APPT Sydney: Sunny outside, Gray inside

The chips are bagged and on their way to the lock-up after a highly entertaining day of play in the APPT Grand Final at Star City in Sydney, Australia.

Of the 172 players who heard Michael Carr pump out his unique version of Waltzing Matilda/The Gambler at the start of play, only 83 will be back here on Friday for day 2.

That line-up will include two of the three Team PokerStars players in action today: Gavin Griffin and Lee “Final Table” Nelson. The fortunes of that pair contrasted – Griffin flew out of the stalls and cruised through the evening to finish near the top of the chip count on around 130,000.


Gavin Griffin is ideally placed for day 2

Nelson had a tougher day and didn’t accumulate chips until after the dinner break. However, he finished the day strongly to be above the chip average of 41,445. The New Zealander, who won the Aussie Millions in 2006, is aiming for consecutive APPT final tables.

However, we farewelled South African Raymond Rahme midway through day 1B – the Team PokerStars Pro’s performance mirrored last year’s trip to Sydney where he bolted to a big chip lead early on day 1. Rahme was again among the biggest stacks in the early going but was KOed midway through the day.

Two PokerStars Sponsored players were also in action today – defending champion Grant Levy and Eric Assadourian. Levy just couldn’t get anything going and hit the rail before the dinner break, while Assadourian stayed well under the radar and finished with just under 40,000.

It was another Sydneysider, experienced Australian poker pro Jason Gray who topped the chip count with 180,000. The quietly spoken but fiercely determined Gray built his stack at the expense of Singapore young gun Nathanael Seet. Gray opened with a raise, there was a call, Seet made it 9,000 and Gray was the only caller.


Day 1B and overall chip leader Jason Gray

The flop came 10c-9d-7h, Gray called Seet’s bet and the turn was Js. Seet checked, Gray bet 13,000, Seet check-raised all-in for 54,000 and Gray called.

Seet showed pocket queens for an overpair and open-ended straight draw, but Gray had a made hand (8d-5d), and sent Seet to the rail when the river came a repeat 10. That pot gave Gray more than 170,000, and he maintained that stack through the rest of the evening.


Vince Ha is in third chip position

With 280 entrants already confirmed for the event, we’re expecting the biggest line-up of the three day 1 flights tomorrow, with the field headed by Team PokerStars Pros Joe Hachem and Chris Moneymaker, 2008 WSOP main event winner Peter Eastgate, PokerStars Sponsored players Tony Hachem, Daniel Craker, Bryan Huang, Ivan Tan, Eddy Sabat, Masa Kagawa, Van Marcus, Yoshihiro Tasaka and Emad Tahtouh. Should be a terrific day, we’ll be back at 12.30pm tomorrow.