2016 Australasian Poker Challenge – $5k Challenge (re-entry) / Day 1

12.45am: Neilson leads after Day 1 

And that’s all she wrote for tonight, ladies and gentleman. After 12 levels of play, the clock has been stopped in the $5k Challenge with 28 players remaining – all of whom will return at 4pm tomorrow to play down to a winner!

Among them are the likes of former WPT Five Diamond winner Andrew Lichtenberger, WSOP bracelet winners Jarred Graham and Gary Benson and local young guns Jonathan Karamalikis, Alex Lynskey, Corey Kempson, Dean Blatt and Tim English.

Leading the way, however, is none other than Daniel Neilson whose incredible record here at The Star shows no sign of abating anytime soon. Having chipped up early, Neilson rocketed to the top of the chip counts midway through the day when he flopped a set of Jacks and rivered quads to stack two players. From there he never relinquished control and finished the day with a monster stack of 195,000 – 60,000 more than his nearest rival.

Join us here at PokerMedia Australia from 4pm tomorrow as Neilson and the rest of the field battle it out for the trophy and a top prize of $139,770!

Top 5 stacks:

Daniel Neilson – 195,000
Tim English – 135,900
Henry Wang – 116,200
Jarred Graham – 97,100
Michael Addamo – 90,700

12.35am: Three hands to go 

The clock has been stopped and tournament staff have declared that there will be three hands remaining today!

12.25am: The Croc bites back 

Billy Argyros thought he was finally going to acquire some much-needed chops when he got it in with AA against a short-stacked Robert Damelian’s JT on a J-high board, only for another J to spike on the river.

Never mind though, the very next hand he picked up KK to score a double against AK and claw his way back!

Argyros is sitting just above the average with around 70,000.

12.05am: Updated chip counts 

Daniel Neilson – 130,000
Jarred Graham – 100,000
Laurence Hall – 100,000
Corey Kempson – 90,000
Henry Wang – 90,000
Jim Pizanias – 81,000
Dean Blatt – 70,000

11.55pm: The final level 

The clock has ticked over into the final level of the day with blinds at 800/1,600 and a 200 ante.

There are 32 players remaining with four eight-handed tables in play.

11.40pm: Lynskey triples 

Another commotion, another three way all-in! This time it was Alex Lynskey on the button holding 44 against the A9 of Jonathan Karamalikis and the AK of Gary Benson.

Karamalikis had both well covered but it was Lynskey scoring the triple as the board ran out 3565Q.

Jonathan Karamalikis – 45,000
Alex Lynskey – 35,000
Gary Benson – 22,000

11.25pm: Pizanias doubles

We caught the action on the turn with the board reading K578 and Jim Pizanias facing a 5,000 bet from Dejan Boskovic. Pizanias responded by shoving for his remaining 20,000, with Boskovic thinking briefly before making the call.

Pizanias showed KQ and needed to fade plenty of outs with Boskovic showing 8T suited for second pair with a flush draw. The 2c on the river changed nothing and Pizanias builds his stack to 55,000.

Boskovic still has 50,000.

11.20pm: Camilleri hits miracle to survive 

We heard a commotion over on Table 78 and raced over to find a three way all-in with Ali Ghezelbash holding QQ, Robert Damelian JJ and James Camilleri AT.

Ghezelbash was looking good to scoop the hefty pot as the flop fell 368 but the 9 turn and 7 river have Camilleri running cards for a straight as he soared to 70,000 and sent Ghezelbash to the rail.

No doubt Camilleri will consider it justice after he lost a huge pot early in the day when Damelian hit a one-outer on the river. Damelian is down to 20,000.

11.10pm: Next level 

Blinds are up to 600/1,200 with a 200 ante

11.00pm: Chip counts

Daniel Neilson – 120,000
Laurence Hall – 105,000
Henry Wang – 85,000
Jarred Graham – 75,000
Jonathan Karamalikis – 70,000
Hassib Younan – 70,000
Corey Kempson – 55,000
Martin Ward – 55,000
Andrew Lichtenberger – 50,000
Jim Pizanias – 50,000

10.45pm: Prize money! 

The top 12 players in the $5k Challenge will make the money with prizes distributed as follows:

1st – $139,770
2nd – $ 96,570
3rd – $71,150
4th – $48,280
5th – $35,570
6th – $26,680
7th – $21,600
8th – $17,790
9th – $15,250
10th – $12,710
11th – $11,440
12th – $11,440

10.40pm: Two hours to go! 

