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Macau Poker Cup Red Dragon: Day 1a Updates

2:50am: Bag, tag and party!

That's it! Our day has come to an end with approximately 35 players surviving the typhoon that was the opening flight of the Macau Poker Cup Red Dragon Main Event.

It was a close tussle for the chip lead, with Kenny Leong (108,000) looking a good chance, but Daniel Laidlaw has just pipped him at the post with 109,600. It continues an epic run of form from Laidlaw after reaching the climax of tournaments in Queenstown and Sydney in the last two weeks.

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Others in good shape include Thomas Ward, Justin Chan, Frank Maley, while James Bills, Ivan Zalac and Hung-sheng Lin are among those to survive. They'll return for Day 2 on Sunday.

We'll have a full wrap of today's action and chip counts for the field for you shortly.

2:45am: Ramakrishnan runs into rockets

Raj Ramakrishnan is not a fan of the last few hands of the day having busted in the dying minutes of play in several other tournaments in recent times. And it's happened again here in Macau.

Ramakrishnan shoved from late position with 9♣9♥ but Justin Chan woke up in the big blind with A♠A♣. It only got worse for Ramakrishnan as the board rolled off 7♠8♠A♦K♥2♣ to see Chan make a set to give Ramakrishnan an early minute. Meanwhile Chan is motoring now and will bag up a healthy chip stack.

2:40am: Three more hands

With ten minutes left on the clock, the tournament staff have directed each table to play three more hands before we call in a day.

2:20am: Double KO for Wu

The rate of attrition is not slowing down in the final level of play as two more have been sent to the rail. With a shove from the player on the button, Craig Blight moved in over the top from the small blind, but Yixin Wu made the call in the big blind covering both players with A♦K♠. The button player showed Q♦9♠ as Blight opened A♠T♠.

The flop fell 6♠Q♣4♣ to give the button player some hope as Blight was already out of his seat, knowing he was drawing pretty slim. The turn 4♥ didn't change anything but the K♥ on the river delivered top pair to Wu for the double knockout! Wu is now up to 50,000.

2:10am: Level 11, blinds 800-1,600, ante 200

There are around 45 players remaining as we enter the last level of the day.

2:00am: Liu jacked

Yue Liu moved all in for around 22,000 from early position but Leiguang Li was next to speak and wasted no time in moving all in over the top. The table folded around and Liu found her A♦J♥ was in trouble against Li's J♣J♦.

The board fell Q♠6♣9♥4♦4♣ and without an ace to save her, Liu was sent crashing to an early exit.

1:50am: Raj rocks one

Raj Ramakrishnan has taken out a short-stacked opponent, but it took a little luck. The short-stacked player moved all in with A♦K♦ and Ramakrishnan made the call with K♥Q♥.

The board ran out 5♣9♦8♣Q♣6♠ to see Ramakrishnan spike a queen on the turn to take it down and send his opponent to the rail. Ramakrishnan is now up to 28,000.

1:45am: Bills triples, Laidlaw threatens

James Bills finally has his head above water for the first time today after a recent triple up. He recalled to us that he shoved preflop for around 6,000 with pocket tens and found two callers. He thought we was beat, but his opponents turned over ace-ten and pocket sevens to see Bills more than triple up to a more-healthy 20,000-chip stack.

Meanwhile Daniel Laidlaw has also been doing some damage recently. He's now up to around 80,000 and threatening for the chip lead. When you're hot, you're hot. Laidlaw was recently moved to a table with a couple of other big stacks, so there may be even more fireworks to come!

1:30am: Play resumes: Level 10, blinds 600-1,200, ante 100

The players are back with around 60 still in contention on Day 1a of the Macau Poker Cup Red Dragon Main Event. We've just received word that we'll be playing a total of eleven levels this evening, which means with one more hour to play, we'll be wrapping up at the rather reasonable time of 2:30am!


1:20am: Ten-minute break

1:05am: Leong misses monster draw

The big stack of Kenny Leong has just taken a tumble as Anson Wong has collected a huge double up.

