Elliot Smith leads final six in Main Event of PokerStars Championship Macau

The top two players were separated by just one big blind this time yesterday, and a day later it's the exact same story in the PokerStars Championship Macau Main Event. Chip leader Elliot Smith leads by the narrowest of margins over Terry Tang, after a thrilling end to the fifth day of play.

elliot_smith_pscmacau_d5.jpegElliot Smith

It took just six hours to reduce the field of 16 to a final six tonight, setting up what will be an absorbing final table tomorrow. Here's how they'll line up, with profiles of each of them here.

Elliot SmithCanada4,585,000
Terry TangChina4,500,000
Aymon HataUK1,970,000
Daniel Laidlaw Australia1,855,000
Avraham OzielCanada1,735,000
Pete ChenTaiwan1,170,000

Smith played superbly today. Having spent much of yesterday as a short stack, his budget was no bigger for much of this afternoon. Then a series of hands catapulted him to the top, culminating late in the day with a hand that sent Yan Li to the rail, and his stack into the lead.

This morning's chip leader Aymon Hata also returns in third place, while Australian Daniel Laidlaw, who has been among the leaders all week, will also be back. Spin & Go winner Avraham Oziel continues to live the dread with a first final table appearance, while Pete Chen will return as the short stack.

While the final nine received their finalist medals, there were only six places on offer for tomorrow, meaning ten other stories came to an end today.

While the payout page gives details of the order they came, there go honourable mentions to the likes of local hero Winfred Yu, European raisers Thibaut Blondel and Artem Metalidi, as well as another familiar face in these parts Dong Guo. His departure in tenth united the final nine around one table.

dong_guo_pscmacau_d5.jpegDong Guo

Fabrice Soulier's efforts came to an end in ninth place, but another level passed before Xuan Tan busted in eighth. Just minutes later Li, one of the sensations of the main event, got her chips in again. Smith was waiting, with predictable results.

yan_li_pscmacau_d5.jpegJan Li

It leaves one more day to play in Macau. Smith and Tang are favourites, but only fools would predict with certainty what to expect tomorrow - except fireworks and a new PokerStars Championship winner.

The links below will take you provide all the information you're looking for, and a long scroll below will fill you in on the fine details of the day. In the meantime we start at 12 noon local time. Join us then. - SB

Day 4 coverage archive:

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6:35pm: Smith's surge continues as he eliminates Yan Li
Level 26 - Blinds 25,000/50,000 (ante 5,000)

Elliot Smith's patience has paid off. He's gone from a short-stack to chip leader in just over an hour. That's poker, as they say.

The hand that gave him the chip lead also ended the penultimate day of the Main Event as he eliminated Yan Li to take us down to the final six players. It was Li who opened the pot. She made it 125,000 to go from early position and Smith then three-bet to 300,000 from the cutoff.

It folded back to Li and she thought for a few riffles before moving all-in for around 1.35 million. Smith didn't need a count, he called right away and showed Q♦Q♣.

Li had 6♦6♠ and was going to need help to survive. The A♣5♥Q♠ didn't exactly do that and she now needed running cards. She ran out of hope on the 2♦ turn and the meaningless K♥ completed the board.


Yan Li departs

She exits in seventh for HK$521,000, the final six will return tomorrow at noon local time and play to a winner. --NW

6:25pm: Tang towering; Tan out in 8th.
Level 27 - Blinds 30,000/60,000 (ante 10,000)

Terry Tang is comfortably ahead of the pack now after catching a lucky river card to eliminate Xuan Tan in seventh place.

It was Tan who opened the betting to 135,000 before Tang played back at him for 300,000. Tan wanted to play for all of it though and ripped for a total of 1.8 million. A minute later Tang committed the chips and saw he was dominated.

Tan: A♣K♠
Tang: A♦Q♣

Tan looked great for a double up by the turn on the 6♦5♥7♦2♠ board but the Q♦ river sent his Main Event crashing to a halt. The card was met with a rally of cries from the rail and Tan put his hands up to the sky in defeat.


Tan v Tang Part I

tan_tang2_pscmacau.jpgPart II

tan_tang3_pscmacau.jpgPart III

Now we're only one more elimination from the end of the day, and Tang moves ahead on 4.8 million. -- BK

6:15pm: Are you ready? New level...
Level 27 - Blinds 30,000/60,000 (ante 10,000)

Here's how they're stacked going into Level 27:

Elliot SmithCanada 3,445,000
Tianyuan TangChina 2,910,000
Aymon HataGermany 2,090,000
Daniel LaidlawAustralia 1,815,000
Avraham OzielCanadaPokerStars qualifier1,765,000
Xuan TanChina 1,520,000
Yan LiChinaPokerStars player1,370,000
Pete ChenTaiwanLive satellite winner1,200,000

5:50pm: Break-time reading
Level 26 - Blinds 25,000/50,000 (ante 5,000)

Players are away on a 15-minute break. While we wait, why not read a bit more about them. Here are the final table player profiles.

