Takarabe takes Red Dragon at PokerStars Macau Poker Cup
PokerStars Macau at Casino Grand Lisboa recorded its most successful Macau Poker Cup (MPC) to date awarding a record HKD $4,257,400 in prize money through six events (July 7-11).
PokerStars qualifier Kenichi Takarabe from Japan outlasted 295 players in the featured Red Dragon main event and won HKD $617,700 in the process. Takarabe's win represents the first time the Red Dragon victor was from outside the Big Three countries of Hong Kong, China and Taipei.
Team PokerStars Pro Bryan Huang from Singapore appeared destined to be the one to break the Big Three run as he carried the chip lead for the majority of the tournament. With only four players remaining Takarabe knocked out two players and the double-elimination presented a heads-up match where both players were virtually tied in chips.
Huang's aggression appeared to be too much for Takarabe early in heads-up play. However, Takarabe would adjust and have more than a 2-to-1 chip lead heading into the final hand. The flop was T-8-9 with two spades and after a series of raises, Huang was all-in holding J-3 for an open-ended straight draw. Takarabe made the right read holding middle pair with A-9. The turn and river wouldn't improve Huang's hand and a hoard of Japanese players celebrated Takarabe's win in combination of cheers and tears.
During his victory speech, Takarabe said: "I have played the Macau Poker Cup many times before but to win this (Red Dragon event) is like a dream come true."
PokerStars Macau operations manager Danny McDonagh added: "It was a great finish to yet another record Macau Poker Cup. We were confident that the region would support the MPC despite having the WSOP and the soccer World Cup running at the same time. The Japanese have really embraced the MPC and it shows with 74 players from Japan in the Red Dragon event. Kenichi has participated in previous MPCs so he's become somewhat of a pioneer for poker in Japan. I'm really happy for him."
Team PokerStars Pro: Asia has had extraordinary results in the Macau Poker Cup series. The four-man team has produced a runner-up finish in four consecutive Red Dragon events. Celina Lin won the Red Dragon a year ago, followed by Tae Joon Noh's runner-up finish, and then Raymond Wu added another trophy to the team. Huang's runner-up completes the Far East's version of the Fantastic Four. It will now be about bragging rights as Huang now sits at a close no. 2 on the Asia Player of the Year Leaderboard.
Players won't have to wait long for another special event in Asia's gaming capital: PokerStars Macau is hosting the Macau Millions from August 4-8 with a HKD $1,000,000 Guarantee. The event is expected to set a new record for player numbers in a poker tournament in Asia.