2017 ACOP: Aaron Been the big stack among Main Event final six

October 27, 2017

The 2017 ACOP Main Event official final table is now set after another 13 hours at the felt saw 23 players cut down to just six. They’ll be back from 2pm tomorrow to battle it out for the title, the gold Spadie and HK$6,815,000 (~$873,000)!

The man with the best chance of scooping all three is Aaron Been who leads the way with 4.805 million in chips. He has $686,807 in live scores to his name and has already guaranteed himself another great result to add to that list this week.

ACOP Main Event chip leader Aaron Been.jpg

All smiles for Aaron Been

Before the final six locked up their seats tonight the action was flying thick and fast.

Hopes of a two-time ACOP Main Event champion were dashed as 2014 winner Gabriel Le Jossec fell in 10th place to set our unofficial final tale of nine. Joining him on the rail in the hours following were Guoliang Wei (9th place) and Tom Alner (8th place).

And the last evictee of the night was Atanas Kavrakov who met his demise at the hands of a frosty deck. Kavrakov three-bet jammed with Q♠Q♦ only to be called by chip leader Been with A♣K♦. Kavrakov managed to fade the 3♣10♠9♥ flop but the K♠ turn spelled disaster. The 6♠ river failed to save him and he was eliminated in 7th spot to bring play to a close.

ACOP Main Event 7th place.jpg

That’s all from us here in Macau tonight. Be sure to join us from 2pm tomorrow for the exciting conclusion of this ACOP Main Event! In the meantime you can check out how our final six stack up below.

1 Brian Altman United States 1,495,000
2 Alan Lau Hong Kong 2,760,000
3 Dominik Nitsche Germany 2,330,000
4 David Laka Spain 1,245,000
5 Stephen Chidwick United Kingdom 2,790,000
6 Aaron Been United States 4,805,000

ACOP Main Event FT.jpg

• PLAYERS LEFT: 6 (of 308)
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2:57am: Atanas Kavrakov eliminated in 7th place (HK$1,000,200)
Level 27 – Blinds: 25,000/50,000 (ante 5,000)

We’re done (for the day).

Aaron Been raised to 100,000 from under the gun and Atanas Kavrakov moved all-in for 1.25 million. Action folded back around to Been, who quickly called with A♣K♦. Kavrakov had Q♠Q♦ and we had good-old flip to the end the day.

Been hit a king on the turn of a 3♣10♠9♥K♠6♠ board and Kavrakov was eliminated in 7th place while Been’s lead extended to 4.8 million. –AV

2:50am: Small hat trick for Lau
Level 27 – Blinds: 25,000/50,000 (ante 5,000)

Alan Lau won three pots in a row and is up to about 2.53 million. Lau took the first one off Stephen Chidwick.

Chidwick raised to 100,000 from the hijack that hand and Lau called from the big blind. The flop came Q♦A♥6♦ and Chidwick bet 75,000 when checked to. Lau called and a 10♠ came on the turn. Both players checked and checked again when the the 9♦ came on the river. Lau turned over A♣8♠ and Chidwick mucked.

Action folded to Lau’s small blind the following hand and he raised to 160,000. Nitsche folded from the big blind and Lau locked down the pot. Lau had the button the following hand and raised to 120,000. The blinds folded and Lau’s hat trick was complete. –AV

2:40am: Laka wins one
Level 27 – Blinds: 25,000/50,000 (ante 5,000)

David Laka has been one of the shorter stacks for a while but he’s fighting back after winning a pot from Dominik Nitsche.

Nitsche raised to 100,000 from the cutoff and Laka called on the button to see the dealer spread a flop of 9♦9♠8♠. Both players checked and the A♥ landed on the turn.

Nitsche checked, Laka fired for 225,000, and Nitsche relinquished pot over to him. Laka now has 1.4 million to Nistche’s 1.7 million. — BK

2:20am: The Magnificent (and Tired) Seven
Level 27 – Blinds: 25,000/50,000 (ante 5,000)

Players have returned and they’re pushing into Level 27 now. Here’s how they stack up:

Name Country Chips
Aaron Been United States 3,500,000
Stephen Chidwick United Kingdom 2,870,000
Alan Lau Hong Kong 2,350,000
Dominik Nitsche Germany 2,050,000
Brian Altman United States 1,615,000
Atanas Kavrakov Bulgaria 1,575,000
David Laka Spain 1,450,000

It’s less than 12 hours until they’re due back to play the final, so there are some bodies running purely on adrenaline (and Red Bull, official energy drink sponsor of PokerStars Macau). — HS

2:05am: Chidwick takes a big chunk off Altman
Level 26 – Blinds: 20,000/40,000 (ante 5,000)

It was a big pot that extended well into the break.

It started off when Brian Altman raised to 90,000 from the hijack. Action folded around to Stephen Chidwick and he re-raised to 350,000. Altman asked Chidwick how much he had in his stack.

“About 2 million,” Chidwick said. Altman called, the flop came J♠9♠J♥ and Chidwick checked. Altman bet 125,000 and a 3♣ came on the turn after Chidwick called. This time Altman bet 310,000. Chidwick called and a K♥ completed the board.

Chidwick checked again and this time Altman checked behind. Chidwick turned over A♦A♥ and Altman mucked. The hand left Altman with 1.615 million while Chidwick rose to 2.87 million. –AV

1:55am: Nuts for Been
Level 26 – Blinds: 20,000/40,000 (ante 5,000)

Aaron Been has extended the gap between himself and his other five tablemates after making the nuts to scoop even more chips.

Been defended his big blind to a preflop raise from Brian Altman and the flop came down 5♠Q♣9♥. Been check-called 75,000 and the 8♦ appeared on the turn. Been checked again, Altman fired for 280,000 and Been slid the chips in before the 4♦ river rolled off on the end.

Been checked a final time and Altman wisely checked behind to be shown Been’s J♣10♥ for the turned nut straight. That hit took Altman down to 2.1 million while Been builds higher to 3.6 million. — BK

1:40am: Laka leaps Chidwick
Level 26 – Blinds: 20,000/40,000 (ante 5,000)

David Laka has now leapt above Stephen Chidwick in the chip counts in a slow-burner of a pot that ended, once again, with the all-in triangle in front of Laka.


Laka, left, and Chidwick tangle for heaps

It began with Laka opening to 80,000 from the hijack and Chidwick calling in the cutoff. Brian Altman called from the big blind, but was not destined to play a starring role in this.

Altman checked the 2♦A♣7♦ flop and Laka bet 95,000. Chidwick called and that allowed Altman to retreat.

The Q♣ fell on the turn and Laka bet 375,000. Chidwick looked his opponent up and down before matching the bet. Laka had only about 940,000 behind now, but seemed to like the 9♦ river. He pushed all in and Chidwick quickly mucked.


David Laka: Moving in the right direction again

That put Laka up to around 2.3 million and meant Chidwick slipped to 2.050 million. Chips are being passed slowly around this table, though it does feel as though the simmering can’t last forever. — HS

1:30am: Antanas gets a fold from Chidwick
Level 26 – Blinds: 20,000/40,000 (ante 5,000)

Stephen Chidwick was on the button and he raised to 90,000. Atanas Kavrakov called from the big blind and the flop came 5♥A♦J♦. Chidwick bet 75,000 when checked to and Kavrakov called.

Both players then checked the 10♠ on the turn, but the river brought a big bet from Kavrakov. The 7♥ completed the board and Kavrakov put out 400,000. Chidwick folded and Kavrakov moved up to 1.5 million while Chidwick is at 2.6 million. –AV

1:25am: Laka lands Broadway
Level 26 – Blinds: 20,000/40,000 (ante 5,000)

Dominik Nitsche has dropped to 1.75 million after a big river call that turned out to be incorrect – much to the delight of David Laka.

Nitsche limped the small blind preflop and Laka checked his option in the big blind before the flop landed A♣6♠Q♦. Nitsche bet 40,000 and Laka called to see the 10♣ turn card.

Nitsche barrelled for 150,000 this time and Laka called once more. The K♥ completed the board and Nitsche checked over to Laka who shoved for 530,000. Nitsche took a couple of minutes to study Laka and ultimately called with K♣3♣ but Laka held the nuts with J♦10♦.

Laka moved up to 1.6 million while Nitsche fell to 1.75 million. — BK

1:10am: Three for the price of one
Level 26 – Blinds: 20,000/40,000 (ante 5,000)

Three quick pots (well, quick to read; they took longer to play):

Brian Altman opened to 75,000 from the cutoff and Alan Lau called on the button. The dealer showed them the 2♠5♦8♠ flop and Altman checked. Lau bet 100,000 and Altman called. They both checked the 8♥ turn, but then Altman’s 560,000 took this one down.

