APPT Macau: Mahjong man welcomes new challenge

Players in the APPT Macau Main Event at the Grand Lisboa Hotel and Casino are taking their final break for the day, meaning there's just one-hour left before the day two line-up is finalised. Day 1C started with 185, with almost half (86) sent to the rail in the first six hours of play.

Every APPT event provides us with a rich tapestry of players from across Asia, and we're always delighted to catch up with our friends from the Land of the Rising Sun thanks to Japanese blogger Jenn Barr.

The line-up representing Japan today includes Takashi Ogura, a professional Mahjong player who plays in the nation's top league. He spends all of his non-Mahjong time playing poker and has proved himself in cash games, winning tournaments online on PokerStars and in live tournaments, taking second in the seven-handed side event here at PokerStars Macau yesterday.


Finger on the pulse: Takashi Ogura chats with our Japanese blogger Jenn Barr

He started with a tough draw along side David Saab and things didn't improve at his next stop, which included Terrence Chan, Tony Hachem and Lee "Final Table" Nelson, but relished the challenge and remains in contention for day two.

Also representing Japan is Wooka Kim. She has played at almost every APPT event and has cashed in tournaments as diverse as APPT Seoul, the Aussie Millions and WSOP. Known as "Ice Beer" throughout Japan Wooka keeps her fans updated through an extremely popular blog. Irish-native Liam Hearns also shares a strong connection with Japan. He has called Tokyo home for the past 11 years and represented Japan at the 2008 APPT Seoul.

Another player who holds a strong affinity with Asia, former Korean resident Bertrand ElkY Grospellier is having a relatively good day on the tables, but it hasn't been without its setbacks. We managed to catch him in a hand against Canadian PokerStars Qualifier Sunny Bhayana on a board that read 4♣ Q♦ 2♥ Q♥ 5♥.


Poised to progress, Bertrand Grospellier is looking good for a day two berth

Bhayana opened for 6000 on the river and stared down the 2008 PCA champion as if goading him to raise. ElkY did raise, making it another 10,600 to go. Bhayana snap-called and Grospellier insta-mucked. Though Bhayana also moved his cards face down towards the muck, another opponent asked to see them. Bhayana revealed A-Q for trips.

Meanwhile on table seven, Australia's Kenny Ng has held his own, now sitting on a stack of about 50,000 after a tense hand in which he called the clock on his opponent after leading out for 25,000 into a huge pot on a board that read A♥ 4♦ 8♣ 5♥ J♠.
Eventually Ng's opponent laid it down. "Should I show?" Ng asked Team PokerStars Pro Joe Hachem. Hachem quietly nodded and Ng flipped up 10-6 off suit for a stone cold bluff.


David Saab in an Humberto Brenes-esque moment

Moments later there was another instalment of the David Saab show on table 12 - this time, Saab was actually involved in the hand rather than providing general entertainment for the table, getting his money in the middle pre-flop with J♠ J♠ against US PokerStars Qualifier Carter Gill (17th here last year) who tabled A♠ K♣.

The board ran out 4♦ 6♣ 7♠ 3♣ 4♥, after which Saab stood up, held his PokerStars toy shark above his head and bellowed, "sharky power!" Saab is large and in charge, up to 58,000 in chips.


Class act, sadly eliminated: Singapore's Bryan Huang

The list of eliminations has come thick and fast in the past hour, including PokerStars Sponsored players Lee "Final Table" Nelson, Neil Arce and Terrence Chan, Derick Hernandez, Henrik Gwinner, Team Asia pro Bryan Huang, 2007 APPT Macau Main Event winner 2007 Dinh Le, Ted Wang, JC and Hien Tran, Nali Kaselias and Alex assassinato Fitzgerald.