MPC Red Dragon Day 2 live updates

June 17, 2012


12.30am: Chips
Here are the chips they will be taking to the final table tomorrow. A wrap of a turbulent day is on its way.

Seat 1 – Celina Lin – 477,000
Seat 2 – Zhengwei Ni – 304,000
Seat 3 – Jordan Westmorland – 256,000
Seat 4 – Qi Ming Fan – 1,669,000
Seat 5 – Chang Rak Choi – 1,450,000
Seat 6 – Richard Hu – 305,000
Seat 7 – Yu Liang – 82,000
Seat 8 – Daniel Sing – 380,000
Seat 9 – Chul Woo Park – 902,000

12am: Done
On the stroke of midnight, we are done.

A potentially richly cosmopolitan final table is not to be. It will simply be quite cosmopolitan. The reason is that Brice Renaud has just busted in tenth, losing us a Frenchman from tomorrow’s final.

After Chang Choi limped, Renaud shipped all in for about 250,000. Choi dwelled but called and was ahead with 5♠5♥ to Renaud’s K♠3♠.

The flop didn’t help Renaud. It came 4♠9♠8♥. The turn 8♦ wasn’t much better and the 10♣ river sealed his fate. That is that for the night. Renaud leaves, and we have our final nine.

Chip counts of those, plus a full wrap of the day, will be with you shortly.

11.30pm: Ten handed chips
Table 1
2 – Richard Hu – 300,000
3 – Chang Choi – 1,164,000
4 – Liang Yu – 515,000
5 – Brice Renaud – 300,000
8 – Chil Woo Park – 450,000

Table 12
1 – Zhengwei Ni – 235,000
3 – Daniel Sing – 185,000
5 – Qi Fan – 1,800,000
6 – Celina Lin – 420,000
7 – Jordan Westmorland – 460,000

11.25pm: Vedhara vanquished, ten left
All eyes were on table 12, where Qi Fan was flexing his muscles to push both Zhengwei Ni and Brice Renaud off a hand. (Ni opened, Brice three bet and Qi shoved, getting a fold from both, having them comfortably covered.) That means we all missed how come Rickie Vedhara and Chang Choi had got to a flop of 2♣4♥A♠.

Not only that, but the “All In” triangle was in front of Choi, although he had Vedhara comfortably covered. It actually looked like a check-raise because Vedhara had about 22,000 in front of him.

Vedhara pondered for a while but then called, risking his tournament life. And he was in pretty bad shape. Vedhara had A♣5♥ but Choi had A♦J♦.

Although Vedhara had straight outs, not to mention the five, he couldn’t hit. The turn was 4♦ and the river J♣. That’s that for Vedhara. He’s out in 11th and we’re down to our final ten.

One more and we’re at our final.

11.10pm: Counts
The approximate counts as the level went up:

Table 1
2 – Richard Hu – 270,000
3 – Chang Choi – 730,000
4 – Liang Yu – 450,000
5 – Rickie Vedhara – 400,000
8 – Chil Woo Park – 475,000
9 – empty

Table 12
1 – Zhengwei Ni – 315,000
2 – Brice Renaud – 530,000
3 – Daniel Sing – 215,000
5 – Qi Fan – 1,315,000
6 – Celina Lin – 474,000
7 – Jordan Westmorland – 560,000

BLINDS UP. PLAYING 10,000-20,000 (3,000) IN LEVEL 21

11.05pm: Out the Gait
I feel pretty bad about this, not only because it is Martin Gait’s exit hand. I mean, it is Martin Gait’s exit hand, but I feel bad because it’s also the only hand I’ve written about him today – and he’s a fellow Brit and all.

He has had a relative short stack for a long time this afternoon and now it is gone. Liang Yu opened to 32,000 and Gait shipped from the big blind. He had about 100,000 I think.

Anyway, Yu called with A♣2♦ and Gait’s J♠7♣ couldn’t catch up through a dry board. Gait goes in 12th and we are now two off the final table.

10.50pm: Sing on the double again
When Dan Sing was down to about 45,000 chips a short while ago, Danny McDonagh joked that he was looking at “four-figure odds to win the tournament”. I thought that might be a good bet then, and it’s looking even better now as Sing has just doubled again. It was through Celina Lin, when his pocket jacks held against her A♦J♦. A jack even rivered, just for good measure.

Sing has about 300,000 now. Lin has slightly fewer.

10.45pm: Unlucky 13 for Im
Well that didn’t last long. Shortly after doubling up, Vivian Im got it all in again but this time couldn’t beat Zhengwei Ni in a battle of the two-lettered surnames.

Im only had A♠4♠ against Ni’s A♦K♥ and although the flop brought chop outs – 6♥6♣J♣ – neither the 8♥ turn nor the 6♠ river helped. Im is out in 13th.

