The Asia Pacific Poker Tour has been visiting the capital of the Philippines ever since Season 1. That was all the way back in in 2007. Now some eight years on and things are a little different in 2015 to what they were back then.
Poker now has a home in Manila at the PokerStars LIVE Manila poker room, and today marked a new chapter in the growth of the game of poker in the Philippines.
There have been a few local tournaments held in the new poker room since it opened in December last year, but the Season 9 stop of the APPT is the first time that an international event has been hosted at the luxurious casino resort of City of Dreams in Manila.
Day 1a of the PHP50,000 APPT Manila Main Event would see a field of 260 entrants chase the dream which was, rather incredibly, the exact same number that partook in the APPT Manila Main Event last year. With another flight to go, we’re set to smash last year’s number and potentially set the Season 9 APPT Manilla as the largest event of this buy-in ever held in the Philippines.
The field was well supported by the local Filipino contingent as well as overseas pros such as Sam Razavi, Thomas Ward, Iori Yogo, Winfred Yu, reigning Asia Player of the Year Pete Chen and Team PokerStars Pros Bryan Huang, Vivian Im, Kosei Ichinose, Aditya Agarwal and Celina Lin.
Another in the field was a man who would be very proud to see such growth for poker in the Philippines. That man is the unstoppable Wally Sombero. The “Godfather” of Filipino poker became one of the very first to raise a trophy in victory here in the new PokerStars LIVE Manila poker room when he took down the PHP 1 Million Guaranteed Event earlier this year. It was a rather poetic victory, but perhaps another chapter of the story would be told at the APPT Manila with both Wally, and his son Brian, competing in the Main Event.
As play got under way it was Vietnam’s Hai Ha Tran who was the early chip leader, while Norway’s Rolf Galasen, Canada’s Tom Lee, Brit Sam Razavi and Singapore’s Bryan Huang all had moments near the top of the counts to provide a very internationally-flavoured leaderboard. Huang’s chips came with some big pairs, as he collected a nice pot with pocket aces before winning a crucial coin flip with pocket queens against ace-king.
Huang’s table was stacked with chips, with tablemate Rolf Galasen in the middle of most of the action. Galasen was winning plenty of pots, and when he wasn’t doing that, he even won a side bet that was made at the bar last night that he could get away with removing his shirt for an entire orbit at the table without any trouble from security!
While we were all hoping for the topless guy to end the day as chip leader to really boost our traffic, Galasen was pipped in the final moments by Sweden’s Douglas Olsson.
Olsson won a chunk of his chips with ace-king against king-queen during the middle of the day, before a late flurry saw him bag up 207,500 for the end-of-day lead as the two Scandinavian players were the only two above the 200,000-chip mark.
APPT Manila Main Event Day 1a Top Ten Counts
Douglas Olsson (Sweden) – 207,500
Rolf Galasen (Norway) – 203,800
Bryan Huang (Singapore) – 172,900
Dongkyu Kim (Korea) – 171,900
Jessie Leonarez (Philippines) – 135,800
Vivian Im (Korea) – 132,900
Iori Yogo (Japan) – 132,900
Thomas Lee (Canada) – 129,500
Sam Teck Choong Ng (Malaysia) – 122,200
Edwin Hui (Canada) – 120,400
Team PokerStars had a nice day out with Bryan Huang and Vivian Im nestled neatly inside the top 10, while Celina Lin also bagged up an above-average stack.
Head to the live reporting section of the site for the complete Day 1a chip counts.
If Thursday was a landmark day for Filipino poker, then Friday is set to blow the roof off the City of Dreams in Manila as records appear set to be broken. It’s a massive day ahead for Day 1b and we hope that you’ll join us once again on the PokerStars Blog to see how it all unfolds with play kicking off at 2:30pm local time.
Photos by Kenneth Lim Photography courtesy of APPT
Heath “TassieDevil” Chick is a freelance contributor to PokerStars Blog.