The action erupted on the action flop of 3♣4♣Q♥ in a multi-way pot. Wong committed his last chips with 4♥4♦ for middle set but Leong had a hand that Wong didn't really want to see as Leong's A♣2♣ gave him plenty of outs to both a straight or flush to crack Wong's set.

However the T♦ turn was a brick and the 3♦ improved Wong to a full house for the big double up to around 60,000. Leong is still well placed with 45,000 but could've had an enormous chip lead if he connected with his draw.

12:50am: Chip count update

Kenny Leong - 70,000
Thomas Ward - 70,000
Frank Maley - 60,000
Daniel Laidlaw - 42,000
Darren Judges - 40,000
Hung-sheng Lin - 32,000
Justin Chan - 30,000
Ivan Zalac - 30,000
Yue Liu - 23,000
Craig Blight - 20,000
Raj Ramakrishnan - 19,000
James Bills - 11,000

12:40am: Level up, blinds 500-1,000, ante 100

12:35am: Chainani straightened out

Dhanesh Chainani has been sent crashing to the rail in rather unfortunate fashion. Leiguang Li opened with a raise to 2,000 from early position and Youngsu Choi made the call in the small blind before Chainani three-bet all in for around 7,000 from the big blind.

The action was back on Li and he declared himself all in for around 15,000 to isolate against the short stack. It worked as Choi folded what he later said was pocket fours, as Chainani's 9♣9♠ had to survive against Li's A♠4♥.

The board fell 5♠6♣T♥3♠7♦ to see Li make a straight to collect the pot and send Chainani to the rail as 63 players remain alive in today's field.

12:30am: Chieng cut

Alexandre Chieng won't be backing up his APPT Macau victory here this time around at the Macau Poker Cup after his recent elimination. Ivan Zalac claimed his scalp after Chieng three-bet shoved Q-T and Zalac made a good call with A-T. Zalac improved to a flush and that was it for Chieng.

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Alexandre Chieng won't be adding another title at the MPC Red Dragon

12:20am: Ladies going strong in Macau

It's been a good Macau Poker Cup series so far for the ladies. Celina Lin took out the Opening Event with Hazel Chui finishing runner-up. Fellow team PokerStars Pro Vivian Im cashed in Event #4 and then Yue Liu took down the $3,000 NLHE Turbo event last night.

Liu picked up HK$97,300 for the win but she's straight back into action here today and she's carrying on her good form as she sits with a stack of around 28,000.

12:10am: Decisions, decisions

Ivan Zalac has just taken a big hit to his stack with Chongxian Yang landing a big double up. It was a bit of a strange situation as we arrived to the table to see a bet of 3,600 from Yang met with an all-in move from Zalac on the board of Q♦9♦5♠.

Zalac was up on his feet as Yang was deep in the tank, with talk of the clock being called. It appeared that Yang had a real decision. Eventually, and almost reluctantly, he slid out his stack to make the call.

Zalac revealed A♦3♦ for the nut flush draw as Yang opened 9♥9♠ - a monster hand with middle set! As Zalac scratched his head wondering what Yang was thinking about, Yang was yelling out "nothing, nothing" as the board bricked out safely with the 8♠ turn and T♥ river.

Yang doubled his stack to over 35,000 with Zalac down to around 16,000.

12:00am: Level 8, blinds 400-800, ante 100

11:50pm: Puusa pushes Chan

We've been waiting to see if someone would stand up to the aggression of Justin Chan, and it looks like Finnish player Kimmo Puusa might be the man to do so.

We caught a hand on the turn with Puusa leading out for 2,000 on the board of 5♥5♣K♥. Thomas Ward made the call before Chan splashed out a raise to 5,125. Puusa was having none of it as he came back with a re-raise to 13,000. Ward quickly escaped as Chan gave a wry smile of someone caught with his hand in the cookie jar. After a moment or two, Chan folded, and Puusa rubbed some salt into the wound by flashing the 2♥.

Puusa is now up to 50,000 with Chan sitting on the same amount.

