Outside the Grand Lisboa casino, the roads merge and verge like scribbles on a page of black paper. It's a fantastic feat of traffic engineering the that ant-streams of cars, trucks, and buses manage to move at all, let alone so quickly that one wonders if it's not all some carnival thrill ride managed by a giant computer in one of the nearby buildings. Making it all the more surreal are the wide-eyed people--huge, writhing masses of them--who cross the street in a wash of neon and exhaust. They're in awe like everybody else that sets eyes on the spectacle that is Macau.
It's here--a place where buildings change colors in the blink of an eye and chefs serve noodles that are literally ten feet long--that we find ourselves for the Asia Pacific Poker Tour Macau main event. It's called the Las Vegas of the East, but that doesn't tell the story. Macau is hard to explain to someone who hasn't seen it. It insinuates Las Vegas. There are casinos here that share the names of the places in Nevada. There are games that are much the same, too. That all understood, there are as many differences as there are similarities. For someone who hasn't been here before, it's a constant, surreal, dreamscape experience that has the conscious mind asking, "What could possibly happen next? Wait. What's happening now?"
This day began in much the same way. Hordes of people pushed into the PokerStars Macau poker room. Two hundred sixty-nine sat down for the main event. There were familiar faces, Asian stars, Team PokerStars Pros, and one member of PokerStars Team Online. They all got their due attention and applause as the Macau main event took flight. Before the end of level two, however, one name stood out on the player registration list.
The rumors had been swirling for an hour or two. Ivey, in self-imposed exile from live poker tournaments for the better part of 2011, was said to be in town. Could he? Would he? Was it possible Ivey would end his long hiatus from the tournament felt? He could, and he did. Like everything else in Macau, it was a lesson in accepting the unexpected.
Though Ivey's re-emergence is the type of thing that could steal headlines, one man does not a tournament make. Indeed, he remains part of the story with chips to take Day 2, but he is just one among 155 people who will come back Friday to meet with the survivors from Day 1b. Leading Day 1a tonight is Shih Chieh Su. He bagged 171,800 at the end of the night.
We also can't step out into the neon tonight without mention of Raiden Kan. The winner of the Macau Poker Cup Championship had made a late-season run on the Asia Player of the Year race and was threatening Shaq Lin's spot at the top of the leaderboard. This main event will decide that race, and Kan looked to make a deep run to make it interesting. Instead, he fell late in Day 1a. He'll now be forced to sit on the sidelines and watch the rest of the event play out.
As the chips get bagged up tonight, we spy these notable players who'll be back in action on Friday: Grant Levy, Julian Powell, Thomas, Ward, Andrew Scott, Jackson Zheng, Team Online's Mickey Petersen, and Team PokerStars Pros Alex Kravchenko and Raymond Wu.
When the overnight chip counts hit our inbox, we'll post them on the APPT chip counts page.
While you're waiting, check out these links for some live action from the day:
Thursday around noon local time, the Day 1b players will make their way to the PokerStars Macau poker room to do it all over again. We will be here to chronicle it all.
Who knows who will show up and surprise us tomorrow?