Manila Megastack breaks records as Manuel Mascunana tops Day 1b

MANILA MEGASTACK 9 SCHEDULE | DOWNLOAD POKERSTARS

• PLAYERS: 75 (of 445)

Records tumble as Manila Megastack 9 becomes the biggest and richest tournament in the PokerStars LIVE Manila history, attracting 696 runners and generating a ₱18,228,240 prize pool.

The Philippines Manuel Mascunana tops the counts for Day 1b of the Manila Megastack

The ninth instalment of the Manila Megastack has officially become the biggest, and richest in the tournament series' history. Day 1b started with a mere 70 players in the running, but this quickly climbed to 220 entrants by the time the second level began.

By the time registration and the late re-entry period closed at 6.50pm that number had more than doubled, with a massive 445 players getting in on the action. That brought the total number of entrants for the tournament up to 696 and generated a monstrous ₱18,228,240 (~US$350,000) prize pool, breaking not one, but two records.

The previous record for largest prize pool was set in December 2017 with the Manila Megastack drawing 624 runners and generating a prize pool of ₱16,342,560. The previous record for largest field was 646 players, which was set December 2016.

It was local player Manuel Mascunana who climbed the highest, bagging up an impressive 476,500 in chips, which puts him second in the overall counts behind Day 1a chip leader Kyungkun Lee (499,500).

Mascunana made the majority of his chips in two key hands, the first was a gift from an unfortunate opponent after the Filipino player raised with pocket aces and his adversary shoved with pocket sixes. The second was a huge coin flip with Mascunana's pocket queens racing another opponent's ace-king with the ladies holding up.

Mascunana's next closest rival is India's Vinayak Malani who ran so hot during the last level of the day he almost exploded into flames at the table, concluding play just 1,000 behind Mascunana with a stack of 475,000.

India's Vinayak Malani enjoys his run good

Another local hero, Mike Takayama, rounded out the top three, coming into Day 1b right off the back of a runner-up finish in the Friday's ₱100,000 Single Day High Roller, where he cashed for ₱1,052,900 (~US$20,380).

The Philippines Mike Takayama

Takayama got off to a great early start after flopping a full house against Stephen Nathan to leave the UK player running on fumes and shoot Takayama up to around 70,000. The Filipino player did not look back and moved up the counts almost effortlessly, railing several players in the process to bag up 408,500 in chips.

Two other players who dominated a great deal of the Day 1b action were Lebanon's Jose Nehme and Korea's Jae Wook Shin. It was Nehme who impressed the most early, running his stack all the way up to the giddy heights of 260,000 mid-way through level 8 - a ridiculous 377 big blinds when the average was 42 big blinds.

Jae Took Shin (left) and Jose Nahme (right)

While Shin came along to steal Nehme's thunder for a spell after flushing out an opponent's flopped set to climb to over 303,000, the Lebanese player edged back in front shortly afterwards. Nehme climbed all the way up to 434,000 at his peak after winning a huge pot with pocket jacks against another opponent's pocket fives.

However, Nehme could not maintain the momentum and gave some chips back to the rest of the field to finish the day in fourth place with a stack of 406,500. Shin finished play eighth in the counts with a stack of 309,000.

Taiwan's Tsui Han Hsiao, who started off strong on Day 1a but faded away before the end, returned for Day 1b and flew under the radar for the majority of play, before running her stack up to 325,000 with two levels to go before play finished for the day. Hsiao rounded out the top five with a stack of 381,500.

Taiwan's Tsui Han Hsiao

You can view the Manila Megastack 9 Day 1b End of Day Chip Counts here.

You can view the official Day 2 draw here.

A total of 75 players successfully circumnavigated the tournament minefield and will be joining the 49 Day 1b qualifiers, with the 124 survivors united for the first time for Day 2, which plays out at 12pm local time (GMT+8) on Sunday, 6 May.

Join us then as we see who has what it takes to emerge victorious as the latest Manila Megastack champion and book their ticket to the Bahamas via the PSPC Platinum Pass, which the eventual champion will be taking home, along with the trophy and title.

10.40pm: Day 1b over
Level 15: Blinds 2,500/5,000 Ante 500

Day 1b is officially in the books, with the Philippines Manuel Mascunana the man who bagged the most with a stack of 476,500. Full end of day wrap to follow so watch this space.

