Kyungkun Lee leads Day 1a of the Manila Megastack 9

• PLAYERS: 49 (of 251)

MANILA MEGASTACK 9 SCHEDULE | DOWNLOAD POKERSTARS

The opening flight of the Manila Megastack 9 saw 251 players battle it out at the baize, with Korea's Kyungkun Lee topping the counts

Manila Megastack 9 Day 1a chip leader Kyungkun Lee

The opening flight of the Manila Megastack 9 saw 70 players kickstart the action a little after 6pm, but this more than doubled in the first two levels. By the time registration and re-entry closed at 10.50pm the field had swelled to 251.

The action was fast and frantic from the get-go, with the first elimination coming just 10-minutes into play and the pace only increased in tempo as the day played out.

By the time the dust had settled after the sixteen 30-minute levels, it was Korea's Kyungkun Lee who sat atop the counts after bagging up a massive 499,500 in chips.

Lee began his rapid ascent through the ranks shortly after registration closed and climbed into the top five over the last four levels of play. The hand that catapulted him into the lead took place not long after the last seven hands were announced and Lee and local hero Richard Marquez - who had held the chip lead for a large portion of the day's play - clashed in a huge pot.

The Philippines Richard Marquez

The two became embroiled in a pre-flop raising war that saw Marquez pull the trigger first and move all-in for 200,000 (around 40 big blinds) holding T♣T♦, with Lee making an instant call with K♣K♦.

There was no ten to be seen and a disgruntled looking Marquez made a hasty exit, while Lee shot to the top of the leaderboard.

The chip lead changed hands with a great deal of frequency as play began to wind down and it was another Korean player, Jaeyun Lim, who was out in front before Lee's elimination of Marquez.

Korea's Jaeyun Lim

Lim enjoyed a great deal of run-good at the close of the day as well, winning a gigantic three-way pre-flop all-in with ace-king, cracking Japan's Takayuki Sakamoto's pocket kings and Daniel Aldridge's pocket queens to bust the latter and take a big chunk of the former's chips.

Lim finished the day's play in second with a stack of 409,000, closely followed by Malaysia's Kar Ooi Low in third, who bagged up 405,000. This trinity were the only players to reach and breach the 400k chip mark, with next closest rival Vietnam's Hai Ha Tran, who finished with a stack of 326,500.

Vietnam's Hai Ha Tran

Switzerland's Oleg Mordassov made a spirited attempt to snatch the lead at the close of play after railing an opponent to climb to 385,000. However, Mordassov, holding 3♦3♠, the Philippines Jerson Quiras, holding 9♠9♣, and Singapore's Si Yang Phua, holding K♦K♠, got all the chips in pre-flop for yet another action-packed three-way pot. The end result was triple for Phua, who finished the day on 235,500, Quiras won the side pot for close to 100,000 and Mordassov finished the day with 305,500.

You can view full end-of-day chip counts here.

A total of 49 players were successful in their quest to lock up a Day 2 berth, with the second starting flight, Day 1b, playing out at 2pm local time (GMT+8) on Saturday, 5 May.

Join us then for more tournament excitement as we see who has what it takes to make Day 2.


2.45am: Carnage at the close
Level 16: Blinds 2,500/5,000 Ante 500

As is often the case the announcement of the last seven hands saw several players depart in a flurry of cards and chips, and a new chip leader rise. There were 56 players still in contention after the last seven hands were announced and the clock was paused, but that is almost certainly not the case now with all the carnage that followed.

Richard Marquez dominated a great deal of the early action and held the top spot for a large portion of the day. However, that is not the case now with Marquez's demise catapulting Korea's Kyungkun Lee to the top of the counts.

All the chips found their way into the middle of the table pre-flop, with Marquez raising, Lee re-raising and the Filipino player pulling the trigger for close to 200,000. Lee beat him into the pot and the cards were turned over.

