We started Day 3 talking about tension increasing, about the game necessarily becoming more serious today now that the 2012 Asia Championship of Poker Main Event had reached a stage where the bursting of the money bubble was imminent.
The day turned out to be a long one, lasting all of the way to the end of Level 16 and until nearly 3 a.m. And it’s safe to say the level of tension increased steadily throughout, reaching its maximum at night’s end on the very last hand.
As Level 15 came to a close, just 27 remained.
Kerzhapin’s queens crushed, and a Sparrow falls
The step from 27 players to 24 was relatively quick. First Yuri Kerzhapin (India) and Sparrow Cheung (Hong Kong) were eliminated in rapid fashion at level’s end.
Kerzhapin’s elimination was of the can’t-be-prevented, so-it-goes variety, with the Russian running Q♥Q♠ into the K♠K♦ of Paolo Compagno of Switzerland and failing to improve.
Then Hong Kong’s Sparrow Cheung was sent railward after choosing to commit his short stack with Q♣10♣ and failing to overcome the Aussie Michael Kanaan’s A♠6♦.
A short while later, once Level 16 had begun, Kanaan would claim the next victim as well, knocking out Edmund Lee by getting the latter to commit with his K♣K♦ following a 6♥4♥6♣ flop. Kanaan had 4♣4♠ — he’d flopped a full house — and two cards later they were down to 24.
The eliminations of Cheung and Lee, by the way, mean Team Hong Kong has no more opportunities to gather any points in the Main Event toward their Million Dollar Challenge bet with Team Australia.
Meanwhile, the Aussies still have Andrew Hinrichsen in this one, although he still must make the top 10 to gather any points in their contest. Note as well that there are still other events to count toward the completion of the challenge.
Kanaan can’t lose
They’d moved past the halfway mark of the level when Kanaan was at it again, pushing and forcing Korea’s Patrick Lui to spend a period in the tank before emerging to call with A♦Q♣. With a sheepish look, Kanaan tabled his 10♣8♦.
When it was announced over the public address that Kanaan had called, he smiled and clarified that he hadn’t called, but rather had pushed, and the table chuckled.
They reacted a little more loudly when the flop was spread — 10♦8♠10♥! The turn then brought the 10♠, giving Kanaan quads and making the Q♥ that gave Lui a full house no matter.
Twenty-three remained. They’d reached the bubble.
Bubble stretches to the limit… then bursts
The final 23 continued at the last three tables, with a rail of 30 or so spectators further increasing the tension created by the prospect that the next player out would fail to cash. They played hand-for-hand up to the end of the level and then some, stretching out the bubble up to a point where it was announced they’d play but one more hand before ending for the night, regardless of what happened.
During that stretch came several near-misses for ending the tension.
First Tom Alner of China survived, doubling his short stack with A♥10♦ through Chinese Taipei’s Raiden Kan’s 10♠9♥.
Then Linh Tran of Chinese Taipei sweated through an all-in versus Aaron Lim of Hong Kong, Tran’s Q♣10♦ outlasting Lim’s Q♠3♠ despite two spades appearing on the flop.
Then James McCarty of Japan made through with A♦Q♣ against Lim’s A♥7♥, again dodging a flush when two hearts arrived by the turn.
Finally — on what had already been called the last hand of the night — Tran put himself at risk once more with A♣K♠, and once again it was Lim trying to score a knockout, this time with 9♠9♦.
The flop landed with a thud, everyone instinctively exhaling as it appeared — 9♣3♠3♥. A full house for Lim, and two streets later they were down to 22 and in the money.
Day 4 awaits
Players can relax overnight, all knowing they’ll be turning a profit of some kind in the ACOP Main Event. But the tension will continue to build starting mid-afternoon tomorrow, when they reassemble to play down to a final table.
Michael Kanaan will return with the chip lead, his stack of 627,500 just a single blue chip ahead of Andrew Gaw’s 626,500, with a little more distance to third-place Mike “SirWatts” Watson’s 515,000. Also still with chips are the last U.S. player Alan Sass, the last woman Yuri Ishida, and the last Team PokerStars Pro Raymond Wu.
Time now to breathe. Relax. Peruse the day’s coverage. And we’ll see you back here tomorrow for Day 4, when the tension will rebuild anew.
Day 3: ACOP Main Event gets serious, Day 3 awaits
Day 3: PokerStars Macau gives back
Day 3: Countries collide in Million Dollar Challenge
Day 3: Sass amasses, passes field with 45 left
Day 3: The winning women in Macau
Day 3: 33 remain at Day 3 dinner break in ACOP Main Event
Day 3: Hinrichsen hangs on, Kanaan captures lead
Day 3: Torres, Lin fall; 27 remain in ACOP Main Event
Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.