10.25pm: An action-packed table
Level 16: Blinds 2,500/5,000 Ante 500

We were loitering near chip leader Manuel Mascunana's table hoping to catch him in action and were rewarded with several action-packed hands.

In the first, just after the last five hands had been announced Flo Campomanes moved all-in under-the-gun for 96,500 in total and the action folded around to Kuan Yu Chen on the button who made the call and the cards were turned over.

Taiwan's Kuan Yu Chen

Flo Campomanes: A♣T♥
Kuan Yu Chen: 8♦8♥

Campomanes was the at-risk player, and things looked distinctly dicey for the Filipino on the 9♥Q♦5♦ flop. The J♣ turn gave Campomanes some additional outs and a timely A♦ river saw him double to just over 200,000 while a dejected Chen dropped down to 100,000.

This found its way into the middle the very next hand after Canada's Thomas Lee opened the action with a raise, Chen shoved and Lee snapped him off.

Canada's Thomas Lee

Thomas Lee: A♣K♣
Kuan Yu Chen: Q♥Q♦

Chen had woken up with another pair, this time a slightly bigger one, but was also the at-risk player. The board ran out T♦T♦J♣T♣3♦ to give Chen the full house and a much needed double to just over 200,000, while Lee dropped down to 320,000.

10.15pm: Last five hands
Level 16: Blinds 2,500/5,000 Ante 500

As current chip leader Manuel Mascunana, with a stack of around 470,000, had the honour of drawing for the last number of hands to be played, with the magic number being five. The clock has now been paused with 77 players in the running and there are just five hands to go before the end of Day 1b.

10.05pm: Last level of the day, Ye makes a go of it
Level 16: Blinds 2,500/5,000 Ante 500

China's Kejie Ye makes a run at the chip lead

There were 108 players still in the running at the start of level 16, and with the last 30-minutes left to play there were some decent pots and chip movements.

One of the more impressive late runs came from China's Kejie Ye, who had just over 50,000 two levels ago, we know because he asked us how much the chip leader had, before promising to get close.

Ye seemed to be a man of his word as the next time we wandered past his table he had increased this three-fold to 150,000.

A table move later and he now had a stack of 280,000 - not bad going at all. Can he make a play for the lead? We will see.

10pm: A new chip leader
Level 16: Blinds 2,000/4,000 Ante 500

We're not sure how he's done it, but we have a new top dog with Filipino Manuel Mascunana taking the lead with a stack of 465,000. We will be watching Mr Mascunana coming into the last level of the day as there are just over 35-minutes remaining (depending on the last number of hands draw) in Day 1b of the Manila Megastack.

Over on Jose Nehme's table we saw the former front-runner take a hit at the hands of Vietnam's Julien Tran, picking up the action on a flop of 4♣K♦7♦ in a battle of the blinds between the two.

Sitting in the small blind Nehme checked the action over to Tran, who checked it right back. The 5♠ turn saw Nehme check again, but not Tran who reached for chips and fired for 14,000 into a pot of 20,000.

Nehme thought it over and threw in the call and it was off to the 7♥ river. Nehme checked again, and Tran reached for chips again, deciding the right amount to bet was 28,000. Tran was spot on as Nehme made the call, but could only muck when the Vietnamese player turned over K♥7♠ for a rivered full house. Tran has 155,000 while Nehme dropped to 325,000 putting him level with Jae Wook Shin.

Mike Takayama is second in the counts with a stack of 415,000, and his heads-up opponent and eventual champion in the Single Day High Roller, Henrik Tollefson, has 130,000 going into the last level of the day.


9.55pm: End of the road for Larsen
Level 15: Blinds 2,000/4,000 Ante 500

Sweden's Thomas Larsen moved all-in from the lo-jack for his last 31,000 with neighbour Tsuyoshi Nitta making the call and the cards were turned over.

Thomas Larsen: A♠Q♠
Tsuyoshi Nitta: J♣J♥

Larsen was the at-risk player and lost the race for his tournament life when the board ran out 9♠5♦2♦T♥T♠. Larsen hit the rail, while Nitta stacked up to 160,000.


9.35pm: Lee takes from Nakamura, Nehme still leads
Level 14: Blinds 1,500/3,000 Ante 500

With the average stack coming in at a little over 114,000 (38 big blinds) Canada's Thomas Lee has just climbed to over 200,000 after earning a double against tablemate Tamon Nakamura.

