Phanlert Sukonthachartnant leads APPT Macau Main Event final six, Team Pro Agarwal second

The plan for the penultimate day of the 2018 APPT Macau Main Event was for the 13 survivors from the starting field of 356 to play down to a final six.

The seven required knockouts came relatively quickly -- taking exactly six hours -- with many more all-ins ending in double-ups to add to the drama. Both Davidi Kitai and John Juanda were part of the mix at the start, but neither was able to survive to bag chips one more time in this event.

Ultimately the last all-in was won by Phanlert Sukonthachartnant, and he'll be the one returning tomorrow to the chip lead when play resumes.

Phanlert Sukonthachartnant, still top dog in the APPT Macau Main Event

Thailand's all-time top tournament earnings winner, Sukonthachartnant started today with the chip lead and maintained it throughout, with Lin Wu likewise enjoying a big stack for much of the proceedings.

Such was hardly the case for 2013 APPT Macau Main Event winner Alexandre Chieng. He began the day as a short stack, and somewhat improbably earned a quadruple-up early on followed by another double to help ignite his rise up the counts.

Meanwhile Young Cheng ran his short stack and pocket fours into Juanda's queens to go out in 13th. Pete Chen next busted in 12th after a series of all-ins by him ended in an elimination with king-eight versus the king-jack of Martin Gonzales. And after a lengthy stretch the amiable Victor Chong followed in 11th, his sixes failing him versus Lin Wu's pair of nines.

A dramatic double-knockout then reduced the field to eight, a three-way all-in in which Ashish Gupta had queens and Kitai ace-queen, but unfortunately for both Alexandre Chieng had a pair of aces in the hole and soon a pair of knockouts to his credit, too, with Kitai taking ninth and Gupta 10th.

The APPT Macau Main Event final table's great eight

After reassembling around the final table, a Maxi Lehmanski double through Martin Gonzales left the latter crippled, and he soon hit the rail in eighth. Then the tournament lost a Poker Hall of Famer when Juanda jammed with queen-six, ran into Sukonthachartnant's ace-nine, and the latter hand held.

Here's how the stacks looked at the close of play today, with Sukonthachartnant in front and Team PokerStars Pro Aditya Agarwal sitting in second position among a group representing six different countries:

NameCountyChip Count
Phanlert SukonthachartnantThailand2,965,000
Aditya AgarwalIndia2,035,000
Lin WuChina1,940,000
Alexandre ChiengFrance1,730,000
Maxi LehmanskiGermany1,040,000
Jen Chun ChiuTaiwan907,000

Players return tomorrow with a cool HK$3,095,000 first prize and trophy awaiting the winner who will also receive a PokerStars Players No-Limit Hold'em Championship (PSPC) Platinum Pass worth $30,000 USD.

Play starts back at 12 noon. Join us then as we find out together who will be this year's APPT Macau Main Event champion. --MH


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6pm: John Juanda busts in seventh to conclude Day 5
Level 26 - Blinds 25,000/50,000 (ante 5,000)

Poker Hall of Famer John Juanda is out, his APPT Macau Main Event run ending in seventh place, which means they've reached the end of play for this Day 5.

Juanda had been hovering below the 15-big blind range for this level, saw the table fold around to him in the small blind. He looked down at Q♥6♥ and announced he was all in, and when Phanlert Sukonthachartnant saw he'd been dealt A♣9♣ in the big blind, he called right away.

The 4♦4♣J♠ flop kept Sukonthachartnant ahead, then the A♥ turn paired his ace and left Juanda drawing dead as the 8♥ meaninglessly filled out the board. Juanda takes away HK$431,500 for his finish, while that pot ensures Sukonthachartnant will again be the overnight chip leader.

Back shortly with a full recap of Day 5. --MH

Juanda ends the day

5:50pm: Agarwal with the cold four-bet
Level 26 - Blinds 25,000/50,000 (ante 5,000)

Aditya Agarwal is closing in on the biggest cash of his live career, but don't think he's afraid. He just made a mighty pre-flop cold four-bet to get Alexandre Chieng and Lin Wu to fold. It added more than 400,000 to his stack without needing to see a flop.

Chieng opened his button to 100,000 only for Wu to three-bet in the small blind, making it 285,000. Agarwal, in the big blind, paused a few beats before announcing that he was all-in.

So many chips...

Cheing shot out of his seat and wanted a count. The tournament staff told him it was 1.66 million. Chieng had about 1.8 million in his stack, so this was a huge part of it--and that's before we even think about Wu, who had them both covered.

After a long pause, during which he eyed up both his opponents, Chieng folded. Wu folded quickly too. Chieng showed his A♥Q♠, but it didn't persuade Agarwal to show back. He mucked.

Agarwal moves up to 2.1 million. -- HS

And they're all heading Agarwal's way

5:47pm: Year of the jacks
Level 26 - Blinds 25,000/50,000 (ante 5,000)

Phanlert Sukonthachartnant made it 105,000 to go in the UTG+1 seat which Maxi Lehmanski defended when it folded to him. The dealer spread a 6♣3♥5♠ flop, and Lehmanski check-called Sukonthachartnant's 60,000 c-bet.