With rebuys now over and two hours remaining in the day’s play, the tournament clock has settled on 107 total entries in the $5k Challenge with 44 players remaining.

We’ll bring you the prize money breakdown as soon as it is available.

10.35pm: Graham making the most of awful seat draw 

Jarred Graham is renowned as one of the country’s best Omaha players, but he also boast a pretty good record in Hold’em having won the inaugural Sydney Championships here at The Star as well as a couple of High Roller events and more recently the Joe Hachem Poker Challenge last August.

Those skills have certainly come in handy today given that he has probably the worst seat in the house seated alongside American pro Andrew Lichtenberger. Known as “LuckyChewy” online, Lichtenberger’s live career earnings are over US$7 million and include victory in the 2014 WPT Five Diamond and a number of WSOP final tables.

Despite this, Graham is looking good with around 70,000 in chips, while Lichtenberger is sitting right on the average stack with 35,000.

10.25pm: Back on track 

Players have now returned to blinds of 500/1,000 with a 100 ante. The rebuy period is now over.

10.15pm: Break it up

Players are on their final 10-minute break of the night

9.55pm: Neilson annihilating 

Daniel Neilson has been seated at arguably the strongest table in the room today, which has at various times featured Jeff Lisandro, Alex Lynskey, Kilian Kramer, Rory Young and Andy Lee. That hasn’t stopped him building a dominant stack of 150,000 – by far the biggest in the tournament at this stage.

Even with so much quality sitting alongside, none of his rivals have been able to do a whole lot with Dean Blatt the second biggest stack at the table with just 35,000!

9.35pm: Benson bounced 

Short stacks Gary Benson and Sam Higgs got it in with Higgs holding a dominating 99 to Benson’s 33. The bard bricked for Benson and the WSOP bracelet winner hits the rail!

9.30pm: Level up 

Blinds are up to 400/800 with a 100 ante. This is the last level in which rebuys will be allowed.

9.25pm: Gogia going good

Pankaj Gogia has enjoyed an excellent series so far, having won the $440 Turbo event last night, and he is running well again here today.

Learning that the hard way was Didier Guerin, who snap-called Gogia’s shove holding Q4 on a Q43 flop. Gogia showed QT and needed help which duly arrived when a T landed on the turn to send Guerin to the rail.

Gogia is up to 25,000.

9.15pm: God-damn 

Sometimes it’s just not your day. Having fired his second bullet, Jarryd Godena got the last of his chips in with K9 and was in good shape for a much-needed double against the K7 suited of Warwick Mirzikinian.

Not for long! The 75J flop gave Mirzikinian the lead as well as a flush draw and another 7 on the river rubbed it in for Godena as he hit the rail.

9.07pm: Field reaches 100 

The tournament staff here at The Star were a bit concerned that we wouldn’t get near the magic 100 mark today in regards to entries after a sluggish start but with a number of late entries and plenty of players willing to fire multiple bullets, we’ve just hit 100 exactly!

77 of those entries are unique players and of those, 56 remain.

9.00pm: Neilson storms to chip lead 

Daniel Neilson boasts a remarkable record here at The Star and he is on track for another deep run after busting both Tolly Sakellariou and Alex Lynskey in one hand.

The action began with Neilson opening in early position and Sakellariou making the call. Lynskey then re-raised with both players calling.

The J42 flop was an action one however as the chips went flying and all three players ending up all-in. It was Neilson’s JJ in the driver’s seat against the QQ of Lynskey and T8 of spades with a flush draw and he made sue of it by rivering quads to send both rivals to the rail!

Neilson is our new chip leader with 120,000 while Sakellariou is now onto his third bullet!

8.55pm: Dinesh dashed 

Dinesh Velupillay shoved for his last 4,125 from the button and was called by Laurence Hall in the small blind.

Velupillay laughed as he rolled over 23 although his cards were live against the A4 of Hall. Not for long though – the board ran out AK389 and the former was sent to the rail.

8.40pm: Karamalikis climbing

Another visitor to our shores is Lithuania’s Domantas Klimciauskas, however he hasn’t enjoyed his day too much so far with very little going his way.

Nursing a short-stack, he shoved over Jonathan Karamalikis’ open with KJ and was called by JK holding A9.

The board ran out 9-high and Klimciauskas is left to contemplate firing another bullet.

8.35pm: German encounters 

Kilian Kramer opened to 900 in late position and compatriot Max Lehmanski called in the big blind.

