APPT Sydney Day 1a: Hansimikali makes headlines

Day 1a of the PokerStars.net APPT Grand Final is in the books and as the night falls over Sydney, the PokerStars Blog team are putting in the overtime for today's wrap post before attacking the Garden Buffet.

75 players took to the felt this afternoon, including defending champion Aaron Benton, who gave the order to shuffle up and deal. Though the PokerStars Sponsored Player was keen to downplay his efforts in the 2009 edition of this event ("I hope you all run as well as I did, because I ran really good!"), Benton still proved that he's got what it takes, finishing with 59,400, above the stack average and in good position for Day 2.

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Action in the Star City Poker Room during Day 1a of the APPT Grand Final

A number of established Aussies finished well, including Australian Poker Hall of Famer Billy "The Croc" Argyros (54,200), Joel Strong Play Dodds (61,900), Jonathan Karamalikis (83,500) and David Saab (94,900). Not to be outdone, two of our neighbours across the Tasman made it through to Day 2, with Jackson Zheng (87,900) and PokerStars Qualifier Koray Turker (49,400) putting in a solid effort to keep the flag flying for New Zealand.

The best of the internationals were Canada's Brent Bibby, who finished third overall 128,800, while Malaysian PokerStars Qualifier Vijay Nagarajan, who has played the APPT Grand Final twice in the last four seasons, finished fourth overall with 118,300.

However, on top of the pops is Australian Manuel Hansimikali, making a late charge to finish the session with 136,600, nudging out fellow Aussie Reza Vakili (129,800). Jai Kemp (108,600) rounds off the top five.

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Manuel Hansimikali (Day 1a chip leader) - no need for any hard labour during Day 2

In all, 41 players are now on a two-day break before returning for Day 2 on Friday, but the same can't be said for many of the Aussie online young guns, including Ricky rickwaa Kroesen, Brad Bower, Sam Rotar and Kristian Lunardi, as well as poker stalwarts Mike Ivin, Greg Cook and Tino Lechich, who was the very last late entry into today's flight.

PokerStars.net APPT Grand Final Day 1a: Top 10 Chip Counts

Manuel Hansimikali (Australia) 136,600
Reza Vakili (Australia) 129,800
Brent Bibby (Canada) 128,800
Vijay Nagarajan (Malaysia) PokerStars Qualifier 118,300
Jai Kemp (Australia) 108,600
David Saab (Australia) 94,900
Miray Badaoui (Australia) 93,100
Anthony Kanaan (Australia) 91,400
Jackson Zheng (New Zealand) 87,900
Jonathan Karamalikis (Australia) 83,500

With the increased start bank of 30,000 chips and a much larger field expected for the second and third Day 1 flights, plus the massive stable of Team PokerStars Pros yet to come, the Season 4 PokerStars.net APPT Grand Final is shaping up to be one of the more memorable events we've seen in this region for years!

From 12.30pm AEDST (GMT +11) be sure to tune in to PokerStars.tv for all the latest news, reviews, previews and interviews, plus keep your browser locked onto PokerStars Blog for regular updates. Until then, may you run well and become Oprah rich!