It was a similar story on the K♥ turn, albeit one with a bigger sizing. Lehmanski check-called 110,000, and his rail - made up of Oliver Weis, Paul Michaelis, Marius Gierse, and Paul Hoefer - started calling for a seven. After all, it's the year of the sevens and it's always coming sevens.

This time though it came a jack - the J♠. Lehmanski checked back a final time and Sukonthachartnant checked it back. The German turned over the J♥7♥ for a rivered pair of jacks (so a seven may have worked too) having picked up a fush draw on the turn. Sukonthachartnant mucked, shaking his head. --JS

Maxi Lehmanski

5:45pm: Martin Gonzales knocked out in eighth place
Level 26 - Blinds 25,000/50,000 (ante 5,000)

Down to his last 120,000, Martin Gonzales opened for the minimum -- 100,000 -- from early position, then it folded around to the blinds where Lin Wu reraised and Gonzales called all-in.

Gonzales: Q♥T♥
Wu: A♣J♣

The 2♦7♣7♠ flop missed Gonzales, then the J♦ turn paired Wu's jack to leave Gonzales looking for a queen to survive. But the river was the K♦, and Gonzales is out in eighth for HK$367,000.

Martin Gonzales - 8th place

Wu chips up to just about 2 million with that pot. --MH

5:40pm: Chiu shoves
Level 26 - Blinds 25,000/50,000 (ante 5,000)

Jen Chun Chiu just built his stack by another couple of hundred, pushing Lin Wu out of one. Wu opened the pot to 105,000 and Chiu, two seats along, took a long time about it (the clock was called) before three-betting to 230,000.

Everyone else folded, including the short-stacked Martin Gonzales, before Wu called.

They then saw the 3♠A♥K♥ flop and Wu checked. Chiu said that he was all-in, for around 500,000, but Wu didn't wait for a count before mucking. --HS

5:35pm: Gonzales needs a speedy comeback
Level 26 - Blinds 25,000/50,000 (ante 5,000)

Martin Gonzales had shipped it all in from under the gun and when it folded to the big blind of Lehmanski the German snap-called.

"Ace queen against ace jack," he told his rail (in German, obviously - A♣Q♥ vs A♥J♥) and they watched the 3♥K♠2♣9♠5♦ board runout. Lehmanski doubled up to 785,000, while Gonzales...well, his stack was decimated.

He was left with just 55,000, meaning after he posted the big blind and ante he was all in. Alexandre Chieng opened the next pot 105,000 and everyone folded, but when the cards were flipped we saw Gonzales had amazingly woken up for the J♦J♣.

Chieng had the 3♥3♠ and couldn't get there, with Gonzales eventually making a full house. He has just 135,000 for less than three bigs. Can Gonzales make a speedy comeback? --JS

5:25pm: Play resumes, 8 remain (updated chip counts)
Level 26 - Blinds 25,000/50,000 (ante 5,000)

They're back at it. Remember the plan is to play down to six players before stopping tonight. Below are updated counts as they resume play. --MH

NameCountyChip Count
Phanlert SukonthachartnantThailand2,425,000
Lin WuChina2,050,000
Alexandre ChiengFrance2,025,000
Aditya AgarwalIndia1,650,000
Jen Chun ChiuTaiwan830,000
John JuandaUSA715,000
Martin GonzalesPhilippines450,000
Maxi LehmanskiGermany390,000

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5:10pm: Chieng bluff-shoves river with the ol' seven-deuce
Level 25 - Blinds 20,000/40,000 (ante 5,000)

The last hand of the level was a lo-o-o-ong one, lasting at least 10 minutes and well into the break, although they did pause the clock to ensure everyone gets the full 15 minutes, anyway.

It began with Maxi Lehmanski raising to 80,000 from middle position and Alexandre Chieng calling from the big blind. Chieng checked the K♦5♣Q♠ flop, then after Lehmanski continued for 60,000, Chieng check-raised to 160,000 and Lehmanski called. (All of this occurred with much deliberation, by the way -- you can insert your own "he thought about it a while"-type comments in between each action.)

Both players then checked the A♣ turn, which perhaps provided the incentive Chieng needed to push all in after the 9♠ landed on the river. Lehmanski decided to fold to that aggression, and Chieng triumphantly turned over his cards -- 7♠2♠ (!) -- to reveal it was all a big story.

That pot bumps Chieng up over the 2 million mark going to the break, while Lehmanski will return as the table's short stack with 390,000. --MH

Alexandre Chieng playing stacks, not the cards

4:55pm: Chiu at the double
Level 25 - Blinds 20,000/40,000 (ante 5,000)

This is a pretty shallow tournament now, with a handful of players only really able to make one move pre-flop. It was Jen Chun Chiu's turn just a moment ago, when he pushed all-in from the button for exactly 400,000.

Jen Chen Chiu: Time to get the chips in

Martin Gonzales, with about double that in his stack, thought a brief moment but then called. This was the first called all-in of the final table, and it was Chiu under threat.

Chiu: 7♣7♠
Gonzales: A♣9♦

The dealer put the 2♥3♠6♣ on the flop, which was safe for the pocket pair. The 5♠ turn meant it would be a chop if any four hit the deck, but the 3♥ river meant the sevens stayed good.