Tamon Nakamura in happier times

We arrived just as the stacks were being counted down, with the board reading A♣T♣8♦5♥3♠ and according to Lee, all the chips went in on the flop. Lee had A♠9♥ for top pair, while Nakamura had 7♠7♣, who dropped to around 100,000 after the hand.

With regards to the current top dogs, it is Jose Nehme who still holds the lead with a stack of 420,000. Mike Takayama looks to have edged into second place with a stack of 335,000 - not bad work at all and Takayama is definitely playing with confidence after his result in the Single Day High Roller yesterday (see the 4.30pm post for more details).

Jae Wook Shin has dropped some, but still has 312,000, putting him in third and Tsui Han Hsiao has also fallen off a little, dropping to 270,000.

9.15pm: Manila Megastack 9 breakdown by country
Level 14: Blinds 1,500/3,000 Ante 500

There are just three levels and a little under 90-minutes left before Day 1b is in the books. Now the official numbers are in the massive 696-strong field has been broken down by country by PokerStars LIVE Media Co-ordinator Fred Leung.

There are a total of 40 countries represented with the Top Four being the Philippines with 155 entrants (22%), Japan with 92 entrants (13%), Korea with 76 entrants (11%) and Singapore with 70 entrants (10%).

You can see the full country breakdown here.

8.55pm: A tale of two towers
Level 13: Blinds 1,200/2,400 Ante 400

Jae Took Shin (left) and Jose Nahme (right)

The 153 remaining Day 1b Main Event players are off on their last break of the day and we did a quick scout of the floor to get some stacks for you. Day 1b is fast becoming an epic Lord of the Rings style tale of two towers, one belonging to Korea's Jae Wook Shin and the other belonging to Lebanon's Jose Nahme.

Actually, that just sounds good for artistic licence purposes, there are actually three monster stacks now with Taiwan's Tsui Han Hsiao back in action today and, seemingly out of nowhere she has amassed a monster stack of 325,000, putting her slightly behind Shin's 330,000.

However, it is Nehme who has once more seized the lead with a towering 434,000-chip stack, putting him firmly in the driver's seat once more.

"I had jacks and raised and someone shoved with fives, which was good for 40,000, then I made a flush and won about five huge hands close together. I'm running really good basically," confirmed Nehme when we asked how he got from his previous 270k up to his chip castle of 434,000.

Other notables are big stacks are as follows:

Jose Nahme (Lebanon) -- 434,000
Jae Wook Shin (Korea) -- 330,000
Tsui Han Hsiao (Taiwan) -- 325,000
Tamon Nakamura (Japan) -- 222,000
Alex Lee (Singapore) -- 220,000
Hsing-Hsiung Tai (Taiwan) -- 210,000
Lawrence Boon Peng Ee (Singapore) -- 200,000
Takuya Kitamura (Japan) -- 183,000
Linh Tran (Canada) -- 178,000
Mike Takayama (Philippines) -- 165,000
Kuan Yu Chen (Taiwan) -- 160,000
Jae Kyung Sim (Korea) -- 100,000
John Beveridge (Canada) -- 95,000
Stanislav Ivanov (Bulgaria) -- 65,000

8.30pm: Numbers are in
Level 13: Blinds 1,200/2,400 Ante 400

We have official confirmation of player numbers, prize pool and payouts and it IS official - the Manila Megastack 9 has broken all previous records making this both the largest and the richest tournament of the series.

A total of 445 confirmed Day 1b runners, plus the 251 Day 1a runners brings the total field up to 696, generating a sizable ₱18,228,240 (~US$350,000) prize pool.

The top 81 players will make the money with min. cash set at ₱58,000. The champion will win ₱4,000,000 which includes a 2018 ACOP Megastack Championship package (95K PHP) -- PLUS a PSPC Platinum Pass (30K USD) which is added value. You can view the payouts here.

For more information on the PSPC Platinum Pass please visit: www.pokerstarslive.com/pspc/pass/

8pm: The rich get richer
Level 12: Blinds 1,000,2,000 Ante 200

Korea's Jae Wook Shin is the tournament boss

Now he has seized the chip lead Jae Wook Shin is quickly pulling away from the rest of the field and we arrived to see the Korean scooping a chunky pot. Shin and a tablemate were kind enough to talk us through his latest victory, so here's what they told us happened.

It was Shin who was the instigator, opening from under-the-gun for 4,500 and picking up two callers, one in mid-position, the other in the big blind.