Next hand, Dominik Nitsche opened his button to 100,000 and Stephen Chidwick called in the big blind. They took a flop of K♦J♥7♣ and Chidwick checked. Nitsche bet 105,000 and Chidwick called. There was no more betting through the turn J♠ and river 4♥ and Chidwick’s A♠10♥ took it at showdown.

Next hand, Altman opened to 90,000 from mid position but folded when David Laka pushed from the button. It was 505,000 and too rich for Altman. — HS

1:05am: Taking back from Lau
Level 26 – Blinds: 20,000/40,000 (ante 5,000)

Dominik Nitsche then got a few of those chips back from Alan Lau.

Nitsche’s most recent pot was a small one that came from a battle of the blinds. Alan Lau called from the small blind and Nitsche checked from the big.

The flop came 6♦Q♦4♦ and Lau bet 50,000. Nitsche called and then both players checked the 5♣ on the turn. A 10♣ completed the board and Lau bet 80,000. Nitsche called with Q♠3♠ and took down the pot with a pair of queens after Lau tabled A♦8♠ for ace-high.

Lau dipped to 2.3 million while Nitsche is up to 2.85 million. –AV

1am: Cold four-bet from Lau
Level 26 – Blinds: 20,000/40,000 (ante 5,000)

Dominik Nitsche raised to 90,000 preflop before Atanas Kavrakov three-bet to 280,000 on the button. Brian Altman folded in the small blind but Alan Lau came in for a cold four-bet totalling 520,000.

Nitsche made what looked like a frustrated fold and after a minute of deliberation Kavrakov did the same. The latter fell to 1.3 million while Lau now sits with 2.4 million. — BK

12:50am: Dominik back on the docket
Level 26 – Blinds: 20,000/40,000 (ante 5,000)

It wasn’t the biggest pot, but it brought one of the loudest cheers we’ve heard at the final table so far. Dominik Nitsche now has a stack that’s close to being second in chips, but he definitely has the loudest rail of increasingly inebriated Germans.

The pot that elicited cheers was one that Alan Lau opened to 90,000 from the hijack. Nitsche three-bet from the cutoff and action folded back around to Lau. The flop came K♣A♣J♠ after Lau called and both players checked.

They checked again when the 7♣ came on the turn and checked one more time when the J♣ brought a fourth club on the river. Both players showed a pocket pair, but neither had a club. Lau turned over 9♦9♥Q♥.

The Germans on the rail cheered and Nitsche chipped up to 2.7 million. — AV

12:40pm: Nitsche’s comeback continues
Level 26 – Blinds: 20,000/40,000 (ante 5,000)

Dominik Nitsche’s seems to be riding the rungood wave right now. He just won another sizable pot from Stephen Chidwick.

Chidwick raised to 90,000 preflop and Nitsche defended his big blind taking them to a flop of K♣8♥5♠. Nitsche check-called 75,000 and then at the fall of the 5♦ turn card he led for 125,000. Chidwick made the call and the J♠ completed the board.

Nitsche loaded up and slid 550,000 into the middle, and unfortunately for Chidwick he made the call to see Nitsche had trips with 7♣5♥. That awarded Nitsche the pot and took him up to 2.45 million while Chidwick fell to 2.7 million. — BK

12:35am: Nitsche doubles through Laka
Level 26 – Blinds: 20,000/40,000 (ante 5,000)

Dominik Nitsche raised to 80,000 from under the gun on the first hand back from break and David Laka three-bet to 180,000 from Nitsche’s left. Action folded back around to Nitsche and he moved all-in for 730,000.

Laka quickly called and players tabled their hands.

Nitsche: 10♠10♣
Laka: A♠Q♥

It was an old-fashioned race that fell in Nitsche’s favor after the board came K♦9♠5♠8♠8♦. Nitsche doubled to 1.5 million while Laka dropped to about 600,000. –AV

12:30pm: One to go
Level 25 – Blinds: 15,000/30,000 (ante 5,000)

Here’s how they line up with seven left. One more to go and then they’re done:

Name Country Chips BBs
Stephen Chidwick United Kingdom 3,580,000 90
Aaron Been United States 3,510,000 88
Alan Lau Hong Kong 2,465,000 62
Brian Altman United States 1,900,000 48
Atanas Kavrakov Bulgaria 1,900,000 48
David Laka Spain 1,315,000 33
Dominik Nitsche Germany 730,000 18

12:15am: Chasing Chidwick
Level 25 – Blinds: 15,000/30,000 (ante 5,000)

Stephen Chidwick has moved up to challenge Aaron Been after a hand developed between he, Brian Altman and Alan Lau.

Altman opened to 70,000 under the gun and Lau called next to act before Chidwick did the same on the button. The 9♦3♣8♥ flop was met with two checks and Chidwick fired for 75,000. Altman then came in with a check-raise to 250,000. Lau folded, Chidwick called, and the 6♠ arrived on the turn.

Altman slowed down with a check and Chidwick bet just 200,000 into the bloated pot. That was enough to scare off Altman, however, who folded and dropped to 1.6 million as Chidwick climbed higher to 3.35 million.

That’s a tournament break and we’ll have full counts shortly. — BK

12:05am: Atanas attack
Level 25 – Blinds: 15,000/30,000 (ante 5,000)

Atanas Kavrakov got a bit active after Tom Alner’s elimination. The preferred move was to open to 75,000. Kavrakov first did it from the cutoff and got called by Dominik Nitsche in the big blind.

The flop came A♠Q♣8♦ and Kavrakov took it down with a continuation bet of 70,000.

Kavrakov didn’t participate in the next hand, but he did raise to 75,000 after that. Alan Lau called from the cutoff and the two checked down to the river of a 9♦K♦8♣4♣3♣ board. Kavrakov tabled A♦Q♦ for ace-high while Lau showed 6♦6♥ for a pair of sixes and the pot.

Kavrakov was under the gun the following hand and raised to 75,000 again. Brian Altman called and the two went to a A♦10♠8♣ flop. Both players checked and then checked again when a 5♣ came on the turn. Kavrakov then took a stab at the pot with a bet of 150,000 when the K♠ came on the river and Altman folded.

Kavrakov is now up to 1.9 million. –AV

11:55pm: The end for Alner
Level 25 – Blinds: 15,000/30,000 (ante 5,000)

It was a race that brought an end to Tom Alner’s Main Event campaign. After facing an open of 60,000 from Aaron Been, Alner looked as the cards dealt to him in the big blind and announced his all-in.


Tom Alner: GG

Been snapped and they both put their cards on their backs:

Alner: 5♦5♣
Been: A♥8♥

The flop looked decent for Alner. He flopped a full house as the 2♣2♠2♥ emerged and there were only two cards to come. However the A♦ turn changed all that and the 3♠ river signalled the end.

He tapped the table in disappointment before he stepped away. He’ll head to the payouts cage and get HK$843,000 for his efforts.


Alner heads home

Meanwhile Been added another 435,000 to his stack and there are now seven players left. -LY

11:45pm: More chips for Chidwick
Level 25 – Blinds: 15,000/30,000 (ante 5,000)

Stephen Chidwick continues to chip up here after taking another pot down. Dominik Nitsche raised to 60,000 in the hijack seat before Chidwick and Atanas Kavrakov called from the button and big blind respectively.

The A♠4♣7♥ flop was met with three checks and the 6♦ rolled off on the turn.

Kavrakov checked, Nitsche checked, and Chidwick took a stab at it for a relatively chunky 175,000. That did the trick as his opponents’ hands sailed into the muck and he climbed even higher to 3.1 million. — BK

11:40pm: Nitsche doubles Laka
Level 25 – Blinds: 15,000/30,000 (ante 5,000)

Alan Lau raised to 70,000 from the cutoff and Dominik Nitsche three-bet to 210,000 from the button. David Laka was on the small blind and moved all-in for 760,000.

Lau folded, but Nitsche called with J♣J♥. Laka tabled a better pocket pair, the best actually A♠A♣. There was an ace on the window of an A♥K♠Q♦ flop, but it also gave Nitsche outs to a Broadway straight.

Nitsche didn’t get a ten for the bustout though. The turn and river brought a 4♥ and 3♥ instead and Laka doubled to 1.65 million while Nitsche dropped to 1.1 million. –AV

11:35pm: Three pots on the trot for Chidwick
Level 25 – Blinds: 15,000/30,000 (ante 5,000)

There seems to be a pattern emerging. We don’t see something done once, we see it done twice or even three times in a row.

The pattern this time involved Stephen Chidwick, who raised and won three pots in succession. And all of them without showdown.

First he delayed his continuation bet to the turn against Brian Altman’s big blind defend to take the pot. Second he two barrelled versus Alan Lau’s big blind call and scooped it up. Third, was with a small bet on the flop in a hand with Dominik Nitsche who had also called from his big blind.