Double!

That's the umpteenth double up for Chiu, who now has about 880,000 to play with. Gonzales is now in trouble with 475,000. --HS

4:50pm: Great call by Agarwal
Level 25 - Blinds 20,000/40,000 (ante 5,000)

Bit of a soulread there by the Team Pro on the chip leader.

Phanlert Sukonthachartnant opened the cutoff to 85,000 and both Lin Wu (small blind) and Aditya Agarwal (big blind) came along to the 6♦2♠5♥ flop. All three checked to the K♣ turn, but again there'd be no betting.

Finally the 7♠ river landed and it checked to Sukonthachartnant a third time. He reached for chips and put out a super delayed c-bet of 95,000, which got Wu to quickly fold. Agarwal wasn't so quick to decide though, and eventually--having stared at his opponent and back at the board--made the call.

Sukonthachartnant turned over the J♣T♠ for jack-high, while Agarwal showed his 2♥3♥ for just a bottom pair of deuces.

Aditya Agarwal: Soulread

That great call brings Agarwal up to 1.45 million, and drops Sukonthachartnant to 2.55 million. --JS

4:45pm: Three hands, three shoves
Level 25 - Blinds 20,000/40,000 (ante 5,000)

It's been an active orbit!

Maxi Lehmanski opened the cutoff to 85,000 and John Juanda jammed the small blind, which got folds.

Then Lehmanski open-shoved the button, which got through.

And in the third consecutive hand, Lin Wu opened to 80,000 and Aditya Agarwal shoved. Everyone folded. --JS

4:40pm: First final table hands
Level 25 - Blinds 20,000/40,000 (ante 5,000)

The final table is underway, with eight different countries represented by the eight players.

Following an initial hand in which chip leader Phanlert Sukontachartnant raised from late position and won the blinds and antes, the second hand saw it fold around to short stack Jen Chun Chiu in the small blind who open-raised and likewise won.

Then it was Alexandre Chieng opening from middle position for 85,000 only to see his neighbor Lin Wu three-bet to 180,000. That knocked out everyone else, and Chieng released his hand as well. --MH

4:35pm: Last eight
Level 25 - Blinds 20,000/40,000 (ante 5,000)

Here are the eight handsome devils playing for the title:

Final table players APPT Macau (l-r): Martin Gonzales, John Juanda, Phanlert Sukonthachartnant, Maxi Lehmanski, Jen Chun Chiu, Alexandre Chieng, Aditya Agarwal, Lin Wu

4:25pm: Final table redraw (with updated counts)
Level 25 - Blinds 20,000/40,000 (ante 5,000)

The final eight players are taking a short break before the final table gets started. Below is a look at where they are seated and how the stacks compare. --MH

SeatNameCountryChips
1Alexandre ChiengFrance1,820,000
2Lin WuChina2,230,000
3Aditya AgarwalIndia960,000
4Jen Chun ChiuTaiwan475,000
5Maxi LehmanskiGermany705,000
6Martin GonzalesPhilippines995,000
7John JuandaUSA720,000
8Phanlert SukonthachartnantThailand2,775,000

4:15pm: Double knockout sets final table
Level 13 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

Boom! Just like that, we are down to eight as Alexandre Chieng just knocked out two players on the same hand to put his stack up to 1.825 million! Chieng was scratching around with not very much earlier today, but is now second in chips as eight huddle round one table for the first time.

This was a thriller. Ashish Gupta open pushed for about 450,000. It was the second time in three hands he'd done this, but while the first one got through (he showed pocket fives) this one did not.

Ashish Gupta: Sees the funny side

Davidi Kitai re-shoved from two seats over with around 500,000, but then Chieng peeked at his cards in the big blind and called with about 650,000, putting them both at threat!

Gupta: Q♦Q♠
Kitai: A♦Q♣
Chieng: A♣A♥

What an amazing time to wake up with aces for Chieng, the 2013 APPT Macau champion.

Davidi Kitai: Dominated both ends

The board bricked all the way. It came 9♠3♦3♣6♦3♠ and, after tournament officials did some counting, it was made certain that Chieng had the most.

Alexandre Chieng: The oft-clenched fist

Kitai takes ninth place money ($303,000) as he had more chips than Gupta, who is the official tenth-placed finisher ($245,000).

We'll have seat draw and chip counts for the final table players very soon. -- HS

4:10pm: Juanda on the chopping block
Level 25 - Blinds 20,000/40,000 (ante 5,000)

John Juanda just made a good call all-in to find he had the same hand as his opponent. The problem was, he still wasn't in good shape.

Juanda had opened the hijack to 85,000 and Phanlert Sukonthachartnant called from the big blind. The two saw a 3♣9♦8♣ flop hit the felt, and Juanda continued for the same amount when it checked to him. Sukonthachartnant then made a triangle symbol with his hands, and the dealer handed him an all-in triangle.

This news caused Juanda to jerk upright and take off his surgical mask. While he became more open, Sukonthachartnant did the opposite, putting his hood up, pulling it tightly around his mouth and slouching down over his giant stack.