The flop came down 7♦9♦[4x], which Shin led for 8,000 with the mid-position player calling and the big blind folding to take play heads-up to the 3♦ turn.

Shin fired for 15,000 and was called once more, bringing in the Q♥ river. This is where the fireworks happened, with Shin putting his opponent all in. Shin's adversary made the call with a set of sevens, but discovered the bad news - Shin had turned the diamond flush with K♦T♦ and now has a gigantic 390,000 stack.


7.45pm: Chua rails one, Takayama gets another
Level 11: Blinds 800,1,600 Ante 200

Now that the re-entry period is over the field has begun to shrink rather than grow, dropping down to 216 from 445. We saw Singapore's Chun Meng Chua send a player to the rail, with the lady in question leaving before we could find out her name - but here's what she looks like:

Chun Meng Chua's latest victim

We arrived as stacked were being counted down with the community cards spread 7♠Q♠9♦8♦9♠. Chua's opponent tabled K♣Q♠, but this was not enough to best Chua's A♠Q♥ and he climbs to 65,000.

Another player sending players to the rail with increasing frequency is Mike Takayama, who is steadily building up his stack. It was Takayama who was the instigator in this particular hand, as is often the case, opening the action with a raise to 3,500 from the cutoff.

Action folded around to China's Li Xue in the small blind and he moved all-in for 14,500 in total. Takayama didn't even wait for the count, casually tossing out three yellow 5k chips to cover the bet and the cards were turned over.

Li Xue: A♠Q♥
Mike Takayama: 6♣6♦

It was left to a classic race to decide Xue's fate, and the poker gods were not feeling magnanimous, with the board running out 2♦9♠3♦J♥3♥. Xue headed for the rail, while Takayama chipped up to 169,000 making him one of the larger stacks.

However, chip leader is still Jae Wook Shin, who has padded his stack out still further, climbing to 303,000 in chips and Jose Nehme is still very much in the running with a stack of 274,000.

Richard Marquez was unable to recover from losing that last flip and his seat is now empty.


7.23pm: A new front-runner, Marquez getting short
Level 10: Blinds 600,1,200 Ante 200

Surprisingly, being as we thought it might be a while before anyone got close to Jose Nehme, we have a new front-runner. Shows what we know...

We'll hasten to add that Nehme has not dropped any chips, and has actually accrued more to climb to 290,000. However, Korea's Jae Wook Shin has surpassed this chip mountain, climbing to the heights of 295,000.

We are not sure where all these chips have come from, but we will be watching Shin's progress with a keen eye going forward. We were hoping to catch Shin in action but were rewarded with a hand featuring Richard Marquez, who dominated a great deal of the action yesterday.

The Filipino player will have his work cut out for him if he wants a chance of making Day 2 though, as his stack is moving in the wrong direction presently.

Sitting in early position Marquez opened with a raise to 3,700, only to see neighbour Jin Hwang Yong move all-in for 25,700 in total. Marquez made the call and the cards were turned over.

Jin Hwang Yong: T♥T♦
Richard Marquez: A♠J♣

Unfortunately for Marquez the Q♣4♦2♣4♥7♣ runout was not a kind one for the player holding overcards and Marquez dropped to 5,600 after the hand, while Yong climbed to 52,000.

Other players who have been busy are Singapore's Alex Lee, who has spun his 30k start stack up to 120,000 in the space of the last two levels, and Taiwan's Hsing-Hsiung Tai has climbed from 160,000 up to 193,000.

Sam Razavi's Main Event is now over

Unfortunately, Sam Razavi is on the opposite end of the spectrum and his Main Event is now over. We caught the Brit wandering the card room 'looking for his next investment,' which may well involve entry into the ₱10,000 NLH Super Knockout, which is also concurrently running with the Main Event.

6.55pm: Record broken
Level 10: Blinds 600,1,200 Ante 200

Play has resumed and registration is now closed. We are still waiting for official confirmation on the numbers, but the tournament clock reads 444 entries for Day 1b. Added to the 251 Day 1a entries that brings the (unofficial) field up to 695, breaking the record for largest prize pool in a Manila Megastack Main Event as well as that for largest Main Event field. We'll let you know the official numbers and prize pool details when we know more.


