APPT Queenstown Day 1a: Levels 1-2 (blinds 75-150)

2:30pm: Ten-minute break

2:20pm: Chalhoub chopped down by Koray's gamble

Ace-king must look like the nuts when you're playing against Koray Turker, so it was no surprised to see Brett Chalhoub snap-call all-in when Turker five-bet jammed from the big blind. Chalhoub had opened to 300, Turker raised to 1,100, Chalhoub made it 3,000 before Turker moved all in. Chalhoub committed all of his 11,000 or so chips with A♣K♥ and, no surprise, he had the best hand as Turker showed a creative T♥9♥.

Turker wasn't in that bad shape and his run good continued as the board of T♠5♥3♠Q♦Q♠ fell his way. Turker's pair of tens was enough to take the pot and leave Chalhoub shaking his head on his way out the door. Turker is now up to 56,000.

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A dejected Brett Chalhoub is the latest casualty from the APPT Queenstown Main Event

2:15pm: Townsend sent packing

Wayne Townsend will now be looking to hit the slopes after being busted from the PokerStars.net APPT Queenstown Snowfest at the hands of New Zealand PokerStars Qualifier Jackson Zheng.

Zheng, Townsend, Rene Schacht and Richard Docherty all limped in to see a flop of 4♠K♠Q♠; Schacht, Docherty and Townsend then all checked around to Zheng who opened for 400. Schacht and Docherty folded, but Townsend called before checking again on the turn of the 2♦.

Zheng opened for 875, Townsend check-raised to 2,100, Zheng snap-shoved and Townsend quickly called all-in. "Nuts", said Zheng, rolling over A♠2♠ for the nut flush. Townsend was none too pleased, considering that he had also flopped a flush with his 7♠6♠, but with the American PokerStars Qualifier now drawing dead, the river 7♥ was merely an afterthought.

Zheng is now up to 61,400 in chips and it looks as though the Kiwis are not ready to let go of their stranglehold on APPT titles on home soil just yet!

2:10pm: Turker takes control

The unpredictable style of New Zealand's Koray Turker is already working wonders here in the Summit Room, and as a result he's now the first player to reach the 50,000-chip mark.

The action folded around to Danish PokerStars qualifier Rehne Schacht who limped in preflop before Wayne Townsend raised to 300 from the button. Turker popped it up to 1,250 from the small blind, and both Schacht and Townsend called before Turker led out for 1,425 after the dealer spread the flop of 6♥J♦K♠.

Schacht was the only caller after the flop and both players then checked the turn of the T♦ before Turker fired out 3,750 on the river of the Q♣. After three minutes in the tank, Schacht called, only to muck his hand after Turker tabled A♦K♥ for Broadway and build his stack up to more than 54,000 in chips.

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As usual, Koray Turker is right in the thick of the action!

2:00pm: It looked good at the time

Sometimes in poker, the best card in the deck can actually be the worst. Mario Ljubicic just experienced that pain first hand, but he managed to lose the minimum in a hand against Ryan Hong.

We arrived to see a flop of 8♥A♥7♥ and little action to report as both players checked it through. The turn brought the K♣ and Hong fired 1,300. Ljubicic quickly called before the 3♦ completed the board. Hong tossed out a hefty 3,200 and Ljubicic was quick to make the call.

"Flush," said Hong as he tabled T♥9♥. Ljubicic slammed his K♥K♠ onto the table in frustration, knowing that the turn card had cost him a chunk of change.

Hong is up to 40,000 with Ljubicic down to 17,000.

1:50pm: Five-bet pre, check-fold flop

Koray Turker loves to splash around in pots, but we were not sure of his plan in this hand against fellow Kiwi Jackson Zheng.

With a raise from the button to 300, Turker three-bet to 900 in the small blind. Jackson Zheng was in the big blind and he decided to four-bet to 2,300. The button got out of the way but Turker wasn't done with just yet as he five-bet to 6,000. Zheng made the call and the flop landed 5♠8♦7♣.

With Turker first to act, he decided to check to Zheng who bet 5,200. Turker was certainly thinking of making a move but he thought better of it and let his hand go. Possibly a mistake as Zheng flashed J♥T♥! Zheng is up to 53,000 with Turker sitting on 40,000.

1:45pm: McBrien busto

Australia's Semesa Brown is now up to 36,000 in chips after mercifully ending David McBrien's day.

It was three-way action between Brown, McBrien and Polish PokerStars Qualifier Maciej Podsiadlo on a flop of 8♦7♦8♥. Brown led out for 5,000 into a 7,000-chip pot and Podsiadlo called before McBrien called all-in for 4,700, making it heads-up into a side pot on the turn of the A♦, which both Brown and Podsiadlo checked.

Brown then open-shoved on the river of the J♣. Podsiadlo smiled wryly and shook his head before mucking his hand, but considering Brown tabled A♥A♣ for a full house, it was probably for the best. McBrien sighed and turned up T♦9♦; his straight not enough to save the day and he went straight out the door.

1:40pm: Benton hits the slopes

Arriving in Queenstown, Aaron Benton was geared up for a big week of poker and skiing. Now it looks like there'll be plenty of time for skiing after becoming a very early casualty here in the APPT Queenstown Snowfest Main Event.

After losing a fair chunk of his stack in an earlier hand, Benton was down to around 11,500 when he opened to 400 from under the gun. Koray Turker and Jackson Zheng both called in position to go to a flop of Q♣5♦J♦.