Well if it ain’t broke, why fix it? -LY

11:30pm: Cold calls and caution
Level 25 – Blinds: 15,000/30,000 (ante 5,000)

Brian Altman opened to 70,000 before Dominik Nitsche three-bet to 210,000. Aaron Been cold-called on the button, and after Altman folded, the flop was spread 8♠6♣7♦.

Despite the action preflop it was checked down all the way through the J♦ turn and A♥ river where Been tabled A♠K♠ for top pair top kicker. That was good against Nitsche’s K♦Q♥ and Been climbed to 2.8 million.

Nitsche meanwhile has 2 million at his disposal. — BK

11:25pm: A pair of three-bets
Level 25 – Blinds: 15,000/30,000 (ante 5,000)

We didn’t see a lot of three-bets last level. Most raises took down the pot and or got a call.

Now we’ve seen a pair of them, back-to-back too. David Laka raised to 60,000 from early position in the first one and then Stephen Chidwick made it 175,000 to go. Action folded back around to Laka, who is sitting with just 700,000, and he folded as well.

Aaron Been then raised to 70,000 from middle position the following hand and Brian Altman three-bet to 200,000 from the button. Been called the reraise and a 10♥J♥K♣ flop hit the board. Been checked and then folded after Altman bet 250,000.

The pot put Altman up to 2.15 million while Been has dipped a bit to 2.52 million. –AV

11:20pm: Can a structure be too good?
Level 25 – Blinds: 15,000/30,000 (ante 5,000)

Put it this way, we’re eight handed and there are more than 500 big blinds in play! — HS

11:10pm: Early position steals
Level 25 – Blinds: 15,000/30,000 (ante 5,000)

Three hands in a row featured an open from under the gun. First was Tom Alner who made it 65,000 to play and no one looked him up. Brian Altman was up next and made an identical bet and he too took it down.

When Alan Lau decided to follow suit, it looked like he would have the same result, until Altman peeled the 70,000 open from the big blind.

The flop came: J♦J♥7♥

After Altman checked, Lau didn’t continue and the turn brought out a third heart 3♥. When Altman checked it to Lau, he made it 105,000 to call and Altman quickly threw his cards away. -LY

11:05pm: Nitsche takes from Altman
Level 25 – Blinds: 15,000/30,000 (ante 5,000)

Brian Altman opened to 60,000 on the button and Dominik Nitsche defended his big blind to see a flop of 2♠10♦K♣. Nitsche check-called 60,000 and the 7♣ fell on the turn.

The action was checked through and the same happened on the 6♥ river before Nitsche showed 8♥2♥ for bottom pair.

That was good enough as Altman tapped the table and dropped to 1.95 million to Nitsche’s 2.7 million. — BK

11pm: Some more chips for Chidwick
Level 25 – Blinds: 15,000/30,000 (ante 5,000)

Stephen Chidwick and Dominik Nitsche are back to trading quick jabs.

Nitsche raised to 75,000 from the hijack and Chidwick called from the button. The two went to a Q♦9♣3♣ flop and Chidwick bet 80,000 when checked to. Nitsche called and a 5♣ came on the turn.

Nitsche checked again but this time he folded after Chidwick bet 275,000. –AV

10:55pm: An overbet wins it
Level 25 – Blinds: 15,000/30,000 (ante 5,000)

With six players out of the way, the action was on Stephen Chidwick, who limped blind versus blind. Aaron Been checked and so they went to the flop.


It was checked twice and the dealer put out the 9♦ turn. Chidwick lead out for 65,000 and Been made the call. The 3♦ river slowed Chidwick down and he checked to Been who over-bet to 300,000.

It was too much for Chidwick who laid it down. -LY

10:50pm: Chidwick chips up a little
Level 24 – Blinds: 12,000/24,000 (ante 4,000)

Stephen Chidwick took down one of the first hands after dinner break. Dominik Nitsche raised to 75,000 on the button and Chidwick called from the big blind to see a flop of 5♣6♦10♠. Chidwick check-called 80,000 and the 8♦ arrived on the turn.


Stephen Chidwick: Chips up

Both players checked it through and again on the 10♥ river before Chidwick tabled A♥K♦ which was the best of it. Chidwick now has 2.15 million while Nitsche falls a little to 2.6 million. — BK

10:45pm: Back in the room
Level 24 – Blinds: 12,000/24,000 (ante 4,000)

Players have returned and taken their seats and we now play on until we reach the final six. — HS

9:45pm: Dinner time
Level 24 – Blinds: 12,000/24,000 (ante 4,000)

That’s the end of the level and players are taking a 60-minute dinner break. We are too. Here’s how they stand at the moment:

Name Country Chips
Dominik Nitsche Germany 2,790,000
Aaron Been United States 2,600,000
Alan Lau Hong Kong 2,450,000
Brian Altman United States 2,350,000
Atanas Kavrakov Bulgaria 2,000,000
Stephen Chidwick United Kingdom 1,909,000
David Laka Spain 992,000
Tom Alner United Kingdom 585,000

9:40pm: Alner’s uncalled all-in
Level 24 – Blinds: 12,000/24,000 (ante 4,000)

Tom Alner is the short stack at the final table, but managed to make it to the river before moving all-in.

The hand started when Stephen Chidwick raised to 50,000 from the cutoff. Alner called from the big blind and both players then checked the 5♠Q♥3♥ flop. This brought a Q♣ on the turn and a 75,000 bet from Alner.

Chidwick called and a 10♣ completed the board. That’s when Alner made his move: all-in. The dealer was counting out the 220,000 stack and Chidwick folded. Alner’s short stack is now up to 600,000 while Chidwick is hovering at 1.87 million. –AV

9:35pm: Altman doesn’t back down
Level 24 – Blinds: 12,000/24,000 (ante 4,000)

Following an early position open of 55,000 by Brian Altman, Alan Lau, who was seated directly to his left, three-bet to 155,000. With no other takers it came back to Altman and he peeled.

The flop: Q♠4♦10♠

The draw heavy flop saw a check from Altman and Lau continued for 140,000. Altman made the call. It was a 2♥ turn and a check a piece. When the Q♣ river fell, it paired the top card and Altman lead for 152,000. Lau didn’t fancy it and mucked. -LY

9:30pm: Laka lives
Level 24 – Blinds: 12,000/24,000 (ante 4,000)

David Laka has faded danger to double through Aaron Been. After a cutoff raise from Dominik Nitsche, Laka moved all in for 452,000.

Been made the call from the big blind, and with Nitsche folding, the hands were turned face up.

Laka: 4♥4♦
Been: A♦Q♠

They were off to the races and while the 6♦5♣6♠ flop brought a potential counterfeit for Laka, the 9♥ turn and 10♠ river were safe and he secured the double up.

That takes Laka up to 1 million in chips while Been dips to 2.9 million. — BK

9:25pm: Hot chips
Level 24 – Blinds: 12,000/24,000 (ante 4,000)

Here’s how they sit right now:

Name Country Chips
Aaron Been United States 3,150,000
Dominik Nitsche Germany 2,900,000
Alan Lau Hong Kong 2,550,000
Stephen Chidwick United Kingdom 2,550,000
Atanas Kavrakov Bulgaria 2,000,000
Brian Altman United States 1,900,000
Tom Alner United Kingdom 450,000
David Laka Spain 420,000

9:22pm: Been bags some of Nitsche
Level 24 – Blinds: 12,000/24,000 (ante 4,000)

The two big stacks had a small clash and now they’re almost even in chips. Nitsche raised to 60,000 from the cutoff that hand and Aaron Been called from the big blind. The flop came down 7♣6♠8♣ and Nitsche bet 90,000 when checked to. Been called and then bet 175,000 after the 4♥ landed on the river.

Nitsche folded and both players are sitting with 3 million apiece. –AV

9:20pm: Laka loses one to Chidwick
Level 24 – Blinds: 12,000/24,000 (ante 4,000)

Brian Altman raised to 55,000 from the hijack and David Laka called from the small blind. Stephen Chidwick was on the big blind and called as well.

Laka then bet 72,000 on the J♦6♠Q♦ and Chidwick quickly made it 225,000 to go. Altman folded and Laka thought for a bit before letting it go as well. Thanks to that pot, Chidwick is now back to slightly over 2 million. –AV

9:10pm: Laka shoves
Level 24 – Blinds: 12,000/24,000 (ante 4,000)

David Laka just got a nice boost to his stack with no contest after an all-in squeeze from the big blind.

Tom Alner opened the action with a raise to 55,000 from the hijack, Brian Altman called in the cutoff, Alan Lau made the call on the button and then when Dominik Nitsche folded the small blind, Laka ripped it in for a total of 414,000.


David Laka: Laughing because he’s winning

Alner and Altman didn’t take long to fold but Lau went into the tank. After pondering for over a minute while look back and forward between the tournament clock and the table, he eventually opted to relinquish his hand.