6.38pm: Nehme still leads going into the break
Level 9: Blinds 500/1000 Ante 100

Level 9 is winding down, leaving players roughly 15 minutes (including breaktime) to either enter or re-enter. Two player's who evidently read our last post are the Philippines Eugene Co and Singapore's Alex Lee, who have both joined the action as the field to bring the total number of runners up to 424.

Jose Nehme is still crushing and has run his stack up still further to the giddy heights of 281,500 (281 big blinds), with the Lebanese player's next closest rival Taiwan's Hsing-Hsiung Tai who has a stack of 160,000.

Here's a look at some of the bigger stacks and notables as the players head off for a 10-minute break.

Jose Nehme (Lebanan) -- 281,500
Hsing-Hsiung Tai (Taiwan) -- 160,000
Rodrigo Sequite (Philippines) -- 125,000
Stephen Nathan (UK) -- 115,000
Chiun Kong Kwok (Hong Kong) -- 111,000
Kuan Yu Chen (Hong Kong) -- 97,000
Chris Matteo (Germany) -- 86,500
Huy Thong Trinh (Vietnam) -- 78,000
Peter Plater (Australia) -- 77,000
Alexis Lim (Philippines) -- 70,000
Flo Campomanes (Philippines) -- 55,000
Kotaro Tsunodo (Japan) -- 42,000
Yohn Francisco Paredes (USA) -- 41,000
Brian Macallister (Australia) -- 35,500
Eugene Co (Philippines) -- 30,500
Alex Lee (Singapore) -- 30,000
Sam Razavi (UK) -- 23,000

6.15pm: Last level for re-entry
Level 9: Blinds 500/1000 Ante 100

The blinds continue to rise and this is now the last level for late entry (or re-entry) with registration closing at the end of the next break - in around 40-minutes time.

The prize pool is now up over a very enticing ₱16M and with 398 players now registered, we are closing in on 400 entries. If you are in Manila and are on the fence about playing you should get over here pronto and ante up for a shot at fortune, glory, and victory in what looks to be PokerStars LIVE Manila's largest-ever tournament field. And don't forget about the added value of the PSPC Platinum Pass worth an additional US$30,000 for the eventual winner. What are you waiting for? Get down here, now!

6pm: Nehme pulls further in front
Level 8: Blinds 400/800 Ante 100

The man with all the chips - Lebanon's Jose Nehme

With the average stack coming in at just over 42k (around 52 big blinds) we think it's fair to say that Lebanon's Jose Nehme is killing it at present.

We arrived at Nehme's table to see him embroiled in a pot against Singapore's Erwin Ng with the board reading 9♠9♦6♣7♦ just as Nehme checked the action over to his opponent. With close to 15,000 in blinds and antes already in the pot, Ng chose to fire for 7,000 to send Nehme deep into the think tank.

"You have kings?" queried Nehme, before going on to grill Ng further, before sliding out the call.

The 3♣ river saw Nehme check once more, and Ng fired for 10,000 leaving himself 20,000 behind.

"I've under-repped my hand, I have to call on this board," said Nehme, tossing out the two yellow 5k chips for the call.

Ng sheepishly rolled over A♣T♣ for an ace-high airball, but this was behind to Nehme's Q♥Q♣ and he raked in a juicy pot to climb to 260,000 in chips. That's a whopping 377 big blinds folks, and no one else is even close in chips. Can Nehme continue to crush like this? We honestly don't know, but it'll be fun finding out come the close of play.

5.35pm: Tollefson enters, Ivanov wins a small one
Level 8: Blinds 400/800 Ante 100

Single Day High Roller Champion Henrik Tollefson

Norway's Henrik Tollefson has entered the arena, coming in off the back of his victory in the Single Day High Roller yesterday for a ₱1,457,000 (~US$28,200) payday.

The Norwegian pro already boasts over US$1.1 million in live tournament earnings and boasts several titles, including his career high-score of US$189,000 in the 2014 Macau Poker Cup HK$80,000 High Roller.

Tollefson has wasted no time and has run his stack up to 40,000 already after taking his seat over on table 21. One of Tollefson's tablemates is Bulgaria's Stanislav Ivanov, who was in the thick of the action for Day 1a, but ultimately came up short.

Ivanov is off to a reasonable start once more for Day 1b, and we caught him in a hand against Canada's John Beveridge and Singapore's Tong Tan.

Beveridge opened the action with an early position limp, with Tan (middle position) and Ivanov (big blind) coming along to take action three-way to a flop of A♣7♦5♣, which was checked around.