Benton led out for 800 before Turker did what he does best. He raised to 2,200. Zheng got out of the way but Benton hung around to see the Q♦ hit the turn. Benton checked and Turker bet 4,700 before Benton announced himself all in for around 9,000 in total. Turker called it off and opened A♦4♦ for the nut flush. Not exactly what Benton wanted to see with his 6♦7♦. Benton's inferior flush was drawing dead as the J♥ rolled off to leave Benton to head to the exit.

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It was all downhill for Aaron Benton in the APPT Queenstown Main Event

1:30pm: Level up, blinds 75-150

1:20pm: Nothing wrong for Hong

Ryan Hong is now up to a healthy 32,000 after making a big call on the river against Calvin Anderson.

The pot had already swelled to 14,500 when the board read 9♣9♥2♥A♣8♣. From the small blind, Hong checked it over to Anderson who thought for a long time before deciding that 6,600 was the right amount. Hong shrugged and matched the bet as Anderson opened A♥T♥ for a flush draw that turned top pair. However Hong had him out-kicked with his A♠Q♦ to rake in the healthy pot and leave Anderson with just 7,000 in chips.

1:15pm: Kyriacou doubles through

It was a bit of a scary start for Australian PokerStars Qualifier Harry Kyriacou, but he's now up to more than 28,000 after doubling through fellow Aussie David McBrien.

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PokerStars qualifier Harry Kyriacou finds a double up

On a board that read 6♦2♥Q♥8♣, Kyriacou moved the last of his money into the middle on the turn, but McBrien snap-called, showing down 2♠2♦ but Kyriacou tabled Q♠Q♦ - set over set! The A♦ on the river changed nothing, but McBrien's stack is now down to just 6,000 in chips.

APPT President Danny McDonagh has just advised the 38 remaining players that there were three overseas no-shows today, so their stacks have been removed from play and we're now breaking down our first table.

1:00pm: A "sweet as" start for New Zealand!

The Kiwis are already off to a flyer here in Queenstown, with PokerStars Qualifiers Jackson Zheng and Joseph Allis eliminating two players within the first half hour of play here in the PokerStars.net APPT Queenstown Snowfest.

Earlier on table three, the action folded around to New Zealand maverick Koray Turker who raised to 225 from the button; Zheng flat-called from the small blind, only to see Philippines PokerStars Qualifier Stephen Moon re-raise to 800 from the big blind.

Turker folded and Zheng called, then check-raised to 2,600 after Moon opened for 800 on the flop of 4♦9♠3♥. No sooner than Zheng had moved his chips past the betting line, Moon snap-shoved for the rest of his stack. Zheng insta-called and rolled up 3♠3♣ for bottom set, much to Moon's chagrin, who tabled A♥A♦!

Neither the turn of the 6♥ or the river J♣ were of any help, and just like that, we were one down on Day 1a, but soon after, Lanuel Shai was eliminated when he got all his money in the middle on a board that read 4♦7♣K♠Q♠3♠ with K♦Q♥, but ran into Allis' 7♠7♦ to be sent to the rail.

Allis and Zheng are now both at the top of the counts with 44,000 and 43,000 respectively.

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Jackson Zheng is off to a flying start in Queenstown

12:55pm: Early one for Feldman

Joel Feldman has chipped up in early goings, winning a nice pot without showdown. It was Brett Chalhoub who opened the action from middle position to 225, picking up two callers including Feldman on the button.

The flop landed 9♥8♠3♠ and Chalhoub continuation-bet for 350. He found one call before Feldman raised the price to 1,150. Chalhoub and the third player came along to see the 8♦ hit the turn.

It was already a sizable pot and when action checked to Feldman, his bet of 2,600 was enough for the PokerStars qualifier to take it down.

12:40pm: Swannack's kings cracked

Cole Swannack has already taken a big hit to his stack, down to 11,600 in chips in one of the first hands on table four.

The action folded around to Semesa Brown who raised to 250 from late position before David McBrien called from the button; Swannack then re-raised to 950 and Brown folded, but McBrien called to make it heads-up to the flop of Q♣8♣5♣.

Swannack opened for 1,300 and then called McBrien's raise of 3,200 before check-calling his bet of 4,000 on the turn of the 6♥. Both players then checked down the river A♠; Swannack revealed K♠K♥ but McBrien had managed to spike the bigger pair with his A♦J♥ to move up to 28,000 in chips.

12:35pm: A small but solid field

There are around 40 starters for the opening flight with registration still open for another couple of levels. Some of those in the field today include Joel Feldman, Trung Tran, Brett Chalhoub, Jacky Wang, ANZPT Player of the Year runner up John Maklouf and ANZPT Darwin runner up Luke Edwards.

The most interesting table in the room is definitely going to be Table 3 which features the hyper-aggressive duo of Koray Turker and Jackson Zheng, along with 2009 APPT Sydney champion Aaron Benton.

12:30pm: The slopes are open at APPT Queenstown Snowfest!

We've set up base in the Summit Room of the SKYCITY Queenstown Casino where five tables are setup and ready for action as the APPT Queenstown Snowfest Main Event is about to kick off.

As the players took their seats they were welcomed by SKYCITY Queenstown Casino Shift Manager Andrew Grey.

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"We've gone through no snow, ash cloud and too much snow, so we thank you all for being here. The skiing conditions are now perfect by the way!" said Grey before handing the microphone to Philip, one of the local poker dealers, who became famous overnight after having his photo in this morning's local newspaper. The fame may arguably have gone to Philip's head as he let loose with a spirited "Shuffle up and deaaaaaaaaaal!"

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Heath
@PokerStars in Queenstown