Juanda eventually made the call for 690,000 total, and saw that his T♠9♠ was equal to Sukonthachartnant's T♣9♣. However, Sukonthachartnant was freerolling with the club flush draw.

"Chop!" yelled Juanda as the dealer prepared a turn. It was the J♠, safe for now.

John Juanda: Calling for the chop

"Red card!" Juanda continued. "Chop chop!"

He didn't get his wish, but at least the 4♠ river wasn't a club. Split it up, fellas.

Juanda now has 707,500, and Sukonthachartnant still has 2.6 million. --JS

4pm: Victor Chong's run ends in 11th place
Level 25 - Blinds 20,000/40,000 (ante 5,000)

After Martin Gonzales opened for 80,000 from the cutoff, action moved over to Victor Chong in the small blind who as has been his usual style took his time deciding what to do.

After about a minute-and-a-half there was the sound of "all in" coming from the neighboring table, and the dealer mistakenly brought out the all-in triangle thinking Chong had said it. He didn't, and all chuckled as the dealer retrieved it, but a minute after that Chong did in fact declare he was all in for his last 660,000 or so.

Victor Chong: Gets his chips in

Lin Wu was in the big blind and he called the shove while Gonzales stepped aside. Chong tabled 6♣6♠ and saw he was behind Wu's 9♥9♦.

Time to say goodbye

The board came 3♦J♣Q♦A♣K♣, and Chong's run ends with an 11th-place finish worth HK$206,000. Wu is now up around 2.15 million. --MH

3:55pm: Chiu, Kitai shoving short stacks
Level 25 - Blinds 20,000/40,000 (ante 5,000)

Following an Aditya Agarwal open from the button, Jen Chun Chiu shoved all in for 410,000 from the small blind and earned folds and the pot.

Chiu and Davidi Kitai are the short stacks up on the feature table, and Kitai has also been shoving frequently preflop without getting any callers. --MH

3:40pm: Silent Sukonthachartnant no more
Level 25 - Blinds 20,000/40,000 (ante 5,000)

Update: Phanlert Sukonthachartnant has now played a pot, and picked up a sizeable chunk of Maxi Lehmanski's stack while doing so. It was a battle of the blinds, with Sukonthachartnant betting every street of a T♣K♥4♣K♦A♣ board. It looked like 90,000 on both turn and river, following checks from Lehmanski.

Lehmanski called the final bet too, only to be shown K♣3♠. He really had it. That puts Sukonthachartnant close to 3 million now, and cut Lehmanski down to about 860,000. -- HS

Maxi Lehmanski: Look away now

3:40pm: Silent Sukonthachartnant
Level 25 - Blinds 20,000/40,000 (ante 5,000)

Phanlert Sukonthachartnant had pretty quiet in this level considering that he has the chip lead by more than a million. He hadn't even played a pot.

He just woke up with two consecutive raises though. The first one was for 85,000 on the button and got two folds, before opening the same amount from the cutoff the next hand. This time it folded to John Juanda in the small blind, and the Hall of Famer shipped all in for 740,000. Back to Sukonthachartnant, he got a count but let it go.

Let's see if he tightens up again or continues to get amongst it. --JS

3:30pm: Chieng chooses not to call with jacks
Level 25 - Blinds 20,000/40,000 (ante 5,000)

Lin Wu opened for 80,000 from the cutoff, then Alexandre Chieng made it 225,000 to go from the button. The blinds folded, and Wu didn't waste too much time before announcing he was reraising all in.

Cheing tanked for about a minute, looking back at the 690,000 he had behind. Finally he chose to fold, showing Wu his J♥J♣ when he did. Wu is up to 1.35 million after that one. --MH

3:10pm: Break time

Eleven players have made it to the break. When they return in 15 minutes, here's how they'll be stacked:

NameCountyChip Count
Phanlert SukonthachartnantThailand2,400,000
Maxi LehmanskiGermany1,200,000
Martin GonzalesPhilippines1,150,000
Lin WuChina1,080,000
Aditya AgarwalIndia1,060,000
Alexandre ChiengFrance980,000
John JuandaUSA650,000
Victor Chong Malaysia650,000
Ashish GuptaAustralia530,000
Jen Chun ChiuTaiwan480,000
Davidi KitaiBelgium450,000

3:05pm: Chips for Chieng
Level 24 - Blinds 15,000/30,000 (ante 5,000)

Martin Gonzales opened for 60,000 from under the gun and it folded around to Alexandre Chieng who called from the big blind. Both checked the J♦9♦T♥ flop, then Chieng led for 100,000 after the 4♥ turn and Gonzales called.

The river was the 3♣, and this time Chieng bet 225,000 -- more than half what he had left. Gonzales thought a while, then gathered calling chips and after riffling them while contemplating a bit more set them forward to call.

Chieng immediately tabled 8♠7♥ for a straight, and Gonzales said "good hand" as he mucked.

Gonzales has 1.225 million now. Meanwhile Chieng -- on fumes for much of the early part of the day -- is up around 980,000. --MH

3pm: Juanda vs Agarwal
Level 24 - Blinds 15,000/30,000 (ante 5,000)

John Juanda and Aditya Agarwal just tangled in pot blind versus blind, making that the first bit of reportable action we've seen for the past five minutes or so.

