APPT Auckland Day 1b: Levels 1 & 2 (Blinds 100-200)

2:30pm: Ten-minute break

2:20pm: Nelson struggling

PokerStars sponsored player Lee Nelson is struggling to get going so far this afternoon as we just caught him losing a small pot and looking a little frustrated.

Catching the action on the turn on a board of K♠J♣8♦5♦, Nelson raised his opponent's 650-chip bet to 1,650. His opponent called before both players checked down the 6♣ river. Nelson's opponent showed K♥9♥ for top pair which was enough as Nelson mucked and slipped to 14,000.

2:04pm: WCOOP or APPT?

Another interesting story has emerged with the Danish duo of Soren and Mads Smith both taking part in today's APPT Auckland Main Event. Well, at least Soren is in action at the moment, as his brother Mads has yet to take his seat in today's field.

The reason why is that he is currently upstairs in his hotel room, busily grinding away in the PokerStars WCOOP series. Event #28 is the $1,050 No Limit Holdem event with a $1 million prize pool guarantee and at the time of writing "moumaife84" is currently sitting 8th of 24 remaining players with first place worth a cool $234,610.

So while Soren is fighting away here in the SKYCITY Auckland Poker Room, we may not even see Mads today if his WCOOP run continues on this evening.

The boys are in New Zealand for a couple of weeks and will be spending some time sightseeing before they return to Denmark. It could be a good trip if they can land an unprecedented WCOOP/APPT double!

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Soren Smith hard at work on the felt while his brother crushes the PokerStars WCOOP

1:52pm: From Europe to Asia, Yannick Frenette is the real deal

One player who has travelled a long way to be here today is Canadian Yannick Frenette. Fresh from the recent EPT Vilamoura event, Frenette bought a one way ticket to fly 27 hours from Madrid to Auckland after qualifying online on PokerStars. He plans to play this event and then spend some time in New Zealand to crush the local games before following the tour to Cebu in November.

It appears that Frenette is the real deal, as we watched him make an impressive fold while we chatted. Frenette opened to 600 from early position with one caller in the hijack position, before the cutoff bumped it up to 1,700. Frenette called and they took a flop of Q♣A♦8♥. Frenette check-called for 1,700 as the 2♠ hit the turn. Frenette checked again but then folded when his opponent fired 3,200.

"Is this a good lay down?" asked Frenette as he open-mucked A♥J♦. Indeed it was as his opponent showed Q♥Q♦.

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Yannick Frenette in action at the APPT Auckland

1:40pm: PokerStars qualifiers collide

Kiwi Srdjan Mitrovic is enjoying a double stack after his pocket aces held in an all-in preflop confrontation with fellow PokerStars qualifier William Romaine.
Romaine raised to 550 before Mitrovic made it 1,700. Romaine bumped it to 5,000 before Mitrovic moved all in. Romaine called with pocket jacks but was unable to spike a set as Mitrovic's aces held up to double up to 39,000.

1:30pm: Level up, blinds 100-200

1:28pm: Anunu firing online and live

PokerStars qualifier Mishel "MISHELA" Anunu is enjoying a nice run of form, both online and live. After recently final-tabling at the Victorian Championships, Anunu followed up with a deep run in a recent PokerStars WCOOP event where he finished in 9th place which was good for a $24,000 score.

Anunu also qualified for this event online on PokerStars and is off to a bright start. On a table that features Lee Nelson, Anunu raised the bet of 600 from Kiwi comedian Mike King to 1,450 on a flop of K♥Q♣5♣. King called and the 6♦ hit the turn. King checked and Anunu made it 2,200 to go which caused King to flash the Q♥ and fold. Anunu is up to 26,000.

1:18pm: Hachem reps the straight-flush

After the early flurry of eliminations, play has settled into a groove now with a rather strange silence hovering over the poker room floor. One man who you can rely on to break the silence is none other than the lovable PokerStars Pro Tony Hachem.
In a pot with five players, action checked to Hachem in the cutoff with the flop reading T♣9♣8♣.

