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APPT Cebu: Martins raises the bar on Day 1b

With bleary-eyed poker travellers starting to slowly filter into The Philippines we were expecting a larger turnout for today's second flight of the APPT Cebu Main Event. And that's what we got. After a slow start we found ourselves with an official field of 76 runners today, comprising mostly of locals from the Asian region. The APPT has come a long way from the early seasons with nearly 80% of today's field based in Asia or with Asian heritage which is fantastic to see. The game of poker is starting to develop some strong roots in Asia, which will no doubt continue to bloom in the years to come.

That number brings the total entrants to 127 for the APPT Cebu Main Event so far, with the largest flight tomorrow expected to push the total in excess of 250 players.

Among the entrants today were Team PokerStars Pros Celina Lin and defending champion Vivian Im, as well as a duo of Player of the Year winners. The girls were also well represented but they didn't have the best of days with Jay Tan, Juicy Li and PokerStars sponsored Cathy Hong all early casualties.

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The better half of ElkY, Cathy Hong won't be back on Day 2

After just six levels of play, the field was reduced to 42, with two players standing out above them all with seriously impressive performances on the felt today.

We already knew of Julian Hasse's abilities after his huge win in the 2010 Macau Poker Cup Championship, and his consistent performances in Macau since then. So when he started to make some waves this afternoon, we knew he was going to be a danger for anyone on his table. Hasse collected most of his chips with a craftily-played set of kings against an opponent's two pair to end the day with 96,500.

Over on the other side of the room we soon learned that Antonio Martins was a dominant force to be reckoned with. He tangled in two massive pots during the day that catapulted him to dizzy heights. First it was set over set, and then it was aces against ace-king. It's the stuff that poker players dream of, and it's the sort of hot run that leads to final tables and titles.

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Martins bagged up 119,000 for a clear chip lead, while Bobo Chen, Kenneth Wong, Kitty Kuo, Kim Gap Young, Hung-sheng Lin, Danny Chevalier and Daren Yoon all survived the day. Also returning on Saturday for Day 2 will be the girls of Team PokerStars Asia, although Celina Lin (17,900) and defending champ Vivian Im (9,400) will have some work ahead of them if they are to make a run at the title.

For now, we've got our party shoes on as we head over to the Shangri-La Mactan resort for an exclusive PokerStars beach party that will no doubt rival some of the best parties ever seen on tour. Dave Behr can almost taste the mango daiquiris already.

We'll have a recap of what we can remember from the party for you tomorrow, along with our coverage of Day 1c of the Main Event from 12:15pm local time.

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