APL/888PL/Pub Poker – The Main Event / Day 1

Richard Ehlers leads after day one

The chips are being bagged at the end of day one in the inaugural MAIN EVENT at Crown after an historic day for Full House Group.
A massive field of 559 players took their seats just after noon with 325 surviving the 12 levels of 30 minutes.

Credit goes to the players who qualified for The MAIN EVENT from around the country via the 888PL, APL and Pub Poker for a determined and gritty display of deep stack poker; a form of the game with which many of the players have little experience.

The field are playing for a slice of a $559,000 prizepool, with at least 60 players guaranteed a minimum payout of $1800 while the winner will take home a package of cash and prizes to the value of $120,000.

Due to the relatively high number of players who survived the day, Crown Poker officials have elected not to redraw the field, with players returning to the exact seats they departed tonight.

We’ll have a full chip count available later this evening, but a quick look around the room revealed several big stacks including Melboune’s own Richard Ehlers (168,600), Terrance Waterhouse (149,000), Jay Macapagal (146,000), Jason Hamilton from Cairns (146,000), Phil Davis (138,000), Veronica Barwick (130,000) and Wollongong’s Nathan Gauci (100,000).

We’d like to thanks to Australian pub poker community for the overwhelming support we’ve received in the past two days and can’t wait to be back at Crown from 12.10pm tomorrow for day two of The MAIN EVENT (assuming we emerge unscatched from tonight’s Players’ Party at Fusion).

Survival tactics come to the fore

Fewer than 425 players remain seated with just over 20 minutes to play on day one of The MAIN EVENT. Normally at this time of a major tournament, players are deciding whether to stick around for day two or look for a double-up. That’s not the case here, as the majority of players have already committed to staying in Melbourne for the weekend so even the short stacks can pick their spots carefully. That recipe guarantees plenty of carnage in the early stages of day two!

The most recent list of players who’ll be able to make the most of a hot and steamy Melbourne weekend include Daniel Hannington, Paul Florence and Rob Proctor. We also just caught up with Charlie Elias, the APL player who famously placed 53rd in the 2009 WSOP Main Event. Still wearing the trademark shades that proved plenty lucky for him in Vegas, Elias could use a bit of that luck now as his stack is down to barely 6000.

McDonald derailed

There’s talkin’ the talk, and there’s walkin’ the walk. Ben McDonald, co-host of Australia’s number one pub poker podcast The Rail qualified for today’s event (along with his esteemed colleague Daryl Westley) but his name card has just landed on our desk, meaning McDonald will be free to broadcast over the next two days (check out www.therail.com.au for today’s edition featuring Jeff Fenech). Other players to hit the rail this level include Mark Detering, Kar Seet, Emil Dannaoui, Dave Anderton, Carole Anderton, Hayley Moxon and Phillipa George.

Rate of departures soars

The clock is about to tick into the final hour of the day with blinds about to increase to level 11 (600/1200 with ante 100). Veronica Barwick has joined Graham Hein in the chip lead on 105,000. The rate of eliminations, which have been steady over the past couple of hours, has just gone through the roof as players realise it’s time to make a move.

But for some, it’s already too late. The list of recent eliminations (taking the field down to 451) includes Dave Kellner, Mitchell Grace, Justin Khamis, Hugh Nicholls, Robert Beeman and one poor unfortunate who just watched his pocket eights crushed when pocket aces improved to quads on the flop!

One of the 888PL’s most accomplished and consistent performers, Victoria’s Pat Dillon, has also hit the rail after watching his pocket queens cracked when an opponent’s pocket nines improved to a set on the flop, while the last 888PL Grand Final winner, Kahle Burns, is also out.

When the pocket rockets misfire

So you grind hour after hour and finally, just as your stack is dwindling, you look down to find pocket aces. You beauty – in go the chips, and there’s a caller! As Jason Hamilton just discovered, there’s only one time those aces won’t be ahead pre-flop, and that’s when another player (Andrew Plasencia in this case) turns over the same hand! Split ‘em up gentlemen.

100k just fine for Hein

We’re entering the latter stages of day one in The MAIN EVENT with 482 players of the 559 starters hoping to at least claim a day two berth. The grind of a long day of deep stack poker is taking its toll as there are some tired looking players striving to see out the day.

In contrast, the bar is doing a roaring trade – after all, we’re past beer o’clock with wine-thirty approaching! Graham Hein may well have cracked the first stubbie of the night after becoming the first player to amass more than 100,000 in chips. Blinds are about to climb to level 10 (500/1000 with an ante 100).