Laka now has close to 600,000 in chips. — BK

9:05pm: Early position is out of fashion
Level 24 – Blinds: 12,000/24,000 (ante 4,000)

The last few hands that have taken place haven’t been opened until at least the cutoff.

Aaron Been stole the blinds opening from late position and Brian Altman didn’t bother to defend. Then the following two hands made it all the way to the small blind before anyone was willing to commit any chips to the pot.

First off Altman limped against Alan Lau, who checked his option. The flop came 8♠9♥3♥ and both players checked. Then came a 10♠ on the turn and Altman put in 60,000, which Lau called. Finally the 6♠ river was checked through, with Lau turning over 10♦4♦ for top pair and Altman’s K♥6♥ not good enough to beat it.

Next hand it was Lau’s turn to limp the small blind and he did so against Dominik Nitsche who raised it up to 100,000. That was enough to make Lau fold. -LY

9pm: Nitsche chips some off Chidwick
Level 24 – Blinds: 12,000/24,000 (ante 4,000)

Dominik Nitsche and Stephen Chidwick just can’t seem to stay away from each other.

In a recent pot, Nitsche raised to 55,000 from middle position and Chidwick called from the cutoff. Tom Alner called from the big blind and three of them went to the 5♠10♥2♠ flop. Chidwick bet 50,000 when checked to and got a fold from Alner. Nitsche called though and a J♠ came on the turn.

Both of them checked that time and a 10♣ came on the river to pair the board. Nitsche bet a final 75,000 and Chidwick called.


Dominik Nitsche: Can you put this man on a hand?

Nitsche showed J♦J♣ for a full house while Chidwick mucked.

The pot put Nitsche up to 3.15 million while Chidwick dipped to 1.9 million. –AV

8:55pm: Guoliang Wei eliminated in 9th place (HK$685,800)
Level 24 – Blinds: 12,000/24,000 (ante 4,000)

Guoliang Wei was the first to fall on our unofficial final table after a button-jam gone wrong.

It folded to Wei and he moved his last 422,000 into the middle, and after getting a count, Atanas Kavrakov called it off from the big blind.

Wei: A♦6♣
Kavrakov: A♣J♦

Wei needed help but the deck wouldn’t oblige on the 2♠10♣7♣Q♦K♠ run out. He departs as Kavrakov climbs to right around 2 million. — BK


No more of the hooded man, Guoliang Wei


Guoliang Wei: Smiling beneath the mask

8:45pm: Another few, tentative hands
Level 24 – Blinds: 12,000/24,000 (ante 4,000)

We’re around half an hour into final table play and no one seems ready to make a move just yet. It’s not surprising really, each ladder just is worth waiting for.

We have barely seen a flop in the last four hands. Most notably Tom Alner has got a couple of steals, through, raising to 55,000 both times and getting folds. -LY

8:40pm: A river!
Level 24 – Blinds: 12,000/24,000 (ante 4,000)

We had a showdown. Well, Brian Altman showed his cards and Stephen Chidwick mucked.

Chidwick started off the hand with a raise to 50,000 from middle position and Altman called from the big blind. The flop came down 2♦10♣3♥ and Chidwick bet another 50,000 when checked to. Altman called and then bet 70,000 after the 5♥ came on the turn.


Brian Altman: Fours good

Chidwick called and a 9♠ completed the board. Altman checked again and this time Chidwick checked behind. That’s when Altman showed his cards: 4♣4♦. Chidwick mucked and dipped slightly to 2 million while Altman rose to about that same amount. –AV

8:30pm: Kavrakov takes a small one after slow start
Level 24 – Blinds: 12,000/24,000 (ante 4,000)

It’s been very slow going on this final table so far with hands rarely going past the flop. The most recent hand was the same in which Aaron Been limped in from the small blind before Atanas Kavrakov raised to 96,000 from the big blind. Been stuck around the flop fell 3♠6♦J♠.

Been checked it over to Kavrakov who continued for 77,000 and that was good enough to take down the pot.

That hand takes Kavrakov up to 1.65 million to Been’s 2.55 million. — BK

8:25pm: Alpha stacks
Level 24 – Blinds: 12,000/24,000 (ante 4,000)

The big stacks have asserted their dominance at the beginning of the final table. The top three stacks each took down a pot in the first three hands.

Dominik Nitsche took down the first with a raise to 55,000 from the middle position. Then Alan Lau raised to 55,000 from under the gun and the rest of the table got out of the way.

Aaron Been then raised to 55,000 from the hijack on hand #3 and took it down. The three big stacks remained unchallenged, but they’ll have to clash at some point. –AV

8:20pm: Our plan
Level 24 – Blinds: 12,000/24,000 (ante 3,000)

There’s 1 hr 20 minutes left of Level 24 and then the remaining players will take a 60-minute dinner break. When they return, they will play to the last six or four more levels, whichever comes soonest.

Although that sounds like overkill, it really isn’t. There are 642 big blinds in play at the moment, with an average of 71. There’s still a long way to go in this. — HS

8:05pm: The last nine
Level 24 – Blinds: 12,000/24,000 (ante 3,000)

We’re reached our final table of nine. Here’s how they line up now:

Seat Name Country Chips
1 Tom Alner United Kingdom 553,000
2 Brian Altman United States 1,778,000
3 Alan Lau Hong Kong 2,666,000
4 Dominik Nitsche Germany 2,882,000
5 David Laka Spain 446,000
6 Stephen Chidwick United Kingdom 2,176,000
7 Guoliang Wei China 429,000
8 Aaron Been United States 2,930,000
9 Atanas Kavrakov Bulgaria 1,542,000


Our nine heroes

7:45pm: And we have our final table
Level 24 – Blinds: 12,000/24,000 (ante 3,000)

On one of the first hands since returning from the break, Gabriel Le Jossec has been knocked out in 10th place.

It came to Atanas Kavrakov on the button and with Le Jossec and Guoliang Wei both sitting on roughly 20bb, Kavrakov set them both in.

Le Jossec had a quick look at his hole cards and decided it was good enough, making the call. Wei stepped aside, the cards were turned over and it was a good old fashioned flip.

Le Jossec: A♠J♣
Kavrakov: 6♥6♦

The dealer dealt out the flop K♣K♥9♦ and Kavrakov’s pair maintained their lead. The 8♦ turn meant Jossec was hoping for an ace, a jack, a nine or an eight to keep him in the game. It wasn’t to be as the river was the 6♠, giving Kavrakov a full house.

It’s commiserations for Le Jossec, the 2014 winner, and congratulations to our final nine. Full chip counts to follow as they move over to the feature-table stage. -LY

7:25pm: Been up to the top

That’s the end of the level and, after a 15-minute pause, they’ll come back to these stacks:

Name Country Chips
Aaron Been United States 2,898,000
Dominik Nitsche Germany 2,734,000
Alan Lau Hong Kong 2,674,000
Stephen Chidwick United Kingdom 2,196,000
Brian Altman United States 1,840,000
Atanas Kavrakov Bulgaria 1,156,000
Tom Alner United Kingdom 611,000
Guoliang Wei China 465,000
Gabriel Le Jossec Canada 426,000
David Laka Spain 402,000

It’s been a relatively barren spell for Dominik Nitsche, so he has slipped out of the lead with the resurgent Aaron Been popping up at the top for the first time.– HS

7:20pm: Lau bests Altman
Level 23 – Blinds: 10,000/20,000 (ante 3,000)

Play has slowed right down, but here’s a pot that took us into the break.

Dominik Nitsche raised to 50,000 preflop before Brian Altman three-bet to 160,000. Alan Lau wanted to play for more and came out swinging with a cold four-bet to 400,000 from the small blind. Nitsche threw his hand away but Altman called to see a flop of 3♠Q♥5♥.

Lau continued for 320,000 and that was enough to take down the pot.

He moves up to 2.674 million while Altman was left with 1.84 million. — BK

7pm: Chidwick continues to push
Level 23 – Blinds: 10,000/20,000 (ante 3,000)

It was back to back pots again for Stephen Chidwick who is showing no signs of slowing down in his quest for chips. First Tom Alner took a hit and then it was Brian Altman’s turn.

Let’s start at the beginning…

Chidwick made a 50,000 raise from middle position and Alner matched it from the big blind. The flop was 3♥4♣5♣ and when Alner checked it to him, Chidwick made it 60,000 and Alner peeled.

The turn was an interesting 7♣, making a club flush possible as well as a one card straight. Alner didn’t check this time, instead he chose to lead for 95,000 only to find himself facing a three-bet of 260,000. After a minute of deliberation, Alner conceded.

Next hand Chidwick was under the gun and he made another small raise, which Altman called in position. To the flop they went and it came 2♥5♦A♠. Chidwick continued for 50,000 and Altman stayed with him.

