SYDNEY CHAMPS: Opening Event buy-ins top 500

Reporting by Ben Blaschke

Last night’s mammoth third flight field of 212 saw the Star City poker room full to the seams and brought the total number of Opening Event starters to more than 500 in what shapes as a tremendous series ahead of next week’s Sydney Championships Main Event. The 152 remaining players will return today to fight it out for a first prize of around $40,000 but they will have their work cut out for them with the top quality field still boasting the likes of former APPT Sydney winners Aaron Benton and Martin Rowe as well as Brendon Rubie, Justin Cohen, Sam Khouiss, Sheldon Mayer, Sam Capra, Donna Ciric and well known tournament specialists Patrick Fletcher and Jason Pritchard, who was one of a number of notables to navigate his way through yesterday’s repechage round to sit behind a healthy stack of 49,600.

“You’ve got to win a couple of races which I did but I’ve got about 50,000 which is above chip average,” Pritchard said. “It’s a great tournament and the repechage format is fantastic. The Aussie Millions Opening Event every year is a triple repechage and it creates a great prize pool. I mean, first prize here is $40,000 which is great for a $330 entry tournament.”

Pritchard chipped up midway through the day’s play when he turned Broadway to an opponent’s two pair and returns today in good shape with a number of small stacks likely to try their luck early on in an effort to chip up or ship out.

“I like the structure here. Obviously with mathematical variance you need to win a few flips but I had a good day today. I had a plan to chip up early which I did. I come back tomorrow with 50 big blinds which isn’t too bad. I guess after the short stacks there are about 100 players left so we’ll see how we go once it all settles down,” he said.

Those unlucky enough to try their luck twice this week without progressing include Andrew Scarf, Graeme Putt and Star City poker ambassador Grant Levy who was eliminated for the second time with only moments remaining yesterday.

There were no such problems for Uzziah Thomas, however, who heads into Day 2 as a huge chip leader after bagging 176,200 in Tuesday’s opening flight. Incredibly, only one other player boasts a six figure with Chris Ayoub a distant second on 103,200.

Notably, former Star City tournament director Jason Wicks brings up the rear with the small stack of 7200 and will be one of a number of short stacks hoping to win some early flips today. The field can expect a long day today as they play down to the final nine with a winner to be determined tomorrow night.

• For all information and results from the 2011 Sydney Poker Championships, click here

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