Fairer sex faring well

Close to 100 women qualified for The MAIN EVENT and the majority are still flying the flag for the female contingent. Christine Byrne, from New South Wales’s Central Coast said it was rare to see so many ladies playing an event of this size. “I’ve got two other girls on my table, number 61, which is really great,” Christine said.

Another member of the sisterhood, Donna Smith, plucked up the courage to play pub poker after watching her husband compete for two months. “I was scared to start but wanted to give it a go because my family has always played cards,” she said. Fast-forward six years and the Perth woman, 50, is competing in her biggest tournament yet. She is part of a contingent of 40 players from her hometown. “It’s great to have that support,” she said.

Alya Manji is sitting pretty in The MAIN EVENT after waking up to pocket aces for the second time today. The Sydneysider also has some crucial inside knowledge after scoping out the competition while working for the APL earlier this year. “I also play at Crown quite a bit,” she said.

Poker – It’s Everybody’s Game

Around the country each month Australia’s largest poker provider, Full House Group, seats more than 150,000 players at an estimated 4000 tournaments. To put that number into context, it’s about the same as seating the field of the 2012 Aussie Millions Main Event 15 times every two days. That’s a lot of players.

These impressive stats reflect the accumulated participation of our APL and 888PL players, and the numbers have grown even higher with the addition of players from the Pub Poker group in Victoria. So what is it about poker that makes it so popular? The answer is simple – It’s Everybody’s Game – which is the title of the new campaign that Full House Group will be rolling out in coming weeks.

Thumbs-up for Knuckles

An accident two years ago cost Scott Matthews the top of his left ring, index and middle fingers and earned him the nickname “Knuckles”. The Penrith man, who uses a rubber finger for his card protector, is hoping his luck changes with a deep run in the MAIN EVENT. “I’m a bit short at the moment and the party tonight is looking good,” Scott said.

Eat-in or take-away?

The Crown food court is heaving under the weight of the 491 players who’ve just taken their second break on day one of The MAIN EVENT. Recent eliminations include Russ McDonald, Francis Pace, Toby Coulson, George Kurubilis, Aden Markey, Curtis Stockton, Shane Cooper, Mark Parsons, Tom Rusnak, David Clark, Lawrie Morden, Troy Hunt, Matthew Boulton and Ian Dalidowicz.

Morwell’s William McBride also popped by to regale the details of the two hands in which his pocket kings were cracked, but he said that the experience of playing here at Crown in an event like this made the trip more than worthwhile.

A Simpsons’ episode in the making?

Wagga Wagga’s Justin Wilesmith has quickly become a favourite with the dealers at Crown. But it’s not because of his impeccable table manners. The 36-year-old has an impressive collection of Simpsons’ card protectors (pictured below). “I’ve got 200 all up. I bring a collection with me to each event and swap them over if I think they aren’t lucky,” he said. Justin makes the trip to Crown every six months and has competed in the Wild Turkey Grand Slam and several Joe Hachem Deep Stack events.

New name at top of the heap

Blinds have just been bumped up to level eight (300/600 with an ante of 75) with Mala Kita the current chip leader on 84,000. Players will be taking their second break of the day at the completion of this level, and there will be four more 30-minute levels until the end of the play – and the start of the Players’ Party!

Official prizepool confirmed

The official numbers are in with The MAIN EVENT field confirmed at 559 players meaning a prizepool of $559,000. The winner will take home $100,000 in cash plus a $15,000 TeamAussieMillions package, which include entry to the 2013 Aussie Millions Main Event. The top five players will all receive the TeamAussieMillions packages, while players who finish fifth to 12th will win packages including a seat in the 2013 Aussie Millions Opening Event. A total of 60 players will receive a payout, with the minimum prize $1800.

1 $120,000 (inc. $15,000 Team Aussie Millions package)
2 $85,000 (inc. $15,000 Team Aussie Millions package)
3 $55,000 (inc. $15,000 Team Aussie Millions package)
4 $40,000 (inc. $15,000 Team Aussie Millions package)
5 $25,000 (inc. $2000 AM Opening Event package)
6 $22,000 (inc. $2000 AM Opening Event package)
7 $19,000 (inc. $2000 AM Opening Event package)
8 $16,000 (inc. $2000 AM Opening Event package)
9 $14,000 (inc. $2000 AM Opening Event package)
10 $12,000 (inc. $2000 AM Opening Event package)
11-13 $8000
14-16 $6000
17-20 $4250
21-30 $3000
31-40 $2400
41-50 $2000
51-60 $1800

Call that a flush?