Needing no further encouragement, Ivanov opened the 5♣ turn for 1,500 with Tan the only caller. The 9♦ river saw checks from both players, and Ivanov took it down with A♠6♠ after Tan mucked. Ivanov is up to 52,500 while Tan dropped some to 45,000.

5.15pm: The lie of the land
Level 7: Blinds 300/600 Ante 100

We were wandering by Yohn Francisco Paredes and Brian Macallister's table and caught the pair in action, though the hand fizzled out. It was Paredes who was the initial aggressor, opening to 1,200 from middle position, with Macallister the only caller in position.

The flop came down 6♥J♣Q♠, Paredes did not seem all that keen and checked it over to Macallister, who fired for 2,200 and that was, anti-climatically, enough to get it done. Macallister climbed to around 46,000 or so, while Paredes dropped down to 40,000.

The field has grown some more and has risen to 340 entrants, with 275 of these still in the running and the man who appears to be running away with it presently is Lebanon's Jose Nehme, who has a gigantic 164k stack in front of him. We will endeavour to catch Mr Nehem in action shortly so watch this space. Nehme's next closest rival we could see looks to be the Philippines Rodrigo Sequite, who has 110,000 with the rest of the field some way behind. Here's how the tournament landscape is shaping up:

Jose Nehme (Lebanon) -- 164,500
Rodrigo Sequite (Philippines) -- 110,000
Eric Lee (Malaysia) -- 90,000
Tamon Nakamura (Japan) -- 90,000
Mike Takayama (Philippines) -- 78,000
Anthony Abram (Australia) -- 65,000
Curtis Powell (USA) -- 61,000
Alexis Lim (Philippines) -- 59,000
Linh Tran (Canada) -- 50,000
Aaron Lam (Singapore) -- 49,500
Brian Macallister (Australia) -- 46,000
Thomas Lee (Canada) -- 45,600
Michael Falcon (Denmark) -- 44,000
Peter Plater (Australia) -- 42,000
Yohn Francisco Paredes (USA) -- 40,000
Min Soon Lim (Singapore) -- 23,100
Sam Razavi (UK) -- 13,250


4.55pm: Does the record beckon?
Level 6: Blinds 250/500 Ante 75

We have already easily surpassed the ₱10 million prize pool guarantee so here are a few numbers to look out for as the field continues to climb at a quick pace:

₱16,342,560 - Largest prize pool for the Manila Megastack Main Event which was set December 2017. That field was 624 which means we need 374 players in Day 1b to set a new prize pool record.

646 Players - Largest field for the Manila Megastack Main Event which was set December 2016. We need 396 players in Day 1b to set a new field record.

With the field currently climbing to 332 entrants, of whom 280 are still in contention, and registration and re-entry open until 6.50pm (two hours away) another record-breaking tournament field is looking more and more likely.

4.30pm: Takayama and Razavi enter
Level 5: Blinds 200/400 Ante 50

The Philippines Mike Takayama

The field has grown to 325 entrants, with 273 of those still in action, with two of the new arrivals being Mike Takayama and Sam Razavi.

Takayama is one of the more successful local players in the feild, currently sitting in #3 on the Philippines All Time Money List with over US$610,000 in live tournament winnings. The Filipino is coming into the Main Event off the back of a runner-up finish in the ₱100,000 Single Day High Roller yesterday, where he cashed for ₱1,052,900 (~US$20,380), losing out to eventual champion Henrik Tollefson, who we are also expecting in today's field at some point.

Takayama has got his Main Event off to a great start, but it came at the expense of the UK's Stephen Nathan. We arrived in time to see stacks being counted down with the board reading T♥T♣7♣3♣8♠ with Takayama showing down T♠7♥ for a flopped full house.

We are not sure of Nathan's holdings as his cards were already in the muck, but from the table talk after the hand, it sounded like he had a big pair. Nathan was left running on fumes after the hand with a stack of 575 while Takayama has 69,000, making him one of the early front-runners.

The Philippines-based Razavi is a seasoned UK poker pro who has won so many events here in Manila that we don't know where to start. Razavi currently sits in #57 on the England All Time Money List with over US$1.7 million in career tournament winnings, making him one of the more high profile players in the field and should the garrulous pro get some chips the rest of the field could be in trouble. As it is though, Razavi currently has close to starting stack with 28,500.