Juanda made it 100,000 to go from the small blind which Agarwal called, bringing an A♠5♠K♣ flop which both would check. The T♦ turn didn't inspire a delayed c-bet from Juanda, but it did get Agarwal to lead for 70,000. Call.

The 9♣ completed the board on the river and Juanda checked a final time. Agarwal loaded up a bet of 220,000 and slid it over the line, and Juanda folded. Now, I think he showed two queens as he laid his hand down. Or maybe my eyes were playing tricks on me.

Aditya Agarwal: Staying focused

Whatever it was, Agarwal tapped as if to say "good fold," and now sits with 1.1 million to Juanda's 700,000. --JS

2:45pm: Gupta doubles through Gonzales
Level 24 - Blinds 15,000/30,000 (ante 5,000)

On the very next hand after being doubled through by Victor Chong, Ashish Gupta watched Martin Gonzales open to 60,000 on his right, then Gupta reraised all in for 135,000. It folded back to Gonzales who called, and he showed A♥6♥ while Gupta had A♣J♣.

The pair bumped fists as the flop came 2♣8♦K♣, followed by the 4♠ and T♦ to ensure Gupta survival.

"You guys are going to have to lose one," called Gupta to the feature table with a wide grin before commenting further on all of the all-in-and-survivals happening on the outer table.

Ashish Gupta: Finally a double

Gupta has 335,000 now, Gonzales 1.65 million. --MH

2:40pm: Another victorious all-in for Victor
Level 24 - Blinds 15,000/30,000 (ante 5,000)

It folded around to Ashish Gupta in the small blind who raised enough to put Victor Chong all in from the small blind, and Chong didn't take too long before calling.

Gupta: K♦5♠
Chong: 5♣5♥

The flop came J♥A♦5♦, nice for Chong as it improved him to a set. The T♦ turn was cause for concern, though, as Gupta could still make a winning flush. But the J♠ came on the river and Chong's hand held, and he's bumped up again to 550,000. --MH

2:35pm: Chieng's on the up
Level 24 - Blinds 15,000/30,000 (ante 5,000)

Remarkably, Alexandre Chieng has just won a pot that wasn't against Victor Chong.

He defended his big blind against a 60,000 UTG+1 open from Ashish Gupta, and the dealer spread a 5♠7♠3♦ flop. Both checked, and Gupta made a delayed c-bet of 45,000 when checked to on the K♥ turn. Chieng wasn't ready to fold just yet.

He'd check again on the A♣ river, and when Gupta continued for 125,000 Chieng was repulsed. He stood up in disgust at the runout, and counted out a call. He'd have 260,000 left if he called and was wrong, but luckily for him he wouldn't need to worry about that.

Alexandre Chieng: In action again

He made the call, and his 7♣5♣ for a flopped two pair was ahead the whole way of Gupta's A♠Q♣ for a rivered top pair.

Gupta is now down to 450,000, while Chieng increases to 720,000. --JS

2:20pm: River club helps Chong avoid knockout
Level 24 - Blinds 15,000/30,000 (ante 5,000)

Lin Wu min-raised from under the gun to 60,000, and it folded around to Victor Chong in the big blind. After posting, Chong had but 100,000 behind, so he took his time thinking over what to do, counting and recounting his remaining chips while also enjoying a large piece of melon.

After about three minutes Chong called, then watched the flop come A♣7♣J♣. This time he only took about 20 seconds before putting his last 70,000 forward, and Wu called right away.

Chong had a flush draw with 9♣2♥ while Wu had made a pair of aces with his A♠4♠. The 3♥ on the turn changed nothing, but the 2♣ arrived on the river to save Chong and he keeps his seat with 305,000. Wu still has a very healthy 1.5 million.

As that hand played out, Phanlert Sukonthachartnant had opened up on the feature table and the action was on Davidi Kitai who has become short-stacked himself. Kitai looked back to see the situation on the outer table involving Wu, and asked the tournament director what would happen in terms of the prize money if both he and Chong busted on the same hand.

Davidi Kitai: Getting nervy

It wouldn't matter, came the reply, as they aren't playing hand-for-hand just yet. Kitai then waited for Chong's hand to play out, reraise-shoved, and Sukonthachartnant folded. --MH

2:10pm: Chieng and Chong swap stacks again
Level 24 - Blinds 15,000/30,000 (ante 5,000)

It's the Alexandre Chieng and Victor Chong right now. Just moments after Chieng doubled up Chong, Chong has now doubled up Chieng.

Alexandre Chieng: Another double

Chieng open-jammed from the hijack/under the gun for 220,000, and Chong then shoved to isolate from the small blind. He had rhe Q♣Q♠ which was good at the time against Chieng's A♦T♦, but the 4♦T♠5♦ gave Chieng a whole chunk of outs.

Victor Chong: Low point again

He'd miss on the J♥ turn, but hit the flush with the 2♦ river to double. Chong is now down to just 155,000, while Chieng sits with 470,000. --JS

2pm: Victor victorious
Level 24 - Blinds 15,000/30,000 (ante 5,000)

Mark that one a double up for Victor Chong.

