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By Jeremy Coleman

A lot of top quality poker was played yesterday evening and with the main event still more than a day away the players were right in the thick of the action with some impressive results on the cash game tables.

Jukka from Finland finished with a very impressive return of several thousand pesos after a few hours spent on the Omaha and No Limit tables. I must admit I am still struggling to convert Filipino pesos and it may be that he only won a few euros but anytime you can state your winnings in the thousands it always sound impressive.

Eva from Sweden also turned around a 1:10 chip disadvantage when heads up in a Sit & Go to really show everyone else she means business. When she finally overcame the deficit and crushed her young opponent, the dozen or so railbirds cheered as if she had just won the main event. Her victim was left to lick his wounds.

The action in the tournament room was really hotting up as the evening continued. With cash games, Sit & Gos and satellites for the main event all being played at once, there was plenty for everyone to enjoy. There is a large contingent of skilled local players who certainly know how to play as well as a considerable amount of Koreans who love to gamble and play very aggressive poker. Every so often a loud series of shouts and screams can be heard as guys who have pushed all in shout for the one card that will give them the nuts, and a large pot.

Straight into the action

I tried my luck in a media tournament but my involvement was short after I lost a key hand; my flopped trip jacks losing out against a runner-runner straight. My opponent, who had never played before, thought he had lost the hand and even congratulated me on getting three of a kind. That just made the loss even more sick.

Maybe because I do not read the Filipino version of Hello often enough but I did not recognise any of the ‘famous’ people who took part in the Celebrity Challenge last night. Never mind, the media guys certainly knew exactly who they were and followed their every move while the expensively turned out pop stars, TV stars and other darlings shrieked and screamed their way through their own main event.

On the other side of the tournament room I witnessed a rather talkative player at a cash game table. He was constantly challenging the same guy to re-raise him and take him on. Eventually the guy had his fill of this friendly verbal abuse and when sitting in the big blind thought for a minute before pushing all in. That shut Mr Talky up for a split second before he quickly called and revealed pocket jacks. Alas, he was distraught to see his quiet opponent turn over aces and send him to the nearest ATM for more cash and healthy helping of humble pie. ‘I thought I had him,’ he mumbled as he made a speedy and embarrassed exit.

The not-so calm before the storm

This morning’s heavy rain failed to dampen the spirits of the players at the official welcome reception and lunch in the Basix Restaurant. One good thing about qualifying for events like this is players can meet the guys they qualified with and chat about the hands they played while winning their packages to the APT Manila. Some of these guys play against each other regularly and recognise various screen names so it is nice for them to put a face to the name.

After a delicious lunch and plenty of laughter, all players received goodie bags full of branded merchandise for wearing during the week, as well as an invitation to the official opening cocktail reception. At 6pm, in front of the media scrum, CEO of Asian Logic Chris Parker together, tournament director Matt Savage and various important dignitaries completed the formalities and cut the ribbon to mark the official opening of the tournament. Then it was drinks all round.

Some of Asia’s most respected and feared poker players also showed up, like David ‘Chino’ Reem, Nam le, Quinn Do, Steve Sung and Liz Lieu who were very friendly and happy to have their pictures taken for media and poker fans alike. Unfortunately, recent Premier League Poker winner JC Tran could not make the trip.

As I finish today’s update from my corner in the tournament room the $250+$20 bounty tournament is just getting underway. With a $500 bounty for knocking out the pro players, it’s an attractive tournament that has generated a good number of runners.

One player who did not last long, though, was qualifier Andrew Teng from the UK. Andrew is no poker slouch, having recently won a GUKPT event. However, he never had a chance when his jacks were up against aces and he hit the rail earlier than he expected. There are still plenty of players still in contention, including Erik and Eva from Sweden, Tim from Germany and Miika from Finland so come on, guys.

It looks like it could be another long session as two guys from Holland have just walked in to the tournament room and told me they’re ready to play all night.

Come back tomorrow when I’ll give you all the info on day 1A of the main event. It’s going to get serious.


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