The flop fell KA9 and Framer bet 1,100. Lehmanski called. The turn was an 8 and Kramer fired again, showing QJ when Lehmanski mucked.

Kilian Kramer – 20,000
Max Lehmanski – 23,000

7.45pm: Chip counts 

Corey Kempson – 73,000
Michael O’Grady – 62,000
Daniel Neilson – 57,000
Najeem Ajez – 50,000
Pankaj Gogia – 43,000
Laurence Hall – 38,000
Jarred Graham – 35,000
Max Lehmanski – 33,000
Tony Kambouroglou – 27,000
Tim English – 25,000
Jordan Westmorland – 23,000

7.40pm: We’re back! 

Players have returned from their dinner break to new blinds of 200/400 with a 50 ante.

Registration is now closed but players can still rebuy until the end of the next break.

7.40pm: Dinner break! 

Players are now on a 20-minute dinner break.

7.35pm: Quads for Damelian 

Robert Damelian had one foot out the door when he got it all-in with 88 on a QJ8 flop and found himself up against the QQ of James Camilleri.

A 9 on the turn wasn’t the miracle Damelian needed but the river 8 was as Damelian hit quads to stay alive and move back to his starting stack of 15,000.

Camilleri has slipped to under 10,000.

7.30pm: 12 levels tonight 

Tournament director Stephen Ibrahim has informed us we’ll be playing a total of 12 levels today, taking us to roughly a midnight finish.

The remaining players will return at 4pm tomorrow to play down to a winner, with the inaugural Australasian Poker Championships Main Event also kicking off tomorrow night at 6.45pm.

The good news is that we’ll be providing full coverage of both!

7.20pm: The Germans are coming! 

Australia’s 2005 WSOP Main Event champion has recently arrived to take his seat, however much of the conversation among the other players centres upon the arrival of a fearsome German contingent that includes Kilian Kramer, Max Lehmanski and Julian Stuer.

All are highly accomplished online players, however they also boast an excellent live record. Kramer has over $1 million in live tournament earnings and finished 18th at the 2015 WSOP Main Event.

Lehmanski has two WSOP final tables to his name among a host of strong results while Stuer has around $500,000 in live earnings.

7.05pm: Young speaking in tongues 

As we sauntered past Rory Young’s table, we noticed the WSOP bracelet winner speaking with a French accent. The reason, apparently, is losing a prop bet to Alex Antonios  with Young required to maintain the accent in all conversation with anyone all day!

Our early observations are that he won’t be fooling anyone soon.

6.55pm: Blinds are up! 

Blinds are up to 150/300 with a 25 ante.

6.50pm: No luck for Godena

Jarryd Godena is the latest to call upon his second bullet after an extremely unfortunate run-out against Laurence Hall.

After Hall raised on the button and Godena called, Hall called a check-raise from Godena on an 899 flop. The turn was an A and Hall called after Godena fired again.

The river was a repeat A and Godena jammed, only to discover the bad news when Hall called and showed A6. Godena showed K9 for flopped trips but running Aces proved too much for him.

Hall has 45,000.

6.20pm: Pizanias wins monster with no pair 

Jim Pizanias is sitting on a healthy stack of around 40,000 thanks largely to a huge hand played recently against Tolly Sakellariou.

As Pizanias explained to us, he held A7 of clubs and got it all-in on a 239 flop with two clubs against Sakellariou, who called his shove holding 45 of clubs.

The board bricked and Pizanias won a monster pot with A-high! Sakellariou has rebought.

6.10pm: Hall higher 

Laurence Hall has been a recent mover, building his stack to around 32,000. Many of them came from a hand he just played with 77, finding action against two players and sending one of them (AK) to the rail on an 8243Q board.

5.55pm: Still arriving!

With registration available until the end of the second break and rebuys until the end of the third, plenty of players have taken the opportunity to rock up in their own time.

Taking their seats in the past 30 minutes are Jarred Graham, Billy Argyros, Robert Spano and Emmanuel Seal as the number of entries swells to 82.

5.45pm: Attenborough sent back to nature 

We caught the action on a J62 board as Benjamin Cox called a bet of 3,500 from Adrian Attenborough.

The turn was a Q and this time Attenborough bet 4,500. Cox called again.

On the river 9, Attenborough shoved for his remaining 6,550 and Cox quickly called. Attenborough showed KK but didn’t like what he saw as Cox revealed QJ for top two.

