2012 Star Poker Summer Series – Summer Series Main Event NLHE $5k / Day 1 / Flight 1

2.25am: That’s all folks

And that does it for Day 1a of the 2012 Star Summer Series Main Event!

With play starting at the unusual time of 6.15pm to accommodate the working crowd and those that prefer the witching hours, a small but high quality field of 46 players took their seats in The Star poker room with the likes of former APPT Sydney champions Grant Levy and Jonathan Karamalikis, WSOPE bracelet winner Andrew Hinrichsen, Daniel Neilson, Dave Allan, Martin Kozlov, Billy ‘The Croc’ Argyros, Jay Kinkade, Sam Capra and ‘Toothpick’ Tony Kambouroglou trying their luck.

For some, such as Levy, Allan and Capra, it will be another 12 months before they get their chance to add a Summer Series title to the resume with all four busting at various stages throughout the evening.

There were no such concerns for Ray Gebrale (pictured) though, who used relentless aggression to build a monster stack more than double his nearest rival at one stage before finishing as our current chip leader with a very healthy 122,200.

Others to fare well include Neilson, Kozlov, Joel Cohen and Luis Arrilucea, while Karamalikis was down to 8,000 early before fighting his way back to finish with 37,500.

A total of 35 players from today’s flight progressed to Saturday’s Day 2 where they will be joined by the survivor’s from Friday’s second flight which is already guaranteed to draw a significantly bigger field than we saw today.

Play will kick off at 12.30 and PokerMedia Australia will again be here to bring you all the live action from The Star throughout the day’s play.

Day 1 Flight 1 top chip stacks:

Ray Gebrale – 122,200
Daniel Neilson – 95,000
Joel Cohen – 84,800
Matt Rolfe – 57,450
Martin Kozlov – 55,400

2.10am: Calling it quits

The tournament staff have just announced that we will play three more hands tonight before the surviving players bag and tag.

1.40am: Battle royale

Chip leader Ray Gebrale and Jason Pritchard (pictured) have been engaging in quite a battle of late with Pritchard taking up the challenge to stop Gebrale running over the table.

Their first significant hand came in a re-raised pot pre-flop with Pritchard calling a 4,000 c-bet on a Ks-Qs-8h flop. Both players checked the Js turn before Gebrale fired 9,000 on the Kd river, forcing Pritchard to fold.

A few hands later they were at it again with Gebrale leading for 2,200 on a 10-6-8 flop and Pritchard re-raising to 5,300. Gebrale called and considered leading out when the repeat 10 landed on the turn before opting to check instead. Pritchard bet 5,400 and when Gebrale folded Pritchard showed Q-5 as he raked in the pot.

We’ll keep an eye on these two for the remaining 30 minutes of the day’s play.

12.55am: Last level

We’re into our final 90-minute level of the day’s play with blinds now at 150/300 and a 25 ante.

12.50am: Panacea for Arrilucea

Luis Arrilucea (pictured) has started solidly in his pursuit of another deep run here at The Star with around 50,000 in front of him.

Arrilucea boasts some impressive results at this venue, having finished runner-up at ANZPT Sydney in 2011 for $124,581 and fallen just shy of the final table at this year’s Sydney Championships with an 11th-place finish for $7,079.

He will no doubt be hoping to hoist his first major tournament trophy around this time on Sunday.

12.30am: The big stacks

Ray Gebrale – 150,000
Daniel Neilson – 75,000
Joel Cohen – 70,000
Alan Bird – 63,000
Martin Kozlov – 55,000

12.10am: Tough going for Levy

Grant Levy holds a special place in The Star’s poker history, having win the inaugural APPT grand final here back in 2007 for a cool $1 million payday, however he has a lot of work to do if he is to add another title to the resume this weekend.

Having battled to get anything going so far tonight, he was just involved in a pot with Jonathan Karamalikis which has left him with just 8000 in chips remaining.

The hand began with Karamalikis opening to 500 and Levy re-raising out of the blinds to 1,700. Karamalikis called.

The flop came K-Q-5 and Karamalikis called a bet of 2000 from Levy. The turn came a 2 and this time Levy bet 4,000 but mucked immediately when Karamalikis shoved over the top for not a whole lot more.

The Dong also happens to be a former APPT champion at this venue following his 2010 win and much like Levy has endured a slow start tonight, however he moves back up to about 15,000 with that hand.

11.50pm: Five levels today

There was much discussion earlier amongst the tournament staff about whether we would play four or five levels tonight given the relatively small field of 46 starters, however given that tomorrow’s field is expected to be considerably larger the announcement has just gone out that we will play five full levels tonight.