11:35pm: Bizbills back in business

PokerStars qualifier James Bills hasn't been able to get much going so far today, but a recent double up might turn his day around in the right direction.

Bills moved all in from early position with A♣2♦ for his last 5,125 but found a call from Inge Dahl Forsmo who tabled a dominant A♠8♠.

The flop landed 7♠2♠4♣ to give Bills the lead with a pair of deuces but Forsmo found a flush draw. The T♣ turn missed both, as did the 3♦ river to leave Bills to double his stack to around 11,000. Forsmo fell to 21,500.

11:20pm: Play resumes: Level 7, blinds 300-600, ante 75

The players are back in action as we tick over the halfway mark of the day. There are just under 90 players remaining with our big stacks including Justin Chan and inaugural Red Dragon champ Kenny Leong.


11:10pm: Ten-minute break

11:00pm: Raj has all the aces

Raj Ramakrishnan has added some chips to his stack, thanks largely to picking up pocket aces, not once, but twice! He recalled to us the details.

The first saw Ramakrishnan take on a short-stacked player who held ace-king. There was a bit of a sweat when a queen and jack on the flop gave his opponent a straight draw, but there were no bad beats as Ramakrishnan's aces held.

Moments later Ramakrishnan raised the button to 1,100 and the blinds and antes folded. Ramakrishnan grimaced as he flashed the rockets, thinking that he didn't get any action. Little did he realise the under-the-gun player had limped into the pot and was still to act! After seeing the aces, the UTG-player quickly got out of the way, to leave Ramakrishnan shaking his head once more. He's up to 22,000.

10:45pm: Leong liking top pair

APPT Macau runner-up Kenneth Leong is ticking along nicely after recently eliminating Donglian Zhou. We picked it up on a dangerous looking board of J♣4♣3♣9♠ with a 2,000-chip bet from Zhou raised all in by Leong. Zhou had about 8,000 more behind and after some thought, he called it off with A♣K♥ for the nut flush draw. His overcards were also live as Leong tabled Q♦J♦.

The river fell the T♥ to miss both players and leave Leong to rake in the pot. Zhou was sent home as Leong moved up to a commanding 55,000 in chips.

10:40pm: Breaking tables

We've broken another table here on Day 1a of the Macau Poker Cup Red Dragon Main Event which puts us down to 99 players remaining across 11 tables here in the PokerStars LIVE Macau poker room. While there are plenty of other spare tables in the room, the newly vacated tables are quickly being snatched up with cash games ticking over quietly in one corner of the room, while a few cash sit 'n go's have also started up with a HK$1,500 buy-in.

There are a number of railbirds checking out the action, and a great atmosphere in the room, so if you're nearby, why not come down and check it out?

10:30pm: Level 6, blinds 200-400, ante 50

10:20pm: Chan and Varma tango again

Meanwhile the big pots continue to erupt over on Table 8 as Justin Chan and Amit Varma collided in another pot. We suspect the action was three-bet preflop as we arrived to see Varma betting 3,000 from the big blind on a flop of J♥6♠2♣. Chan made the call and the turn produced the 8♦.

Varma bet another 3,500 but Chan casually tossed out two yellow 5,000-denomination chips to indicate a raise. Varma thought briefly before giving it up as Chan added to his empire. Varma dropped to 11,000 as Chan maintains his position near the top of the counts with 48,000.

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Justin Chan is a dominant force on Day 1a

10:05pm: He who acts first, wins

Daniel Laidlaw is quietly increasing his stack with the efficiency of someone who is right on top of his game. We recently caught Laidlaw take a flop of 9♦5♠8♣ in a battle of the blinds. Laidlaw checked from the small blind to his opponent who bet 1,050. Laidlaw called before both players checked the 2♠ turn and K♣ river.

The dealer then motioned for Laidlaw to open his cards.

"Is it first to act or last aggressor?" questioned Laidlaw as to who was supposed to show first.

The dealer seemed confused while the big blind was giving nothing away.

"I'll show if you want, but I have an eight," said Laidlaw as he opened 8♥7♦ which was enough to take it down. Laidlaw is up to 25,000.