After a checked turn card of 7♣, the river was a A♦. Chidwick picked up a bunch of green chips and placed them over the line. It was 325,000 for Altman to call and he passed pretty sharpish. -LY

6:50pm: Alner ascends
Level 22 – Blinds: 10,000/20,000 (ante 3,000)

Tom Alner raised to 45,000 from under the gun and Alan Lau made it 110,000 from the cutoff. Alner called and a monochromatic 9♣2♣K♣ flop hit the board.

Lau moved all-in when checked to and Alner looked pained. He counted out his stack and shook his head. Alner then picked up some chips, but hesitated pulled them back quickly. He finally called though.

Alner turned over A♣Q♦ for the nut flush draw and Lau showed K♠9♠ for two-pair. Alner hit his flush when the 8♣ came on the turn and then a 5♣ came on the river to put a flush on the board.

Ace-high took it down for Alner though and he doubled to about 900,000 while Lau dipped to 2.4 million. –AV

6:40pm: Wei wins one from Been
Level 23 – Blinds: 10,000/20,000 (ante 3,000)

Guoliang Wei has doubled his short stack after getting it in good and holding versus Aaron Been. Wei moved all in preflop from the cutoff for 263,000 and Been called from the small blind to put him at risk.

Wei: Q♥Q♦
Been: A♣8♠


Wei’s pocket queens stayed in front on the 9♣K♥10♦K♣J♥ run out and he doubled through. Been on the other hand dropped to 2.4 million. — BK

6:30pm: Back to back pots for Chidwick
Level 23 – Blinds: 10,000/20,000 (ante 3,000)

Stephen Chidwick scooped twice in a row, first against Alan Lau and then against Dominik Nitsche.

First off Chidwick opened 45,000 under the gun and Lau defended his big blind. The flop ran out 8♦9♠3♠ and both players checked. The action hotted up on the 6♥ turn when Lau took the lead, making it 80,000 and Chidwick wasn’t going to let this one go for cheap, making it 265,000 for to continue. It was too expensive for Lau and he folded.

Next hand Chidwick was in the big blind and faced a raise from Nitsche who had made it 50,000 under the gun. Chidwick defended and the pair saw a flop of Q♣J♦4♥. When Chidwick checked, Nietsche bet 50,000 again and Chidwick came along.


Stephen Chidwick: Massive stack

The turn brought the 2♥ and when Chidwick bet, Nitsche joined him. On the 8♦ river Chidwick decided to take the proactive line with a bet of 150,000. Nitsche didn’t need to think too long and passed. Stephen scooped again and now has a very healthy 2.4 million or so infront. -LY

6:25pm: Tang taken out by Been
Level 22 – Blinds: 10,000/20,000 (ante 3,000)

We’re now on the unofficial final table bubble after Terry Tang has departed in 11th place.

Tang moved all in under the gun for 320,000 and it folded around to Aaron Been in the big blind who called it off to put Tang at risk.

Tang: 8♦7♦
Been: 6♠6♦

Tang was likely relieved to see he was flipping despite holding just eight-high but the K♦K♣3♥Q♥3♣ run out did him no favours. Been’s pocket sixes held and Tang was sent to the payout desk, having never really recovered from the earlier skirmish against Been. — BK


Terry Tang: The hand that did the damage

6:10pm: Wei doubles
Level 22 – Blinds: 10,000/20,000 (ante 3,000)

We had another short stack double up. Guoliang Wei was down to 145,000 and moved it all-in from the hijack.

Atanas Kavrakov was on the big blind and looked down at A♥10♦ and called. Wei showed 6♠6♣ for a flip and managed to avoid any upsets on the 8♠2♥9♥2♣2♦ board.


Atanas Kavrakov: A dip

Wei doubled to about 320,000 while Kavrakov dipped to 480,000. –AV

6pm: Altman scoops one
Level 22 – Blinds: 10,000/20,000 (ante 3,000)

Brian Altman has moved up to 1.85 million after taking chips from both Tom Alner and Alan Lau.

Altman kicked things off with a button raise to 40,000 before Alner and Lau called from the small blind and big blind respectively. The dealer spread a 3♥Q♣Q♦ flop and all three players checked around.

The 9♣ appeared on the turn and after Alner led at it for 65,000, Lau popped it up to 165,000. Altman cold-called behind and Alner joined him to see the 7♦ river complete the board.

It was checked over to Altman and he made it 450,000 to go. That was too much for Alner and Lau who both relinquished their hands pretty quickly.

Following that pot Lau has 2.9 million and Alner has 530,000. — BK

5:55pm: Le Jossec fills up and doubles up
Level 22 – Blinds: 10,000/20,000 (ante 3,000)

Aaron Been raised to 44,000 from the cutoff and Gabriel Le Jossec moved all-in for 245,000 from the big blind.

Been called with A♦Q♦ and Le Jossec was flipping with 9♣9♦. Le Jossec was already in the lead and managed to hit a full house on the river of a 7♦3♥8♣3♠9♠ board. Le Jossec doubled to 500,000 while Been dipped to 2.35 million. –AV

5:50pm: One last event

The HK$250,000 High Roller is the last high buy-in event of this festival, and it’s just getting under way at the opposite end of the tournament room to the Main Event. We will have live coverage on the High Roller page. — HS

5:40pm: Last 11
Level 23 – Blinds: 10,000/20,000 (ante 3,000)

Players are returning to their seats, with the following stacks:

Name Country Chips
Dominik Nitsche Germany 3,180,000
Alan Lau Hong Kong 3,068,000
Aaron Been United States 2,581,000
Stephen Chidwick United Kingdom 1,620,000
Brian Altman United States 1,494,000
David Laka Spain 1,293,000
Tom Alner United Kingdom 765,000
Atanas Kavrakov Bulgaria 632,000
Terry Tang China 414,000
Guoliang Wei China 215,000
Gabriel Le Jossec Canada 212,000

5:40pm: Break

That huge double for Aaron Been was the last hand of the level. They’re taking a 15-minute break. — HS

5:35pm: Been doubles through Tang
Level 22 – Blinds: 9,000/18,000 (ante 2,000)

Aaron Been scored a large double up through Terry Tang on the last hand of the level. Been started the hand off with a raise to 38,000 from the cutoff and Tang called from the hijack.

The button and blinds released and a A♥Q♣4♦ flop hit the board. Been bet out 65,000 and Tang called. This brought an 8♠ on the turn and another bet from Been, this one was worth 200,000. Tang responded with a raise to 450,000 and Been called.

The 4♣ completed the board and Been moved all-in for 718,000. Tang thought until the clock ticked into the break and he counted out the bet. A loss here would leave him with less than half a million. Tang thought a bit more and called.

Been turned over A♦Q♠ for two-pair and Tang looked at the ceiling and shook his head before tabling A♣K♣. Been doubled to 2.58 million while Tang dipped to 414,000. –AV

5:30pm: Laka goes big on the river
Level 22 – Blinds: 9,000/18,000 (ante 2,000)

After Terry Tang made it 67,000 in middle position (a significantly bigger open than what we’ve been used to today), the action folded round to David Laka, who defended his big blind.

The flop was 2♥Q♦J♠ and after Laka checked, Tang continued for 45,000. After the 4♣ turn, Laka checked again and Tang thought it best to check back this time.

That left only the river and it was the 7♦. Laka lead for more than a pot-sized bet, 250,000 to be exact, and Tang went into the tank, before he passed.

Laka has been building nicely during this level, largely without showdown too. -LY

5:15pm: Qiang Fu eliminated in 12th place (HK$471,500)
Level 22 – Blinds: 9,000/18,000 (ante 2,000)

Brian Altman raised to 40,000 from under the gun and Qiang Fu called from the small blind. The flop came down 7♠9♦2♦ and Altman bet 53,000. Fu raised to 153,000 and Altman thought for a bit and moved all-in.

Fu only had about 205,000 behind and called all-in. Fu turned over 9♣10♦ for top pair while Altman showed an overpair with J♣J♥. Fu stood up in anticipation of a knockout, but then a 9♥ came on the turn to spark a small celebration from him. The river was still to come though, and it brought a J♠ to give Altman a full house.

Fu was eliminated in 12th place while Altman chipped up to 1.45 million. –AV

5pm: Lau leading after KO’ing Kolev
Level 22 – Blinds: 9,000/18,000 (ante 2,000)

Alan Lau is now ahead of the pack after he ended up on the right end of a huge confrontation with Yuliyan Kolev.

Lau button-raised to 45,000 and after Kolev three-bet to 155,000 from the big blind, Lau played back at him for 330,000. Kolev had around 850,000 in total and he committed all of it only to see Lau call him off with a commanding hand.

Lau: K♠K♦
Kolev: A♥Q♥

Kolev was chasing an ace or some hearts but the 3♥10♠9♦9♣4♥ run out saw him come up short.