10.40pm: Im up
Vivian Im was all in and in pretty bad shape with 7♠8♦ against Jordan Westmorland’s K♠10♥. But the dealer helped her out of the tight corner, peeling a flop of J♦8♥3♣. The Q♠Q♣ didn’t do anything to damage her, and she doubles.

10.35pm: Be careful what you wish for
Shao-Hung Lee is out after running into Celina Lin and her miraculous powers of outdraw. Lin opened to 35,000 from early position and Lee moved all in for another 55,000.

Lin didn’t seem to like it too much but had to call and showed A♦J♥. Lee was well ahead with his Q♦Q♠, which got his supporters chanting “Queen, queen, queen!” from the rail.


Vivian Im says a little prayer. It got her to 13th

It didn’t come on the 6♣10♠8♥ but when it did appear on the turn (the Q♣) it actually gave Lin four outs. Then wouldn’t you know it, the K♣ rivered giving Lin the straight and ending the participation of Lee in 14th.

Four more players to bust and then we’re at a final table.

10.20pm: Sing Sing
Daniel Sing has just doubled his short stack, but the groans that greeted it will tell you that it was Celina Lin who took the hit. (There’s quite a partisan crowd in these parts, I must say.)

Sing shoved for only 74,000 with A♥6♣ and Lin called with K♣9♦. As Fred Leung on the microphone announced, this was pretty close to a flip, but Sing improved with the A♣5♠7♠ flop.

The K♠ turn gave Lin some hope of pulling off the outdraw, but the 8♠ river wasn’t one of her outs. Sing battles on.

10.15pm: Fan breaks Lim
Aaron Lim is the next to go, running into the monster stack and monster momentum of Qi Fan. It was a five-bet pot pre-flop before Lim called all in for his tournament life with K♣K♦. Fan was behind with A♦Q♣ but an ace in the window was all anyone needed to see. Lim busts and Qi now has more than a million – and the chip lead.

10.10pm: Winning it twice
Brice Renaud has just sent Simon Merritt to the rail, coming from behind with A♣Q♣ to beat Merritt’s A♦K♦. Renaud actually won this one twice. The board was 3♦2♣9♣Q♥5♣ so if the queen wasn’t good enough, the flush was.

Merritt is out in 16th, for HK$46,000.

BLINDS UP. PLAYING 8,000-16,000 (2,000 ANTE) IN LEVEL 20

9.55pm: Break-time chips
These are the full stacks and table positions of our remaining 18 players.

Table 1
1 – Brice Renaud – 390,000
2 – Richard Hu – 268,000
3 – Chang Choi – 917,000
4 – Liang Yu – 223,000
5 – Rickie Vedhara – 400,000
6 – Martin Gait – 165,000
7 – Simon Merritt – 301,000
8 – Chil Woo Park – 406,000
9 – empty

Table 12
1 – Zhengwei Ni – 225,000
2 – empty
3 – Daniel Sing – 78,000
4 – Vivian Im – 155,000
5 – Qi Fan – 870,000
6 – Celina Lin – 380,000
7 – Jordan Westmorland – 505,000
8 – Shao-Hung Lee – 530,000
9 – Aaron Lim – 480,000

9.45pm: Swings before the break

Just before the break there were three called all ins. And every time the player survived. Here’s how they happened:

Hand one: Liang Yu opened to 36,000 and Rickie Vedhara shoved over the top for about 230,000. Yu called. Vedhara’s A♠Q♠ won this race against Yu’s 9♠9♦ when the A♦ rivered.

Hand two: Aaron Lim was in bad shape against Celina Lin. He had A♣10♣ and Lin had A♥Q♦. But the board gradually got there for Lim. It came 9♦5♣2♣4♣3♣ and I think that’s a straight flush.

Hand three: Back to Yu and Vedhara, and the very next hand after Vedhara doubled. This time Yu open shoved for 120,000 and Vedhara called. They were racing again: Yu with K♥Q♥ and Vedhara with J♥J♠. Again the dealer waited until the river to decide it, when she peeled a K♣ off. That doubled Yu back up again.

That took them to a 10-minute break.

9.30pm: More fluctuations of Jordan Westmorland
Jordan Westmorland is moving on up again, and has just sent Zhongwei Wang out of this tournament in 17th. He had to crack aces, but that was what he did.

Westmoreland opened from the cut-off and Wang was the only caller, flatting from the big blind. The flop came 10♥K♥4♦ and Westmorland made a continuation bet, which Wang called again.

The turn was 5♦ and then it all went in. And if Wang had been trying to trap with his A♥A♠ it had resolutely backfired as Westmorland had K♠10♦. Wang still had outs on the river but the 7♥ was not one of them.

They counted stacks, but Westmorland had Wang’s 160,000-ish covered and is now back to about 550,000. Neither yo-yo nor roller-coaster (not even playing yo-yo on a roller coaster) does justice to the fluctuations endured and enjoyed by Westmorland today.