Richard Marquez: T♣T♦
Kyungkun Lee: K♣K♦

Marquez was the at-risk player, with a dominated hand and the 3♦3♣9♥6♣J♠ runout did not change anything. Marquez departed immediately while Lee stacked up to over 470,000, shooting him out into pole position.

Switzerland's Oleg Mordassov made a valiant effort to take the top spot shortly afterwards, eliminating a player to climb to 385,000 in chips before the following three-way pre-flop all-in took place.

It was Singapore's Si Yang Phua who was the instigator, moving all-in pre-flop for 79,800 in total to send Mordassov into the tank, where he remained for several minutes before slapping down the call and the action folded around to Jerson Quiras in the big blind, who also decided a visit to the think tank was in order. Quiras then re-shoved for another 45,000 on top, with Mordassov making the call once more and the cards were turned over.

Jerson Quiras: 9♠9♣
Si Yang Phua: K♣K♦
Oleg Mordassov: 3♦3♠

While Mordassov had both opponents covered easily, he also had the worst hand, which did not change when the board ran out 8♦8♥7♠T♠A♦.

That saw Phua triple up to around 260,000, Quiras won the side pot for 98,000 and Mordassov dropped to 294,000. All that craziness concluded play and there will be an end of day wrap to follow shortly so watch this space.


2.28am: Last seven hands announced
Level 16: Blinds 2,500/5,000 Ante 500

The chip leader Jaehyun Lim (a position changing hands with increasing frequency) has just drawn for the last number of hands remaining to be played and the magic number is... seven, so it will all be over soon.

2.15am: Last level of the day
Level 16: Blinds 2,500/5,000 Ante 500

There are just 30-minutes of play left in Day 1a of the Manila Megastack, with 60 players still in the running. One of the more recent eliminations just before the level rise was the USA's Yohn Francisco Paredes, who discovered that the dealer had been keeping the deck in the freezer.

It was local player Jerson Quiras who opened the action with a mid-position raise to 9,000 and Paredes moved all-in for 78,500 from the cutoff. The speed of Quiras' call could only be a bad sign for Paredes, who discovered the bad news when the cards were turned over.

Yohn Francisco Paredes: Q♣Q♥
Jerson Quiras: K♣K♠

The board ran out A♠K♠4♦7♥5♣ giving the man with the bigger pair middle set, and that was the end of the road for Paredes, who was left with just 8,000 after the hand, departing shortly afterwards while Quiras climbed to 175,000.

The man currently occupying the top spot it Vietnam's Hai Ha Tran, who has run his stack all the way up to the giddy heights of 313,500 with the top end of the tournament as follows:

Hai Ha Tran (Vietnam) -- 313,500
Jaehyun Lim (Korea) -- 311,000
Kar Ooi Low (Malaysia) -- 270,000
Kyungkun Lee (Korea) -- 255,000
Rick Ambata (Philippines) -- 230,000
Jiankeng Pan (China) -- 225,000
Kok How Sia (Brunei ) -- 210,000
Damian Teo (Malaysia) -- 200,000
Richard Marquez (Philippines) -- 180,000
Takayuki Sakamoto (Japan) -- 155,000

1.45am: Three-way carnage sees Lim rise
Level 15: Blinds 2,000/4,000 Ante 500

We're into the last 60-minutes of game time for Day 1a of the Manila Megastack and 64 players currently remain in contention. The action has come to the boil nicely now, and players are getting the chips in with an almost reckless abandon. While that has worked for some, it has ended poorly for others.

One of the beneficiaries of all this carnage is Korea's Jaehyun Lim, who had 55,000 in chips a scant 20 minutes ago, but now has considerably more.
It was the USA's Daniel Aldridge who lit the fuse with an early position open to what looked to be 10,000. Lim, sitting on the button, moved all-in as did Japan's Takayuki Sakamoto in the big blind, and Aldridge called off the rest of his chips.

Takayuki Sakamoto: K♥K♠
Daniel Aldridge: Q♣Q♠
Jaehyun Lim: A♠K♦

"That is so f****** sick!" exclaimed tablemate Michael Falcon when all three hands were turned over, and we were inclined to agree. While Sakamoto looked primed to bust both his opponents the 7♦A♥9♥ flop saw Lim take a lead he would not relinquish in the hand.

