APPT Sydney Day 1a: Levels 5 & 6 (blinds 300-600, ante 50)

6:50pm: Ten-minute break

6:45pm: Grigg disposes of a shorty

Tom Grigg is now up to 45,000 with the recent elimination of a short-stacked opponent. Grigg opened from the cutoff with a raise to 1,500 which was called from the small blind to see a flop of A♠J♣8♥. The small blind went with a "stop and go" as he moved all in for his last 4,375 but it wasn't quite enough chips to scare Grigg off who made the call with 9♠9♥. It was a good call as his opponent showed K♣8♣.

"Nice call man!" said one tablemate.

"I had to!" defended Grigg in reference to the short stack.

The turn was the 5♣ and river the J♠ as the APPT Auckland runner-up sent one to the rail.


Tom Grigg crushing souls at the APPT Sydney Grand Final

6:40pm: Nagarajan on the rise

Malaysian PokerStars Qualifer Vijay Nagarajan is well on his way to a Day 2 berth, now sitting on more than 93,000 after eliminating Australian online young gun Brad Bower.

The action folded around to Bower on table 18 who moved his last 8,625 from the cutoff with K♥9♣. Nagarajan called with 7♠7♣ from the big blind, but despite hitting trip kings on the K♣7♥5♥8♥K♦ board, Bower was no good against Nagarajan's full house.

6:30pm: Why hello there, Hansimikali!

As we approach the end of the penultimate level of Day 1a, we can report that the action has tightened up considerly, however Australia's Manuel Hansimikali has been the first to crack the magical 100,000-chip mark, now sitting on more than 115,000 on table 24.

Meanwhile on table 23, Con Angelakis is struggling after clashing in a big pot with fellow Sydneysider Joel Strong Play Dodds. On a flop that read 5♣3♥Q♦, Dodds bet, then re-raised to 27,200 after Angelakis had popped it to 5,200. Angelakis thought out about it long and hard, but appeared confused and irritated, so he asked the dealer if he could phone a friend.

The dealer, having cottoned onto the joke, nodded before Angelakis asked David Saab, "What should I do?"

"I know what you should do, but I can't tell you," Saab replied. Angelakis eventually threw his hand into the muck and Dodds was awarded the pot to move up to 60,000.

6:20pm: Glazier chips up

After a slow start to the day, Jackie Glazier is starting to mount a comeback as she's picking up more than her fair share of the blinds and antes. Her six stacks of chips now amount to over 40,000 after she recently clipped good friend Jai Kemp.

Glazier showed no mercy, as she fired 3,000 on the flop, checked the turn and then released another 4,000 on the river on a board of 8♦3♥8♥T♠2♠. Kemp let it go and Glazier flashed K♣K♦.

6:00pm: Do not pass Saab, do not collect $200

As we made their trek around the tables, we came across David Saab and Rennie Carnevale, who were talking about their favourite poker games. As it turns out, even though Saab is a fan of No Limit Hold'em, he'd rather be playing backgammon, Risk, Stratego or even Monopoly heads-up for cash!

One thing is for sure, one half of the PokerStars Blog team is keen to take on Saab in a heads-up Monopoly challenge upon returning to Melbourne. However, Saab will have to focus on the task at hand, as he's now sitting next to Sydney's own Miray Badaoui, who tops the chip counts with more than 93,000.


Could we see Saab in the World Series of Monopoly one day?

5:50pm: Level up, blinds 300-600, ante 50

5:45pm: Shake and bake, baby!

Defending APPT Grand Final champion Aaron Benton has just got some of his run-good going in this tournament, doubling through 2009 ANZPT Queensland runner-up Phillip Willcocks.

On a flop that read 6♣2♣4♠, Willcocks pushed all-in with K♥K♦ but Benton snap-called with 2♠2♥ for bottom set, which improved to quads when the dealer snapped up the 2♦ on the turn, sealing the deal. Left with just a handful of chips, Willocks moved them into the middle on the very next hand with A♦K♦ and managed to double through fellow Kiwi Koray Turker, cracking his K♠K♥ after the dealer spread the board of A♥7♥4♦3♣9♣.