He moved all in from the small blind over Alexandre Chieng's under the gun open to 65,000 for 185,000, and Chieng tanked but eventually called with the 4♥4♣. Chong had the J♦J♠ for a better pair, and the jacks held after a Q♥Q♠A♦3♦3♥ runout.

Victor Chong: Up and down

Chieng is now our short stack with 280,000, while Chong increases to 420,000. --JS

1:55pm: Pete Chen eliminated in 12th place
Level 24 - Blinds 15,000/30,000 (ante 5,000)

On the first hand back from the break, Pete Chen put his last 95,000 forward from the button as an all-in raise and got one customer in Martin Gonzales sitting in the big blind.

Chen: K♥8♥
Gonzales: K♣J♦

Pete Chen: Hits the rail

The board came an uneventful 2♥T♦4♣9♣6♠, and Chen was eliminated in 12th place for HK$206,000. Gonzales chips up further to 1.55 million. --MH

1:50pm: Play resumes, 12 remain (updated chip counts)
Level 24 - Blinds 15,000/30,000 (ante 5,000)

Players are back for another level, with just 12 of them remaining with a chance at the title. Phanlert Sukonthachartnant remains the big stack while Pete Chen will be getting his short stack all in again early, no doubt. See updated chip counts below. --MH

NameCountyChip Count
Phanlert SukonthachartnantThailand1,965,000
Lin WuChina1,580,000
Martin GonzalesPhilippines1,420,000
Maxi LehmanskiGermany1,100,000
Aditya AgarwalIndia975,000
John JuandaUSA960,000
Jen Chun ChiuTaiwan740,000
Alexandre ChiengFrance505,000
Ashish GuptaAustralia505,000
Davidi KitaiBelgium425,000
Victor Chong Malaysia235,000
Pete ChenTaiwan100,000

Lin Wu: Flying up the counts

1:35pm: Chieng doubles through Chen
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (ante 4,000)

The last hand of the level saw Pete Chen do what he'd done many times over the previous hour-and-a-half -- open-raise all in. The push was for a little over 300,000, and this time Alexandre Chieng called from the next seat over to commit his last 242,000.

Chen had 7♠4♥ while Chieng had K♥7♥, and five cards later -- 5♠A♦A♣3♥T♦ -- Chieng had doubled to more than 500,000 while Chen is now down to around 60,000.

Another double for Alexandre Chieng

That hand brings us to the 15-minute break. We'll get updated counts on the 12 remaining players on the other side. --MH

1:30pm: Gupta gets a double through Chong
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (ante 4,000)

Ashish Gupta opened for 261,000 from middle position and after thinking about it a short while Victor Chong called from the next seat over. Everyone else stepped aside, Gupta showed A♦2♣, and Chong turned over 7♠7♣.

The flop came Q♥A♣3♦ to hit Gupta's ace, and after the 5♦ turn and J♦ river he was up to 570,000 while Chong had slipped ot 240,000 with the first break of the day approaching. --MH

1:25pm: Gupta gazumped by Wu
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (ante 4,000)

The shortest stack now belongs to Ashish Gupta after a big collision with Lin Wu, who has moved into second on the chip counts.

Wu opened the pot to 50,000 and Gupta defended his blind to see an 8♣J♥2♥ flop. Gupta then check-called a 50,000 c-bet, and would check again on the T♣ turn. Wu went for a bigger sizing on this street, continuing for 155,000. Gupta wasn't phased though, and they headed to the river.

Ashish Gupta: Hit

It came the 4♠ and when Gupta checked a final time Wu set him all in for his last 251,000. He thought it over for a good couple of minutes, but would decide to live and fight another hand.

Wu is up to 1.5 million now as they prepare to go on break. --JS

1:20pm: Juanda picks off Sukonthachartnant, wins small one
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (ante 4,000)

Here's a small but somewhat interesting hand from the feature table ending with a couple of river decisions that suggest something about the savvy of the players who made them.

It started when John Juanda raised to 52,000 from middle position and both Maxi Lehmanski (small blind) and Phanlert Sukonthachartnant (big blind) called. All three checked the Q♣3♠K♣ flop and 6♦ turn, then after the Q♦ river paired the board Lehmanski checked and Sukonthachartnant bet 68,000.

Juanda thought a short while before calling the bet, and Lehmanski folded. Sukonthachartnant turned over T♠7♥ to show he'd bluffed, and Juanda tabled A♠T♥ to show he'd sussed it out with ace-high -- and that he considered Sukonthachartnant capable of bluffing there.

John Juanda: Mind reader

Sukonthachartnant still leads with about 10 minutes to go in today's first level, sitting on just over 1.9 million now, while Juanda has chipped up into seven figures himself and has about 1.1 million. --MH

1:10pm: Cheng falls to Juanda
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (ante 4,000)

Our first elimination of the day came from a pretty unremarkable hand. Yong Cheng was very short with 154,000 and moved all in under the gun when he found the 4♠4♥. John Juanda just called from the UTG+1 seat with the Q♥Q♠, and everyone else folded.

