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Alfred Saliba Tops Day 1a of New Zealand Poker Championships Main Event

Posted at 21:47 2010-04-15

Day 1a of the NZ$2,750 New Zealand Poker Championships Main Event kicked off today with a traditional performance of the haka opening proceedings. 

Only 35 players took to the felt, but the calibre of the players more than made up for the low turnout. Recent SKYCITY Auckland Champion James Honeybone, APPT Sydney Champion Aaron Benton, APPT Auckland Champion Simon Watt, Stewart Scott, Eric Assadourian, Graeme ‘Kiwi G’ Putt and Constantine Harach were a few of the notables testing their skills out.

Even with a 15,000-chip starting stack and a slow and deep structure, the tournament managed to lose five players before the first break as James Honeybone played his heater perfectly to hold the chip lead with a stack of nearly three-times what he started. 

Aaron Benton managed to lose one of his nine lives after moving all in holding {Ad}{As} on the turn with the board reading {Ks}{5s}{3d}{Jc}. The last person to act in the hand – Roy Gourley – folded his {kd}{Jd} face-up much to the shock of Benton and the table.

Eric Assadourian did what he did best . . . talking . . . by forcing comedian Mike King to fold a flopped two pair on the river when Assadourian lead on when it fell a third diamond. An exchange that lasted over five minutes between the pair eventually saw King convinced he was beat and his hit the muck as Assadourian tabled his middle pair to prove that he may just be the king of talk!

Play ticked by slowly until Constantine Harach folded bottom set to Warren Pritchard after being trapped perfectly on the flop by Pritchard and his middle set. Eventually however the action picked up as Graeme ‘Kiwi G’ Putt and Stewart Scott found themselves on the rail as Alfred Saliba accumulated chip after chip to finish on top of the leaderboard when play was called off for the night with twenty players remaining after the seventh level.

Top Five Chip Counts

Alfred Saliba – 84,400
Warren Pritchard – 46,775
Joseph Allis – 44,075
James Honeybone – 38,975
Simon Watt – 35,700

Eric Assadourian (27,275) and comedian Mike King (15,075) are still in contention and will return on day two action alongside Constantine Harach (17,950) and Aaron Benton (11,550). 

Tomorrow is well expected to draw an even larger field with previous Champions David Borg and Soren Eriksen as well as Tony Hachem, Dennis Huntly, Leo Boxell and Yann Pauchon just a handful of names taking to the felt on day 1b.

PokerNetwork will again be on the floor from 12:30pm local time capturing all the live updates from the tournament floor of the Christchurch Casino for the 2010 New Zealand Poker Championships.

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