The last part of Level 10 and Level 11 today have belonged to Alan Sass, the lone American player left in the field through the first two days of play.
Sass himself almost saw his Asia Championship of Poker Main Event run end late last night, but he survived. And today he has thrived, catapulting to the top of the counts with 45 players left.
Sass had to tiptoe his way through a couple of double-ups late Thursday just to make it to Day 3. The Las Vegas-based player began today with 84,000 chips, a bit below the average and more than three times less than the stacks of the leaders.
Then early today a hand arose in which Sass and the Russian Yury Gulyy traded preflop raises until Sass was all in with A♥A♣ against Gulyy's Q♣Q♠. The board came jack-high, and Sass was quickly up to 150,000.
Just moments later Sass was all in again against start-of-day-2 chip leader Andrew Gaw and this time Gaw had A♣A♠ while Sass held K♠K♦. Then a welcome K♣ arrived on the turn, and when the river blanked Sass was up over 300,000 and in the chip lead.
I caught up with Sass during the short break to ask him about coming all of the way from his home in Las Vegas to Macau to play.
"I love it here," said Sass. "This is my third trip to Macau. I first came back in '07, then again more recently in August and September."
Indeed, during his more recent visit this summer Sass was one of 73 players who participated in that much ballyhooed $2,000,000 (HKD) Macau High Stakes Challenge Super High Roller where he finished in ninth out of 73 entries -- a cash worth about $705,360 USD.
"And now I'm back again. It's a great place to play, the players are nice... and I guess I'm glad I came this time because I'm doing well today!"
Primarily a cash game player, Sass has turned up on various tours on the professional tourney circuit for the past several years, including compiling numerous cashes at the WSOP and a couple of final table near-misses for bracelets.
Play has just resumed for Level 12 where the blinds are 900/1,800 and antes 200 -- an indication of how deep the structure is for this event. There's still a long way to go, but a couple of big hands have now positioned Sass well for the coming approach of the cash bubble.
Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.