APPT Macau: It's hard to guess Rong
"Are you from Hong Kong or China?"
The table burst out in laughter. The questioner was the Australian Kristian Lunardi. His query was directed toward Rong Fan, a response to an even greater puzzle Fan had posed to the Aussie in the form of a big raise on the river.
The board read 5♥Q♥2♦9♥2♣. About 120,000 chips sat in the middle -- a considerable pot at a time when the average stack wasn't that much more than that. Lunardi had made a stab at those riches with a bet about half the pot's size, but Fan had come back with a raise large enough to put Lunardi all in if he were to call.
"Why does this always happen to me?" Lunardi had said just before, a roll of his eyes helping further convey the extent of his frustration.
He looked up at the big board which for just a brief moment had flickered off, thus meaning he was unable to see at a glance how many players were left.
A floorman was nearby, and when Lunardi asked him how many more eliminations there were until the money bubble burst, his response -- "13" -- didn't appear to make Lunardi sit any more comfortably.
That's when he decided to ask Fan his question.
"What?" said Fan with a chuckle. "Are you from Hong Kong or China?" Lunardi repeated. "Or Macau?" he added.
"Macau," nodded Fan. He's from China, actually, but now considers Macau his home.
The answer didn't help Lunardi get any closer to figuring out the question he really wanted to ask. About Fan's cards.
More questions followed from Lunardi, including whether Fan would show him his hand if he folded. (He wouldn't.) Or if he would tell him his hand after the tournament was over. (He would.)
Finally another player called the clock, and Lunardi let his hand go. Table chat a little while later revealed it was that pairing deuce on the river that had troubled Lunardi so.
Fan would pick up more pots to push his stack up close to 500,000 as the dinner break approached. He was the clear leader for a time, only to be passed by Jeff Rossiter of Australia who made it to the end of the level 14 with a stack of about 750,000.
By the last hand before the break, there were just 46 players left, with Mike "SirWatts" Watson among the casualties. Five of the six remaining tables finished their hands and players took off thinking they were still two away from the money. But at the table they left behind came a dramatic double-knockout, meaning the bubble has in fact burst and just 44 remain.
Thus those who are wondering during the break about whether or not they'll make the money will have that question answered for them as soon as they return.
Of course for Lunardi, he'll likely still have other questions lingering in his mind. Including whether or not he might have guessed wrong with Rong.
Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.