The cards featuring the names and numbers of The MAIN EVENT entrants is starting to mount up on the reporting desk, but one didn’t make it after tearing up his card in disgust after his flush was flushed by a Royal Flush! Other recent eliminations include Melissa Hedley, Kevin Herbert and James Wheelahan, who thought his full house was good on the board of A-J-6-Q-J after showing pocket sixes. But his opponent revealed A-J for a bigger boat to sink Wheelahan’s hopes.

Hard day for Haddad

Back in early 2009, Majed Haddad finished runner-up to Danny Taylor in the Wild Turkey Poker Classic earning him $35,000 plus a spot on the first TeamAPL squad that contested the WSOP Main Event later that year. Sadly, Haddad’s memories of this trip to Melbourne won’t be so rosy after he was KOed from The MAIN EVENT shortly after the first break. We’re starting to hear some more groans of agony from the floor as the trickle of players hitting the rail steadily increases with just under 10 minutes remaining in the fifth level of the day (100/200, ante 25).

Familar name at top of the count

Our tireless runners are turning in a performance of which the Kenyan Olympic Team would be proud to bring you a complete chip count from the floor. As players take their first break of the day, we can confirm that player #N219 AKA Shivan Abdine is on 90,000 and holds the chip lead. Other big stacks belong to Daniel Simonetta (80,000), Courts Newell (75,000) and Sam Sainsbury (70,000). We’ll endeavour to keep the count as up-to-date as possible throughout the next three days.

Meeting more of our MAIN EVENT players

Players are 23 minutes away from the first break of The MAIN EVENT with 569 of the 570 starters still seated across the full expanse of the Crown Poker Room (pictured below). Blinds are at level four (100/200).

Among those players is Novocastrian Keith Walker, who is travelling with a team of 20 APL regulars and is stoked to be back at Crown. “There’s always good poker here,” Keith said. The 60-year-old doesn’t play favourites with the cards saying his favourite hand is “the winning one”.

Meanwhile the competition is tight on table 15, with Phil Davis witnessing, “a lot of good play early – I haven’t seen a lot of action yet, but I’m pacing myself,” the Brisbane man said. The 22-year-old usually plays at Coorparoo RSL in Queensland and the Main Event is his biggest poker outing yet.

Ball-ups before the booze-up

The players on table 30 are already looking forward to tonight’s Players’ Party at Fusion with some discussing their strategy for the festivities. Rob “Doctor” Proctor had some sage advice – “Don’t go too hard, you don’t want a massive hangover tomorrow otherwise it’ll be just like playing pub poker!” The West Australian will be fashionably late for the shindig. “I’m off to the footy (NAB Cup) first. If you’re in Melbourne you’ve got to check out a game.”

The couple that stays together …

A last longer battle is brewing between Lin Gilmore and her husband Steve. The Penrith couple are seasoned pub poker players and love the tables at Crown. Lin has played every Main Event and is hoping 2012 will be her year.

Over on table 39, Jack Lyons is counting on his youthful exurberance to help him outlast the MAIN EVENT field. The 20-year-old from Mackay is part of the 22-strong Team North Queensland. “It’s my first time at Crown and to be playing such a big event here is awesome,” Jack said. He’s hoping the dealers will serve up his favourite hand of J-10 on a regular basis.

Collins takes the long walk

Victoria’s Doug Collins has earned the unwanted tag of the first player eliminated from The MAIN EVENT, with 2009 Wild Turkey Grand Slam champion Shivan Abdine (pictured below) the beneficiary. There was betting on every street between the duo before all the chips were in the middle with the board showing 9c-8h-4s-5s-7s. Abdine revealed As-Ks for the nut flush, and the 22-year-old from Sydney is our early chip leader.

Pub poker’s finest out in force

Blinds have just ticked up to level 2 (50/100) and we’re happy to announce that all 555 players successfully negotiated the opening 30 minutes of play. Normally at this point of the coverage, we’d be listing the “notables” who are playing today although we’ve never really understood the concept of being notable. In our mind everyone here today is notable!

That said, there are numerous players with some very impressive results to their names including multiple APL Pro Open champion John Azzi, past APLPT winners Shivan Abdine, Troy Brindle and Ben O’Connell along with numerous State Champions and past Main Event winners. Several of the players in the field have also recorded big results in major casino events.