Yong Cheng: Time to say goodbye

The queens remained in front after the K♣7♠3♣A♣K♦ runout, and Cheng said his goodbyes. He'll collect $167,500 for his 13th place finish, while Juanda chips up a bit to 670,000. He's still down on the day though. --JS

1:05pm: Chieng scores the rare quadruple-up
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (ante 4,000)

Alexandre Chieng -- winner of this same APPT Macau Main Event back in 2013 -- looked down at the cards dealt to him under the gun and decided to raise all in with a stack just shy of 100,000.

Alexandre Chieng gets them in

Chieng would ultimately get no fewer than three callers -- Martin Gonzales (hijack), Ashish Gupta, (cutoff), and after some deliberation Pete Chen (big blind).

The other three then checked down all three streets as the board came 4♣8♣T♦, then 4♠, then T♥.

Chen turned over his hand A♦Q♣ -- the two pair on board with an ace-kicker.

Chieng then showed he'd hit the board with A♣8♠, giving him a better two pair, tens and eights. He waited to see what the other two would do, and when both shook their heads to indicate they couldn't beat him, Chieng pounded the table loudly and gave out a whoop, excited at having survived the ordeal. Gonzales ended up having 5♥5♦ and Gupta K♥K♥.

Cha-Chieng!

That's a rare quadruple-up for Chieng (plus a little more), and he's suddenly up to 430,000. Chen has about 400,000, Gupta 575,000, and Gonzales 1.275 million. --MH

Alexandre Chieng: New high point

1pm: Cheng and Chieng need chips
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (ante 4,000)

Yong Cheng has a miniature fisherman standing atop his small chip stack, a creative card capper that right now also perhaps signifies his desire to hook some chips soon. He's the shortest stack at the feature table now with about 150,000.

Meanwhile one player has even fewer chips than Cheng -- Alexandre Chieng who is seated at the outer table. While Pete Chen keeps raising all in to Chieng's right, Chieng keeps folding and now is down to 90,000. --MH

12:50pm: Agarwal not awol
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (ante 4,000)

Aditya Agarwal has just taken down his first significant pot of the day, at the expense of Max Lehmanski.

The Team Pro opened to 50,000 on the button and Lehmanski made the call from the big blind to bring a J♣A♣5♣ flop. Agarwal opted for a very small c-bet of 27,000 when checked to, and that intrigued Lehmanski to make the call and see the 4♦ turn.

When he'd check again, he was faced with a much larger sizing from Agarwal: 125,000. Lehmanski made a quick fold, and Agarwal raked it in. --JS

12:40pm: Phanlert alert
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (ante 4,000)

Chip leader Phanlert Sukonthachartnant opened for 50,000 from the button, then Davidi Kitai three-bet to 175,000 from the small blind. The action returned to Sukonthachartnant who thought about a half-minute while counting out chips, then he declared he was pushing all in. Kitai folded right away.

Sukonthachartnant is up around 1.775 million now, having increased his lead over the first half-hour of play, while Kitai now has 635,000. --MH

12:35pm: Bit of a let down
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (ante 4,000)

This hand so much potential. Two aggressive players, a blind vs blind setup, and a scary board that was being bet.

Maxi Lehmanski limped his small blind with no action in front of him and chip leader Phanlert Sukonthachartnant checked his big blind option. The T♥A♠J♣ flop would see Lehmanski lead for 24,000, only for Sukonthachartnant to click it back to 52,000. Call.

The turn was the Q♦ putting four to a straight out there. Lehmanski checked again, and Sukonthachartnant continued his aggression for 55,000. Call again.

Chip-leader Phanlert Sukonthachartnant

Finally the Q♠ river paired the board, but both opted for a check. Lehmanski showed the A♦4♣ for aces with the queens, but that was only half good as Sukonthachartnant also had an ace with the A♥7♠.

The pot was split, and we walked away disappointed. --JS

12:30pm: Chen's toil
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (ante 4,000)

As noted below, the two shortest stacks in the room are sitting next to one another, in seats eight and nine on Table 2. Pete Chen, the second-shortest, was able to open-push the small blind and get Alexandre Chieng, the shortest, to fold, but then Chen lost a more significant pot to Martin Gonzales.

Pete Chen: Short-stack grinder

Chen opened his button to 50,000 and Gonzales called in the big blind. After the T♦6♦6♣ flop, Gonzales check-called Chen's 69,000 c-bet.

They both checked the T♣ turn, then Gonzales led 55,000 on the 9♥ river. Chen made a reluctant fold, leaving himself with about 235,000. -- HS

12:25pm: Whole lotta shove
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (ante 4,000)

There were just three all-ins across the two tables within the span of a few minutes, but no callers.

First after a Davidi Kitai open for 50,000, John Juanda shoved from the blinds and Kitai let his hand go. Kitai has slipped a little down to 765,000 in the early going, while Juanda is now up to 720,000.

On the other table Victor Chong raised to 48,000 from the button, then Pete Chen jammed for 201,000 from the big blind. Chong considered the chips he had left while eating almonds from a bag, then after a three-minute tank folded. Chong has 505,000 now, Chen 275,000.

Finally Yong Cheng open-raised all in on the feature table and got no callers. He has 340,000 right now. --MH

12:18pm: Chong in the tank
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (ante 4,000)

The second hand of the day on the outer table was bizarre. It started with a button-open from Martin Gonzales, who made it 50,000 with two lime-coloured, 25,000-denomination chips.

