MPC20: Gao Crushes Lightening-Quick Day 2

When 223 players still remain in a tournament heading into Day 2 you don't expect everything to be over in just over four hours. But that's what happened here at the MPC20 Red Dragon Main Event.

It was an impromptu decision by APPT President Danny McDonagh for many reasons. You see, this tournament has historically been run as a three-day event, but this year it is four days. So with a huge field expected for a side event which was set to begin during Day 2, coupled with a limited capacity of the poker room, it was decided that the Red Dragon Day 2 field would only play four levels. That will make Day 3 a little longer than expected as we need to make the final table, but overall we are sure the 77 players who survived Day 2 will be happy for an extra few hours rest.

One player who will arguably rest better than any other player on the eve of Day 3 is Lei Gao. It was a huge day at the felt for Gao as he started the day with the chip lead and ended the day with an even larger chip lead. So large in fact that he almost already cracked seven figures, finishing with 919,000 in chips when the average stack is still well under 200,000.


Lei Gao has 200,000 more chips than his nearest competitor

On Day 1c Gao became known for his antics at the table. Every time Gao won a pot the entire PokerStars LIVE Macau room knew about it as he got out of his seat and screamed in joy. APPT President Danny McDonagh even began referring to Gao as "Mr. Send Off" as he would cheer in glee every time he eliminated a player. True to form, he did exactly that during one of the last hands of Day 2.

It started with Gao opening the button to 12,000. James Mendoza then three-bet all in for around 150,000 from the big blind. Gao went deep into the tank, trying to decide whether or not to call such a big shove. Eventually he gave his head a slight nod and made the call.

Mendoza turned over his A♣Q♣ and was in great shape to win the monster pot against the Q♥J♥ of Gao. However, the powers that be had other ideas.

Flop: 4♦5♦J♣

"Yes!" screamed Gao at the sight of the flop.

Turn: J♦

"Yes! Yes!" screamed Gao at the sight of the turn.

River: J♠

"Yes, C'mon!" Gao shouted at the sight of the fourth jack and with that Mendoza left the tournament area in 80th place.


Lei "Mr. Send Off" Gao gives one of his trademark send offs

Before Gao could finish the night with almost seven figures, dozens of players had to be eliminated and the money bubble had to burst. Ultimately it took just over two hours to reach the bubble and in the end it was nothing but a bad beat story and zero money that Calvin Yeung would go home with.

Yeung's final hand saw him all in holding A♣Q♥ against the 8♥8♠ of Seung Hun Ko. By the time the 9♥5♠T♦8♣ ran out to the turn, Yeung had got out of his seat at the sight of Ko's set. Ko was already leaving the tournament area, but his table mates informed him he could hit a jack to make a straight. He sat back down, but not for long as a 5♥ completed the board on the river.


Unfortunately for Calvin Yeung there always has to be on bubble boy

With the bubble burst, 117 players remained and were guaranteed HK$19,100. Some of the first players to be eliminated in the money included Joe Cho Chan (117th), Yanjun Ma (116th), Hisashi Ogi (115th), Toma Tsujiura (114th), Zhengming Shan (113th) and Robert Koller (112th). From there, the eliminations continued at a rapid pace.

Australia's Aaron Lim - the only WSOP bracelet winner in the tournament - eventually found himself on the rail in 111th place. He three-bet jammed holding K♦Q♦ and ran into Hu Jia Jun's A♥K♥ and wasn't able to improve. Jun ended up finishing Day 2 with one of the largest stacks in the room.


No Red Dragon title to go with Aaron Lim's WSOP gold bracelet

Some of the other players to finish in the money included Ian Lister (110th), Manish Sansi (107th), Wai Lun Wong (105th), Sailesh Verma (104th), Jun Zhou (102nd), Lu Feng (101st), Nobutake Hozumi (98th) and Australia's Michael Mariakis (95th).

The 77 players who bagged chips at the end of Day 1b are now guaranteed HK$23,900 each, but will keep their eyes locked on the HK$2,010,000 first-place prize. Some of those who are alive and well include Aditya "Intervention" Agarwal, Juicy L and Ivan Zalac.

Team PokerStars Pro Vivian Im also survived Day 2, finishing with 186,000 in chips. Check out the top ten chip stacks below, along with a link to the seating draw etc!

Lei Gao - 919000
Zhaojun Ruan - 767000
Jiajun Hu - 543000
Sumit Sapra - 449000
Percy Pui Suen Yung - 428000
Ka Cheong Wong - 371000
Zhihao Zhang - 368000
Jim Sue Pan - 325000
Hao Tian - 312000
Wei Guo Tang - 310000

Click here for end-of-day 2 chip counts

Click here for Day 3 seating and table draw

The penultimate day of action will begin at 3:00pm on Monday. The plan is to play down to the final nine, so be sure to join us back here at the PokerStars Blog to see who makes the final table! Until then, it's time to go enjoy the many wonders of the Macau night life.

Joshua Bell
@PokerStars in Asia Pacific Poker Tour