$555k, and counting

Full House Group General Manager of Poker Garth Kay has just announced that the prizepool has topped $555,000 with the final figure to be confirmed around 3pm today. For those familiar with the layout of the Crown Poker Room, the scale of this event means tables are occupied throughout the High Stakes area, across both sides of the main floor (pictured below), in the PokerPro area and throughout the satellite area.

And as opposed to a regular event here, the players of the APL, 888PL and Pub Poker wear their colours with pride – we’ve spotted players from almost every APL region throughout NSW, 888PL qualifiers from SA, a large contingent from WA and, of course, a solitary Kiwi – Gina Tomasi, who placed second in last night’s APL Player of the Year Final.

The wait is over – shuffle up and deal!

Full House Group (FHG) chief operating officer Brayden Haynes has kicked off The MAIN EVENT opening ceremony with some stirring words about the game that has brought hundreds of players from around the country to Crown Melbourne today.

Players were then presented with a montage highlighting some of the great moments in the history of pub poker since the first game was dealt late in 2005 before some of the key people in the development of the industry were presented to the audience.

Brayden Haynes chats with Garth Kay and Daniel Milford before the start of play

FHG Events & Player Manager Daniel “Da Milf” Milford and FHG General Manager of Poker Garth Kay have just discussed some of the great promotions in store over the weekend along with instructions relating to the event structure. And now, after months of planning and preparations, the cards are in the air … shuffle up and deal!

Clock ticks down to opening hand

In the poker equivalent of parting the Red Sea, tournament organisers have almost managed to get the field seated. At this stage, we can confirm a field of 550 players, meaning virtually every table in the Crown Poker Room is occupied. As the opening days of most major Crown events are spread across different flights, this is one of the biggest single-day field ever seated here.

It’s time for our MAIN EVENT!

Welcome to an historic day for Aussie poker with the running of The MAIN Event at Crown Casino in Melbourne. In less than an hour, more than 500 players will take their seats in the Crown Poker Room to battle for cash and prizes in excess of $500,000.

But this is more than just a poker tournament. The MAIN EVENT marks the first time players representing three of Australia’s premier pub poker brands – the 888Poker League, the Australian Poker League and Pub Poker – will sit side-by-side in pursuit of a prestigious national title.

Although this is a new tournament, the MAIN EVENT is carrying on a proud tradition of qualification-only major events offering hundreds of thousands of dollars in prizemoney dating back to the earliest days of the industry more than six years ago.

The APL set the bar with the first Tournament of Champions played at Luna Park in Sydney in 2007, with an AUD $1 million prizepool up for grabs. Similarly, events like the APL Grand Slam and Poker Classic, the APL Poker Tour and 888PL Grand Finals have offered their players life-changing amounts of money.

Already, scores of players from around the country are nervously pacing through the poker room as they prepare to take their seats in what, for many, will be the biggest poker tournament in which they’ve played. Indeed, many of the players we’ve met in the past couple of days are taking their first look at the amazing Crown Entertainment Complex.

As we prepare for a late summer blast of heat in Melbourne across the weekend, the action promises to be just as hot in the Crown Poker Room over the next three days until the champ is crowned late on Sunday evening.

PokerMedia Australia is proud to be a media partner for The MAIN EVENT. In an innovation in the way tournaments of this size are reported, we’ll be presenting a complete chip count of the entire field, allowing family and friends of all players to follow the fortunes of their mates and loved ones from afar. In addition, our blog team will be providing regular updates from the floor.

We’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate all qualifiers and to commend the team from the Full House Group for their efforts to establish this exciting new event on the Australian poker calendar. Play will be underway at 12.10pm AEDST.

MAIN EVENT structure

Day 1 will comprise 12 levels of 30 minutes, Day 2 will comprise nine levels of 40 minutes and Day 3 will continue with levels of 40 minutes until the champion is decided, The starting stack is 30,000.

Level 1: 25/50
Level 2: 50/100
Level 3: 75/150
Level 4: 100/200
Level 5: 100/200 (ante 25)
Level 6: 150/300 (ante 25)
Level 7: 200/400 (ante 50)
Level 8: 300/600 (ante 50)
Level 9: 400/800 (ante 75)
Level 10: 500/1000 (ante 100)
Level 11: 600/1200 (ante 100)
Level 12: 800/1600 (ante 200)

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