The 6♦ turn and 5♥ river saw Aldridge bust, Sakamoto take a big hit and drop to 105,000 and Lim rise to 165,000 but he was not yet done.

Less than an orbit later Lim and Denmark's Michael Falcon tangled in a hand that saw the Dane's wings clipped and Lim climb up the counts like a spider monkey on speed.

It was Falcon who was the pre-flop aggressor, with Lim making the call in position and the flop falling J♣4♦4♠. Falcon fired out a c-bet, Lim made the call and the 7♥ turn saw all the chips go in.

Falcon rolled over J♣T♠ for top pair, but Lim was holding A♥4♥ for flopped trips and there was no jack on the river, meaning Falcon headed for the exit and Lim climbed to 260,000.

1.30am: Double for Huang
Level 14: Blinds 1,500/3,000 Ante 500

Taiwan's Fu Bang Huang is a regular on the PokerStars Asia circuit and has managed to guarantee himself a little more table time here in Manila. Huang moved all-in from early position and was quickly called by Vietnam's Ngoc Anh Cao.

Fu Bang Huang: A♠Q♦
Ngoc Anh Cao: T♥T♠

It was a good old-fashioned race, and it looked like it was one Cao was going to win easily when the flop fell 9♦T♥K♥ to give the Vietnamese player middle set. However, the poker gods had other plans with Huang hitting his gutshot when the J♣ came in on the turn, to winces from the rest of the table.

There was no pair up on the 3♥ river and Cao took the hit stoically, dropping down to 45,000 while Huang climbed to 114,500.


1.15am: Top stacks
Level 14: Blinds 1,500/3,000 Ante 500

There have been no bust-outs for the first 10 minutes of the new level, but that does not mean there has not been a great deal of action and chip movement. While Richard Marquez still remains current front-runner with a stack of 275,000 several players are beginning to catch up, and some of the former big stacks have fallen off. Here's how the top of the field is shaping up:

Richard Marquez (Philippines) -- 275,000
Kar Ooi Low (Malaysia) -- 260,000
Oleg Mordassov (Switzerland) -- 195,000
Thanh Ha Duong (Vietnam) -- 185,000
Kyungkun Lee (Korea) -- 180,000
Hai Ha Tran (Vietnam) -- 170,000
Michael Falcon (Denmark) -- 110,000
Damian Teo (Malaysia) -- 100,500
Tsui Han Hsiao (Taiwan) -- 106,500
Stanislav Ivanov (Bulgaria) -- 83,000
Casey Kastle (Slovenia) -- 83,000
Yohn Francisco Paredes (USA) -- 80,000
Tatsuhiko Terai (Japan) -- 55,000


1.05am: Breaktime

The 81 remaining Day 1a players are currently on their last 10-minute break of the day. Blinds will be 1,500/3,000 with a 500 running ante when play resumes for level 14 shortly so don't go anywhere.

12.40am: Marquez makes straight flush to take lead
Level 13: Blinds 1,200/2,400 Ante 400

The Philippines Richard Marquez is current top dog

We just caught the tail end of a chunky pot between Richard Marquez and Korea's Kyungkun Lee that catapulted the former to the top of the counts. We missed the betting entirely but came running when we heard the whoops from the rest of the table and arrived in time to see the community cards spread 7♥8♥A♣9♥4♦ and Marquez table T♥7♥ for the straight flush.

Lee could only tap the table and muck but still had plenty of chips left after the hand, dropping down to 164,000. Marquez climbed to 220,000 and the top of the counts after that timely catch.

Other big stacks include Hai Ha Tran (200,000), Damian Teo (160,000) and Ricardo Torres (160,000), but with another three levels still to play out before the day concludes who will be leading come 2.30am is anyone's guess.