9:50pm: Level 5, blinds 150-300, ante 25

9:40pm: Ladies unkind to Raj

If you followed our recent coverage of the APPT Queenstown final table, you would have read about Raj Ramakrishan's bad fortune with pocket queens. It doesn't seem to matter if Ramakrishnan is holding them, or is up against them, the ladies have been unkind.

That trend has continued here in Macau after Ramakrishnan moved all in preflop with A♥K♥ to isolate against the short stack of Andrew Chan who had shoved with Q♣Q♠.

The flop landed Q♥T♥7♦ which was pretty interesting as Chan caught a set but Ramakrishnan added plenty of outs with his Royal Flush draw. However those outs were reduced to just one card, when the 7♠ landed to give Chan a full house.

Ramakrishnan would need to hit the jack of hearts to win the hand, but the J♠ river was the wrong suit as Chan landed a double up. Again the ladies betray Ramakrishnan as he slipped to just 7,000.

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Raj Ramakrishnan having some trouble with queens

9:30pm: Could've been worse

One of the bigger stacks in the room at the moment belongs to Justin Chan, but it could've been a lot less after a recent cooler of a hand saw Chan run his K♠K♦ into Amit Varma's A♣A♦, while a third player in the hand tabled T♣T♠.

Fortunately for Chan, Varma was a little short stacked as the board ran out 3♦7♣Q♠4♦7♠.

Varma virtually tripled up to 18,000 with Chan still sitting comfortably with 42,000.

9:20pm: A few chip counts

Justin Chan - 42,000
Thomas Ward - 22,000
Craig Blight - 21,000
Darren Judges - 21,000
Ivan Zalac - 18,000
Alexandre Chieng - 15,000
Scott Calcagno - 15,000
James Bills - 14,000
Raj Ramakrishnan - 13,000
Daniel Laidlaw - 12,000
Sparrow Cheung - 7,000

9:10pm: Play resumes: Level 4, blinds 100-200, ante 25

Refreshed and recharged, the players are back in action on Day 1a of the Macau Poker Cup Red Dragon Main Event. The big screen is currently showing 131 players which we have just been informed is our official number for today with registration now closed.

That's a pretty solid number considering all of the dramas unfolding outside of the casino with Typhoon Utor.

Currently 127 players are remaining as we enter Level 4 with the blinds at 100-200 with a 25-chip ante.


9:00pm: Break

The players have scampered from the tournament floor with cigarettes, food, drinks and the bathroom high on the agenda. We'll be back in ten!

8:40pm: Folding kings preflop

"This guy just folded kings to me preflop!" exclaimed Ivan Zalac as we wandered past his table. The player he was pointing to was none other than reigning APPT Macau champion Alexandre Chieng.

Zalac recalled to us that he opened, Chieng three-bet before Zalac four-bet shoved all in, forcing an open fold of pocket kings by Chieng.

Was it the right fold? Most of the table seemed to agree it was an incorrect fold but Zalac wasn't giving away anything.

"I'll tell you later!" laughed Zalac.

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Ivan Zalac stirring up trouble in Macau

8:25pm: Chainani turns it up

Darren Walter opened with a raise from middle position before Youngsu Choi three-bet to 725 on the button. The action was then with Singaporean Dhanesh Chainani in the small blind and he decided to cold four-bet to 2,050. It wasn't enough to shake his opponents as they both made the call.

The flop landed 7♠7♦K♦ and Chainani led out for 2,500 and that was enough to deter his opponents as Chainani raked in a nice pot.

8:20pm: Level 3, blinds 100-200

8:00pm: Man down!

It's taken a bit of a cooler, but we've finally seen our first casualty of the day. We arrived on a flop of Q♠T♠8♣ to see Jehoon Lee move all in from the big blind with T♣T♥ for middle set but Kuan Jen Wang had flopped the nuts on the button holding J♣9♠. Ouch!

Lee was looking for the board to pair, but unfortunately for him, his tournament was brought to an abrupt end when the 7♦ turn and 2♦ river bricked out the board.