9pm: Choi chops Gupta
Ashish Gupta had been crippled and was down to his last 15,000, which he got in against two players: Richard Hu and Chang Choi. He can’t have much liked it when those two started betting into a side pot as the board came J♣A♦8♦ (Hu check-called Choi’s 25,000 bet), then 5♠ (Hu check-called Choi’s 44,000 bet), then J♠ (Hu check-folded to Choi’s ship).

Choi showed J♦3♦, which was good as Gupta mucked and went in search of his 19th place prize money. That brings us down to two tables.

BLINDS UP. PLAYING 6,000-12,000 (2,000 ANTE) IN LEVEL 19

8.45pm: Lin doubles, Westmorland dented again
Jordan Westmorland has plenty of support on the rail this evening, but the applause heard a minute ago through the poker room of the Grand Waldo Entertainment Complex was not for him. Indeed, it must have sounded particularly hollow – he was losing another monster pot with ace-king in a matter of minutes.

The reason this hand attracted such attention was that the winner was the Team PokerStars Pro Celina Lin, who is among the most popular players in this or any region.


Is there room for another photo? I think so. This is Celina Lin (left)

Lin and Westmorland were at the races, all in pre-flop, with Lin tabling 9♠9♦ to Westmorland’s A♥K♦.

Lin’s hands moved over her mouth in first nervousness, then excitement and then exhilaration as a board of 5♦4♥6♦8♣Q♠ was gradually dealt. That doubled her up to more than 800,000 and left Westmorland down to about 300,000. He is still in this one, but is by no means the monster he was only an hour ago.

Lin, meanwhile, is chip leader.

8.40pm: Leo roars
Chul Woo Park opened to 20,000 from the cut off, the standard min-raise favoured by all the cool kids. Leo Yu then moved all in for his last 131,000 from the small blind and Park called.

Park: J♦J♠
Yu: A♣3♣

That heavily favoured the big stack of Park, but the dealer had other ideas. The flop was the innocuous 10♣7♦K♦ but the A♦ was the turn and the 7♣ wasn’t the diamond required for the redraw.

Yu is still fighting.

8.30pm: I’m your No 1 Fan
No sooner is the question asked of “Who can catch Jordan Westmorland?” than Canada’s Qi Fan provides the answer. Fan can.

He needed a blessing from the poker gods to get there, though, rivering a nine when he was all in with ace-nine against Westmorland’s ace-king. (It had gone raise, three-bet, shove, call. Fan had been the one agonising about calling for his tournament life.)

The pattern of total dominance for Westmorland continued through flop and turn, but then that nine on the river doubled Fan’s 350,000-ish stack. He now has 735,000, Westmorland is down to about 700,000.

8.20pm: Cockburn free for second helpings
Craig Cockburn open shoved all in from the button, for his last 151,000, moments before a friend arrived on the rail with two steaming trays of barbeque ribs, which look and smell utterly delicious. He began to tuck in, even as Chil Woo “C.P.” Park of Korea pondered calling.

Eventually Park did make the call and Cockburn was in a win-win situation. He either doubled up and got to enjoy his ribs at the table, or busted and got to enjoy them on the rail.

For fairly obvious reasons, one suspects he would have preferred to eat at the table, but it wasn’t to be. His J♥8♥ was behind Park’s A♣4♠ and he never caught up. The board came A♥4♥3♦8♠K♦.

Cockburn is out, while Park is up to about 670,000.

8pm: Yip snared by Westmorland
All of the day one chip leaders made it deep into the money here, but now the first has fallen. And wouldn’t you know, it was one of the others who busted him.

Tomaz Yip is the man to depart, sent packing by Jordan Westmorland. Who else?

Yip open shoved for his last 145,000 and Westmorland wanted a count. After only a short pause, he called and this was a race:

Westmorland: 7♣7♠
Yip: A♥K♥

The board this time went in favour of the pocket pair, making Westmorland a straight that he didn’t even need by the end. It came 5♠10♠8♦6♣9♣ and that was that for Yip.

7.55pm: Who can catch Westmorland?
Players are now filtering back from their dinner break and preparing for the press to the final table. If my counting is correct – and there’s a margin of error up up to 100 percent – Jordan Westmorland has amassed an almighty 1.16 million chips.

That, in case you need reminding, is about four times as much as he brought back for the start of play today but, even more remarkably, more than 20 times what he was down to after some brutal early levels.


Jordan Westmorland, apparently unassailable

This figures are now enough to make me doubt that I did see Westmorland with that few chips, but I remember watching him move all in and say “About fifty” when asked for a count.

Anyhow, I’ve updated the chip-count page with the latest stacks of the notables.

7.05pm: Dinner time
For the first time this week, there’s going to be a dinner break. Players have 45 minutes to get some scoff down them, before returning at 7.55pm to play down to a final nine. Join us then. (I’ll get some updated chip counts in the meantime.)