"Do you want to take a stab at it?" Hachem said to the player in position on the button. Failing a reply from his opponent, Hachem chirped, "Ok, I'll take a stab then," as he tossed 350 into the middle. His opponent on the button was the lone caller as the 4♠ hit the turn. Hachem fired again for 1,100 and once again was looked up as the 5♥ completed the board. Hachem released a third barrel and his opponent only flat-called with A♣4♣ for the nut flush. The other players were surprised to not see a raise with that hand, but the player was clearly worried about a potential straight-flush saying it was "too early". You can never be too careful. Hachem might've dodged a bullet as he claimed to have "flopped it too" claimed to have held 6♣3♣ for a flopped flush!

1:05pm: Barrett loses some rhythm

With a limper in front of him, PokerStars qualifier Josh "jbrhythm" Barrett made it 350 to play and was called by the Colin Morris-Denby in the small blind. The two took a flop of T♣J♦4♣ and Morris-Denby checked to Barrett who fired 450. Morris-Denby made the call and the J♠ hit the turn. Action checked again to Barrett who bet again for 1,100 but Morris-Denby put in a check-raise to 3,500. Barrett called as a big pot was brewing when the 3♦ completed the board.

Morris-Denby moved all in for his last 11,400 and Barrett deliberated before folding the J♥ face up. It might have been a good fold as Morris-Denby claimed to have a full house as he raked in the chips. Barrett is in hot form at the moment following a runner-up finish at the Victorian Championships last week but he's going to have to turn things around after slipping to 14,000 in the early goings.

12:51pm: It's a long way to travel for one hand of poker

The early carnage continues here on Day 1b as we've already lost another three notable players.

PokerStars qualifier Pontus Kers had travelled all the way from Sweden to take part in this event, and was already looking a little battered and bruised when he arrived after reportedly being involved in a fight just before he flew out to New Zealand. Well the knockout blow was landed after just one hand when Kers' pocket kings ran into an opponent's pocket aces. 20 hours of flying for one hand. Ouch.

Also eliminated in the first few minutes was David Borg, who has enjoyed previous success on these shores. Today just wasn't his day after he flopped the nut straight against an opponent's set which improved to a full house on the river.

Joining them on the rail is 2009 ANZPT Queensland champ Scott Kerr as his chips were claimed by Daren Yoon.

12:35pm: Man down!

Well that didn't take long. Incredibly, just minutes into the day we've already had our first elimination of the day. The man who has a free day in Auckland today is Rewi Emerson after falling to Michael Kroger. The chips went in on the turn on a board of Q♥J♦3♥9♥ with Emerson holding K♥K♣ but he found himself drawing dead against Kroger's A♥8♥. A meaningless 6♥ hit the river and Emerson's day was done.

12:30pm: Tony Hachem gets the action underway in Auckland

The players have taken their seats in the SKYCITY Auckland Poker Room for Day 1b of the PokerStars.net APPT Auckland Main Event. Once again they were greeted by a performance of the traditional Maori Haka before PokerStars Pro Tony Hachem got the action underway with the immortal words "Shuffle Up and Deal"

Yesterday we caught up with Tony as our Facebook followers threw him some random questions...

We have approximately 120 players here today with many familiar faces in the field, and a few late registrations still to come. Some of those already spotted include Michael Spilkin, Julius Colman, Raj Ramakrishnan, Leo Boxell, David Borg, Joel Dodds, Jay Kinkade, Mike King, Jason Brown, Richard Lancaster, Mishel Anunu, Scott Kerr, Lance Climo, Jai Kemp, ANZPT Gold Coast champ Nauvneel Kashyap, Team PokerStars Pro Lee "Final Table" Nelson and defending champion Simon Watt.

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Defending champ Simon Watt