APPT Macau: Smoke 'em if ya got 'em
Poker players who travel the world become accustomed to the quirks of playing in different countries, where the rules are mostly the same with the odd local variant. Here at the Grand Lisboa, players are warned to be extremely careful about betting out of turn, as any chips that are placed in the pot at any point (even out of turn) must remain in the pot.
There's also one other aspect of playing here to which westerners must readjust - smoking is permitted in the casino, well, basically anywhere. During the APPT Macau Main Event, it has been deemed that smoking is only allowed outside the tournament area, but the haze inside is reminiscent of the smog outside. Note to self: check tobacco shares on Hang Seng Index!
The internationals are also having a hard time adjusting to a local contingent that have an extra 12 months of experience thanks to the regular events at PokerStars Macau. Normally a tournament is tight for the first two or three levels - that's not the case here and it's caught the foreigners off guard.
One of those local players, Hong Kong's Charles "Spring" Lam, is dominating on table two after increasing to 55,000 in chips by eliminating well-known local player (and Late Night Poker pioneer) Jin Cailin, who finished 10th in the APPT Macau Main Event last year.
The money was all-in the middle on a flop that read A♥ Q♠ 4♠ - Jin was severely short stacked and was in bad shape, holding A♠ 8♠ against Lam's A♣ J♣. There would be no hope for Jin when the turn and river bricked out 5♥ 2♥, sending Jin to the bar (he'll need something strong).
The Asian contingent isn't limited to those from Macau, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Representing Japan is Kazuki Ikeuchi, from Tokyo. Two years ago he made an appearance at the first ever APPT Macau and finished seventh in a side event.
Months later he went on to cash in four events in the 2008 World Series of Poker, including 36th place in the $10,000 Pot Limit Hold'em World Championship. As the only Japanese player in Day 1A and with such an impressive career so far, he's only too happy to shoulder the nation's hopes today.