7pm: Cockburn finishes the job on Goindi
After a raise to 16,000 from middle position, Craig Cockburn announced that he was all in from the button, covering just about everyone else at the table. Abhishek Goindi then asked for an all in triangle too (they use a triangle out here to denote the all in player) as he under-called from the big blind. The original raiser got out the way.

“Sick set-up,” muttered someone on the rail as Cockburn tabled A♦Q♠ to Goindi’s K♥K♣.

It got sicker. The flop came 7♦9♦6♦ to give Cockburn any diamond, in addition to his ace, in his bid to eliminate Goindi. The 4♣ turn was safe, but the 4♦ river was a killer.

Goindi, who needed to finish in the top four to take over the lead in the race for Asia Player of the Year, departs in 22nd instead.

6.45pm: Payouts
There are 22 players left now. Don’t forget, the target is a final table of nine. The first batch of players to bust in the money have collected their wonga and now have their name immortalised on the payouts page. Click through to see the lucky folk.

6.30pm: Hu better, Goindi gutted
Richard Hu was somehow down to his last 130,000-odd but, true to his yo-yo style, has now doubled it back up again. He was in the big blind as Abhishek Goindi opened from the button. Hu called.

I’m not sure how all the money went in subsequently, but I can see how come it did. Hu had K♦8♣ and Goindi A♣4♠. The flop has brought something for both of them: A♥8♦K♣. The turn and river were J♦Q♣, which meant Hu’s two pair was good.

Goindi has been riding a roller-coaster of his own this afternoon, but is now at a low ebb. He has about 55,000 after doubling Hu back up to about 270,000.

6.15pm: Hibuse breathes her last
Emi Hibuse is out – caught in one last bluff. She only had a short stack so Ashish Gupta was probably obliged to call, even though he had but ace high.

The hand played out as follows: Gupta raised to 16,000 under the gun (it was temporarily six-handed as players were arriving from a broken table) and Hibuse called from the big blind.

It was only the two of them to a flop of Q♦5♥5♣. Hibuse checked, Gupta bet 15,000 and Hibuse then moved all in for 27,000 more. Gupta thought for a moment, but called and showed A♥10♥.

Hibuse tapped the table and flipped her 6♣8♣. The K♣ turned, giving Hibuse some more outs. But the Q♠ river was not one of them, and she departs.


Emi Hibuse

Vivian Im and Celina Lim have now sat down just as Hibuse leaves. We are down to only 26 players on three tables. With Hibuse’s exit, only one Japanese remains: Toma Tsugunari.

BLINDS UP. PLAYING 4,000-8,000 (1,000 ANTE) IN LEVEL 17

6pm: Lin with Lin
As noted earlier, Celina Lin won a monstrous pot this afternoon when she knocked out two players while holding pocket kings.

If you’d looked around the tournament room any time this week you will have seen Lin’s picture on a poster holding just that hand, and (miraculously) that banner appeared directly behind Lin just after the huge confrontation for a cute photo op.

So here’s Lin with Lin.


Celina Lin with banner

5.45pm: Bubble gallery
A picture is worth a thousand words, etc., so here’s the equivalent of a master’s thesis on the subject of the bubble, from the capable lens of Kenneth Lim and Long Guan, our photographers here in Macau.


Hirotoshi Nakabo pulls off the first “bubble up”


Yosuke Sekiya and Darian Tan, all friendly before the bubble


A scrum forms around the table as the bubble looks set to burst

yosuke sekiya_bubbleboy_macau.jpg

Sekiya looks on anxiously as his fate is decided


Darian Tan celebrates as he rivers a flush to burst the bubble


The tournament room returns to normal


The excitement is too much for one railbird. “Sorry, what did you say is going on?”


Aha. He was otherwise occupied on the PokerStars mobile client

5.40pm: Westmorland on huge upswing
Jordan Westmorland is now up to 525,000, which is double his overnight stack. Even more remarkable is that it’s about 10 times what he had whittled down to earlier today. This guy has decided to buy a house on a roller coaster.


Jordan Westmorland, with almost no chips


Jordan Westmorland, with significantly more chips about five minutes later. He has even more now.

5.35pm: Golden Goindi
Abhishek Goindi has just knocked out Raiden Kan with a pretty standard ace-king versus pocket jacks encounter. Kan was down to about 95,000 after tangling on the bubble with Qi Fan. But when you add them to Goindi’s stack, he moves up to about 400,000, which is close to the chip lead.

5.15pm: Gait growing steadily
Martin Gait has flown somewhat under the radar here, but no more. He is now up to about 210,000 having just knocked out Jeff Lee. After Danny Lai opened to 16,000, Gait three bet to 32,000 from one seat along. Lee then shoved from the big blind for 49,000 total, which persuaded Lai out of it.

