APPT Macau: Race for Asia's biggest poker prize down to nine


Watch APPT Macau 08: Day 3 Update on PokerStars.tv

The final table for the PokerStars.net APPT Macau main event has been decided, with a Macanese local set to take on players from around Asia, Europe and the US in the final chase for the HKD $3,540,040 (USD $453,851.28) first prize.

The big story is Kuok Wai “Will” Cheong’s qualification for the final table in the biggest poker tournament ever played on Asian soil.

“I’m still pinching myself, it’s a miracle,” he said as the reality began to sink in for the 28-year-old, who works in the local casino industry.

Despite having plenty of chips and a generous structure, players continued to commit their chips with gusto, and the 39 players who started day three were whittled down to the final nine in less than six levels.

The three ‘notable’ players who started day three were all eliminated – 2008 WPT Championship winner David Chiu lasted the longest, finishing 11th, while Quinn Do (the short stack entering the day) and John Juanda finished 25th and 26th respectively.

Three of the four chip leaders at the start of day three – Eddie Sabat, Charles Chua and Javed Abrahams – all reached the final nine, but PokerStars qualifier Keith Wintermans (third at the start of play) and David Steicke (who’d led at numerous stages of the tournament) both fell short. Steicke was the final-table bubble finisher, after being eliminated by Tian Chen on the final hand of the day.

The final table kicks-off at 1.30pm local time, but allowing for TV commitments, play should be underway around 2.15pm.

PokerStars.net APPT Macau final table

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Eddie Sabat, 1,001,000 in chips

Seat 1: Eddie Sabat, Lancaster, CA, USA (1,001,000 in chips): The youngest player at the APPT Macau final table brings arguably the best resume to the line-up. PokerStars qualifier Eddie Sabat has enjoyed a successful year on the live circuit, with a best finish of third in the WSOP Circuit Series event at Harrah’s Rincon in San Diego, worth $70,680, back in February. He also cashed in the PokerStars.net LAPT event in Brazil last month, and finished in the money twice at the 2008 WSOP. The 22-year-old recently completed his accountancy studies at USC but considers his new classroom the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles where he is a regular in the cash games.


Watch APPT Macau 08: Edward Sabbat Makes Final on PokerStars.tv

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So Myung Sim, 118,000 in chips

Seat 2: So Myung Sim, Seoul, South Korea (118,000 in chips): The connection between the electronic game Starcraft and poker is firmly established in Korea thanks to ex-pats like Team PokerStars Pro Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier. But when it comes to Starcraft celebs, there are few bigger in Korea than So Myung Sim, who shocked the gaming community when he announced his retirement last year at the ripe old age of 23. He has now turned his full-time focus to poker and in just his second major tournament start, So Myung Sim has reached the final table. He will start as the short stack.

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Tian Chen, 768,000 in chips

Seat 3: Tian Chen, Beijing, China (768,000 in chips): Players like this 31-year-old have played a pivotal role in establishing a poker culture in Asia. Two or three times a week over the past four years, he has played a “home” game in a Beijing coffee shop with some friends. They then travelled to Macau together for this event, with three making the money. A software engineer, he spent 10 years in the US and started playing in cardrooms around Seattle, Washington before returning to China in 2004. One of the short stacks when play reached the final three tables, he rebounded to take the fourth biggest stack to the final table.

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Will Cheong, 334,000 in chips

Seat 4: Kuok Wai Will Cheong, Macau (334,000 in chips): What a story for the growth of poker in Asia to have a Macanese local at the final table of the biggest tournament ever played in Asia. What’s more, he was down to less than 15,000 in chips on day two before clawing his way back into contention? Having honed his skills in live games at PokerStars Macau in recent months, this 28-year-old who works in casino administration has been playing poker for about two years but has never scaled such heights prior to this event. So how does he feel about representing the world’s biggest gaming destination in the continent’s biggest ever poker tournament? “It’s a miracle!”

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Jeppe Drivsholm, 863,000 in chips

Seat 5: Jeppe Drivsholm, Aalborg, Denmark (863,000 in chips): Don’t let the gentle façade and quietly-spoken nature of this 24-year-old student deceive you – he brings a fierce determination to the game as shown by his third-place finish in the charity event played at the Macau Cup here back in May. A specialist live cash-game player, he has already sampled big fields in Asia and was part of poker history at last year’s inaugural APPT event in Manila. With more than three years’ experience, expect the young Scandinavian to make his mark at the APPT Macau final table when he starts from third chip position.

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Mikael Rosen, 361,000 in chips

Seat 6: Mikael Rosen, Karlskrona, Sweden (361,000 in chips): Karlskrona is home to the Swedish navy but might have a more notable claim to fame if this man follows the rich tradition of poker-playing Swedes (like Team PokerStars Pro William Thorson) when the APPT Macau main event final table kicks-off. This 31-year-old software engineer (he actually earned a Masters in software engineering) didn’t create many waves during the APPT Macau main event, steadily picking his way through the field and taking down a big pot when required to secure his first major live tournament final table.

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Javed Abrahams, 215,000 in chips

Seat 7: Javed Abrahams, London, UK (215,000 in chips): fresh from an eighth place finish in the 2008 WPT Bellagio Cup (worth more than USD $100,000, this polished 23-year-old from London has also cashed in three PokerStars EPT events over the past three years, including 19th in the 2007 EPT Barcelona main event. He entered day three of the APPT Macau main event in fourth chip position but faces a tough challenge as the second shortest stack at the final table. Away from the poker table, he’s preparing to commence studies for a Masters in Latin American Studies. So having experienced EPT and APPT events, look out LAPT!

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Bryan Huang, 1,046,000 in chips

Seat 8: Diwei “Bryan” Huang, Singapore (1,046,000 in chips): This accountancy student (scheduled to graduate later this year) has already lived out one of his poker dreams after freerolling onto a poker cruise in 2006, where he won almost USD $80,000 in a preliminary event. Since then, poker has been a “serious hobby” for this 23-year-old – from home games to regular online sessions. No player experienced such wild swings of fortune on day three – he lost a big pot on the first hand of the day to be down to just 40,000 in chips but less than three hours later, his stack was above 800,000 and he finished the day in the box seat as chip leader heading into the final table.

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Charles Chua, 617,000 in chips

Seat 9: Charles Chua, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (617,000 in chips): One of the crowd favourites after his amazing run on day two, this 31-year-old’s tournament record might be modest but he’s one of the better known players in Melbourne, Australia where he lived before returning home to Malaysia recently. “Chucky” might play the clown at the table, but it’s all for show – this law graduate brings plenty of smarts to the table as shown by his ability to stay out of too many big pots on day three after building a big stack on day two. He enters the final table in fifth chip position.

All photography © Joe Giron/IMPDI