4pm: Breaktime
Level 4: Blinds 150/300 Ante 50

The field has grown to 290 entrants, of who, 269 remain in the running and have just headed off for their first 10-minute break of the day, but we managed to get a few of the bigger stacks for your perusal just before they headed off.

The early chip leader is currently Japan's Hirotaka Nakanishi who has around 89,800 with the top ten stacks and notables we could see as follows:

Hirotaka Nakanishi (Japan) -- 89,800
Hsing-Hsiung Tai (Taiwan) -- 73,000
Chuin Kong Kwok (Hong Kong) -- 69,000
Alexis Lim (Philippines) -- 63,000
Curtis Powell (USA) -- 61,000
Aaron Lam (Singapore) -- 55,000
Keon Yong Ma (Korea) -- 54,000
Ying Jiarui (China) -- 54,000
Min Soon Lim (Singapore) -- 50,550
Michael Falcon (Denmark) -- 35,000

3.40pm: Cheng folds out Samara
Level 4: Blinds 150/300 Ante 50

Calvin Tan (left) and Cher Whey Cheng (right)

Japan's Kazunobu Kuraya opened the action to 900 from early position, with Jordan's Mohammed Samara making the call from the button before Cher Whey Cheng squeezed to 2,500 from the big blind.

While this was enough to deter Kuraya, Samara did not seem convinced and threw out the call to take play heads-up to the rather soggy 9♦8♣6♣ flop. Cheng checked, and after thinking it over so did Samara, with this pattern of play repeating on the 7♥ turn.

The 4♣ river brought four to a straight and completed a possible club flush and now Cheng chose to spring into action, firing out a bet of 4,000. Samara looked sorely tempted but eventually grudgingly mucked.

"You don't look all that convinced," said Cheng.

"I had a hand," said Samara, "I think I should have re-raised pre-flop, you can easily have a five there though. Maybe I played it wrong."

We'll never know, but Cheng climbed to around 35,000 after the hand while Samara is just below starting stack.

3.10pm: Falcon rising
Level 3: Blinds 100/200 Ante 25

Denmark's Michael Falcon

Denmark's Michael Falcon has enjoyed a great deal of success in the Philippines, boasting a slew of results here at PokerStars LIVE Manila, in addition to scores in Macau, Vietnam and cashes at the WSOP.

Falcon is an aggressive player, who loves to play position and regularly builds up a big stack. The last time we saw him in action in Manila was at the 2017 PokerStars Festival, where he final tabled the Main Event and the ₱22,000 No Limit Hold'em PokerStars Cup, held the chip lead in both simultaneously and was playing both at the same time. He eventually finished 6th in the PokerStars Cup and 3rd in the Main Event for combined winnings of US$52,386 and will be looking to go a few spots better this time around.

It should come as no surprise then, that the Falcon is flying high in Manila once more, and we caught the Dane involved in a three-way pot against Australia's Brian Macallister and Nemesio Alegado in early position.

Following an early position limp Macallister made it 1,100 to go, with Falcon calling in the lo-jack and Alegado also tagging along. The rather wet 4♦6♦5♠ flop was checked over to Macallister, who fired for 2,500 and was called in both spots.

The A♠ turn saw both Alegado and Macallister check, opening the door for Falcon to fly through, and he took a stab for 3,300 with the limper the only caller.

The Q♥ river saw a third check from Alegado and Falcon fired for 6,000, which was enough to take it down. Falcon climbed to 40,000, Alegado dropped to 24,175 and Macallister was left with 26,100 after the hand.

2.45pm: Wang turns Plater
Level 2: Blinds 75/150

Just like yesterday, the field size has shot up quickly and what started out as a mere 70 players has quickly skyrocketed up to 220, even with a couple of early bust outs.

New faces in the mix include Singapore's Min Soon Lim, Malaysia's Sun Chin Tan and China's Jing Wang, the latter of whom we caught in action in a pot against Australia's Peter Plater.

It was Keon Yong Ma who started the action with an early position raise to 350 with Peter Plater calling from the cutoff before Wang pumped it up to 775 from the big blind. this deterred no one with both other players making the call to take the action three-way to a flop of J♥4♠3♣.

Action checked around to Plater, who took a stab for 850 and Wang reached for chips, but not for calling with, raising to 1,750 in total. There was a brief spot of confusion over how much his raise should constitute, as this was an under raise, and Wang had to add another 50 chips to make it a min-raise.

