APPT7 Macau: Speedy McDonagh gets things started double quick

When you travel the world reporting on poker tournaments, you get to know a lot of the staff. None is more important to the smooth running of an event than the tournament director. The clue is in the name.

Every single tournament director employed on PokerStars tours is absolutely excellent at what he or she does. But none -- and I really mean none -- is as ruthlessly efficient as Danny McDonagh in getting a tournament under way on time. There are Olympic 100m races that are slower off the blocks than poker tournaments under McDonagh's direction, and suffice to say the Australian whirlwind was on top form today.

"This is your four-minute call," McDonagh said, precisely four minutes before the advertised starting time of 3pm. "Immediate seating available. We're expecting a big prize pool."

All of a sudden, the 150 or so players loitering around the card room at PokerStars LIVE! City of Dreams scurried in to take their seats. Poker players don't move anywhere quickly, least of all towards their tables at the start of a five-day tournament. Poker tournaments the world over actually start at least 10 or 15 minutes after their advertised start time, some much later than that. But with McDonagh in charge, there is no such tardiness. If you're one minute late, you will have missed a couple of hands, and there will be absolutely no exceptions.


Danny McDonagh, pictured at the GuangDong Asia Millions last week. He hasn't changed in the intervening seven days

All of this is a roundabout way of saying that it is now 3.45pm local time, and Day 1A of APPT7 Macau has been in play for 45 minutes. The tournament information board currently shows 161 players registered, and with even more certain to appear for Day 1B tomorrow, we will likely break through the 400 mark, which has been McDonagh's target.

The guarantee of a HKD $6,000,000 prize pool only required 240 to show up for the event, so that will be comfortably surpassed.

We are currently busy scampering around looking for the sharks in the pool. There are some well known faces already seated including Raymond Wu and Celina Lin of Team PokerStars Pro. Plenty more will make their way here today.

The plan is to play seven one-hour levels, with a 15-minute break after every other level. That will mean play will wrap for the night at about 10pm local time, allowing for all to head to D2 for the PokerStars Welcome Party. Obviously, plenty of players will have been eliminated by then -- busting before the welcome party is an ignominy reserved only for players in these parts -- but all the more reason to assault the complimentary bar.

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. 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