Aaron Benton shaking it up in the Star City Poker Room

Moments later on table 18, Poland's Daniel Kowalski shipped his stack in after a flop of 3♥2♥K♦, but Malaysian PokerStars Qualifer Vijay Nagarajan insta-called, tabling 3♦3♣. Kowalski angrily slapped his A♥A♦ on the table and could only watch as the turn and river ran out J♣, 5♥ before heading to the exits. As a result, Nagarajan is now with our chip leaders with more than 88,000!

5:35pm: Creativity killed the Kronwitter

Jonas Kronwitter has been eliminated from the tournament in brutal fashion in a rather bizarre hand over on table 17. Gordon Huntly started things off when there was some confusion over his bet/raise amount from under the gun. We arrived to see the tournament director rule Huntly to a min raise which was called by PokerStars qualifier Tristan Earl. German Jonas Kronwitter then popped it up to 2,800 which was cold-called out of the small blind, before Huntly and Earl both came along to see a flop of 6♠J♦T♦.

Action checked around and the turn brought the money card as the 6♦ fell. Again action checked to Kronwitter who made it 6,500 to go. The small blind and Huntly both folded, but Earl responded with a check-raise to 20,000, or enough to put Kronwitter all in. He reluctantly made the call with a creative 6♥7♦ but Earl tabled A♦3♦ for the nut flush.

Kronwitter was looking to pair the board but the 9♣ bricked off to leave him heading to the rail.

5:30pm: Cohen cut out

Australia's Tino Lechich has just appeared as one of the last late entries in today's tournament, but Joel Cohen, one of the early starters, has just been felted by Jonathan Karamalikis.

On a flop that read 3♥4♥2♣, Karamalikis led out with a bet which had Cohen well covered. Cohen tanked on it for quite a while, eventually having the clock called on him. When the supervisor came over to the table, Cohen angrily threw in his chips, turning up 9♥9♣ but found himself ahead of Karamalikis' A♣3♠. The turn of the 7♣ helped neither player, but the A♥ spiked on the river to give Karamalikis two pair.

5.20pm: The big stacks

Jai Kemp (Australia) 79,000
David Saab (Australia) 76,000
Koray Turker (New Zealand) PokerStars Qualifer 63,000
Chris Levick (Australia) 48,000
Joel Dodds (Australia) 47,500
Phillip Willcocks (New Zealand) 47,000

5:05pm: Mariakis eliminated

After losing a chunk of change to Ricky Kroesen in the previous level, PokerStars qualifier Michael Mariakis has lost the remainder of his stack to be bounced out of the tournament. Mariakis' last stand came with A♥Q♥ but he ran straight into an opponent's A♦K♦ which held on the board of A♠T♥T♦2♠J♣.

5:00pm: All the loaded people, where did they all come from?

It's appropriate that we paraphrase the classic Beatles hit, as that sums up the situation downstairs at the High Rollers event, with the number of entries almost doubling from 13 to 25. We've lost three players from that event, including Jonathan Karamalikis (who is now playing the APPT Grand Final Main Event) as well as Konstantin Bucheri and Tolly Sakellariou.

Having said that, the fresh faces in the Sports Theatre are a great cross-section of Australia's best and brighest. Joining Aleks Brkovic and Daniel Neilson are Warwick Mirzikinian and Jay "SEABEAST" Kinkade, while Hong Kong-based Aussie David Steicke is now up against 2007 APPT Grand Final champion Grant Levy and defending APPT High Rollers champion Jarred Graham.

However, table 84 is the one to watch - as well as WCOOP Player of the Series James "Andy_McLEOD" Obst, 2005 WSOP Main Event champion and Team PokerStars Pro Joe Hachem has taken his seat, alongside fellow Australian Poker Hall of Fame Legend Jeff Lisandro, 2010 ANZPT Canberra champion Jason Gray and reigning Aussie Millions champion Tyron Krost!

4:50pm: Play resumes

The players are back for the fifth level of play. Registration has now closed, so the figure of 75 entrants that is currently showing on the big screen is likely to be our magic number.

With a late surge in that last level, thanks to a handsome-looking pair of aces, Sydney's Jai Kemp has reclaimed the chip lead with close to 100,000 chips. David Saab, Jackson Zheng and Brent Bibby are next best.


The Star City Poker Room is buzzing for Day 1a of the 2010 APPT Sydney Grand Final

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