Gait, however, was clearly priced in and called, even though he was only to show K♥10♥. That was behind Lee’s A♠Q♠. But when the board peeled K♦3♣5♦Q♣6♣, Gait had taken the lead and Lee was off to the cage.

5.05pm: Lin surges post-bubble
Celina Lin was one of the players heavily involved on the bubble, attempting to knock someone out but ending up doubling him up and losing half her stack. That put her down to about 45,000.

But she has now won a succession of huge hands and in less than 10 minutes is up to 290,000, which is among the chip leaders. Remarkable.

The most notable hand was one in which she knocked out two others – Takuo Serita and Wayne Tuan – when she flopped a set of kings. Serita had king-ten for top pair and Tuan had pocket tens.

Lin is now posing for a photograph beside her poster, which depicts her proudly holding two kings. Certainly worth shouting about given her recent resurgence.

5pm: Looking back on the pre-bubble
One of the most notable plays on the bubble took a huge dent out of the stack of Raiden Kan, but doubled up Qi Fan in the process. This was gutsy play by both players in the circumstances, and in this instance fortune certainly favoured the bravery of Fan.

Fan opened to 10,000 from mid-position, and Kan three bet from the button, asking for 14,000 more. (Kan is a hugely experienced tournament player, and a Supernova Elite, so he knows precisely the way to attack on the bubble.) But Fan was not impressed and called.

The flop came 7♦J♥7♥ and Fan instantly shipped all in. Kan took a while longer, checking his cards, but he called. It was something like 60,000-ish.

Kan was ahead at this stage. He showed J♠9♠. But Fan had A♥2♥ for the flush draw, which completed on the 6♥ turn. The 4♣ river was not one of Kan’s outs and that kept the bubble period going for a while longer.

That’s a “bubble-up” for Fan.

BLINDS UP. PLAYING 3,000-6,000 (500 ANTE) IN LEVEL 16

4.50pm: Sekiya tanned, out on the bubble
Yosuke Sekiya is our bubble boy in Macau, running into Darian Tan. There was a huge amount of action during hand-for-hand play, culminating in simultaneous called all ins on two tables. But only Sekiya lost his, meaning he departs in 45th place and leaves with nothing.

He got involved from the button, open shoving his short stack from there. Darian Tan, who had a significantly larger stack in the small blind, called and after a tortuous pause, the cards were on their backs.

Tan: A♣J♣
Sekiya: Q♣9♦

The flop gave Sekiya a load of hope – Q♦8♣6♣ – putting him in the lead with a pair of queens. But that flush draw looked ominous and after the 7♠ turned, the 10♣ was disastrous for Sekiya.

Tan punched the air in celebration, then shook Sekiya’s hand. The Japanese player took it with good grace and headed out the door.

We’re now in the money, and I’ll do my best to get some approximate counts from those remaining.

4.30pm: Bubble
There we are, we are now down to 45 players. That means it’s bubble time. The next player out leaves with nothing; after that, they’re all in the cash. Updates will stop until we see who bursts the bubble, but we’ll be back with full details of that when it happens.

Commence hand-for-hand play…

4.15pm: Emi Hibuse: Smiling assassin
Butter wouldn’t melt in the mouth of Emi Hibuse. I’ve seen her move all in perhaps more than any other player during this tournament, and she always goes through precisely the same routine: slides her packet of mints on top of her cards, sits back and smiles. It’s dazzling.

This time she did it with four cards out: 3♣9♥8♣10♣. Her all in was for 47,500 and the pot was about 40,000. It was Wayne Yuan with the decision this time.

Yuan dwelled and dwelled but then passed, flipping the A♣ into the muck face up. Hibuse smiled and showed her pocket nines for a flopped set. Good play all round.


Emi Hibuse: not to be messed with

Hibuse is one of three women still in contention here as we approach the money. The others are the Team PokerStars Pro duo of Celina Lin and Vivian Im.

Lin has 130,000 but Im is on a roll. She is now up to 250,000 and is among the chip leaders.

4pm: Huntly downed, Choi up
It looks like Gordon Huntly has gone, almost certainly hexed by being lauded on PokerStars Blog. But a new man in contention today is Chang Rak Choi, who is up to 261,500. The precision of that count is brought to you by the Campaign for Well-Ordered Chip Stacks (CWOCS), sponsored by the Union of Poker Bloggers (UPB).

3.50pm: Westmorland’s charges back into contention
Jordan Westmorland is back – and then some. He now has about 250,000 again and seems far more happy about things.

In a three-bet pre-pot, Westmorland flopped an up-and-down straight draw with a mighty jack-seven. (The flop was four-five-six.) Tomaz Yip led with his ace-five and then called Westmorland’s shove.

