By Jeremy Coleman

So, finally, it arrived; the APT Philippines main event got down to business today. The sun was shining brightly this morning to herald the forthcoming action and it was just the start to the day our players wanted to put them in the right mood. Meeting many of them in the breakfast hall, I could tell they were ready to get stuck in.

Of the 22 PartyPoker.com qualifiers seven opted to start their challenge here on Day 1A. It quickly became apparent, though, that not a lot of others would be joining them as the by the time tournament director Matt Savage demanded it was time to ‘shuffle up and deal’ there were only 80 players sitting at the tables.

Although this was surprisingly low, Chris Parker, CEO of Asian Logic, the company behind the APT, said he was hopeful that more than 200 players would be in tomorrow’s Day 1B.

Play will break down as follows: players will start with 10,000 chips in return for their $2,500+$200 buy in; there will be 10 hour-long levels played today with an hour-long dinner break and a couple of 15-minute rest breaks. Play should finish at around midnight which is nice and early in poker terms.

The Magnificent Seven

The PartyPoker.com Magnificent Seven for today were Swedes Daniel Haglund and Erik Backlund, Stuart Nash and Jason Gibson from England, Dutchman Ricardo Sibelo, Julian Agustin Dapena from Argentina and Jukka Juvonen from Finland.

Stuart and Ricardo were live tournament novices and their early nerves were noticeable. In the early exchanges Stuart allowed himself to be bullied off a rainbow flop of K-5-6 while holding pocket rockets. Stuart was sure his opponent had a set of kings and gave it up. Sensible lay down or early nerves? I was not sure but told Stuart he probably did the right thing because I wanted to keep his confidence level up (and he is a lot taller than me).

After couple of levels, without any big gains or losses, the PartyPoker.com players seemed much more relaxed. I was starting to get thumbs ups instead of worried looks. Seasoned live tournament player Jason was on the same table as our youngest player Daniel. Daniel may only be 18 but he certainly wasn’t going to let the bigger boys push him around and made a few impressive continuation bets to take down some worthwhile pots.

Jason used all his experience expertly to exact every bit of value from a board that looked like a Christmas with its three kings. As the third of those kings came down on the river to give Jason quad kings and the nuts, he sat and made a show of thinking for ages before finally making a sizeable bet to make his opponent think he was trying to steal the pot. His opponent obviously thought Jason was bluffing as he called the bet but was horrified to discover his pocket jacks and full house were not good enough.

Early exits

On another table Ricardo’s tournament was over after just a couple of hours. He had won a few impressive hands but decided to push all in pre flop when short stacked after Erik raised from the big blind. Ricardo’s A-10 off suit was behind Erik’s A-Q and with a queen coming on fourth street the river was a dead card and Ricardo was sent to the rail.

Jukka was another player whose tournament was over a lot quicker than he would have liked. Jukka travels extensively playing poker all over the world so he has seen it all before. He did not hang around and was last seen rushing back to the cash tables.

Back on Daniel and Jason’s table and they were getting to grips with each other over a couple of interesting hands. In the first, Daniel got the better of Jason as he rivered a six high straight to beat Jason’s top two pair.

Jason soon got his sweet revenge as he moved all in on a flop of 7-5-4 with his pocket kings. Daniel looked quite pleased with himself as he turned over pocket fives for a set. However, a king on the river soon wiped the smile off his face as the railbirds and even the TV cameraman groaned at his poor luck. This poker ping pong left Daniel with about 7,000 chips and moved Jason up to 15,000.

Stuart was severely short stacked and completely card dead for over an hour with no playable hands coming his way. ‘Maybe you will bring me some luck,’ he said as I joined him to watch a hand being dealt. He showed me his 7-2 off suit – the worst hand in poker – and I quickly left him alone as I was obviously no luck to him at all. A few hands later Stuart busts out after having to push all in with A-Q and being called by a deep stacked opponent who tables A-10 and then spikes a 10 to send Stuart to the rail or rather to the bar for a cold beer and a conciliatory hug from his girlfriend Nicola.

Jason was certainly having a bit of a rough time of it as twice in 10 minutes he had his flopped set beaten by a gutshot coming good on the river. To say he was far from pleased was an understatement. Jason was now on about 6,000 chips.

Just before the dinner break we lost another PartyPoker.com representative as a short stacked Julian called a pre flop raise by pushing all in with jacks and was facing A-2 suited. As a 2 came out on a rainbow flop, Julian told the table he was sure another 2 would follow it. On the turn, the dealer duly obliged. The river bricked leaving Julian cursing his big mouth but still smiling.

Also sitting at Julian’s table was friend of PartyPoker.com Eddie Hearn from Matchroom Sports, the company that films a lot of PartyPoker.com TV shows. Never shy to voice an opinion or joke at the table, Eddie was overhead saying to Julian’s sullen faced victor, ‘Oi, cheer up, grumpy. You just won a big pot.’ It looks like the banter’s just getting started now.

At the dinner break we had lost four of our seven Day 1A starters. Approximate chip counts as the players disappear to the restaurant were:
• Erik Backlund – 32,000
• Daniel Haglund -16,000
• Jason Gibson – 4,000

With the chip leader currently on about 90,000 chips there’s plenty of work to be done after the refuel.

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