2014 ACOP Main Event Day 4: Desperate dash to the final table
It's hard to say what day of a poker tournament is the most nerve-wracking.
Yesterday seemed quite stressful. There were 62 players at the start of the day and only 31 players were set to make the money of the 2014 ACOP Main Event.
The beginning of the day was perhaps relaxed, but then as the money bubble loomed you could start feel the tension grow. That tension peaked during hand-for-hand play and then the pressure relaxed as the bubble burst.
By the time Day 3 was over, exactly seven players had been eliminated in the money, leaving us with the 24 players who will now return for Day 4 to face a whole set of new challenges and a new kind of pressure.
Because, of course, there are only nine spots on the final table and yet all 24 are desperate to survive through the day and keep rising up those pay jumps and ultimately keep themselves in contention for the HK$6,300,000 (~US$815,000) top prize.
One player who is arguably the best pressed to do just that is chip leader Yaxi "Yvonne" Zhu.
It was a huge Day 3 for Zhu as she became the first player over seven-figures in chips and ultimately capped off the day by eliminating Mike "Timex" McDonald to finish up with 1,019,000.
Zhu is one of two ladies left in the field, with the other Team PokerStars Pro Celina Lin.
Making it deep in a poker tournament at PokerStars LIVE Macau is right in Lin's comfort zone. She has done it so many times before and is the only two-time Macau Poker Cup Red Dragon champion. A big result in the ACOP, however, has eluded Lin so far and she will be looking to change that.
Like usual, the ladies are certainly well represented here in Macau with Lin and Zhu, but they are faced with stiff competition from some very prominent players of the opposite sex.
There are big-name internationals like Sorel Mizzi, Terrence Chan, Byron Kaverman, Ami Barer, Dimitar Danchev and Joseph Cheong still alive and looking to take the title out of Macau.
There are also well-known locals joining the internationals in the quest for victory such as Raidan Kan, Kai Yat Fam, Zuo 'ST' Wang and Sunny Jung.
If the name Sunny Jung sounds familiar that's because he has been here before and actually went on to win the 2013 ACOP Main Event for a very large score of more than half a million US dollars.
There is no doubt that making the final table is going to be a hotly contested affair. It's going to take quite a long time too, with players having a big average stack and levels lasting 90 minutes each.
You will be able to find full live reports, results and feature coverage right here on the 2014 ACOP page at the PokerStarsBlog, so stay tuned and find out who makes the final table!