The two of them are discussing the finer points of the hand between them still. (“I’d do that with overpairs as well,” Westmorland said. “No you wouldn’t,” said Yip.) But I think that’s the bare bones correct, which they related to me during play.

Westmorland is now a challenger again, Yip is down to about 170,000. We are three players off the money.

3.45pm: Sick sick
“Sick” is a word much overused in poker – and it doesn’t mean what it used to anymore. However, Michael Ross was sick today in a traditional sense, missing the first two hours of play with a mystery ailment, and being blinded away to about 20,000 only in his absence. That’s sick, in a poker sense.

It was also pretty sick (in a poker sense) when he got his last chips in with 8♦J♦ and made a flush with it. The problem was that Craig Cockburn had A♦4♦ and so made a much better flush.

Ross is now off to take his medicine for sickness of both a poker and a traditional sense.

Feeling slightly better now is Jordan Westmorland, who must have secured a much needed double up. He is now much closer to 100,000 than he was a few minutes ago and so is still on course to make the money. That had seemed in jeopardy not so long ago after a horrible start to the day.

BLINDS UP. PLAYING 2,000-4,000 (500 ANTE) IN LEVEL 15

3.30pm: Westmorland Westpoorland
It’s been a wretched day for Jordan Westmorland. Returning with 269,000, which was by far the biggest stack in the room, he has lost all but a fifth of that and was just all in for his last 50,000. He didn’t get a caller so fights on, but it has been far from plain sailing this afternoon. He couldn’t lose a pot on day 1A, but the opposite has been true this afternoon.

3.15pm: Double double
Vivian Im and Emi Hibuse have both recently doubled up to more than 120,000 apiece. Hibuse picked up a flush draw with her Q♥10♥ on a double-hearted board, against Tomaz Yip’s unsuited ace. But she hit a queen on the turn to win it anyhow, not needing the flush.

Im found kings against an ace-jack, and that was good for her.

There are 52 players left, seven off the money.

3.10pm: Chocolate Chen melts away
Victor Chen is out, but at least he did it in style. He brought back a short stack with him today, as well as a stack of individually wrapped chocolates. The chocolate stack was taller than his chips.

When he open shoved from early position a moment ago, a couple of players round the table seemed to be pondering a call. “I give you chocolates if you call,” Chen said. Then after silence, he added: “I even give you two if you fold.”

No one took him up on his kind offer until it made it all the way round to Weshern Govender in the big blind. He called, but didn’t seem that interested in the chocolate bait.

“King-king-king-king-king!” said Chen in rapid staccato as he flipped over his K♣9♣.

Govender mocked him immediately: “King-king-king?” Govender said, flipping his A♠K♠.

“OK, flush-flush-flush!” said Chen.

None of that came to pass. The board was A♦2♥7♦5♥Q♦ and Govender’s pair of aces sent Chen to the rail. At least he kept his chocolates.

3pm: Wily as a Renaud
Phil Muscarello has become the latest victim of the Brice Renaud show. After an early position raise to 6,500, Muscarello called from the small blind. Renaud squeezed from the big blind, adding another 16,500, which looked like it might just be a muscle play.

The original raiser bailed, but Muscarello announced he was all in for what was about 70,000 total. He knew he was in trouble the moment Renaud said “call” about half a nano-second after the words all in were out his mouth.

Renaud tabled A♣A♥ and Muscarello’s A♦2♦ was in really bad shape. The board ran 8♠8♣7♥K♦3♣ and that was that.

Despite doubling up Celina Lin a little while ago, Renaud now has 240,000.

2.50pm: Lin doubles
As mentioned moments ago, Celina Lin was in search of a double up. And she has now done so. She is up to about 110,000, finding Brice Renaud the amenable benefactor.

2.40pm: Huntly still armed
Gordon Huntly brought one of the shortest stacks back for day two – precisely 15,000, which is what he started with on day one.

But Huntly, who won on the ANZPT in Sydney in March this year (a score worth close to $240,000), is made of stern Scottish stock. And he’s managed to grind that short stack up to 53,000.


Gordon Huntly

As we enter level 14, the average stack is now 93,000 so Huntly has a way to go yet. (He also has Goindi Abhishek, Simon Merritt and Darian Tan for company.) But he knows precisely the right way to go about it, so write him off at your peril.

BLINDS UP. PLAYING 1,500-3,000 (500 ANTE) IN LEVEL 14

2.30pm: Break time
That’s the end of level 13, offering the players their first 10 minute break of the day. There are 65 of them remaining, meaning we’re 20 from the money.

2.20pm: Past champions depart
Earlier today, only two of 10 tables did not contain a past Red Dragon champion. But they are falling like flies recently. Mark Benasa’s nines couldn’t beat jacks, and there are also empty spaces where Patrick Lee and Kenny Leong used to be.

