ANZPT Auckland Day 2: Amant holds all the aces
The sun was shining and the birds were singing. It was a beautiful day in Auckland and perfect for the surviving 105 players to head into the climate-controlled comfort of the SKYCITY Auckland Casino to battle it out on Day 2 of the ANZPT Auckland Main Event.
After a delayed start, the action was fast and furious from the get-go as the players looked to get themselves into contention for a run at the final table.
David Lim was the early leader after flopping quad queens to crack pocket aces, while Team PokerStars Pro Bryan Huang also doubled up in the early stages of the day. However those chips were then used for a triple-barrel bluff that ultimately backfired to leave Huang on the rail.
Others to fall in the early levels of play included WSOP bracelet winner Simon Watt, the chatty Daniel Levy and reigning ANZ Player of the Year Iori Yogo.
As the day developed a few new big stacks started to emerge and we got to know some interesting characters.
Steven Holloway is a Sports Journalist for the local New Zealand Herald, and clearly a big poker fan. Holloway will have plenty to write about on a day that saw him accumulate plenty of chips to become one of the chip leaders when the players took a dinner break with 38 players remaining.
When play resumed, all attention turned to the money bubble. The cash would mean a lot to many of our players, while others took the opportunity to turn up the pressure.
Jan Suchanek, Oliver Helm and Constantin Harach were sent to the rail before Koray Turker did what he does best. Not one to be content with a min-cash, Turker went for the kill with a huge river bluff with ace-high that was picked off by Amant Nauhria who held two pair. Turker had somehow missed the money as the overnight chip leader was again on top of the pack.
However the heartbreaker of the day went to bubble boy Dean Blatt.
Blatt was all in for his tournament life with Q♠J♣ against Slade Fisher's Q♦8♦ but the board of A♥3♦7♠A♣8♠ gave Fisher a three-outer river to crush Blatt painfully close to the money.
The remaining players were joyous to be in the cash and they took the opportunity to gamble it up late in the day with some big pots going down.
Max Coppen (24th), Slade Fisher (21st) and Ben Rendall (18th) all picked up some cash for their time in Auckland, while Chris Ozer went down swinging, copping a severe two orbit penalty for deliberately acting out of turn before virtually blinding out in 17th place.
However the biggest clashes of the day were saved for the final level of play.
First it was Karan Punjabi who ran his pocket queens into Amant Nauhria's pocket aces to fall in 16th place, while over on the other table, PokerStars Qualifier David Lim and Anesone Bragouits clashed in an enormous pot. Bragouits check-raised all in on the river with pocket jacks on a board of 4♣T♦4♥6♥7♥ but he couldn't shake Lim from his A♥9♥ for the nut flush. Bragouits, who had dominated for large portions of the day, was suddenly on the ropes in 15th place as Lim took over the chip lead.
However the final twist of the day was still to come.
After Pravin Harji bowed out in 14th place, another massive pot would erupt as Steven Holloway moved all in with ace-queen but Amant Nauhria had found pocket aces for the second time in a matter of minutes. There were no miracles on board, leaving Holloway to head off in 13th place with a fascinating story for the papers tomorrow.
Meanwhile Amant Nauhria has managed to carry his overnight chip lead all the way to now be in a dominant position entering the final day of play tomorrow. Originally from India, Nauhria has been living in New Zealand for the last twelve years, so he'd love nothing more than to capture the title in his adopted home.
With a dozen players remaining, Nauhria and Lim hold a staggering percentage of the chips in play as they both have over one million with just a tick over four million chips in play.
ANZPT Auckland Day 2 Chip Counts
Amant Nauhria - 1,431,500
David Lim (PokerStars Qualifier) - 1,012,000
Nicolas Oger - 323,000
Stanislav Chataline - 241,500
Nathan Gubieski - 210,500
Dean Stevenson - 188,500
Paul Gahan - 179,500
Angela Brewster - 143,500
Jason Cook - 119,500
Raybon Kan - 81,500
Brad Stafford - 75,000
Ia Rimamaki - 65,500
Head to the Live Updates section for the complete list of payouts and prize winners so far and the seating draw for Day 3.
Play will resume at 12:15pm on Sunday (GMT+12) with our lucky dozen coming back for a shot at the ANZPT Auckland Main Event title. We'll be here to bring it home so we hope you'll join us once again.
Heath "TassieDevil" Chick is a Freelance Contributor for the PokerStars Blog.