That’s news to Billy ‘The Croc’ Argyros’ ears after he joked ‘Imagine if we only played four levels … we’d come back for Day 2 (Saturday) and be here until Tuesday!’.

We’re currently just shy of the halfway point of Level 4 which means we’ve got just a touch over two hours remaining of today’s play.

11.30pm: Gebrale brings the power

Ray Gebrale (pictured) has worked his way into the overall chip lead over the past hour or so and there is no doubt his table is struggling against his relentless aggression.

We just witnessed consecutive hands in which he forced tough folds from opponents – the first coming against Dan Ginnane with the board showing 7-7-7. Ginnane led out only to have Gebrale raise to 3,300.

Ginnane responded with a 3-bet to 8,000 but folded when Gebrale shoved over the top.

The very next hand Gebrale opened UTG to 600 and had two callers before Vuong Le re-raised to 3,700. Gebrale again brought the aggression as he bumped it up to 9,600 with Le reluctantly mucking his cards. Gebrale sits on 82,000.

11.15pm: Ante up

Level 4 has just begun with blinds at 100/200 and an ante of 25.

11pm: Neilson in the know

Daniel Neilson is one of Australia’s most respected live tournament players and he is again hard at work here tonight building a healthy stack.

Most recently we caught leading out from the small blind for 1,200 on a 9h-8c-Qc flop with his heads-up opponent making the call. The 6c didn’t slow Neilson down as he fired another 2,600. This time his opponent tapped the table and mucked with Neilson raking in another tidy little pot. He is up to 60,000.

10.30pm: Tough tables

With just five tables now in play tonight, there are some interesting table draws here in The Star sports theatre.

Table 3 sees Martin Kozlov, Billy ‘The Croc’ Argyros, Tony Kambouroglou and Emmanual Seal seated together while two tables up Grant Levy, Jonathan Karamalikis and Jay Kinkade are all doing battle.

9.55pm: No go for rego

With players back from their first break of the evening, registration for this opening flight has now officially closed with a total of 46 players starting the day’s play.

Four of those can already start planning for next year having busted out much earlier than they had hoped while the remaining 42 are now playing their third level of the day with blinds at 100/200.

We noticed Billy ‘The Croc’ Argyros and Emmanual Seal arriving to take their seats during the recent 20-minute break.

9.15pm: Break time

Players are about to go on their first break of the night. Play will resume in 20 minutes time.

8.55pm: Kozlov rising

Martin Kozlov (pictured) has just won a huge hand and eliminated our second player of the evening after being on the right side of another Aces v Kings confrontation.

We caught the action as the dealer announced ‘All-in, call’ with Kozlov flipping over the pocket rockets and holding on as the board came J-9-4-8-2. The 2010 ANZPT Melbourne champ is up to 62,000.

8.40pm: Sharpe exits, stage left

Ciaran Sharpe has become our first player eliminated.

Crippled when he ran Kings into the Aces of Matt Rolfe in his very first hand after taking his seat, Sharpe shipped his remaining 1850 holding Q-J and was called by Dan Ginnane with 9s.

The board ran out 6-5-5-10-6 and Sharpe’s stay in this event is a short one.

8.10pm: Not so Sharpe

Ciaran Sharpe has just suffered every poker player’s worst nightmare. The Star Poker regular had won his seat in the main event in a satellite about 30 minutes ago and after grabbing a quick bite to eat he ambled over to take his place in tonight’s opening flight. On his very first hand, he looked down at pocket Kings so when Sam Capra opened to 375, Sharpe three-bet to 900.

That prompted Matt Rolfe (pictured) to four-bet to 2,700. Without blinking, Sharpe r-raised to 6,000. Rolfe came back again for 12,000 and soon Sharpe was all-in but he immediately had that sinking feeling when Rolfe snap-called. Sure enough, Rolfe held Aces and Sharpe is down to just 2500 with plenty of work to do to avoid being our first casualty.

7.45pm: Blinds are up!

We’ve reached the end of Level 1 with blinds now 75/150.

7.40pm: No mucking around

We just had a bit of drama over on Table 4 after a mistake from the dealer caused mass confusion. The hand began when Stephen Buchanan opened the button and the small blind defended. All standard so far.

The dealer spread the flop and Buchanan c-bet, however it all went downhill from there when the small blind called but the dealer mucked the cards and shipped the pot to Buchanan. At this point the whole table broke out into a commotion as the floor staff rushed over to rectify the problem.

In the end the chips were returned to where they had begun and the hand was re-dealt.