2.15pm: Richard Hu’s invisible magic
Richard Hu has taken control of this poker tournament and now has about 340,000 chips. He’s one of those players who never seems to enter a pot when there’s a reporter anywhere near, so I’ve no idea how he’s actually doing this. But clearly he has some magic formula.

He is one seat to the right of the other massive stack at this stage, the day 1B overnight leader Tomaz Yip. Yip has 290,000 of his own, so any pot between the two of them has the potential to be tournament defining, even at this relatively early stage.


Tomaz Yip, left, and Richard Hu

With all due respect to those two, their corner of the tournament room is not quite so photogenic as this corner, which features the Team PokerStars Pro Celina Lin and Finland’s Xiaolei Chen.

celina_lin_xiaolei chen_day2_macau.jpg

Celina Lin and Xiaolei Chen

Lin has about 45,000, which is about half average, so she will need to double up soon. It’s actually the same amount as her Team Pro colleague Vivian Im. Both need to get busy, as they discussed earlier.


Vivian Im and Celina Lin

2pm: Nakabo defies poker gods, doubles
Poker has a habit of punishing hubris, and the player who celebrates prematurely is always setting himself up for a fall. When Hirotoshi Nakabo moved all in for his last 40,000-ish, he punched the air and celebrated the minute he heard Haihong Li say call.

Nakabo slapped his K♥K♣ on the felt and then demanded to know what Li had called him with. (Li had dwelled a little, so it obviously wasn’t aces.)

Li tabled A♦Q♣ and any seasoned poker reporter will tell you that this was not yet a done deal for Nakabo. That early celebration really put himself at the mercy of the poker gods.


Hirotoshi Nakabo

As it turned out, hubris was not punished in this instance. The board ran 3♥7♥K♠7♠6♠ meaning Nakabo finished with a full house. “I’m a tight player,” he berated Li – albeit friendly enough. (He wasn’t showboating at all; just exuberance overflowing.)

But with 66 players now left, there’s still a battle to make it to the last 44. And Nakabo still has less than average. We will see if he makes it.

1.40pm: Movers
There have been some remarkable chip swings and surges already today as more than 30 players have already taken their leave.

Our new chip leader is almost certainly the Frenchman Brice Renaud, who has increased his overnight stack of about 58,000 to a remarkable 230,000.

His increase has corresponded with Jordan Westmorland’s slump. They’re not on the same table, so Renaud is not directly responsible, but Westmorland is now “down” to 140,000. He hasn’t had that “few” chips since about level five on day one. (Average is still about 80,000.)

A few other notable stacks:

Simon Merritt – 165,000 (up from 51,000 overnight)
Daniel Sing – 177,000 (up from 27,600 overnight)
Tomaz Yip – 210,000
Richard Hu – 200,000
Raiden Kan – 140,000

BLINDS UP. PLAYING 1,200-2,400 (400 ANTE) IN LEVEL 13

1.25pm: Dane downed
Karsten Nielsen, a PokerStars qualifier from Denmark, is the latest to fall. He got it in with A♣Q♣ and was dominating his opponent’s Q♦J♦. But two jacks came on flop and turn and that was that for Nielsen, who is now free to watch Denmark’s bid to qualify from Group B of Euro 2012. They play Germany tonight.

1.20pm: Renaud snares another
“Back to back river cards for Brice,” said Danny McDonagh over the microphone, offering occasional commentary on some of the action. From what McDonagh said, Brice Renaud followed up the hand that knocked out Ira Blumenthal (see below) with another elimination.

This time he had pocket kings all in pre-flop against Akira Ohyama’s pocket twos. The twos flopped a set, but a king rivered and Renaud sent another to the rail. That one wasn’t a bad beat at all, though, if it all went in pre-flop. I only have McDonagh’s word for this; I’m over the other side of the room.

1.10pm: Brutal beats
I only caught the very, very end of two hands, both of which resulted in eliminations.

Firstly, Brice Renaud knocked out Ira Blumenthal in something of a sickener for the latter. Blumenthal had 7♥10♥ and had turned a flush. Renaud, who had the bare A♥ shoved at that point (with “maximum fold equity,” said Renaud). Blumenthal called but a fourth heart on the end gave Renaud the higher flush.

Moments later King Chung Wang was sent spiralling out the door by Darian Tan. I didn’t see any of this, except for Wang wandering away, dazed, having lost his overnight stack of more than 77,000 and Tan stacking up what now must be close to about 200,000.

12.55pm: Add Micka, Matalon to the list
Joel Micka and Amir Matalon are both now out.

Ahead of play today, the latter knew he was in shove or fold mode with a stack of about 29,000. But he’s now still cursing his play that ended his participation, open shoving the cut off with a suited queen-eight.

“I still had fold equity,” he said. The blinds both had decent-sized stacks, but the player in the big blind woke up with ace-queen and snapped off Matalon.

Matalon declined a tilt at the High Roller event starting later on today. “If he ran hotter than the sun (Jordan Westmorland), I ran colder than the Antarctic,” Matalon said.