Alan Lau: Leader

He departs as Lau leaps into the lead with 3.25 million. — BK

4:55pm: Le Jossec left short
Level 22 – Blinds: 9,000/18,000 (ante 2,000)

Aaron Been raised to 45,000 from the hijack and Gabriel Le Jossec called from the big blind.

The flop came 9♥10♦6♥ and Le Jossec called a bet of 50,000. This brought a 6♠ on the turn and Le Jossec bet 120,000. Been responded with an all-in shove and Le Jossec went into the tank. Been had him more than covered, with about 1.2 million to Le Jossec’s 300,000 behind.


Gabriel Le Jossec: Left short

Le Jossec thought for a few more minutes but let his hand go.

“You bluff me?” Le Jossec asked after the hand.

“I didn’t want a call,” Been said.


Aaron Been: Didn’t want a call

Le Jossec is now down to 300,000 while Been is up to 1.34 million. –AV

4:50pm: Lau pressures Kolev
Level 22 – Blinds: 9,000/18,000 (ante 2,000)

Alan Lau is making the most of his big stack. He just scooped up a big pot from Yuliyan Kolev after some relentless aggression.

The board was spread 9♣10♠A♣2♦ by the turn and Kolev checked from the big blind before Lau fired for 230,000 from the button. Kolev made the call and the 2♥ completed the board.

A final check from Kolev prompted Lau to cut out chips and barrel again for 480,000. The wager was for a large portion of Kolev’s stack, and while he tanked for a couple of minutes, he ultimately let it go.

That pot sees Kolev drop to 850,000 while Lau pushes his stack to 2.7 million. — BK

4:45pm: Wei pushing
Level 22 – Blinds: 9,000/18,000 (ante 2,000)

Guoliang Wei is the shortest stack left and in two consecutive hands, he pushed all in. He got both through, and showed ace-king off-suit in the first and mucked the second. -LY


Guoliang Wei: Moving the short stack in

4:40pm: Billy Argyros eliminated in 14th place (HK$386,000)
Level 22 – Blinds: 9,000/18,000 (ante 2,000)

Billy Argyros was down to about 350,000 and raised to 42,000 from early position. Action folded around to Terry Tang on the button. Tang put on his black-cloth, star-studded face mask and stared at Argyros.

“You’re not going to pick up anything from me,” Argyros said. “I’m drunk.”

Argyros put on his sunglasses and then put a crocodile puppet on his hand.


Billy Argyros: Sunglasses and puppet

“Now you gotta fight two of us,” Argyros said. “I want to know, do you have a big hand or a small hand?”

Tang said nothing and neither did his face. Aside from the face mask, Tang had a baseball cap and a large pair of sunglasses, leaving just a sliver of his nose uncovered.

“I’ll just call,” Argryos said. “Pretty dumb huh?”

Argyros called and checked the 9♠8♣3♠ flop. Tang bet 50,000 and Argyros called again. This brought a 6♦ on the turn and another check from Argyros. This time Tang moved all-in.

“I have a funny feeling we have the same hand,” Argyros said. “Should’ve shoved pre.”

A double bustout had just taken place at the other table and play was paused there to balance the table. Everyone was waiting on Argyros and his crocodile. He thought, ran through the hand out loud, did some mental math and looked at the payouts. Eventually, he called.

Argyros turned over A♦K♣ for ace-high while Tang tabled A♣A♥. The river brought a 9♣ and Argyros was eliminated in 14th place while Tang chipped up to 1.74 million. –AV

4:35pm: Alner sends Chan and Wang packing
Level 22 – Blinds: 9,000/18,000 (ante 2,000)

We’ve just seen a double elimination here as Tom Alner simultaneously knocked out short-stacks Hung Tu Wang and Andy Chan.

Chan was down to 191,000 and he moved all-in on the button before Wang called it off for only 105,000 in the small blind. Alner thought for over two minutes before finally committing the chips to put both opponents at risk.


Tom Alner: Assassin

Wang confessed he hadn’t even looked and then called for low cards after the hands had been revealed.

Alner: K♣J♥
Chan: A♥9♦
Wang: 7♣4♥

Everyone had lives cards but by the end of it Alner was in front on the 8♦K♠2♠5♣4♦ run out. He flopped top pair and held to eliminate both Chan and Wang together. That double KO sees Alner shoot up to 950,000. — BK


Hung Tu Wang: Whacked

4:30pm: Lau raising the price
Level 22 – Blinds: 9,000/18,000 (ante 2,000)

Alan Lau is putting his big stack to use and just took another small-ish pot from Brian Altman and Andy Chan.

Lau opened to 43,000 from early position and Altman called in the small blind, as did Chan in the big.

The three of them saw the 8♥A♦3♣ on the flop and it went check, check, bet of 50,000 from Lau. Both opponents called.

The 2♥ fell on the turn and it went check, check, bet of 240,000 from Lau. That time it got folds around. — HS

4:25pm: Liu hits the rail
Level 22 – Blinds: 9,000/18,000 (ante 2,000)

We’ve not been back from the break long but it was still enough time for Wei Liu to get it all-in. He was under the gun and playing a stack of 167,000. He didn’t have long to find out whether he would get it through or not as Terry Tang, also in early position, called.

No one else wanted to get involved and we were off to the races:

Tang A♠Q♠
Liu 10♠10♦

The flop was A♥8♥A♣, which left Liu with only two outs. Neither of the tens came on the 9♥ turn or 6♣ river and Liu was out. There are now 16 players left. -LY

4:20pm: Le Jossec jumps up
Level 22 – Blinds: 9,000/18,000 (ante 2,000)

David Laka raised to 36,000 under the gun and, after Terry Tang made the call, Gabriel Le Jossec moved all-in for 239,000. Laka let it go but Tang made a quick call and the cards went on their backs.

Le Jossec: 8♠8♦
Tang: A♥K♦

Le Jossec flipped better when the 9♦J♠6♣9♥9♣ run out saw his pocket eights hold. He moved up to 530,000 while Tang dropped to 1.2 million. — BK

4:10 pm: Lau rivers set to best Altman’s two pair
Level 22 – Blinds: 9,000/18,000 (ante 2,000)

Bryan Altman raised to 40,000 from under the gun and Alan Lau called from the cutoff. Both players checked the A♠4♠K♦ flop, Lau was checking pocket queens with Q♠Q♦ while Altman hit two-pair with A♥K♣.

Altman then bet 100,000 when the 8♠ came on the turn and Lau called. A Q♣ came on the river and Lau hit a set. Altman bet 245,000 and Lau quickly called.

Players tabled their hands and Lau took it down. He chipped up to 2.05 million while Altman dipped to 1.24 million. –AV

4:05pm: How long?
Level 22 – Blinds: 9,000/18,000 (ante 2,000)

This could be a very long day. The idea is to play to the final six or eight levels, whichever comes soonest. But even if they play all eight levels today and get to six, they will still have a 40 big blind average stack. This isn’t ending soon. — HS

4pm: Break over
Level 22 – Blinds: 9,000/18,000 (ante 2,000)

Want to know how good the schedule is at the ACOP Main Event? They have a 9,000/18,000 blind level, that’s how good. We’re just starting it now, with the following 17 players still involved:

Name Country Chips
Dominik Nitsche Germany 2,750,000
Alan Lau Hong Kong 1,553,000
Brian Altman United States 1,550,000
Terry Tang China 1,430,000
Stephen Chidwick United Kingdom 1,300,000
Aaron Been United States 1,270,000
Yuliyan Kolev Bulgaria 1,210,000
David Laka Spain 995,000
Tom Alner United Kingdom 750,000
Atanas Kavrakov Bulgaria 681,000
Qiang Fu New Zealand 390,000
Andy Chan Hong Kong 380,000
Billy Argyros Australia 350,000
Gabriel Le Jossec Canada 254,000
Guoliang Wei China 223,000
Wei Liu China 204,000
Hung Tu Wang Taiwan 120,000

3:45pm: Break time

That’s the end of Level 21 and players are heading on a 15-minute break. — HS

3:35pm: Laka makes a strong call on the river to double
Level 21 – Blinds: 7,000/14,000 (ante 2,000)

David Laka opened to 28,000 from the hijack and was three-bet by Terry Tang on the big blind, who made it 80,000. When Laka called the flop came down: 8♠10♣6♣

Tang continued with a much smaller bet of 40,000. Laka called behind and J♥ was dealt on the turn. This time it was 9♥ and Tang thought briefly before he announced all in. Laka was the shorter of the two with 366,000 at this point and he called without any hesitation.

Laka K♠J♠
Tang A♠ K♥

Laka has to be happy with that. He is now sat on 995,000, taking him over average stack. -LY

3:30pm: Not all eliminations
Level 21 – Blinds: 7,000/14,000 (ante 2,000)

Some small skirmishes:

On Table 1, Alan Lau opened to 35,000 from UTG+1 and Stephen Chidwick called from one seat along. Brian Altman three-bet the button, making it 150,000, and he picked it up.