7:45pm: Sometimes it takes a five-bet

Unlike previous visits to Macau, the action has been pretty steady in the early parts of Day 1a of the Macau Poker Cup Red Dragon Main Event. In the past, we've seen some pretty wild and reckless play, even in the early stages, but so far today, everyone is making good use of the 15,000-chip start back to sit back, assess their table and pick their spots.

However we did catch a little aggression over on Table 8 when former Macau Millions champ Justin Chan and Austrian PokerStars qualifier Gregory Lane tangled preflop.

Lane opened to 250 from the cutoff position before Chan popped it to 575 on the button. Action folded back to Lane who was a non-believer as he re-raised to 1,200. Chan wasn't done with there as he five-bet to 3,000. The two exchanged some inaudible friendly banter before Lane gave it up as Chan collected a nice early pot.

7:40pm: Level 2, blinds 50-100

7:25pm: Red-hot Laidlaw

Arguably the hottest player on the Australasian poker scene right now is Daniel Laidlaw, and he is looking to keep the hot streak going after jumping straight into the action here on Day 1a of the Macau Poker Cup.

Macau has become a second home for Laidlaw, who regularly enjoys grinding the cash games here, but in recent times, it's his tournament success which has taken priority.

Laidlaw took 2nd place in the APPT Queenstown for NZ$59,550 and then followed that up barely a week later by winning the Sydney Poker Championships for a post-deal amount of around AU$120,000.

Can Laidlaw keep that impressive run of form going here in Macau?

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Daniel Laidlaw during the APPT Queenstown Main Event

7:10pm: Some familiar faces

The players are still making their way into the PokerStars LIVE Macau poker room here at the City of Dreams, but in the early few minutes we've spotted a few familiar faces on our rounds of the tables.

Justin Chan, Sparrow Cheung, Scott Calcagno, Thomas Ward, Neo Li Han Chen, Hung-sheng "Shaq" Lin and Darren Judges are in today's field as well as APPT Macau champion Alexandre Chieng and runner-up Kenneth Leong.

While it's also good to see that quite a few overseas players have safely made it to Macau with the likes of Craig Blight, Ivan Zalac, James Bills and Raj Ramakrishnan among the Aussie contingent to have landed safely in Macau.

There are roughly 120 players in action so far with registration still open for several more hours.

7:00pm: Shuffle up and deal!

The players have been welcomed to the PokerStars LIVE Macau poker room and the command has been issued to shuffle up and deal as play is now underway on Day 1a of the Macau Poker Cup Red Dragon Main Event! The blinds will commence at 25-50.

Prize pool guarantee update

We need to point out that the previously advertised Main Event prize pool guarantee is no longer applicable due to the Typhoon Utor which has now reached Level 8.

PokerStars LIVE Macau management released the following statement a short time ago:

Dear players,

Please note that guarantees are not applicable during Typhoon Level 8 or higher as listed on official documents.

Due to the recent Typhoon Level 8, PokerStars LIVE Macau will be removing the HK $5m guarantee on the Red Dragon event.

Date and times for the Red Dragon main event will still continue as scheduled.

For questions or concerns, please email macau@pokerstars.net

Thank you for your understanding,

PokerStars LIVE Macau management

Time to slay the Dragon!

The poker room at PokerStars LIVE at the City of Dreams is looking a treat as the players are starting to file through the registration desk and into the tournament pit that will be their battleground this evening. Day 1a of the Macau Poker Cup is upon us as players have come far and wide to take part one of Asia's most popular poker events.

Hopefully the typhoon doesn't keep too many people away, but we have heard that there's a backlog of ferries from Hong Kong to Macau this afternoon, so numbers may be down a little on expectation today.

We'll be playing a maximum of twelve 40-minute levels this evening, which will see play wrap up some time around 3am local time.

Stay locked into the PokerStars Blog as we bring you all the live updates from the tournament floor!

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Heath "TassieDevil" Chick is a Freelance Contributor for the PokerStars Blog.

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