APPT Macau: Martirosyan moves in front as ACOP Warm-Up Day 1a concludes
Blinds go up, players go out. It's an inexorable law of poker tourneys. In the case of Day 1a at the ACOP Warm-Up, the last two levels of play were the ones where the short stacks found themselves most frequently at risk, and in many cases the players doing the pushing of those small stacks were soon pushed away themselves, their tourney runs having ended shy of Day 2.
For all of the events here at the Asia Championship of Poker, once a player commits his or her last chips on a bet, raise, or call, the dealer slides a small triangle over next to the endangered stack, the words "ALL IN" in white printed against a dark background. The marker starkly signals the player's peril like some sort of traffic sign forcing all to yield to whatever fate the cards would be delivering.
In many cases the resulting drama turns out anticlimactic. A player forced to commit his last few big blinds with a marginal holding runs into another with something better, and when the better hand holds the winner claims the chips, the dealer reclaims the triangle, and the players move on with one less among them.
There were a few instances of players surviving their end of Day 1a all-in pushes, such as when Tom Marchese committed his last 12,000 or so with A♠Q♠, was called by an opponent holding J♥J♠, and a queen flopped to save Marchese. But even then the drama was lacking, as indicated by Marchese's grim there's-still-work-to-do smile following the hand.
The ritual did prove more exciting in a few instances, however. Indeed, during the latter stages of play Dominik Nitsche and Gordon Huntly would find themselves involved in three-way all-in situations not once but twice, with both providing a little extra edge to the proceedings.
In the earlier instance, Nitsche held J♦J♠, Huntly A♦A♠, and a third player A♣Q♦. The flop had brought a queen, then the turn and river each brought the two remaining jacks. In that one the "ALL IN" triangles had come out later, after Nitsche had gained the edge. That hand eliminated one player, put a dent in Huntly's stack, and helped Nitsche push up over 100,000 and into the lead as the final level began.
But in Level 8 would come the second three-way all-in, the action this time concluding prior to the flop. Nitsche held 3♥3♦ this go-round, Huntly [10h][10s], and a third player A♠4♠, and when the board rolled out J♠J♦A♥7♠5♦ all three would survive, with Nitsche the only one of the three seeing his stack lessened.
The last moments of the night would see Nitsche lose a few more, falling all of the way back down to 37,000, while others rushed past and into the top spots on the leaderboard.
Meanwhile, Jordan Westmorland of Thailand, down to just 10,000 with about an hour left in play, pushed all of the way up to 116,600 by night's end. "I ran like a god the last hour," Westmorland explained to Nitsche as they compared their statuses.
Rong Fan of China also ended the night well, finishing with 126,400. But it was the Russian, David Martirosyan, who collected the most chips of anyone on Day 1a, ending with 131,100.
David Allan, Gordon Huntly, Joseph Cheong, Thomas Marchese, and Carlos Chang were also among the 67 who made it through to Day 2.
Those survivors will have to find other ways to spend their Sundays while Day 1b plays out tomorrow. Johnny Chan, Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier, and Eugene Katchalov are said to be among those joining tomorrow's field.
And we'll join them, too, with a full day of reporting here at the PokerStars blog tomorrow, and continuing coverage of the ACOP Warm-Up right down to the last "ALL IN" triangle.
Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.