12.25am: Kastie doubles through Mc Gray
Level 12: Blinds 1,000/2,000 Ante 300

The USA's Marcel Bryant Mc Gray

An interesting hand recently played out between Marcel Bryant Mc Gray and Casey Kastie that saw the latter double at the former's expense. Mc Gray had been grinding along pretty successfully up until this point, running his stack up to close to 140,000 or so before disaster struck.

Mc Gray was the pre-flop raiser, with Kastie making the call from the big blind, checking the J♦J♠2♣ flop over to Mc Gray, who continuation bet 6,500 - roughly half pot.

Kastie check-raised all-in for 50,000, with Mc Gray making an extremely speedy call and turning over 6♣6♥. However, this was behind to Kastie's speculative J♥8♣, which had flopped trips to take the lead in the hand.

The 5♥ turn and 7♣ river completed the runout, doubling Kastie to just over 100,000, while Mc Gray dropped to 90,000.

12.10pm: All change at the top
Level 12: Blinds 1,000/2,000 Ante 300

While Damian Teo (165,000) and Ricardo Torres (164,000) are still two of the bigger stacks there is a new sheriff in town, and he goes by the name of Hai Ha Tran. We missed the pre-flop action but arrived in time to find Tran (middle position) and Japan's Nonin Shinryo (big blind) involved in a pot that would see the former climb to the top of the counts and the latter hit the rail.

The flop was spread T♣8♣T♥ and there was close to 15,000 in the pot already and Shinryo checked the action over to Tran. The Vietnamese player fired for 7,400, Shinryo check-raised to 16,000, Tran moved all-in and was quickly called.

Nonin Shinryo: J♣T♠
Hai Ha Tran: K♣2♣

Despite flopping top two and holding a club blocker Shinryo was unable to hold with the 3♣ turn bringing Tran's club flush straight in. There was no jack or ten on the 4♦ river, so Shinryo headed for the exit while Tran raked in the pot to climb to 170,000 and take the lead, at least for now.


11.40pm: Double for Wei Min Teo, end of the ride for Arevalo
Level 11: Blinds 800/1,600 Ante 200

Columbia's Fernando Arevalo endured a rollercoster ride of a day

Players are dropping like flies or rising like phoenixes from the ashes of another's demise and the field has been whittled down from 251 to a slightly more manageable 126, and the action and excitement is far from over.

One player who will be sticking around a little longer is Singapore's Wei Min Teo, who got his last 6,800 chips in with J♠9♥ and was called by big blind Jaehyun Lim with 6♣6♦.

The board ran out K♥3♥5♥4♣ and just as Teo was getting up to put his coat on the 9♦ came in on the river to give the Singaporean the double. A disgruntled looking Lim flicked his cards into the muck, but has close to 50,000 still to play with, while Teo climbed to 15,400.

Fernando Arevalo's rollercoaster ride has come to an end, and while the Columbian gave it his best shot and endured an extremely swingy day his luck has finally run out. Down to his last 6,200 Arevalo moved this in from under-the-gun and was looked up by big blind Romeo Catayas.

Fernando Arevalo: A♣5♦
Romeo Catayas: A♠J♣

The 7♣2♠6♠ flop was not a terrible one for a man with ace-five, but the J♦ turn cemented Catayas' lead with the J♠ river the final nail in Arevalo's coffin. Arevalo headed for the rail while Catayas stacked up to 80,000.

11.10pm: Registation closed, Teo leads post-break
Level 10: Blinds 600/1,200 Ante 200

Malaysia's Damian Teo

Registration is now closed for Day 1a of the Manila Megastack, and while we are still awaiting official confirmation on the numbers, it looks as though the opening flight has pulled in 241 entrants, with 144 of those players still in the running.

