PAGCOR Chairman's Cup: Victor Cheng the victor
The old adage the final flight of day one is often the toughest is certainly something we've seen at poker tour's around the world. It turns out the PAGCOR Chairman's Cup is no different.
After two previous editions of day one featured a combined 208 players, day 1C attracted 222 to the Manila Pavilion Coral Ballroom, packed around the bright pink and green tables for seven levels at $2,500 a chair. With the total field of 430 it made for a prize pool of $1,042,750 topping the guaranteed $1 million set by the organisers.
One thing didn't change - the haste and sheer recklessness of players who turned up with just one objective - to win this tournament or crash out trying. While 222 started today only 108 remained at the close, a staggering rate of attrition that means 202 will return tomorrow.
With that came an air of unpredictability. With minutes to go we were all set to report that Kevin Song, the experienced pro from California - with a World Series bracelet and more than 3million in tournament winnings to his name - had used his wise head to steer through the mayhem. But with one hand to go all that changed.
The lead tonight is in the hands of Victor Chang from the United States after what can only be described as a whirlwind finale.
Having sat on 60,000 for some time Chang at first found queens in the big blind, good enough to take the stack of the small blind who held jacks, and then added more with a set of sevens over a smaller set. From 60,000 to 174,300 in the space of a few orbits.
That means the overall day one lead in the hands of Mike Takayama who back on day 1a bagged up 197,000.
While all eyes were on Chang at the close today eight hours earlier there was a different centre of attention.
Four men arrived as part of a weary band of travelling players, arriving direct from the ANZPT Perth - with about an hour to spare.
Most notable among them was Team PokerStars Australia's Tony Hachem, notable because he'd won the thing, along with AUS$132,750. He survived until the sixth level today, unlucky to bust when unable to dodge a draw on the river on a table with a volatile cast of characters. It was a gritty effort from Hachem who had by then spent five straight days in the poker saddle.
Tony Hachem of Team PokerStars Australia
His travelling companions endured various fates. APPT High Roller winner Eric Assadourian had his pocket kings dethroned by an opponent's king-queen, two more queens hitting the board, and APPT Sydney grand final winner Aaron Benton missed a flush to bust before the dinner break. That left Mike Spilkin to save the trip for the quartet. He'd been chip leader for most of the day but bags up 74,700 tonight.
Team PokerStars Asia's Raymond Wu busted within sight of the finish line. He'd been on course for a good finish at the midway stage, with around 100,000 chips. But then, to put it bluntly, the wheels came off. Crashing down again and again, ending in a trip to the rail.
Raymond Wu of Team PokerStars Asia
Tae Jun Noh from Korea shared Wu's fate, only earlier. He busted out to Englishman Paul Fontyn, a former GUKPT grand final winner. Fontyn would finish on 74,700.
That then is it for day one. Tomorrow the three flights unite for the first time as the business end of the Chairman's Cup hones into view.
Want to check out the names of those who made it through today? Then there's the full list on the official chip count page. Want to check we didn't accidentally bold/italicize/strike through all of today's text by mistake? Then check out the links of the day 1C coverage below.
Our thanks to Christian Te and Spam Jzlzndoni for their work behind the cameras today. If you like fireworks and goats with your day's entertainment, try the EPT Snowfest coverage, provided by our team of reporters perched on top of an Alp over in Austria. Day 1B starts there shortly.
That's it from us. Tomorrow is day two of the PAGCOR Chairman's Cup with a slightly earlier start of 12.30pm. Join us then.