APPT7 Macau: Lost coupons, bubble creepers and a harsh exit for Blaschke (aka bubble bursts in Macau)

It has been very well established over the past few days, months, years that they do things very quickly in the card rooms over here. But ever the contrarians, the poker players of APPT7 Macau just conspired to play a pretty lengthy bubble -- 12 hands long, to be precise.

That is an eternity in Asian poker terms and many of the 49 players involved grew restless. The bubble creepers* were out in full force, prowling away from their folded hands and over to any table where a pot was brewing, (not always) silently hoping for someone else to be eliminated.

When the pot ended without showdown or bust-out, the creepers turned scurriers as they fled back to their own seats, sometimes finding the Schadenfreude attendant on them as their next hand was folded in their absence. Remember, a player must be in his or her seat when the first card leaves the deck for the hand to be valid. It is folded unseen in any other circumstance, much to the open-jawed dismay of many of the bubble creepers, for whom the whole wandering process simply starts up again.

There were a whole host of other penalties dished out during this period, mostly to players who couldn't tolerate the boredom of sitting still without cards in their hands for up to seven minutes at a time. They reached for their phones in droves, often even when they did have cards, and that meant an instant penalty. The rule is that you can't look at an electronic device if you're still in a hand, and it's another that makes perfect sense. Who knows what that text message might be saying, or what odds calculator may be open on a browser? If you've got cards, smart phones are out.

Geng Liu received a phone call when he was in the middle of a pot against Nan Hong, but he instantly rejected the call and continued with the hand. The flop was 8♦5♥[10s] and Liu had just bet 12,000 after Hong's check. Even after rejecting the cellular communication, Liu got another call, in the poker sense, from Hong.

The J♠ turned and Hong checked again. Liu bet 33,000 and Hong called, taking them to a 3♥ river. Hong checked, Liu bet 40,000 and Hong called again. Liu was able to show [10h][10d] for a flopped set, raked the pot and checked his voicemail.

More phone-related antics broke out on table one. There was almost certainly nothing sinister afoot when Hao Tian looked at his phone on maybe the fourth or fifth deal of hand-for-hand play. He was, after all, already all in and had been called by Kosei Ichinose.


Kosei Ichinose, active during the bubble period

Play was still in progress on some of the other tables, so Tian and Ichinose were forced to pause before revealing their hands, which sent Tian to his phone. He seemed not to have a care in the world, buried beneath some enormous headphones and tip-tapping away on a screen, so much so, in fact, that when it actually was time to reveal his hand, he was still oblivious to the swarm of folk who had appeared around the table.

"Turn over your hand," said Danny McDonagh, through the microphone. Tip-tap went Tian on his screen. "We're ready," McDonagh said. Still nothing. Eventually Tian's neighbour Jordan Westmorland reached over and flipped Tian's cards, revealing J♣J♦, and snapping Tian out of his reverie.

Ichinose showed A♠2♣ and the jacks held on a dry board, prompting Tian to pound the table in jubilation.

Soon after, Michael Mariakis doubled through Matt Carter with a flopped set of nines to Carter's pocket threes. And then an elderly woman suddenly appeared in the middle of the card room, wandering around in something of a daze, as if in search of a dropped coupon at a supermarket checkout. As players stampeded back to their tables, the interloper wandered casually away again, none the wiser.

All of a sudden there was bedlam again around the table featuring Tian and Ichinose. There were four cards out: 2♠8♣3♠7♥ and Ichinose checked. Tian bet 35,000 and Ichinose went into the tank. Tian repeated his trick of before, and went straight back to his smart-phone, but this time he was seized upon. The pot was still in progress, with plenty of decisions still to make, so he was told in no uncertain terms that he would be facing a penalty next hand. He even took off his headphones to hear it.

Of course, the matter may have proved to be academic. Despite doubling up a moment ago, he still had a shorter stack than Ichinose and Ichinose called this latest bet. That took them to a [10h] river and Ichinose checked again. Tian bet 63,500 and this time had to wait out his opponent's next move without recourse to his electronic device. Instead he reached for a bottle of water and downed it in one.

Ichinose called again, and Tian could table his 3♣3♦ for a flopped set. Ichinose lost another chunk and on went the war of attrition on the bubble.

Throughout all of this, table seven had been acting by far the quickest. On the very first hand of the day, Tomaz Yip was under the gun and he open shoved, signalling his intent for the bubble. He wasn't the biggest stack at the table, but pretty much knew that all the players with medium stacks to his left wouldn't be prepared to tangle without a premium holding.

They all got out the way, until the decision came to Marc Alexandre Ermond and a stack of only 38,000. Ermond thought for a while, making clear that this wasn't an easy decision. Eventually he folded and said: "I was super legit."

Yip replied: "I had a pocket pair."
"Which one?" said Ermond.
"I had you beat," Ermond said, but he had lived to fight another day, regardless.

From then on, the table never saw a flop. Darian Tan kept trying to get things started, but was consistently three bet pre-flop by either Yip or Yunsong Lai and was forced to fold.

It was a different story on table four, where they probably saw more flops than at any other. Sixiao "Juicy" Liu was the main benefactor and won a couple of really big pots. In the first, she limped the small blind and then called Manuel Blaschke's raise to 12,000. The two of them saw a flop of 4♦6♠3♦, which Liu checked.


Juicy Liu, big profit during the bubble

Blaschke bet 11,500 and Liu called, taking them to a A♥ turn. Liu shivered and then rocked her head back and forth, apparently dancing to whatever music was being piped through her pink headphones. She checked and then called Blaschke's bet of 18,500.

The Q♥ came on the river and Liu checked for a third time. Blaschke bet once more, this time 24,500 and Liu took quite a while before calling. Blaschke tabled A♦2♦ -- all kinds of draws on the flop, top pair on the turn -- but lost to Liu's 6♥6♦, a flopped set.

Blaschke was one of the biggest stacks coming into today. He had 211,500. But his plans of putting that stack to work backfired in the most horrific fashion, and after the protracted period of play, the Swiss would actually be the one to perish. Vladimir Troyanovskiy, who had come to Macau to play the US $130,000 GuangDong Asia Millions, is not one to back down from a battle on the bubble during a tournament with this buy in, and it would be the fierce Russian player who would account for Blaschke and burst the bubble.


Overnight hero to zero: Manuel Blaschke, bubble in Macau

The two of them had built a pretty big flop pre-flop before the board came down [10d]7♦9♥ and they got it all in. Troyanovskiy had Blaschke covered, but not by much, so this was a crucial pot for each of them. Blaschke tabled A♠A♥ to Troyanovskiy's J♦[10h], meaning Blaschke was ahead but Troyanovskiy had plenty of outs.


Vladimir Troyanovskiy gets the all in triangle with top pair

The 5♦ turned, adding the flush draw to Troyanovskiy's armoury, but then the J♣ rivered, giving him plain old two pair to crack Blaschke's aces and sending him scuttling quickly out of the tournament room, disgusted.

And with that, the bubble was burst and the chaos could begin again. Fourteen players were eliminated in the next hour as normal service resumed.

* bubble creeper, n. -- a poker player who wanders away from his or her table during hand-for-hand bubble play to observe another table's action and stand in way of tournament officials and reporters.

A reminder on how to follow our coverage from Macau. There is hand-by-hand coverage at the top of the main APPT Macau page, which includes chip counts and a list of eliminated players via the "Payouts" tab. Feature coverage will filter in beneath the panel. All the information about the Asia Pacific Poker Tour is on the APPT site, and PokerStars Macau also has its own home.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in Season 7