7.20pm: Patience is a virtue

With the going slow during this first level of the Star Summer Series main event, we couldn’t help but think back to August’s Sydney Championships when it took just one hand for us to witness our first bust-out.

The victim that day was John Houston, who happily shipped it after flopping two pair and was called by Teresa Natoli who held the nut flush draw. A spade on the turn gave her the goods and Houston was sent packing with his tail between his legs. Alas, we reckon it could be some time before we lose our first player tonight.

7pm: Mother of all poker tournaments

The Main Event field is currently spread across six tables, with 38 players here along with two “Mother Maidens” dispensing energy drinks – just the thing for an evening of cards! We’re in the Sports Theatre at The Star, with a smorgasbord of sport on the big screens to also keep players entertained in the early going. Structure available for tonight’s play is:

Level 1: 50/100
Level 2: 75/150
Level 3: 100/200
Level 4: 100/200 (ante 25)
Level 5: 150/300 (ante 25)
Level 6: 200/400 (ante 50)

6.40pm: The big guns have arrived

A few of the bigger names were just commenting on what a great opportunity tonight’s flight promised to be with very few familiar faces and a number of dead stacks sitting around each table. That line of thinking may have just changed a fraction after Jonathan Karamalikis (pictured), Daniel Neilson, Dave Allen and 2011 World Series of Poker Europe bracelet winner Andrew Hinrichsen walked in together to take their seats.

We’ve also noticed Triple M sports presenter Dan Ginnane on Table 4 alongside Sam Capra and Joel Cohen.

6.15pm: Shuffle up and deal

Play is underway in this year’s Summer Series Main Event with players trickling in to take their seats. There are currently six tables open with most playing extremely short-handed at this stage – most have between four or five players although one table was heads-up for a good five minutes before three more players arrived.

Still, with 90 minute blind levels and 30,000 starting stacks there is no need for anyone to rush.

Among those playing today’s opening flight, we’ve spotted inaugural APPT Sydney champion Grant Levy – who was the first Australian to win $1 million on home soil with his victory here in 2007 – ‘Toothpick’ Tony Kambouroglou, Jason Pritchard, former Aussie Millions final tablist Sam Capra and 2010 ANZPT Melbourne champion Martin Kozlov.

Also looking to continue their good form this week are Joel Cohen and Andrew Michael who finished second and ninth respectively in the PokerMedia Australia $1k Special on Monday.

At this stage play is schedule to run for four 90-minute levels tonight which should see us finish shortly before 1am.

Welcome to the 2012 Star Poker Summer Series Main Event

Greetings from sunny Sydney and the second Star Poker Summer Series Main Event. Over the next four days, we’ll be providing a live coverage from The Star as the biggest names in Aussie poker converge on the harbour city for the last major tournament of 2012 – the $5000 buy-in Star Poker Summer Series Main Event.

While this is the second time that this tournament has been played under the banner of the Star Poker Summer Series (Andy Lee, pictured, was the inaugural winner last year), it’s actually the sixth time that The Star has hosted a major series at this time of the year.

PMA’s Sean Callander followed the first season of the Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT) in 2007 as a blogger, and recalled the chaotic lead-up to the first APPT Sydney Main Event.

“Adding a tournament in Macau as part of that first APPT season was a huge coup, but it came together at the last minute which meant there was just a fortnight between the two events,” Callander said.

“But online qualifiers had been running for the Sydney event well in advance, which helped build a field well beyond the expectations of everyone involved with the first major tournament hosted at Star City.”

The first running of APPT Sydney, a $6300 buy-in No Limit Hold’em tournament that started on December 13, 2007, attracted a staggering field of 561 players. The prizepool of $3,366,000 remains the biggest ever offered on Australian soil outside the Aussie Millions.

The line-up also included the greatest line-up of former WSOP Main Event winners ever assembled in Australia, comprising Scotty Nguyen, Chris Moneymaker, Greg Raymer and Joe Hachem.

After four long days, Sydney school teacher – now Star Poker ambassador – Grant Levy has etched his name in local poker folklore as the first Aussie to have claimed a $1 million prize on home soil.

Each winner of The Star’s December championship event has been an Australian player. Indeed, until Jonathan Karamalikis’ victory in 2010, each winner had hailed from the host state.

The 2012 edition of the Star Poker Summer Series Main Event looms as another battle among Australia’s leading players along with the five defending champions, all of who are expected to be in Sydney once again in pursuit of one of our nation’s leading poker trophies.

Action is scheduled to start at 6.15pm tonight with the first of two day one flights.

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