The man currently leading the charge is Malaysia's Damian Teo, who continues to bully his table and play lots of pots. Next closest is the Philippines Ricard Torres, who has a stack of 124,000 with the other big stacks and notables as follows:

Damian Teo (Malaysia) -- 136,000
Ricardo Torres (Philippines) -- 124,000
Emmanuel Segismundo (Philippines) -- 105,000
Ting Shum Kwok (Hong Kong) -- 100,000
Tatsuhiko Terai (Japan) -- 94,000
Marcel Bryant Mc Gray (USA) -- 85,000
Hai Ha Tran (Vietnam) -- 83,000
Masahiro Sato (Japan) -- 82,000
Stanislav Ivanov (Bulgaria) -- 81,500
Richard Marquez (Philippines) -- 80,400
Michael Falcon (Denmark) -- 78,000
Jin Wei Kwek (Malaysia) -- 75,000
Tommy Stroem (Norway) -- 72,000
Tsui Han Hsiao (Taiwan) -- 35,000
Alex Lee (Singapore) -- 29,000
Petter Karlsson (Sweden) -- 21,000
Fernando Arevalo (Columbia) -- 16,000


10:50pm: Action before break
Level 9: Blinds 500/1,000 Ante 100

With the re-entry period concluding after the end of the next break - in around 10-minutes time - there was a slew of action as players attempted to go big or go home, to come back tomorrow for Day 1b.

We'll start with the smallest pots first, and work our way up to the juicier ones. It was Malaysia's Ken Thoo who opened the action in the first pot, making it 2,500 to go from early position, with big blind Byungwook Ahn the only caller.

Thoo continuation bet the K♠9♦2♠ flop to the tune of 2,200, which Ahn check called, and that was it for the betting, with both players checking the 7♣ turn and 2♥ river. Ahn was first to show, turning over 6♣6♦ to take down the pot after Thoo mucked. Ahn climbed to around 45,000 after the hand, while Thoo has close to the same.

Fernando Arevalo is still riding that rollercoaster, dropping down from 40,000 to 8,000 after getting all the chips in pre-flop with ace-queen against an opponent's ace-ten with a ten-high board spelling disaster for the Columbian. However, he managed a double-up with ace-jack against another opponent's pocket nines shortly afterwards to earn a double and claw some back, heading off on the break with around 22,000.

We caught Richard Marquez involved in a big pot against Jin Wei Kwek just before the break, picking up the action on the turn on a board reading 9♠J♥Q♠ 4♠ and 23,000 in the pot already.

Sitting in the blinds Marquez got to act first and bombed it for 15,000, sending Kwek deep into the tank, where he remained until the clock was called. While he looked unhappy about it, Kwek moved all-in for his last 20,000, and being as it was only 5,000 more to call Marquez tossed in the extras.

Kwek turned over K♥T♦ for the flopped straight and seemed extremely relieved to see Marquez roll over a spadeless A♣T♥. The 5♠ river brought four to a flush, but being as neither player had a spade Kwek earned a double to 58,000 while Marquez dropped some to 75,000.

10.20pm: Stack check
Level 9: Blinds 500/1,000 Ante 100

The blinds have climbed once more and this is the last level for re-entry, at least for today. Any players who fail to make it through can always try their luck again tomorrow for Day 1b.

While this is by no means a comprehensive look at all the stacks of the remaining 161 players, we took a brief scout of the tournament floor to see how the landscape is shaping up:

Tatsuhiko Terai (Japan) -- 110,000
Ricardo Torres (Philippines) -- 103,000
Hai Ha Tran (Vietnam) -- 86,500
Masahiro Sato (Japan) -- 85,000
Marcel Bryant Mc Gray (USA) -- 82,000
Richard Marquez (Philippines) -- 75,000
Dino Sabatini (UK) -- 70,000
Stanislav Ivanov (Bulgaria) -- 57,000
Ken Thoo (Malaysia) -- 51,000
Yohn Francisco Paredes (USA) -- 51,000
Tsui Han Hsiao (Taiwan) -- 45,000
Chris Morrison (UK) -- 24,000

10pm: Kim plays position
Level 8: Blinds 400/800 Ante 100

It appears that Damian Teo has been a busy bunny and has run his stack back up to over 100,000, though he gave a little back to some of his tablemates in the following hand.

