have been in 2010, Gao has also had some recent exploits on the ANZPT felt. Less than a month ago was ANZPT Melbourne and Gao would finish in a bittersweet 11th place, adding another AUD$9,660 to his poker resume. Having been so close to making another ANZPT final table, we are sure Gao will be hungry for success this week in Auckland.

As mentioned earlier, Gao's main rivals for the top of the chip leader board are Jason Lee and Peter Field. Lee's stack has been on a steady incline since the beginning of the day, while Field has had much more successful late half of the night.

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Peter Field is having a great Day 1b

With just over a level remaining in the night, there are currently 29 players sitting at the tables. Last night's Day 1a saw 26 players bagging up some chips and it is looking like it will be a similar amount this evening. Stay tuned to find who makes it through the night and if Gao can hold onto his chip lead.

Joshua Bell
@PokerStars in Auckland