APPT Sydney Day 1a: Levels 3 & 4 (blinds 150-300, ante 25)

4:40pm: Ten-minute break

4:35pm: Solemdal sent to the rail

New Zealand PokerStars Qualifier Koray Turker has scored one for the Kiwis, eliminating Australian PokerStars Qualifier Torgier Solemdal as we approach the second break of the day.

Solemdal moved all-in for the last of his short stack preflop with J♥J♦ and the action folded around to Turker who called from the blinds with Q♣3♦. The flop of 9♠8♠2♥ improved neither hand, but the turn of the Q♦ and the river 3♥ gave Turker two pair, the pot and Solemdal's scalp.

4.30pm: Croc is hungry to play today!

Australian Poker Hall of Famer Billy "The Croc" Argyros just approached the PokerStars Blog desk in search of APPT Tournament Director Danny McDonagh, as he is keen to get in as a very late entry.

Argyros told us that he is scheduled to play Day 1c, but seeing as the field is quite small he's happy to throw his novelty crocodile hat into the ring. With only 20 minutes remaining until the cutoff is reached, it was going to be a close race, but he's just been seated next to Jai Kemp on table 14. Phew!

4:25pm: The champ looking to defend

Defending champ and PokerStars sponsored Aaron Benton has been laying pretty low so far today as he bides his time and attempts to navigate his way safely through the day. Defending the title is very important to Benton as we found out when we caught up with him for a chat earlier today...


4:15pm: Kroesen holding on

2010 ANPZT Gold Coast runner-up Ricky "rickwaa" Kroesen had been struggling for most of the afternoon, but has just managed to build back up to around the starting bank of 30,000 after doubling through Australian PokerStars Qualifier Michael Mariakis.

On a board that read [10c]2♥8♥5♥, Kroesen shoved all-in from the blinds for 9,025 into a pot worth more than 15,000. Mariakis went deep into the tank before calling with A♥8♠, but found himself behind Kroesen's [10s]9♠, which improved to two pair with the river of the 2♦.

4:05pm: Levick's dining with kings

Chris Levick has found a very handy double up at the expense of Joel Dodds. We arrived at the table to see the board spread 7♦2♦3♠8♦9♣ and the chips being pushed to Levick as his K♣K♠ held against Dodds' J♦J♠.

Levick gets himself back up to 45,000 with Dodds down to 25,000.

3:55pm: Sayonara Shabtay

Having been on the wrong end of a massive laydown by William Skountzos, Ronnie Shabtay never got back into the game and as a result has just been given his marching orders by fellow Aussie Greg Cook.

The action folded around to Cook who raised from middle position before Shabtay moved his last 1,075 from the cutoff. Poland's Daniel Kowalski called from the blinds and Cook made up the difference before Kowalski led out into a dry sidepot on a flop of 5♣6♥J♦.

Cook called and then the dealer produced the K♦ on the turn before Kowalski fired a second shell worth 1,550, only to quickly throw his hand into the muck when Cook made it another 8,000 to go. Shabtay showed A♥J♥ but reeled when Cook revealed K♣J♣ for two pair. Needing an ace to survive, Shabtay was shown the door when the dealer snapped up the 6♦ on the river.

3:40pm: Level up, blinds 150-300, ante 25

3:35pm: Karamalikis cracks kings, Lunardi departs

Having just been eliminated from the APPT Sydney High Rollers event downstairs, Jonathan Karamalikis was quick to head up to the poker room and begin playing in Day 1a of the APPT Grand Final Main Event, sending fellow Aussie online young gun Kristian Lunardi to the rail.

Karamalikis raised to 600 from early position and the action folded around to Lunardi who reraised to 1,500. Karamalikis four-bet it to 4,500, Lunardi shipped it in for another 21,000 and Karamalikis snap-called, showing down A♣K♥ but was well behind Lunardi's K♠K♣.