Ashish Gupta folded his small blind, but Victor Chong went into the tank as he decided what to do in the big blind. Time ticked by. Close to five minutes passed in silence as Chong pondered his move. Then he called.

The dealer put the 4♣Q♥K♣ out there, and both players checked relatively quickly. They also quickly checked the Q♣ turn and the T♣ river.

Chong turned over his K♦T♥ and Gonzales felt he had to ask the question.

"You were thinking pushing?" Gonzales said. Chong said that he was. "I call, you would double up." Gonzales turned over pocket nines, a loser now, but a hand he may well have fancied against a 500,000-chip jam.

It's still not actually certain whether Chong was considering a pre-flop push as the discussion continued. But this much is true: it was one of the longest dwelling times we've seen this week for what didn't seem to be that complicated a situation. -- HS

12:15pm: Sukonthachartnant extends the gap
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (ante 4,000)

Chip leader Phanlert Sukonthachartnant has a dangerous man on his left in Davidi Kitai. That doesn't seem to have phased him though, judging by the blind vs blind hand we just witnessed.

There was no action when it reached Sukonthachartnant in the small blind, and he raised it up to 74,000. Kitai was in the big and gave it some thought before tossing in two teal 25K chips for a call. The dealer then spread the 4♠9♠7♦ flop; one that seemed to hit a small and big blind range. Sukonthachartnant then continued for 85,000, and the Belgian didn't budge.

The 9♦ on the turn paired the board but couldn't inspire any more betting, with both checking to the K♥ river. Sukonthachartnant sprung back into action, leading for 135,000, and Kitai put his head in his hand as he worked through what he should do. Kitai is a man we've seen make some seemingly insane (and correct) hero calls over the years, so even if he didn't have anything that doesn't mean an insta-fold is in order.

Tough decision for Davidi Kitai

A fold is what he decided on in the end though, bringing his stack down to 930,000 and extending Sukonthachartnant's lead to 1.6 million. --JS

12:05pm: Short stacks' start
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (ante 4,000)

The two shortest-stacked players to start the day are seated next to one another at the outer table, Alexandre Chieng and Pete Chen. One put his chips at risk on the day's first hand, while the other was invited to do so but declined.

On Hand #1, Chieng open-raised all in from the small blind and watched Martin Gonzales fold from the big blind. Then on Hand #2, Pete Chen raised to 50,000 -- close to a sixth of his stack -- but folded after Ashish Gupta reraised all in from the big blind. --MH

12pm: And they're off
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (ante 4,000)

With no further ado, they are off. Two tables, 13 players. They'll stay on the two tables until nine are left, then they'll redraw. -- HS


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11:30am: The weekend starts here

Good morning and welcome back to the PokerStars LIVE cardroom at the City of Dreams, Macau, for the penultimate day at this Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT) festival. It's already been hectic and dramatic, and today it's going to get damn near climactic as both the Main Event and High Roller play towards their final tables.

PokerStars Macau: Busy day in store

We'll be focusing here on the Main Event, which begins at noon with 13 players. (Read yesterday's recap to find out how we got here.) The plan for the day is to get down to the six who will return tomorrow for the finale. Everyone is guaranteed at least HK$167,500 (US$21,400 approx) already, but players still here this time tomorrow will be earning a minimum HK$546,532 (US$70,000 approx). There's more than HK$3 million (US$385,000 approx) for the winner.

There's no doubt that survival is the top priority today. But it will be an impossible dream for more than half the remaining field.

Here is today's line-up:

NameCountyChip Count
Phanlert SukonthachartnantThailand1,481,000
Aditya AgarwalIndia1,353,000
Martin GonzalesPhilippines1,352,000
Lin WuChina1,323,000
Davidi KitaiBelgium1,090,000
Jen Chun ChiuTaiwan809,000
Ashish GuptaAustralia709,000
Maxi LehmanskiGermany696,000
John JuandaUSA579,000
Victor Chong Malaysia507,000
Yong ChengChina298,000
Pete ChenTaiwan282,000
Alexandre ChiengFrance200,000

That little lot includes a Team PokerStars Pro (Agarwal), a Triple Crown winner (Kitai), a poker Hall of Famer (Juanda) and a former APPT Macau champion (Chieng).

Aditya Agarwal: Team Pro in the hunt

It's also worth noting that Phanlert Sukonthachartnant tops Thailand's all-time money list, while Pete Chen is a WPT champion and very nearly won his first WSOP bracelet last year. He finished runner up in a 623-player $5,000 NLHE event. Meanwhile, Maxi Lehmanski has more than $1.35 million career earnings.

This is an extremely high quality field, which means we can take nothing for granted as they look to book the final.

We'll have exclusive live coverage here all the way. Cards are in the air at noon.

The payout schedule is over there on the payouts page.


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PokerStars Blog reporting team on the $40,000 Main Event: Martin Harris, Jack Stanton, and Howard Swains. Photography by Joe Giron/PokerPhotoArchive and Kenneth Lim of Kenneth Lim Photography.

Live reporting team
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