5:50pm: Smith takes lead
Level 26 - Blinds 25,000/50,000 (ante 5,000)

Elliot Smith has extended his lead with a slow burning hand against Terry Tang.

Having reached the flop of 6♣J♥6♠ and with three players involved, Smith checked to Aymon Hata, who bet 160,000. Tang called before Smith, playing out of the big blind, raised to 400,000. That forced Hata out but got a call from Tang.

The turn was the Q♥ and Smith pushed out a stack of greens worth 500,000. Tang went though an elaborate process of counting his chips and then looked again. If this sounds like a quick process it wasn't - Tang likes to take his time when folding, which he did.

Tang down to 2.49 million while Smith continues to surge, up to 3.4 million, which is good for the chip lead. - SB

5:45pm: In the tank with Teng
Level 26 - Blinds 25,000/50,000 (ante 5,000)

Now I'm not saying Terry Teng takes a long time to act over every decision he makes but...actually that is what I'm saying. It's not just me. Peter Chen has picked up on this too. The most recent example of Teng's tank time occurred in a hand against Daniel Laidlaw.

Laidlaw opened to 110,000 from the cutoff and it folded to Teng, who was in the big blind. A decent amount of time passed, during which Chen leaned forward and said: "Come on."

He wasn't annoyed, he just found it funny that Teng had taken so long over his decision. His decision, eventually, was to call.

The dealer produced a 8♥A♣2♦ flop, Teng checked, Laidlaw near instantly bet 85,000, and Teng made the call. The turn was the 5♦ Teng thought it over for a while and elected to lead for 160,000. Call from Laidlaw, who now had about 645,000 behind.

The A♦ completed the board and Teng checked it over to Laidlaw, who bet 250,000. Teng tanked again and ended up making a fold. The pot went to Laidlaw and he's now up to around 1.4 million. --NW

5:40pm: Back to back shoves for Chen
Level 26 - Blinds 25,000/50,000 (ante 5,000)

Pete Chen just picked up two pots in a row. Both times he wagered all of his chips pre-flop.

The first hand saw Chen open-shove from the cutoff for 900,000. The jam got through and he picked up the blinds and antes.

The very next hand Chen was at it again, three-bet shoving over an open from Avraham Oziel to 150,000. Chen's 1.035 million was too much for Oziel and Chen took down the pot.

With those additions to his stack Chen is now up to 1.35 million in chips. -- BK

5:35pm: Advantage Smith
Level 26 - Blinds 25,000/50,000 (ante 5,000)

Elliot Smith's fortunes have changed significantly today. Yesterday he spent much of the day as a short stack, and did the same for the early stages this afternoon. Now, however, he has 2.6 million, close to the chip lead, after two significant hands.

In the first Smith had pocket fours and called Xuan Tan's pre-flop bet from the big blind for a flop of 2♦Q♥3♣. That was checked for the 5♦. Smith bet another 90,000, which Tan called to see the A♠ river card. This made Smith his straight, and when he bet 300,000 on the end Tan called, mucking immediately on seeing Smith's cards.

In the next hand, having gathered momentum, Smith took on Yan Li's bet of 110,000 from the cutoff, with a re-raise from the small blind, to 375,000 total. Li called.

The flop came 8♣8♠K♥. With his mouth covered Smith bet another 90,000. Again Li called.

The 4♠ on the turn got Smith betting again, 180,000, which Li called for the 2♥ river card. Smith tapped the table. Li did the same, but mucked her cards after Smith showed J♥J♣.

Two key hands for Smith that leave him in good shape. Li meanwhile drops to 1.45 million. -- SB

5:25pm: All Tan, all the time
Level 26 - Blinds 25,000/50,000 (ante 5,000)

Xuan Tan is playing every pot. When I say every pot, I mean two in a row. The two I just watched. He's playing the role of aggressor too, in the first hand he raised it up to 110,000 from the button and both Terry Tang (small blind) and Avraham Oziel (big blind) both called.

Somewhat surprisingly no one moved a chip on the 3♠6♦J♥Q♠T♥ board. Surely someone had connected with that? Oziel hadn't, but he showed K♦7♦ just in case it was good. It wasn't. Tang opened T♦T♠ for a rivered set and he took the pot.

