Starting a final day with two tables, as opposed to just the final table, is always a daunting task. It's a simple equation of having to bust twice as many players to make it through the day. Well, to say that today went twice as quick as expected is an understatement.
The day began with 18 players all hoping to become the champion, but of course, only one player could take home the HK$1,123,000 first-place prize, lift the Macau Poker Cup: Red Dragon trophy and claim all the glory that goes along with such a title. Fortunately for Japan's Yoshitaka Okawa it is he who will go down in the history books as the champion.
When the bags were cracked open at 2.00pm this afternoon it was always unlikely that we would make it to a final table before the first scheduled break at 4.00pm. However, what we didn't realize is that there would be an average of one elimination every five minutes. Within one 60-minute level we had not only reached the final table, but we had seen a double elimination on the final table bubble, as only eight players would make it to the main stage.
Already running back and forth between the tournament floor and the media desk, we were having trouble keeping up with all the frenetic action. We did however manage to witness the dramatic double elimination that saw the only past Red Dragon champion Zhenjian Lin fall to the rail simultaneously, but on different tables, to fellow equal 9th-place finisher Jiarong Qiu. With that, only eight remained and the final table was set to begin.
Easily the biggest benefactor of the pre final table action was unsurprisingly the eventual champion, Yoshitaka Okawa. Heading into the final table with over a quarter of the chips in play meant he was always going to be tough to beat. The only player who had even close to Okawa's stack was Shashank Rathi. So, can you guess how Okawa would end up with more than half the chips in play after just one hand at the final table?
Sometimes the two chip leaders at the beginning of a final table will stay away from each other, but that's not what they did today. By the time the massive four million-chip pot was over, a J♦J♥T♦2♣A♣ board was on the felt and Okawa had made a huge call on the river holding just Q♦T♣ when Rathi decided it was already time to get all his chips in. It was the right call in the end, with Rathi holding K♠4♠, with the king-high ensuring he found the rail in 8th place.
With seven players remaining it was already looking like it was the Okawa show, as his giant stack towered above his six opponents. In fact, Okawa easily had as much as all six of his foes combined. A few of the players tried to make some ground, with Zhenwu Wang dealing the fatal blow to Oliver Duran in 7th place.
The pace continued to fly at this point as Macau-based Aussie Michael Marvanek would run his J♥J♦ into the K♥K♦ of Wang to finish in 6th place. Suddenly Okawa's lead wasn't so big as Wang was flying. Another player who was doing well at this point was Homan Housiar, as he managed to double up twice to suddenly be in contention.
Okawa may have reached a bit of a slump midway through the final table, but quickly got back into the groove when his A♥9♥ got lucky against Kevin Zhang's A♣K♦ to send the US player home in 5th place. Four-handed play then began and yet again it was Okawa who looked unstoppable.
The affable Housiar was still alive and kicking during four-handed play, but would be the next player to find the rail when his A♣Q♣ was outdrawn by Okawa's J♦8♦ on a Q♠2♦T♠5♣9♣ board in a three-way pot.
Continuing to prove his dominance during three-handed play, Okawa would brutally send Finland's Eemil Tuominen to the rail in 3rd place. We say brutally because yet again Okawa would come from behind to send a player home. This time Okawa held pocket threes and would outrun Tuominen's K♥K♦ on a Q♦7♣6♠5♠4♥ board.
Just as was true of almost every stage of the final day, the heads-up battle would begin with Okawa having a monster chip lead over his opponent Zhenwu Wang. Staring down at a 3-1 chip deficit wouldn't have been easy, but Wang held his own for quite some time as the button went back and forth between the two players.
Unlike the rest of the day's proceedings, heads-up started quite slowly. Eventually the pace would pick up though, and the inevitable final hand of the tournament would take place.
Beginning the hand with the button, Wang opted to limp in. Okawa then raised it up to 230,000 from the big blind, at which point Wang limp-raised it up to 580,000. Okawa opted to make a call and the dealer flipped a 9♦5♦Q♣ flop onto the felt. Okawa asked Wang if he was going to go all-in, before sliding out a bet of 250,000. Wang then wen't all in for around 1,200,000 and Okawa made the call. Wang held 8♦7♦, with the flush draw behind Okawa's meager T♣8♣. Although Okawa only held ten-high on the flop, by the time the J♣ hit the turn, he had made a straight and with a 2♥ completing the board on the river, it was all over!
Zhenwu Wang certainly fought hard to get into 2nd place, but unfortunately it was simply Yoshitaka Okawa's day. Seemingly nothing could stand in his way and he proved that by going on to claim the trophy, all the glory and HK$1,123,000 to go along with it.
MPC: Red Dragon - Final Table Results
1st: Yoshitaka Okawa (Japan) - HK$1,123,000
2nd: Zhenwu Wang (China) - HK$784,000
3rd: Eemil Tuominen (Finland) - HK$462,000
4th: Oman Houshiar (Canada) - HK$353,000
5th: Kevin Zhang (USA) - HK$261,000
6th: Michael Marvanek (Australia) - HK$209,000
7th: Oliver Duran (France) - HK$170,000
8th: Shashank Rathi (Hong Kong) - $130,500
Eq. 9th: Jiarong Qiu (China) - HK$95,262
Eq. 9th: Zhenjian Lin (China) - HK$95,262
Well folks, that concludes our coverage of the January, 2013 Macau Poker Cup: Red Dragon. As always it was a pleasure to work with Danny McDonagh, Fred Leung and all
the team here at PokerStars Macau. It was certainly a massive weekend of poker as this tournament managed to host the second largest Red Dragon field in the event's long history. Here's to an even brighter future for poker in Macau!
Thanks for following with the PokerStarsBlog this week. Until next time, good night from the bright lights of Macau.