On Table 2, Aaron Been opened to 33,000 from under the gun and David Laka three-bet to 82,000 from the button. Been then jammed and Laka folded.

Back on Table 1, Ying Kit Chan shoved for 250,000 and everyone folded. — HS

3:30pm: Argyros doubles through Le Jossec
Level 21 – Blinds: 7,000/14,000 (ante 2,000)

After a middle position open from Terry Tang, Gabriel Le Jossec had a look at his cards and moved all in on the button. He had around 400,000 and he didn’t get it through the blinds. Billy Argyros shouted “Let’s go baby!” as he made the call from the big blind. With Tang out the way, they turned over the cards.

Argyros: 10♣10♥
Le Jossec: 9♣9♠

Not for the first time today, it was pair versus pair, with Argyros the massive favourite. He was also the shortest stack, so was just looking to dodge a nine.

The flop came: 7♣4♣6♥K♦8♦


Billy Argyros: Croc doubles

Nothing out of the ordinary happened and Argyros was sat on 370,000 after the hand, while Le Jossec dropped to 213,000. -LY

3:25pm: Smith succumbs
Level 21 – Blinds: 7,000/14,000 (ante 2,000)

Dan Smith’s miracle comeback is over, with the American busting in 18th place. Ying Kit Chan was the player who took him out. He shoved for 214,000 from early position and Smith called all-in from the big blind for what looked to be 58,000.

Smith: K♥8♦
Chan: 6♠6♦

Smith was in reasonable shape but the 7♠4♠2♥6♣2♠ board meant Chan took the pot and Smith was sent to the rail. –NW


No more Dan Smith

3:20pm: Sound the klaxon, huge pot alert!
Level 21 – Blinds: 7,000/14,000 (ante 2,000)

If you like your pots big then this one is for you. Want a 2 million chip pot? Then read on.

It took place between Terry Tang (button) and Atanas Kavrakov (small blind). The pre-flop action took a few minutes to play out but this is the nuts and bolts of it: Tang raised to 31,000, Kavrakov three-bet to 100,000, Tang four-bet to 230,000, Kavrakov shoved and Tang snap called. Can you tell what the hands are yet?

Tang: A♦A♥
Kavrakov: K♥K♦

The board came 9♠8♠2♠A♣K♣ and, upon seeing the turn, Tang got up from his seat and shouted “Come on!” He wasn’t there to see the river and Billy Argyros shouted to him.


Just for a second Tang thought that he’d lost the hand. He soon realised he hadn’t though and continued to celebrate. He even moved the hole cards to the middle of the table so he could take a photo on his phone.


Terry Tang: Celebrations

It was Tang who was the all-in player and when his chips were counted down it was established that Kavrakov had to send 978,000 over to Tang, which left the Bulgarian with 715,000. –NW

3:15pm: Last two
Level 21 – Blinds: 7,000/14,000 (ante 2,000)

Here’s how they line up on the last two tables:

Table 1

1 — Billy Argyros – 180,000
2 – David Lake – 450,000
3 – Qiang Fu – 440,000
4 – Wei Liu – 236,000
5 – Aaron Been – 1.1 million
6 – Terry Tang – 890,000
7 – Atanas Kavrakov – 1.7 million
8 – Gabriel Le Jossec – 470,000
9 – Guoliang Wei – 200,000

Table 2

1 – Yuliyan Kolev – 1.2 million
2 – Dan Smith – 85,000
3 – Dominik Nitsche – 2.9 million
4 – Brian Altman – 1.6 million
5 – Ying Kit Chan – 210,000
6 – Hung Tu Wang – 175,000
7 – Tom Alner – 710,000
8 – Alan Lau – 1.5 million
9 – Stephen Chidwick – 1.25 million

3:10pm: Dvoress departs; last 18 left
Level 21 – Blinds: 7,000/14,000 (ante 2,000)

Daniel Dvoress is out in 19th, leaving us down to two tables and facing a redraw. It meant that both Billy Argyros and Dan Smith, fellow short stacks, make the money jump.

Don’t think the money jump hadn’t been noticed, either. Dvoress was clearly well aware of it as he played what turned out to be his final pot.


Daniel Dvoress: Out in 19th

Stephen Chidwick opened the button to 40,000 and Dvoress, in the big blind, kept his hand over his cards as he quickly surveyed the room to see if anyone was playing pots on the other two tables. He then put his last tower of yellow chips over the line, which was a raise of about 100,000, but left a few yellow crumbs behind, one chip on his cards and another four beside–a total of 25,000 back.

Chidwick quickly said he was all-in, meaning the triangle went in front of the big-stack Chidwick’s hand, and Dvoress had a “decision” for that last 25,000.

Dvoress again wanted to see if anyone else was playing hands on the other tables. It was prudent to see if anyone else was about to bust before he committed. But despite some noise from Argyros’s table, all other hands had finished so Dvoress tossed in his chips.

Dvoress was actually ahead with A♣3♣ to Chidwick’s K♣10♠ but the K♥ was on the flop and the K♦ on the turn and Dvoress was done.

They’ll now redraw to the last two tables. We’ll get their seating assignments and chip counts soon. — HS

Down to just 68,000 Billy ‘The Croc’ Argyros three-bet shoved with A♠9♠ only to run into Yuliyan Kolev’s pocket kings. “Oh man, I’ve ran into kings,” sighed Argyros to the Aussie rail who were watching on. The 4♣9♣7♠ flop gave him additional outs and although he missed the Q♦ turn, he hit the A♥ river to survive. –NW

3:08pm: Alner facing a difficult decision again
Level 21 – Blinds: 7,000/14,000 (ante 2,000)

There was action going on at more than one table. First off Tom Alner opened his hijack for 30,000. Qiang Fu move it all-in, 396,000 to be precise, and Alner went into the tank and again didn’t look pleased.

He decided to fold and Fu threw his cards in face down but gave Alner a look at one of his choice. Alner picked a red ten and Fu scooped the pot.

Meanwhile Gabriel Le Jossec found himself facing a three-bet too. He had opened the button for a min raise of 28,000 and David Laka upped it to 88,000. Le Jossec decided he didn’t want to get involved and passed. -LY

3:05pm: Smith down but not out
Level 21 – Blinds: 7,000/14,000 (ante 2,000)

You’ve got to hand it to Dan Smith, a brutal hand left it looking almost certain that he would bust in 19th place – and miss a pay jump – but he has since rebounded. Here’s what happened over a series of hands.

First the big hand and the one that left him at death’s door. I picked up the action on the turn of a 7♠A♣5♠7♥ the size of the pot suggested that Smith had raised pre-flop, that Tang had called from the big blind and the flop had checked through. All conjecture of course, but that’s the most likely action up to this point. What I know for certain is that Tang led for 25,000 on the turn, Smith then raised to 75,000 and Tang called.

The 9♦ completed the board and Tang checked to Smith and he bet 200,000. We’ve noted before that Tang is a man who usually takes a decent amount of time over any action, not here. He barely paused for a beat before shoving for 376,000 in total. Smith had just 23,000 more than his opponent and agonised for ages before ultimately deciding to call. Tang rolled over 9♣9♥ for a rivered full house and Smith showed Q♦7♦ for a hand that had been two outered on the river.

Smith then passed for a couple of hands before 14,000 of his remaining 19,000 went in from the big blind. Tang opened the pot to 32,000 with A♦10♠ and Smith called all-in with 10♦2♣. A 8♣10♥9♥6♠7♥ run out meant he survived via a chopped pot!

Two hands later Smith was all-in again pre-flop, this time from the button, he was up against two opponents this time, Tang and Hung Tu Wang. On the 3♠2♦7♥ flop Tang bet and Wang released his cards. Smith had 9♣8♥ and was behind to Tang’s A♣10♦. The 3♣ turn was a blank but Smith spiked the 9♦ river to stay alive! He’s back up to 91,000 now. –NW

2:58pm: Kavrakov pushes Laka
Level 21 – Blinds: 7,000/14,000 (ante 2,000)

Atanas Kavrakov just put David Laka through the wringer, forcing what looked like a reluctant fold.

It was a complicated hand, at least at the start: after Laka opened from the cutoff, making it 28,000 to go, Dan Smith called on the button and both Hung Tu Wang and Kavrakov called in the blinds.

The flop was 3♠6♦5♥ and Wang checked. Kavrakov bet 52,000 and both Laka and Wang called, with Smith folding between them.

The turn brought the Q♦ and Wang checked again. Kavrakov bet 180,000 and Laka called. Then Wang folded, finally leaving only two of them.

