The Macau Poker Cup Red Dragon kicked off today at PokerStars LIVE at the City of Dreams in Macau with a healthy field of 131 players taking their seat for the HK$11,000 Main Event. Despite a Level 8 typhoon raging around the South China Sea, players from all around Australasia, and beyond, managed to get themselves to Macau for arguably the most popular tournament series in all of Asia.
Among today's runners were previous champions, some overseas qualifiers and a throng of locals taking their shot at becoming the newest poker star in Asia. We saw the likes of Justin Chan, Sparrow Cheung, Scott Calcagno, Thomas Ward, Darren Judges, Neo Li Han Chen, Hung-sheng "Shaq" Lin, Craig Blight, Ivan Zalac, James Bills and Raj Ramakrishnan in action today along with reigning APPT Macau champion Alexandre Chieng and the inaugural MPC Red Dragon champion in Kenny Leong.
Chan and Leong were fast out of the blocks as they bullied their tables with ruthless aggression. Chan was five-betting preflop in just the second level of the day, while Leong claimed a nice pot with Q♦J♦ for top pair on a wet board against a player with the nut flush draw.
Reigning APPT Macau champion Alexandre Chieng was flushed by Ivan Zalac, while Yue Liu couldn't repeat her performance from last night when the Event #5 winner was busted with A♦J♥ against pocket jacks as the players dropped away steadily throughout the evening.
As the clock ticked into the wee hours of the morning, the story emerged in the battle between Kenny Leong and Daniel Laidlaw for the end-of-day chip lead. Leong tangled with Anson Wong in an epic duel that eventually saw Leong get the better, while Laidlaw went about his business with a efficient calm that belied the storm that raged outside of the walls of the casino.
We didn't catch Laidlaw in too many big pots, but again he proved himself as the hottest player in Australasia as he grabbed the chip lead by a narrow margin. He'll be wanting to wake up and play tournament poker every day of the week at the moment, following on from his runner-up result at the APPT Queenstown and victory in the Sydney Poker Championships over the past two weeks. It just shows the importance of confidence in this game.
James Bills, Ivan Zalac and Hung-sheng Lin hung in there and survived the day. Bills, in particular, came back from just five big blinds to register a top ten chip stack by the end of the day in a rather impressive comeback. Frank Maley, Justin Chan and Darren Judges are also in good shape as 35 players made it through the day.
As the day comes to an end, the players are off to Club Cubic here at the City of Dreams to enjoy a drink or two at the official PokerStars welcome drinks. It's kinda late for us regular folk, but hey, the night is still young in Macau!
Day 1b will kick off at 7:00pm (GMT+8) with an even bigger field expected. Join us again tomorrow on the PokerStars Blog for all the live updates, as they happen, from the from tournament floor of the PokerStars LIVE Macau poker room.
Photos by Kenneth Lim Photography courtesy of PokerStars LIVE Macau
Heath "TassieDevil" Chick is a Freelance Contributor for the PokerStars Blog.