By Landon Blackhall and Sean Callander
During the opening ceremony for the PokerStars.net APPT Auckland Main Event, Lee “Final Table” Nelson warned the day 1A field to stay of his way. Those words proved prophetic when the PokerStars Sponsored Player had a beeline for the exit just minutes into the opening level of play.
Nelson, who has lived in New Zealand for more than a decade after moving to Auckland from the USA, was sent to the rail in sensational circumstances by New Zealand-based Egyptian Sherif Badran.
The money was all in the middle between Nelson and Badran on a Q-4-5-7-4 board; Nelson held pocket sevens for the full house but Badran rolled up pocket fours for quads! Polite applause echoed through the poker room as the assembled rail realised New Zealand’s leading poker personality had been eliminated.
SKYCITY Auckland satellite winner Eden Smith has also doubled-up in the early going after calling an all-in with two-pair, on a flop of 6-2-5 against an opponent’s overpair of 10s, with the fives and sixes holding up.
We also spotted one minor hiccup as the start of today’s proceedings – players at table 14 received a discount in the first few hands as the dealer started players at 25/50 instead of 50/100, not that they were complaining!
With the first level almost one and dusted, all players have taken their seats. They include PokerStars.net Team Australia Pros Emad Tahtouh and Grant Levy, PokerStars.net Team Asia’s Celina Lin, 2009 Aussie Millions Main Event winner Stewart Scott, PokerNetwork rankings frontrunner Steve “The Big Show” Topakas, PokerStars.net ANZPT Player of the Year third-place finisher Joel Dodds and in-form youngster Daniel Neilson
The Kiwis are also out in force and are determined to keep the title on home soil – 2008 PokerStars.net APPT Auckland champion Daniel Craker has taken his seat, along with compatriots Graeme Putt (wearing a patch due to a nasty eye ailment), Robert Wang, Dan Sing (fourth here last year), John Pye (final table participant the 2008 NZ Champs Main Event and 2009 ANZPT Queenstown), SKYCITY Auckland poker ambassador Brooke Howard-Smith and the ever-popular Mike King, who placed third in the 2009 NZ Poker Championships Main Event.
Blinds are now at 100/200 – the second of seven levels scheduled for today at SKYCITY here in Auckland, New Zealand. Check Lynn Gilmartin’s look at this wonderful city below:
Watch APPT Auckland Promo on PokerStars.tv