APPT Auckland: Putting the Pacific in the Asia Pacific Poker Tour

By Landon Blackhall and Sean Callander

PokerStars tours take players to all parts of the world, and we're continually impressed with some of the journeys undertaken by qualifiers chasing their poker dreams. It's not like they don't have poker tournaments in Scandinavia, the USA and Brazil but that hasn't stopped PokerStars qualifiers from trekking to New Zealand for the second event on season three of the PokerStars.net Asia Pacific Poker Tour. Welcome, one and all.

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It's not hard to find the Pacific Ocean in Auckland, as these "skywalkers" on Sky Tower discover

Speaking of the "Pacific" component of the APPT, there are also players here today from Oceanic nations like New Caledonia, Tonga, Fiji and Samoa, which is recovering from a tragic tsunami that killed more than 200 people less than week ago. Out thoughts are with everyone in the tiny island nation.

Players have just taken their first break for the day (blinds remain at 100/200 now with an ante of 25), which proved timely for local player Eden Smith after he was crippled in a massive hand at the hands of Frenchman Arnaud Bulle.

With the money in the middle after some heavy betting action on a flop of 3♠ 6♦ J♥ Smith showed J♠ J♣ for the set, ahead of the A♥ A♦ of Bulle. The turn was the Q♥ but the SKYCITY Auckland qualifier jumped out of his seat and pumped his fist when the A♣ fell on the river.

The money was cut down and Bulle was deemed the shorter of the two stacks - though Smith stays alive, he's down to just 9000 after doubling up early in the first level while Bulle moves up to 49,500 in chips.

Meanwhile PokerStars Team Australia Pro Emad Tahtouh is dishing out a lesson in aggression on the felt, moving up to more than 30,000 in chips and showing the Kiwis how it's done.

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PokerStars.net Team Australia's Emad Tahtouh has started strongly on day 1A

Having called an opponent's raise of 350 from the big blind, both players checked a flop of 5♥ 9♥ 8♠. Tahtouh then check-called his bet of 500 when the A♠ appeared on the turn.

The dealer showed the river 2♠; Tahtouh fired out a massive overbet of 3300, sending his opponent into the tank for two minutes before making the call. Tahtouh rolled up K♠ [10s] for the nut flush, which was good enough to take the pot down.

Earlier today, our cameras caught all the drama and tradition of the opening ceremony:


Watch APPT Auckland 09: Day 1A Introduction on PokerStars.tv