APPT Macau 2007: ‘All-in’ Dinh is the master of Macau

Less than two months ago, the concept of a No Limit Texas Hold’em poker tournament in the People’s Republic of China was more hope than reality.

But having already achieved milestone after milestone in 2007 with the biggest poker tournament ever held in the Philippines and the first international event scheduled in South Korea, the Asia Pacific Poker Tour team pulled up its sleeves and made something out of nothing to break down the metaphorical ‘Great Wall of Poker’.

As the biggest gaming market in the world, it was only fitting that the poker fever swept into Macau like a typhoon swirling in from the South China Sea.

Over the past week, 352 players arrived at the Grand Waldo Hotel and Casino chasing a slice of poker history ever bit as momentous as Johnny Moss’s World Series of Poker victory in 1970 and Chris Moneymaker’s WSOP success in 2003, which spearheaded the online poker boom.

Dihn Le winner of the APPT Macau 2007
Dihn Le winner of the APPT Macau 2007

The man who will occupy that most important page of poker history is an unlikely hero. A shy and soft-spoken 27-year-old from south London, Dinh Le, swept to victory and a life-changing first prize of $US222,460.

Le’s hard exterior, which materialised in an often ultra-aggressive style over the three-day event, is tempered by his humble Vietnamese background. He even listed his occupation as a nail technician – not the hardware variety; his family actually run a beauty shop in south London.

And he exemplifies the poker dream that the APPT has already provided for hundreds of players from more than 40 countries around the world.

Dinh Le was making his first live tournament appearance in Macau – his only poker experience comes from a regular weekly game with some friends, who he described as being “three times better players than me”.

Though somewhat to the international Hold'em circuit, he brought plenty of bravado to the APPT Macau: Asian Poker Open, and showed a particular aptitude for his favourite move: bluffing.

Time and time again, vastly more experienced players were left scratching their heads as to the strength (or otherwise) of the two cards that Dinh Le was holding, right down to the final hand with Singapore’s Ivan Tam.

The 26-year-old Tam, who decided to combine a holiday with the chance to play in Macau (he won his way in via a Mega Satellite here at the Grand Waldo last Thursday), decided to take a stand just eight hands into the heads-up duel.

With the blinds at 20,000/40,000, Dinh raised to 240,000 before Tan bumped it up to 720,000. The impetuous Dinh Le, who had already pushed all-in out of turn on the first hand of heads-up play, again threw his hand in the air to indicate he was all-in, and Tan was quick to call.

Dinh Le turned over one of the most successful hands in major tournaments of recent years: pocket eights. It was the hand that steered both Greg Raymer (2004) and Jerry Yang (2007) to their respective World Series of Poker main event victories.

PokerStars Video Blog
Interview with DInh Le winner of the APPT Macau Asian Open

However, Tan was well in the game with As 10c, but the board of 6s 5s Qd 2h Jd completely missed Tan. However, a $US129,536 prize wasn’t a bad souvenir for Tan’s holiday to Macau.

Another tournament first-timer, South Korea’s Sangkyoun Kim, qualified for his trip to Macau via a $11 rebuy tournament on PokerStars, and returned home with a massive profit ($US72,864) on his investment.

Good friends and fellow Seoul residents Guillaume Patry (fourth) and Bertrand ElkY’ Grospellier (fifth) did Team PokerStars proud and again showed that they are among the most exciting and talented young players on the planet.

Young Australian casino dealer William Tam made a great decision to invest some PokerStars $W for his Macau buy-in, and recouped some tasty hard currency – $US40,480 – for his trouble.

Our top female finisher was another player of Asian descent, Liz Lieu, who was a most popular addition to the field. The Poker Diva’s seventh place finish was one of her best ever in a major tournament.

Team PokerStars Pro Joe Hachem was shooting for an unbelievable hat-trick of becoming the first player to win a WSOP main event, WPT title and APPT tournament. He fell short in eighth spot, but as always conducted himself admirably and again underlined himself as one of poker’s most esteemed ambassadors.

Simon Randall, a comedy club owner from the UK, made the most of his brief final table experience and the room beaming after collecting ninth spot and $US16,192.

PokerStars Video Blog
The televised FInal Table sneak preview and behind the scenes

The $2500 buy-in main event may be over, but we’ll be back from midday tomorrow with all the news and stories from the $15,000 No Limit Hold’em tournament, which will feature many of the big names who’ve featured over the past three days, plus Kirk Morrison and Team PokerStars Pro Barry Greenstein, who’ve flown in especially for the tournament. APPT Macau: Asian Poker Open final results

  1. $222,640 Dinh Le (Vietnam)

  2. $129,536 Zhong Wei “Ivan” Tan (Singapore)

  3. $72,864 Sangkyoun Kim (South Korea)

  4. $56,672 Guillaume Patry (Canada)

  5. $48,576 Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier (France)

  6. $40,480 William Tam (Australia)

  7. $32,384 Liz Lieu (USA)

  8. $24,288 Joe Hachem (Australia)

  9. $16,192 Simon Randall (United Kingdom)

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in