Teo opened the action from the cutoff with a raise to 1,800 with his nemesis Seung Yeol Kim making the call from the button and big blind Michael Colby coming along for the ride to take the action three-way to a flop of A♦3♦A♥.

This saw Colby check the action over to Teo, who continuation bet 2,800 and was called in both spots. The 6♥ turn brought another check from Colby, and this time a check from Teo. Kim however, was giving no free cards and fired for 5,500, with Colby the only caller.

The J♥ river completed the hand and the betting, though Colby could only muck when Kim rolled over A♣8♠. That saw Colby drop down to 18,000 while Kim continues to climb and is now up to 65,000.

9.45pm: Arevalo staging comeback, but Gutierrez take a bite
Level 7: Blinds 300/600 Ante 100

The Philippines Pedro Guitierrez

While it is still early on in the proceedings and late registration and unlimited re-entry remains open until 10.50pm, we think it's fair to say that Columbia's Fernando Arevalo is in the midst of staging what appears to be a spectacular comeback.

Down to just 4,250 early on after running queens into the aces of Curtis Powell, Arevalo has not re-entered (we know, we asked) and has spun this up to the giddy heights of 40,000.

It would have been a little more, but we arrived at Arevalo's table in time to see him lose a pot to Pedro Guitierrez, doubling the latter in the process.

Guitierrez was the pre-flop raiser from mid-position, with Arevalo making the call from the blinds. The J♣2♦5♦ flop saw Arevalo lead for close to a half pot bet before Guitierrez shoved for around 13,000 or so, with the Columbian making the call.

Pedro Guitierrez: A♦Q♦
Fernando Arevalo: A♥J♥

Unfortunately for Arevalo, and fortunately for Guitierrez, the flush came straight in on the 8♦ turn and the 3♠ river granted Guitierrez the double to 26,500.


9.30pm: Sato folds out Karlsson
Level 6: Blinds 250/500 Ante 75

We were loitering near Richard Marquez's table hoping to catch him in a hand as he is one of the bigger stacks since Damian Teo took that hit earlier. However, we were rewarded with an interesting hand between Sweden's Petter Karlsson and Japan's Masahiro Sato instead.

It was Karlsson who was the initial aggressor from early position, with Sato re-raising from the button, but it was Karlsson who got the last pre-flop re-raise in, making it 4,000 to go in total. Sato made the call and it was heads-up to a flop of K♦J♥9♥.

Karlsson led for 3,700 and Sato made a quick call and the A♦ hit the turn. This slowed down Karlsson, who checked it over to Sato, who quickly checked it back and the Q♣ river completed the hand, but not the betting.

Karlsson checked once more and Sato began to count out some chips before deciding the right amount to bet was 11,700. Karlsson mucked immediately, leaving Sato to rake in the pot and climb to close to 50,000.

9pm: Kim clips Teo in battle of the blinds
Level 6: Blinds 250/500 Ante 75

Tournament poker is a fickle beast and player's luck ebbs and flows. Unfortunately for Damian Teo, his is on the wane and a battle of the blinds against Seung Yeol Kim saw the Korean player take a big bite out of Teo's stack.

There was close to 6,000 in blinds and antes in the pot, and while we missed the pre-flop betting there had evidently been plenty. It was Teo in the small blind who had first stab on the Q♦8♥T♥ flop, firing for 5,500.

Kim re-popped to 13,500 in total and Teo mulled over his options before deciding to pull the trigger and move all-in, eliciting an instant call from Kim, usually never a good sign...

Damian Teo: Q♥2♥
Seung Yeol Kim: T♦8♣

Both players had hit the flop hard and while Teo held a slender lead (51.4% to Kim's 48.6%) with two cards to come, the A♦ turn and 5♦ river were distinctly un-deuce, queen or heart-like, granting Kim the double. The Korean climbed to 60,000 while Teo dropped down to around 75,000 or so.

