APPT Queenstown Day 1b: Levels 3 & 4 (blinds 100-200, ante 25)

4:50pm: 10-minute break

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4:40pm: Slow start for Hachem

Joe Hachem hasn't been able to get much going since he recently sat down on Table 4.  In a blind-on-blind battle with Stephen Quon, the flop read a scary 9♠7♠6♠ when Quon put out a pot-sized bet of 1,250.  Hachem deliberated before making the call as the T♥ hit the turn.

Quon didn't slow down as he threw out 5,100 in an overbet for around half of his stack.  The 2005 World Champion looked confused and a little frustrated as the thought for several minutes before making a quiet fold.

Quon raked in the chips, and since he'd just won a pot against the World Champ, he respectfully flashed 8♥T♦ for a flopped straight.  Quon is up to 15,000 with Hachem hovering just under his starting stack with 19,000 chips.

4:35pm: PokerStars.tv with Dale Philip

PokerStars Team Online's Dale Philip may originally be from Scotland, but he's been living a charmed life, travelling the world to pursue his career as a professional poker player.

Although having now settled himself in Thailand, he's now here in the winter wonderland of Queenstown, New Zealand for the APPT Snowfest Main Event.

PokerStars.tv's Lynn Gilmartin caught up with Philip during the first break:

4:25pm: Grigg kept in check

The flow of run-good in Tom Grigg's direction has been slowed, but he's still firmly in control of this tournament, holding 55,000 in chips as the action continues here in the Summit Room.

The action folded around to a player in middle position who raised to 500 before the flop; Grigg re-raised to 1,450 from the button and the blinds got out of the way before his opponent called to go heads-up to the flop of J♣7♦6♥.

The opponent check-called Grigg's bet of 1,550 and then both players checked the turn of the 8♠ before the player fired out 3,400 after the dealer peeled the J♥ on the river. Grigg's lips thinned and he contemplated his options briefly before sending his hand into the muck.

4:15pm: Smith survives

Steve Smith has found a well-timed double up, while Dutchman Arjen Witteveen is currently pondering what might have been.

Witteveen opened to 500 from under the gun and Jonathan Karamalikis called before Raymond McCarthy popped it up to 2,150 to play.  Action was then with Smith on the button and he announced himself all in for 8,400 in total.

The blinds folded and Witteveen went into the tank.  After another check of his hole cards he eventually made a reluctant fold.  Karamalikis was quickly out of the way while McCarthy tossed out calling chips with his T♥T♠.  However he was in bad shape as Smith opened Q♥Q♦.

The board ran out A♣A♦6♣4♣J♥ and Smith survived to more than double up to nearly 19,000.

"Would you have won?" asked Smith as he raked in the pot.

"I would've won," sighed Witteveen.

4:00pm: Overbet gets maximum value for Grigg

Tom Grigg is now holding the biggest stack in the room after a huge clash with Kiwi Mike Risworth.  We witnessed the action from the turn with the board reading 5♦K♣T♦T♠. Grigg checked to Risworth who bet 1,175 but Grigg check-raised to 3,200.  Risworth made the call and the river was an interesting 9♦.

Grigg splashed out an overbet to the tune of 15,575 but Risworth didn't need to think for long as he quickly called.  Grigg didn't seem too thrilled with the speed of the call as he opened 6♦3♦ for a baby flush, but it was good as Risworth mucked.

After being down to half his stack in the first level of the day, Grigg is now up to 65,000 and motoring along nicely.

3:50pm: Level up, blinds 100-200 (ante 25)

3:40pm: Kroesen falls; Hachem arrives

Ricky Kroesen has taken another hit to his stack as Jeff Bucher was able to recover some previously lost chips.  We arrived on the river to see a board of 9♠Q♠2♦T♥8♦, and a bet of 2,300 in front of Kroesen that had been check-raised to 5,500 by Bucher.

Kroesen was deep into the tank before he sighed and called, only to muck at the sight of Bucher's K♦J♦ nut straight. Kroesen slipped to 14,000 and the news didn't get any better as the empty seat two to his left was filled by a fashionably late entry: 2005 World Champion and Team PokerStars Pro Joe Hachem!

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Welcome to the game, Mr. Hachem!

