ANZPT Auckland: Chang chomps on Day 1a field

Season 6 of the Australia New Zealand Poker Tour kicked off today as we were welcomed to Auckland in New Zealand for the $2,200 ANZPT Auckland Main Event.

With three opening flights available for the Main Event, we were expecting a modest field for the opening day of play, with Australian and overseas players expected to fly into Auckland over the coming days. A total of 44 players took their seats in the SKYCITY Auckland Poker Room when the cards were launched into the air at 12:30pm local time.

The field was dominated by local qualifiers, so there were plenty of unfamiliar faces, but a few notable players we saw included Raj Ramakrishnan, Jesse McKenzie, Dean Blatt, Kevin Clark, Constantin Harach, Mike Stecker and Australian Poker Hall of Famer Leo Boxell.

Despite only a few tables in action, there were a few interesting early eliminations that caught our eye. In particular, the elimination of former ANZPT Adelaide runner-up Jesse McKenzie was blog-worthy.

McKenzie had three-bet preflop, and continuation bet with a flush draw when his opponent check-raised. McKenzie made the call on the flop and again on the turn, before faced with a decision on the river for his tournament life. McKenzie only had king-high at that point after his flush draw had missed, but McKenzie went with a read and made the call. McKenzie was half right. His opponent thought he was bluffing, but a lowly pair of sevens was enough to better McKenzie's king-high.


McKenzie was joined on the rail by the likes of Leo Boxell, Jack Efaraimo, Raj Ramakrishnan and Kevin Clark as around 22 players survived the seven levels of play.

William Han and Nathan Gubieski were prominent during the day, but it was Eric Chang who commanded the biggest stack in the room. Chang won a nice early pot with ace-king to take the chip lead and didn't look back, bagging up a massive 95,100 at the end of the day. That's a huge chip stack considering the small field, and we expect it to be well in contention when Day 2 rolls around.


Others to survive today's play include Nathan Gubieski (78,900), William Han (67,000), Dean Blatt (55,400), Yu Jia Xiao (32,900) and Mike Stecker (22,900). Head to the Live Updates section of the site for the full chip counts of the survivors.

Tomorrow we'll no doubt see a much bigger field in action at the SKYCITY Auckland casino. Over 70 players have already qualified online on PokerStars with two more satellites running tonight to give online grinders a last-minute chance to win their way to Auckland. Maybe they'll even multi-table and win their APPT 8: Aussie Millions seat as well? Over 50 of those qualifiers are already scheduled to be in action tomorrow, which is more than today's entire field.

The action recommences at 12:30pm (GMT+12) and we look forward to your company then!

Heath "TassieDevil" Chick is a Freelance Contributor for the PokerStars Blog.

@PokerStars in Auckland