Another day one flight of the PokerStars.net ANZPT Darwin Main Event is in the books. It was the third and final opportunity for players to take a shot at ANZPT glory, and with the rains lurking above Darwin today it was the perfect day for some poker.
With 32 players starting the day the total number of registrations was left hovering on 99 until SKYCITY Darwin regular Tony Kanochkin came to the rescue as our 100th and final entrant. Kanochkin arranged some time off from work, raced to the bank to get some cash and took his seat before registrations were locked out. The 100 entrants provided a total prize pool of $200,000 which is a record for tournament poker in the top end. First place will take home a very tidy $57,000.
The day started out with plenty of action, but few eliminations as the short stacks lived life on the edge. Billy Argyros was our early chip leader as "The Croc" appeared comfortable in his natural habitat as Bruno Portaro enjoyed a more adventurous ride. Portaro copped one of the roughest bad beats we've seen all tournament when he had Macau PokerStars qualifier Roy Wan all in on a flop of Q♠T♦9♥. Portaro opened T♠T♣ while Wan would need a little help with his A♠A♦. Wan was chasing an ace from space but running queens on the turn and river gave Wan a bigger full house to leave Portaro severely dented.
Mishel Anunu was another on this table to struggle early, but both he and Portaro were able to maintain their composure and find multiple double ups to eventually end the day in good shape.
Ben Savage carried on his good form following on from a final table appearance in Melbourne, and at one point held the chip lead, but he gave it back when he doubled up Joel Feldman. Savage raised and then called the all-in shove of Feldman who held pocket queens. Savage tabled ace-seven and couldn't improve.
However the story of the day was the battle between our two leaders in the ANZPT Player of the Year Race - John Maklouf and Andrew Scarf. When the first table broke, these two found themselves seated directly next to each other. They were able to keep a close eye on each other and even tangled in a few pots.
Scarf couldn't get much going but Maklouf was strong all day. He chipped up nicely when his A♠K♠ collected a nice pot on a king-high board against Matthew Spratt's K♥Q♠ before his pocket kings won a nice pot in a re-raised pot against Bill Argyros and Tony Kanochkin.
After five levels of play it would be Maklouf who bagged up 49,350 which was good for the chip lead, narrowly ahead of Switzerland's Serge Mazza (46,750) and Argyros (46,400). Others amongst the 24 survivors to progress through to Day 2 include Bruno Portaro (32,350), Sam Rotar (24,925), Ben Savage (24,475), Mishel Anunu (19,100), Leo Boxell (18,025), Brad Bower (14,550) and Chris Levick (11,350).
The 72 surviving players from the three opening flights will come together in the SKYCITY Darwin Casino for the first time tomorrow for Day 2 of the ANZPT Darwin Main Event. Day 1A chip leader Andrew Hinrichsen will head the field with the plan to play another five levels and reach our final four tables.
Join us again tomorrow from 12:30pm local time (GMT+9:30) for all the live updates from the tournament floor. Until then, goodnight from Darwin!