But one suspects we’ll see more of Matalon. He has clearly enjoyed this trip to the Macau Poker Cup.

12.40pm: Huang departs
With apologies to all my friends in Europe and the United States, my new favourite member of Team PokerStars Pro is Bryan Huang.

It’s never pleasant to bust a poker tournament, but Team Pros have the additional ignominy of having to report details of their elimination to us at PokerStars Blog. Over the years we have come to known the familiar bitter trudge to media row of a leading light snuffed out: their faces look like someone wandering into a doctor’s office to get an unfortunate “personal problem” checked out. (You know, a mixture of apprehension, dread and obligation.)

Huang just made that trudge this afternoon, to reveal that he couldn’t win a flip with ace-jack against pocket fives.

“I’m sorry,” I offered, by way of banal condolence.
“Hey, don’t be sorry,” Huang said. “It’s totally standard.”

Then off he went to check out the side event schedule, smile back on face.

Come on, other Team Pro members (and you know who you are). That’s the way to do it.

Adios Bryan.

12.35pm: New structure
We have finished off the end of level 11, left over from day one, and are now into level 12. From here until the end, levels are one hour long.

BLINDS UP. PLAYING 1,000-2,000 (300 ANTE) IN LEVEL 12

12.30pm: Wang whacked
Ted Wang has just wandered over to the computer of my Chinese media colleagues here, where I imagine he is typing what amounts to “AK < AQ - fish hits a straight" into some forum or other. In other words, Wang is out early on today, suffering a nasty beat.

12.20pm: Triple Kiwi
Daniel Sing is a proud Kiwi, who has been wearing an All Blacks rugby jersey throughout the tournament. And he has just pulled off the equivalent of an early drop goal with a triple up of his short stack within the first level. It looked like Hui Wen opened to 3,600 from his near 100,000 stack, but then two short stacks got them quickly in the middle. One belonged to Joel Micka and the other to Sing. Wen clearly figured he was priced in despite the hostile action, and called.

Micka: 2♦2♠
Sing: A♦K♣
Wen: A♥9♥


Daniel Sing, now has chips

The board, remarkably, seemed to be favouring Micka’s micro pair, when the first four cards came Q♦5♥Q♣J♥. But there were heaps of outs now for Sing, and the 10♦ on the end was one of them.

His straight tripled him up, while Micka took the side pot. Wen is now short.

12.10pm: Action started
As ever in Macau, play is under way bang on time, and with so many returning short-stacks, it was always going to be frantic right from the off.

Takuo Serita found A♥J♥ and got his entire stack in the middle on the first or second hand of the day, and was called by Zhi Peng Zhang’s A♦8♣. It looked a bit tricky when the 8♥ was first out, but the board then filled out with the 10♠6♥2♥3♦ to give Serita a winning flush.

It wasn’t quite so happy for Ping Lin one table along. He moved in with A♥2♥ and was called by Kunal Jain with 3♦3♣. The board ran 8♠7♦8♣6♥5♠ and the small pocket pair held up.

Play has well and truly begun.

11.50am: The chase
Ahead of today’s action, here’s some interesting information provided by PokerStars’ “Man in Macau” Fred Leung. He has been getting his abacus in a twist all night to inform us of the following:

“For those interested in the Asia Player of the Year (APOY) implications, here are the points for the Red Dragon:

1st 2160
2nd 1800
3rd 1440
4th 1080
5th 900
6th 720
7th 630
8th 540
9th 450
10th 360

That means Abhishek Goindi can overtake the eliminated No1 ranked Nicky Jin with a fourth place finish or better, while Yosuke Sekiya needs to finish in the top three for the top spot. Both start on table 11 today.”

It’s not just a prestigious but empty title either. The official Asia Player of the Year gets their name inscribed forever on a terrific trophy and, perhaps more importantly, receives a year sponsorship to selected events in Asia. It is, without question, worth winning.


Asia Player of the Year Trophy – the gold one, foreground

11am: The calm before the storm
Morning all, and welcome back to the Grand Waldo Entertainment Complex in Macau for day two of the Macau Poker Cup: Red Dragon Series Main Event.

As I type, there’s not a whole lot of entertainment going on in this place, unless you consider someone sweeping the floor and someone else putting trays of napkins on cafe tables to be entertainment. Each to their own.

But that’s only the calm before the storm. In about an hour, the place will be heaving again with the returning 104 players, each still in the hunt for the June Red Dragon title.

You can see them all in chip-count order, or then look at them in seat and table order. Then check out what they’re all playing for.

The first order of business is to burst the bubble, which will happen when the 45th player is out. That’s a good couple of levels away yet.

Play is due to start at noon, so return then for all the fun.


All photographs on PokerStars Blog from Macau are © Kenneth Lim Photography (//


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