3:30pm: Bekhaled busts

New Caledonia's Kamel Bekhaled won't be able to match his third place finish at the ANZPT Gold Coast from earlier this year as his tournament in Queenstown has come to an abrupt end.

Bekhaled was short-stacked and three-bet shoved his last 4,250 with K♠Q♠ but Kiwi Josh Langford made the call with 9♥9♦.

Bekhaled couldn't connect with the board as it ran out J♠3♣2♣4♣5♠ and he was sent to the exit.

3:20pm: Pedley picks up chips

Australian PokerStars Qualifier Michael Pedley has had a rocky start to Day 1b of the APPT Queenstown Snowfest Main Event, but is back up to 18,500 in chips after picking up a pot through 2009 ANZPT Queenstown Main Event champion Danny Chevalier.

From under the gun, Andrew Hinrichsen raised to 525 before the flop; Pedley called from the big blind, as did Chevalier from the cutoff, making it three-handed into the flop of J♦7♣8♥, which saw Hinrichsen check his option before Pedley bet 1,200.

Chevalier called and Hinrichsen folded, so it was heads-up to the turn of the 4♥. Pedley led out for 1,500 and again Chevalier called, but both players checked down the river K♦ and Pedley showed A♥J♠, which was enough for Chevalier to send his hand into the muck.

Chevalier's stack is now down to 22,000 in chips.

3:10pm: A pair is sometimes enough

Five players, including Ricky Kroesen from the small blind, each committed 600 apiece to see a flop of 2♠6♥2♥.  Action checked around to Jeff Bucher on the button who bet 1,500.  Kroesen called as the other three players let it go.

The turn was the 7♠ and it was check, check, before the 3♣ fell on the river.  Again Kroesen checked and Bucher resigned to check behind.  Neither wanted to show but Bucher eventually tabled Q♠9♥ for just queen-high as Kroesen had got there on the river with his 3♠4♠.

Kroesen is back up to 17,000.

3:00pm: Philip tames Haas

Dale Philip is enjoying his adventures down under so far.  It's a long way from his home of Scotland but the Team PokerStars Online player is make the most of his time, both out and about in Queenstown, and on the felt here at SKYCITY.

He's now up to 46,000 and threatening for the chip lead after the recent elimination of Leanne Haas.  In a three-bet pot, the two saw a flop of 4♦4♥T♦ with Philip's continuation bet of 3,500 called by Haas.

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Leanne Haas' dreams of an APPT title have been crushed after running into Dale Philip's monster hand

The turn brought the 7♣ and Philip splashed out around 20,000 which was enough to put Haas to a decision for all of her last 12,000 chips.  After a few moments of thought she decided to call with 5♦5♣ but it wasn't enough to compete with Philip's K♠K♣.
The river bricked the 3♦ to eliminate Haas and jump Philip to the top of the leaderboard.

2:55pm: Watt a turn card

Simon Watt is already one of New Zealand's most decorated players with an APPT title and WSOP bracelet in his short career to date.  But you get the feeling that this is just the start for this young gun, with plenty more success ahead of him.  Sometimes flying under the radar of opponents, Watt brings a fierce game and plenty of experience and he'd love nothing more than to become the first ever dual APPT title winner.

He's now up to 26,000 after catching a favourable turn card against Nathan Cramb.  We arrived to see the board of K♥K♠4♠2♠ and Watt leading for 1,500 before Cramb announced a raise to 4,200.  Watt made the call and checked the 8♥ river.

Cramb checked behind and hoped his T♥T♦ was good but Watt was sitting there with a full house holding 2♥2♦.

2:45pm: Play resumes, blinds 100-200

Updated chip counts:

Artur Prokhorov (Russian Federation) 54,000 PokerStars Qualifier
Tom Grigg (Australia) 35,000

Ryan McKay Australia 29,000 PokerStars Qualifier
Danny Chevalier (Australia) 27,000

Simon Watt (New Zealand) 26,000

Andrew Hinrichsen (Australia) 26,000

Dale Philip (Scotland) 24,500 PokerStars Team Online
Ricky Kroesen (Australia) 24,000
Hugh Cohen (Australia) 21,000 PokerStars Qualifier
Michael Pedley (Australia) 21,000 PokerStars Qualifier

Landon Blackhall
@PokerStars in Queenstown