8.35pm: Post-break stacks
Level 5: Blinds 200/400 Ante 50

The field has grown to 213 entrants, with 196 players still in the running with the top of the food chain and other notables looking as follows:

Damian Teo (Malaysia) -- 130,000
Richard Marquez (Philippines) -- 90,000
Yohn Francisco Paredes (USA) -- 75,000
Gao Zhibin (China) -- 67,000
William Ysmael (Philippines) -- 62,000
Oleg Mordassov (Switzerland) -- 53,000
Seokchan Hwang (Korea) -- 53,000
Tsu Han Hsiao (Taiwan) -- 47,000
Kenneth Buck (Australia) -- 38,000
Peter Plater (Australia) -- 36,125
Michael Falcon (Denmark) -- 35,000
Calvin Tan (Singapore) -- 6,300

8.20pm: Game time once more
Level 5: Blinds 200/400 Ante 50

The field has grown to 203 entrants, with 182 of those still in the running after the first break of the day. We'll be scouring the tournament floor for some chip counts and big hands so stick around.

8.10pm: Ivanov still climbing, Arevalo staging comeback
Level 4: Blinds 150/300 Ante 50

Bulgaria's Stanislav Ivanov

Stanislav Ivanov is still climbing and we caught the Bulgarian embroiled in a pot against tablemate Chao Huat Wang.

We picked up the action on a flop of 2♦J♠8♥, with close to 16,000 in blinds and antes already in the pot just as Wang, who looked to be the pre-flop raiser, led out for 8,700 only to see Ivanov check-raise jam from the big blind.

Wang, who only had 10,125 behind, did not look impressed at this turn of events and hit the think tank, hard, with a tablemate calling the clock. The seconds ticked down before Wang reluctantly let it go, leaving Ivanov free to scoop another and climb to 56,500.

Another player whose fortunes have taken a turn for the better after his disastrous start (see 6.55pm post) is Columbia's Fernando Arevalo, who has managed to spin his paltry 4,250 stack up to a more respectable 17,500.

"I'm slowly clawing back to even," confirmed Arevalo as we passed by his table. Another level like that and the Columbian might even make it over starting stack...

All that excitement brings us to the first 10-minute break of the day.

Tan back in the mix
Level 4: Blinds 150/300 Ante 50

Singapore's Calvin Tan

September 2017 Red Dragon Main Event final tablist Calvin Tan from Singapore is in the mix here in Manila, and has just taken down a pot from Finland's Panu Erkinpoika Rantala.

We picked up the action on the turn with a tasty pot brewing and a board of Q♠4♠2♣7♦ spread out on the felt, just as Tan (big blind) checked the action over to Rantala in the cutoff. The Finn fired for 6,000 and while Tan did not look too thrilled about it, he eventually slapped down the call and the 7♥ river paired the board and completed the hand.

It also completed the betting, with Tan checking it over to Rantala once more, and while the Finn looked tempted to bet his prudence paid off when he checked it back. Tan rolled over J♥J♣ to take the pot and climb to 40,000 while Rantala mucked and dropped to 19,500.

7.25pm: Ivanov bests Te
Level 3: Blinds 100/200, Ante 25

The blinds continue their inexorable rise and antes are now in play. Some big stacks are beginning to emerge and players are not shy about getting the chips in, so there will be plenty more action before the first break, which is in around 40-minutes.

One of the players who is climbing to the top of the counts is Bulgaria's Stanislav Ivanov, whom we caught in action in a multi-way pot. William Te opened to 525 from under-the-gun, with neighbour Chris Morrison making the call as well as Ivanov (hi-jack) and the big blind Jean Pierre Baneras.

So it was four-way to a flop of 7♥Q♠J♥ with the action checking around to Ivanov. The Bulgarian reached for chips and took a stab for 1,200 with Te the only caller, though Morrison looked sorely tempted.

This had all the potential for a big pot, but unexcitingly fizzled out with both players checking the K♣ turn and the 7♦ river.

Te rolled over J♦T♦ but this was not enough to beat Ivanov's A♠Q♦ and he raked in the pot to climb to 45,000 while Te dropped to 22,500.