The 7♠ completed the board and now Kavrakov shipped, covering the 380,000 Laka had behind. Laka may or may not have seen this coming, but it didn’t make the decision any easier nor the fold–when it duly arrived–any less anguished. — HS

2:55pm: The price isn’t right
Level 21 – Blinds: 7,000/14,000 (ante 2,000)

Arriving at the table with a 7♥7♣2♠ flop out, action was on Tom Alner who had position after a check from Stephen Chidwick who was playing from the big blind. Alner bet 25,000 and Chidwick upped it to 65,000, with Alner then making the call.

After the 5♠ turn, Chidwick continued, for 70,000 this time. Again Alner made the call.

Finally it was a 4♥ river and this time Chidwick continued his assault making it 265,000 to go to a showdown. Alner muttered “Tough” and looked uncomfortable with the spot he was in.

He spent a couple of minutes thinking it through but decided the price wasn’t right and folded. -LY

2:50pm: Thank Fu very much dealer
Level 21 – Blinds: 7,000/14,000 (ante 2,000)

A classic flip just went the way of Qiang Fu and it has left Daniel Dvoress with just a dozen big blinds. Fu’s final 189,000 went in pre-flop with A♥Q♦ and Dvoress had the mathematical edge with 9♥9♦. However, the J♥A♣7♣A♠K♠ board favoured the over-cards and Fu survived. –NW

2:45pm: A double for Smith
Level 21 – Blinds: 7,000/14,000 (ante 2,000)

Dan Smith opened the action with a bet of 30,000 from under the gun. He found himself facing a three-bet from Tianyuang Tang who made it 85,000 from the small blind.

Smith moved all-in for 288,000 and Tang made the call. Smith had the best of it with Q♦Q♠ and Tang’s 5♦5♣ was looking for two outs.

The board 9♥A♣6♠8♣10♣ was safe for Smith and he pushes up to around the 600,000 mark. -LY

2:40pm: So long to Li and Myung
Level 21 – Blinds: 7,000/14,000 (ante 2,000)

The City of Dreams card room is situated at the end of mock up of the London area known as Soho, which is appropriate because, like London buses, we just had two exits at the same time.

Over on Table 2, Yuan Li shoved for his last 55,000 with 9♦7♣ and was in the deep stuff as Atanas Kavrakov looked him up with A♥9♠. There would be no domination rotation as the 6♠9♥5♣6♦J♠ sent him tumbling out of the tournament.


Yuan Li: End of the road

Meanwhile over on Table 1 a hand that started before Li’s bustout but ended after it played out between John Myung and Aaron Been. Myung was the pre-flop aggressor. H raised to 30,000 on the button and Been called from the small blind.

The two players saw a 2♠3♣7♦ flop and Been check called a bet of 40,000. Fourth street was where the big action went down though. On the 9♠ turn Myung bet 65,000 and Been check-raised all-in for what looked to be 379,000.

Been had Myung covered by less than 50,000 and, after a long time in the tank, Myung committed the rest of his chips. Been flipped over 7♣7♠ for a flopped set and Myung showed K♠K♣ for a premium pair that was now drawing to two outs.

Neither arrived on the 8♠ river and that all meant Myung exited in 20th and Been is now playing almost 1 million.

After that frantic opening just 19 players remain. When we lose one more they’ll be a complete redraw of the final 18. –NW

2:35pm: Hong busts to Altman
Level 21 – Blinds: 7,000/14,000 (ante 2,000)

It’s the end of the road for Day 1A chip leader Nan Hong as he’s just busted to Brian Altman.

Stephen Chidwick lit the touch paper. He opened to 30,000 from the cutoff and Hong then shoved from the button…almost. He’d left a solitary 1,000 chip behind the line, but his bet of 288,000 made his intent clear.

Altman was in the small blind and called the shove. After Chidwick folded the formalities were completed.


No more Nan Hong

Hong turned over A♥6♥ and needed help against Altman’s pocket tens. None arrived as the 3♦J♣K♦K♥K♠ run out kept Altman in front.

He’s up to 1.8 million. –NW

2:30pm: Fu doubles Dvoress
Level 21 – Blinds: 7,000/14,000 (ante 2,000)

Following an open from Brian Altman to 35,000, Daniel Dvoress, who is seated directly on his left, moved all-in. He had 167,000 chips and Qiang Fu, on the big blind, made the call, while Altman got out of the way.

When the cards were tabled, it was Fu who needed to get lucky.

Dvoress: A♣A♥
Fu: 8♣8♦

The cards ran out Q♣K♠Q♦K♣2♦, counterfeiting Qu’s pair but it was irrelevant really.

With Dvoress’ aces holding, he moves up to 388,000. -LY

2:25pm: Li shoves, gets slow folds
Level 21 – Blinds: 7,000/14,000 (ante 2,000)

Yuan Li open-pushed for 75,000 from under the gun and Gabriel Le Jossec thought long and hard before folding and spending the time counting his newly-acquired chips. The decision then moved all the way around to Dan Smith who took a little while to do some mental agility, figuring out what his range was now his stack had been shortened via the earlier skirmish with Le Jossec.

Eventually he folded too and Li showed his red jacks, with which he had earned blinds and antes only. — HS

2:20pm: Nitsche silences Song
Level 21 – Blinds: 7,000/14,000 (ante 2,000)

It was a very short day for Song Yang, who learned a harsh lesson at the hands of Dominik Nitsche. In short: don’t play a hand against Dominik Nitsche.

Aaron Been set the ball rolling with a raise to 35,000 from the cutoff and Nitsche called on the button. Then Yang called from the big blind and three players had cards when the 4♥3♥5♠ appeared.

both Yang and Been checked, and Nitsche bet 50,000. Yang called, but Been let it go.

The Q♦ came on the turn and Yang checked again. Nitsche made it 80,000 and, after a few moments to massage his chip stacks and count them at about 250,000, Yang moved all-in.

Nitsche called in a heartbeat and said, “Nuts.” He turned over 7♥6♥ for the straight, with a straight flush draw to boot.

Yang’s 8♣5♦ was defeated and he took his leave in 21st. — HS

2:12pm: Joy for Le Jossec
Level 21 – Blinds: 7,000/14,000 (ante 2,000)

It looked like being a short day for the ACOP 2014 Main Event winner Gabriel Le Jossec until the community cards came to the Canadian’s rescue.

He three-bet shoved for 186,000 over the top of Dan Smith’s open and, when it folded back around to him, Smith called with J♦J♣. Le Jossec had A♣10♠ and got there on the A♠2♣5♥A♥5♠ run out.

He doubles to around 395,000 and Smith drops down to 290,000. Le Jossec actually won another quick pot from David Laka to build even further to 550,000. –NW

2:10pm: Chips for the Croc
Level 21 – Blinds: 7,000/14,000 (ante 2,000)

“Who’s going to double me up?” said Billy “The Croc” Argyros as he shoved his stack across the line. He was the second shortest stack coming into play and elected to risk his stack of 129,000 on the very first hand. There were no takers though and he gleefully accepted the blinds and antes. –NW

2:05pm: Three tables
Level 21 – Blinds: 7,000/14,000 (ante 2,000)

Off they go then on the penultimate day of the 2017 Asia Championship of Poker Main Event. Stick with us for all the thrills and spills.

Tournament officials inform us that we will be playing down either to the last six or through eight levels of play, whichever comes soonest. We’re going to hope it’s the former,
otherwise we’re looking at a 4am finish. There’s a dinner break after four levels of play today. — HS

1:30pm: The race to the last nine

Hello once again and welcome back to Macau. As ever, the PokerStars LIVE! card-room at the City of Dreams is going to be busy today as the Main Event of the 2017 Asia Championship of Poker (ACOP) plays down to its final table, the Mini High Roller goes through the Day 2 motions and the High Roller proper kicks off.

In this post, we’re focusing specifically on the first of those, at it’s always one of the most intense days on the poker calendar. From the 308 players who started, only 23 remain, but the big money is reserved for the last nine.

They’re still deep-stacked, the structure is still tremendous and there are still some of the world’s very best players involved.

Dominik Nitsche leads Brian Altman at the top, with Alan Lau a whisker behind. Looking further down the list, we see Stephen Chidwick, Terry Tang, Aaron Been, Dan Smith and Daniel Dvoress. Nan Hong held the Day 1 chip lead and remains in contention. Gabriel Le Jossec is a former ACOP Main Event winner and even the overall short stack, Yuan Li, won the Super High Roller here last time.

In short: it’s a quality field.


Dominik Nitsche: Leading still

There’s no mystery to our plan for the day: we’ll get to that final no matter how long it takes. Still with us for exclusive updates.

PokerStars Blog reporting team on the HK$100,000 ACOP Main Event: Brad Kain, Howard Swains, Alex Villegas, Nick Wright and Lisa Yiasemides. Photography by Kenneth Lim Photography.


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