Attenborough was left with less than one big blind and a few hands later could be seen heading to the rail to contemplate his misfortune.

Cox has 33,000.

5.25pm: We’re back!

Players have returned to blinds of 100/200

5.15pm: Break time 

We’re on our first break of the day.

5.00pm: Neilson sends Lee on his way 

We caught the action with a decent pot building on a KQ8 flop and Andy Lee firing out a bet of 3,100 after Dejan Boskovic and Daniel Neilson checked to him. Boskovic folded but Neilson called.

The turn was a 7 and this time Lee bet 6,700 and Neilson called after some thought.

The river was a repeat 7 and also put a third diamond on the board. Neilson checked and Lee announced he was all in for his remaining 12,750, which sent the former deep into the tank.

Neilson eventually called as Lee sheepishly rolled over QT for second pair. Neilson showed KJ to take down the pot and rocket to the top of the chip counts with around 50,000!

Lee, meanwhile, will fire his second bullet.

4.45pm: Late arrivals 

With registration still open for another few hours, the field is gradually growing with 66 entries now showing on the tournament clock.

Recent arrivals include Adrian Attenborough, Jason Gray, Ryan Hong, Laurence Hall, Ali Ghezelbash, Michael O’Grady and Tolly Sakellariou.

4.30pm: Blind rise 

We’re into our third level of the day with blinds up to 75/150. There are 60 runners at present.

4.20pm: Cooler destroys Levy

Daniel Levy is the first player to be stacked today after finding himself on the wrong end of a brutal cooler against Tim English.

Levy opened pre-flop to 300 and English 3-bet to 800. Levy called as the pair saw a 96J flop all diamonds. This saw Levy lead into English only to face a re-raise to 3,000.

Levy thought for 30 seconds before re-popping it to 10,000. English quickly shoved and Levy called – flipping over 78 of diamonds for the flopped flush and re-draw to a straight flush.

He would need that straight flush, however, with English showing AK of diamonds for the stone cold nuts! The turn and river bricked to send Levy on his way as English stacks up to 35,000 early on!

4.05pm: Godena growing 

Jarryd Godena has been active early. Fresh from winning the $5k 6-max at this year’s Aussie Millions, we just caught Godena squeezing from the big blind after a raise and two calls with all three opponents folding.

He is sitting on 20,000.

3.55pm: A few more 

Warwick Mirzikinian has taken his seat, as has Michel Bouskila and Minh Nguyen.

3.45pm: Next level 

The first level has come and gone and blinds are now up to 50/100. We currently have 50 runners.

3.20pm: More names 

Also here Jonathan Karamalikis, Didier Guerin, Daniel Levy, Andy Lee, Corey Kempson, Alex Lynskey and Alex’s better half Angelina Rich who recently became the first female to win a Mid-Stakes Poker Tour title when she overcame a field of 1,964 players at the Venetian in Las Vegas!

3.10pm: Who’s here? 

A quick look around the room has already revealed a number of notables including WSOP bracelet winners Jeff Lisandro, Andrew Hinrichsen and Rory Young, 2015 Aussie Millions champion Manny Stavropoulos, defending $5k Challenge champion Tom Rafferty as well as Daniel Neilson, Jordan Westmorland, Jarryd Godena, Tim English and Shivan Abdine.

3.00pm: The way it is 

Players in today’s event can rebuy as often as they want until the end of the third break.

Levels are 45 minutes long, starting stacks are 15,000 and blinds currently at 25/50.

3.00pm: Cards are in the air!

The tournament staff has announced “Shuffle up and deal” and we’re underway here at The Star!

Welcome to the Australasian Poker Challenge $5k 6-handed

Another day, another exciting evening of poker ahead! Today sees one of the feature events of the inaugural Australasian Poker Challenge (APC), the $5k Challenge Re-entry, get underway here in Sydney.

A recent addition to The Star’s three major annual poker series, the most recent $5k Challenge during December’s Star Summer Series attracted a field of 108 entries with Tom Rafferty claiming victory and a $152,500 payday.

Rafferty topped a quality final table that included the likes of Jeff Rossiter, Adrian Attenborough, Jarryd Godena and Minh Nguyen on his way to victory and we’re expecting today’s field to again boast many of Australasian poker’s most accomplished players.

As always, PokerMedia Australia’s Ben Blaschke will be here from start to finish bringing you all the live action as it happens so stay tuned and enjoy the APC $5k Challenge!

Play gets underway at 3pm local time.

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