Other big stacks in the running are currently Japan's Atsushi Matsumura (56,000), Vietnam's Dinh Nam Linh (59,000), Australia's Sam Steindl (57,000) and Taiwan's Tsui Han Hsiao, who has capitalised on her early double up to run her stack up to 65,000.

However, it appears our early chip leader is currently Richard Marquez, who is sitting pretty on a stack of 70,000.

6.55pm: Campomanes joins, Powell cripples Arevalo
Level 2: Blinds 75/150

The Philippines Flo Campomanes

We told you there'd be more familiar faces, with the Philippines Flo Campomanes taking his seat over on table one. Camponmanes, who currently sits in #8 on the Philippines All Time Money List with over US$339,000 in live tounament winnings, wasted no time getting into the thick of the action.

Following an early position limp from Vietnam's Vu Hoai Lam, Campomanes bumped it up to 600 to go with the big blind also choosing to come along for the ride. However, Lam had other plans and check-raise squeezed to 2,000 in total.

Camponmanes shot him a suspicious stare and tossed in the call, as did the big blind taking the action three-way to a flop of 2♦Q♥2♣. After the big blind checked the action over to Lam, the Vietnamese player wasted no time in continuing his convincing tale of a big hand and fired out a single yellow 5,000-chip continuation bet.

While both took their time about it, both Camponmanes and the big blind bowed out leaving Lam free to scoop the pot and climb to close to 40,000 in chips.

One player who now has significantly more than this is the USA's Curtis Powell, who dished out an early cooler to unfortunate tablemate Fernando Arevalo - the field's sole Columbian representitive.

It was Arevalo the man initially driving the action with the opening raise from late-middle position, but after Powell re-raised from the button the two got into a raising war that saw all the chips find their way into the centre of the table.

Fernando Arevalo: Q♥Q♣
Curtis Powell: A♠A♦

While Arevalo held the ladies, they were trailing to Powell's rockets and stayed behind when the board ran out 4♦2♣K♥K♣7♥.

Arevalo looked deeply unhappy to run into a big pair over pair confrontation that early, with the only silver lining for the Columbian being the fact he had Powell covered, but not by all that much. Arevalo dropped down to 4,250 while Powell is flying high on a stack of 55,000.

6.35pm: Hsiao draws first blood
Level 1: Blinds 50/100

Taiwan's Tsui Han Hsiao

As we were perusing the tournament floor looking for some familiar faces, which we'll get to shortly, we witnessed the first bust out of the tournament, and while we're sure it won't be the last it certainly happened quickly.

So quickly in fact, that we missed the unfortunate player in questions name and he left his seat so fast he gave Speedy Gonzales a run for his money on his way to the exit. While we do not know the name of the bustee, we do know the name of the buster, and that was Tsui Han Hsiao.

We arrived with the board reading Q♥A♣5♥ A♥4♣ with Hsiao holding A♠Q♣ for the top full house just as the massive pot was being shipped her way, making her the early frontrunner with a 60k stack.

Other notables we recognized in the field include 2017 PokerStars Festival Manila High Roller champion Peter Plater, PokerStars Festival Manila Main Event final tablist Kenneth Buck and Korea's Jae Kyung Sim, who currently sits in sixth on the South Korea All Time Money List.

Local heroes include Richard Marquez and Trifie Montebon, but there are sure to be some more familiar faces in the running as play progresses.


6.15pm: Game time
Level 1: Blinds 50/100

Cards are now in motion and the game is underway. So far there are 70 registered eager hopefuls in their seats, but this number is expected to grow as play progresses, at least for the first few levels until the re-entry period closes at 10.50pm local time.

5.30pm: Welcome to the Manila Megastack 9

Greetings poker aficionados, and welcome to the ninth instalment of the Manila Megastack Series. The ₱30,000 Main Event with its ₱10M guarantee will be starting at 6pm local time (GMT+8).

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 three days until a champion is crowned.

Day 1a will play sixteen 30-minute levels (approximately 8 hours) with play scheduled to conclude around 2.30am. Players 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