APPT Macau 2007: Poker’s prince meets the king of the jungle as APPT Macau kicks-off
By Sean Callander
The sense of occasion and history was palpable as 1998 WSOP main event champion Scotty Nguyen gave the order to “shuffle up and deal” here at the Grand Waldo Hotel and Casino in Macau for the first No-Limit Texas Hold’em poker tournament to be held in the People’s Republic of China.
We’re underway in the $2500 PokerStars.net Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT) Macau: Asian Poker Open main event, which burst to life at noon local time with a display of traditional lion dancing.
It’s said the lion dance is usually performed as a ceremony to exorcise evil spirits and to summon luck and fortune.
The three lions may as well have been seated at one of the tables as they reflect some of the most crucial elements that make a good poker player – the golden lion represents liveliness; the red lion represents courage; and the green lion represents friendship.
Friendship was certainly the order of the night when players descended on the Monkey Bar for last night’s official launch party. However, everyone has their game face on today as a world-class field has assembled for this historic tournament.
The field (which is rumored to be finalized at more than 350 players) includes three world champions: Joe Hachem (who was seated two spots away from his younger brother Tony in an amazing table draw), 1990 winner Mansour Matloubi and Scotty Nguyen.
Two of the world’s best female players, Team PokerStars Pro Vanessa Rousso and Liz Lieu, are also seated at the same table, as are 2006 Bluff Magazine Player of the Year Chad Brown, dual WSOP bracelet winner Mel Judah and 2007 WSOP Heads-up champion Daniel Schreiber.
Chad Brown, and Mel Judah
eam PokerStars Pro Vanessa Rousso and Liz Lieu at APPT Macau opening day
Another tough table features Team PokerStars Pro Tuan Lam (runner-up in the ’07 WSOP main event), Canadian Michel St Pierre (final table APPT Seoul) and a pair of seasoned Aussie pros, David Saab and Ricky Gov.
Other Team PokerStars faces we’ve spotted in the room are Lee ‘Final Table’ Nelson, Hevad Khan, Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier, Isabelle Mercier, Bill Chen, Terrence Chan and Emad Tahtouh. Oh yeah, a surprise entrant seated at table 15 is three-time WSOP bracelet winner John Juanda, and also in the room is 2007 WSOP $2000 Seven-card Stud champion Jeff Lisandro.
But the APPT Macau experience is already over for one of the local players, Hong Kong’s Kut Fu ‘Raymond’ Chow, who was the first player eliminated after just 15 minutes of the first level.
In contrast, Joe Hachem picked up pocket aces twice within the first five minutes and took down two nice pots: “it’s like having 20k to start the day with,” the world champ said of his early stroke of luck. The lions worked for at least one player!