That was enough to get Ma to bow out, but Plater was going nowhere and threw in the call. The A♦ saw both players check before Wang led for 2,550 on the T♥ river.

Plater made a face to suggest he didn't like it but felt obliged to call, but could only muck with a look of disgust when Wang rolled over A♠Q♣ for a turned top pair, so we are guessing Mr Plater had him beat till that ace hit the turn. Wang rises to 43,500 after the hand while
plater dropped to just under 20,000.

2.35pm: No friends at the poker tables
Level 2: Blinds 75/150

Japan has a very tightly knit poker community and the players tend to travel together to a large portion of the PokerStars Asia circuit events, talk strategy and generally hang out together when not playing.

However, proving the adage 'no friends at the poker tables' Japan's Takuya Kitamura and Genki Akasaka just got into a massive pot together that saw the former bust, and the latter take an early lead.

It was a bit of a set-up hand to be fair, with Akasaka opening the action from mid-position with J♥J♣ and Kitamura making the call in position with 7♥7♣.

Kitamura's fate was sealed when the flop fell an ice-cold J♠K♥7♠, with all the chips finding their way into the middle on the 5♣ turn. There was no miracle seven on the river and Kitamura became the tournament's first casualty, while Akasaka stacked up to 47,500.

2.15pm: Who's here?
Level 1: Blinds 50/100

The field has increased to 106 players, and there are a few familiar faces in the mix. So who's here? We're glad you asked. Columbia's Fernando Arevalo, who endured a torrid time of it on Day 1a, has returned to the fray hoping to run a little better today than yesterday. Other returning players include the USA's Yohn Francisco Paredes, who was one of the larger stacks for a good portion of Day 1a before a brutal queens versus kings cooler close to the end of play crushed his dreams of making Day 2, so he's back for more today.

Other returning players include the Philippines Riccardo Torres, Korea's Jae Kyung Sim, Singapore's Calvin Tan, and Australia's Peter Plater and Kenneth Buck. Some of the new faces include Canada's John Beveridge, a familiar face out here at PokerStars LIVE Manila, and one who has numerous cashes here on his poker resume. Another player who has run pretty well here in Manila is Japan's Kotaro Tsunodo, who enjoyed deep runs at Manila Megastacks 7 and 8, final tabling the former and coming in 11th for ₱ 190,000. Tsunodo will be looking to improve on that this week, so let's see how he gets on.

2pm: Shuffle up and deal!
Level 1: Blinds 50/100

PokerStars LIVE Manila poker room manager Gil Alim and partner in crime Levy Castillo tell players all about the PSPC Platinum Pass on offer to the evenual winner

Tournament director Gil Alim has just uttered the four most exciting words in poker and the cards are in the air. So far there are 75 players in action, but just like yesterday's Day 1a, we are expecting some big numbers here today. Keep your browser locked to this page and we'll bring you all the action as it happens.

Manila Megastack Day 1b set to start

The champion of the Manila Megastack 9 will win a PSPC Platinum Pass worth US$30,000

Greetings once again poker fans, and welcome to Day 1b of the Manila Megastack 9. The ₱30,000 Main Event with its ₱10M guarantee will be starting at 2pm local time (GMT+8).

The opening flight saw 251 runners fight it out at the felt in an attempt to win their way through to Day 2, with 49 players successful in their quest.

With the previous two events on the PokerStars Asian circuit, the APPT Korea and Macau Millions, breaking records and posting some outstanding player numbers, anticipation is high for a third record-breaking field.

With a PSPC Platinum Pass worth an additional US$30,000 on offer to the eventual winner, in addition to the trophy and title, there's all to play for and we expect some scintillating poker action over the next few days until a champion is crowned.

Day 1b will follow the same format as the previous starting flight, and will play sixteen 30-minute levels (approximately 8 hours) with play scheduled to conclude around 10.30pm. Entrants will begin play with a 30,000-chip starting stack and with unlimited re-entries allowed for the first nine levels of each starting flight, the sky really is the limit for those with deep enough pockets.

Stay tuned as the cards will be in the air shortly and we'll bring you all the tournament thrills and spills as they happen.

PokerStars Blog reporting team on the Manila Megastack 9: Ben Wilson. Photography by Chris Librojo.

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Ben Wilson
@PokerStars in Live Poker