That is, until the dealer produced the flop of 7♥8♦A♠. No one-outer miracle this time around - the turn and river ran out 9♣, 5♠ - and Lunardi's tournament life went out like a light.

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Kristian Lunardi has crashed out of the APPT Sydney Grand Final

3:30pm: Lunardi under the hammer

Facing a button min-raise to 400 from Martin Drewe, Kristian Lunardi made the call out of the small blind to see a flop of A♣6♦7♦. Lunardi check-called for 525 before both players checked the 3♦ turn. On the K♥ river, Lunardi checked it over to Drewe who again checked behind.

Lunardi opened 5♠5♦ but his Drewe tabled the old 7♠2♦ for a slightly better pair. The players broke into a chuckle over Drewe's creative play but Drewe got the last laugh as he raked in the chips to see Lunardi slip to 22,000.

3:25pm: Some of the big stacks

Brent Bibby (Canada) 76,000
David Saab (Australia) 73,500
Jaime Kaplan (USA) (PokerStars Qualifier) 61,000
Jackson Zheng (New Zealand) 61,000
Jai Kemp (Australia) 60,500
Kristina Jeney (Australia) 48,000
Brad Bower (Australia) 43,000

3:10pm: Spets smashed as Earl earns his keep

Having been crippled in a big hand previously over on table 17, Sweden's Roger Spets has just gone the way of the dodo at the hands of Australian PokerStars Qualifier Tristan Earl.

A player under the gun raise to 650 before the flop and Raemin "Jake The Moose" Alexander called, as did 2009 ANZPT Melbourne champion Chris Levick. Earl also came along before Spets reraised all-in for 9,000 from the small blind.

All the other players folded except for Earl, who went into the tank for almost four minutes before making a crying call with 9♠9♦. Spets sheepishly turned up [10h]7♥ and departed the Star City Poker Room after the dealer spread a board of K♣5♥3♦J♦7♠.

Earlier in the day, the PokerStars video team caught up with Spets for a brief chat before play kicked off, while PokerStars blogger Landon Blackhall previewed the day ahead.


3:00pm: Skountzos lays down a monster

If anyone has seen the movie Rounders, they'd be familiar with the scene where Teddy KGB gets rather cranky after Mike McDermott lays down a big hand, throwing away a perfectly good chip tray full of Oreos. While nothing was actually thrown by Australia's Ronnie Shabtay, his on-tilt moment was certainly worthy of an award, thanks to fellow Aussie William Skountoz.

On a board that read A♣2♠K♣[10s], Shabtay led out with a big bet into a rather sizeable pot, but incredibly, Skountzos open-folded pocket kings! Shabtay slammed the table and cried, "I don't believe it, I knew he had kings! How the hell do you lay them down like that?" No prizes for guessing what Shabtay might have had.

2:50pm: Better late than never

A couple of late arrivals to the APPT Sydney Grand Final include one of Australia's rising female poker talents in Jackie Glazier, and the man they call "xMONSTERxDONGx", young gun Jonathan Karamalikis. At first we thought Karamalikis may have actually bypassed the High Rollers event to play the Main Event, but no, the story is a little more grim than that.

Apparently Karamalikis is already out of the High Rollers after getting his chips in with ace-queen on a Q-Q-9 flop. Only problem was that his opponent, James Obst, held queen-nine. Ouch.

"I can think of better ways to burn through $15k," sighed Karamalikis as he recalled the story to us. He'll now be able to take out his frustrations on the Main Event as he has joined a dynamic table that also features Kristian Lunardi and Tom Grigg. Expect fireworks!

2:40pm: Play resumes

The players are back and the cards are once again in the air. As expected, the action was a little slow in the first two levels, with the 30,000-chip start banks giving players plenty of game time. We did however lose a couple of players with notables Sam Rotar and Mike Ivin biting the dust late in that last level.

Our early chip leaders include Jai Kemp, David Saab and Jackson Zheng.

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APPT Sydney Grand Final live updates brought to you courtesy of Heath "TassieDevil" Chick and Landon Blackhall.