On the very next hand Tan raised to the same amount, Tang came along for the ride again and Yan Li wanted in from the big blind. A J♠Q♥9♣ flop looked like it might generate some action and it did. Tan c-bet 175,000 and only Li made the call. The 9♠ turn was checked through and the 4♠ fell on the river. Li checked again and Tan's bet of 350,000 earned him the pot.

So, Tan won the bigger of the two pots. That's the way to do it. --NW

5:15pm: Don't tangle with Tang
Level 26 - Blinds 25,000/50,000 (ante 5,000)

Terry Tang just earned himself a healthy pot with a sick five-bet bluff.

Aymon Hata opened to 110,000 on the button and after Xuan Tan called in the small blind, Tang squeezed from the big blind for 350,000. Hata reached deep and put in a four-bet to 770,000, and with Tan quickly out of the way the action was back on Tang.

Tang wasn't in the mood for playing timid. He piled it in with enough to cover Hata's 2.475 million behind. The jam elicited a fold from Hata who couldn't have liked what he saw next.


Terry Tang: Nine high like a boss

"Show bluff! Show bluff!" begged Pete Chen, and his wish was granted when Tang flipped up 9♠8♣ for nine high like a boss.

The courageous play lifts Tang's stack to 3.4 million while Hata is set back to 2.475 million. -- BK

5:05pm: Laidlaw doubles
Level 26 - Blinds 25,000/50,000 (ante 5,000)

Daniel Laidlaw just found aces, and got paid with them too, doubling up through Yan Li.

Li opened for 105,000 in the cut off with K♦J♠ and Laidlaw shoved from the big blind. Li thought about it, then called, up against A♣A♠.


Double for Daniel Laidlaw

The board ran 2♥2♣7♦5♣K♣ to keep Laidlaw in the game. He's up to 1.35 million whie Li drops to 2.25 million. - SB

5pm: Oziel takes form Tan
Level 26 - Blinds 25,000/50,000 (ante 5,000)

Avraham Oziel is ramping up the pressure. He just put Xuan Tan to the test in a big pot.

Tan raised pre-flop to 115,000 before Oziel three-bet to 250,000 from the cutoff. Tan made the call and they went to a flop of 7♦2♥J♠. Tan checked it over to Oziel and he went with a bet of another 250,000. Tan called and they went to the 4♣ turn card.


Avraham Oziel: Applying pressure

A final check from Tan prompted Oziel to rip it in for 1.25 million. That was too much for Tan who let it go and dropped to 1.9 million. Oziel now sits with 2.1 million in chips.-- BK

4:55pm: Tang takes one
Level 26 - Blinds 25,000/50,000 (ante 5,000)

Aymon Hata is still the chip leader, but he just lost a handful of big blinds to Terry Tang in a pot that made it all the way to the river, but not to showdown.

Hata was the pre-flop aggressor and he raised to 110,000 from middle position. Tang called from the cutoff. The flop fell 7♠9♣Q♥ and Hata gave up the betting lead. He checked to Tang, who seized the initiative and fired out 150,000. Call from Hata.

The A♣ turn was checked through and the 7♥ completed the board. Again Hata checked, but this time Tang didn't follow suit. He reached for chips and settled on a wager of 430,000. Hata stared at the board for a little while, shook his head and then folded. Hata is down to 3.2 million, while Tang is up to 2.5 million. --NW

4:45pm: They're all big hands for Laidlaw
Level 26 - Blinds 25,000/50,000 (ante 5,000)

A quiet spell and no big hands to report. That said small hands are a danger to Daniel Laidlaw right now. He just opened one in early position and checked down a board of 2♦Q♥T♦5♥7♣ against Yan Li. Li bet on the river, forcing Laidlaw to fold, which takes his stack down to 655,000. - SB


Daniel Laidlaw: Short stack

4:30pm: Smith stacks a little more
Level 26 - Blinds 25,000/50,000 (ante 5,000)

Elliot Smith just took some chips from Aymon Hata and added them to his own. Hata opened for 110,000 and Smith defended his big blind to see a flop of 2♣5♥J♠. Smith checked it over to Hata and he continued for 80,000. Smith made the call and the 5♣ turn paired the board.

Smith then decided to take the betting lead by firing for 80,000. That was enough to scare Hata off and he mucked as the pot was pushed to Smith.

After that pot Smith is up to 1.3 million and Hata down to 3.7 million. -- BK

4:25pm: Li over Tan
Level 26 - Blinds 25,000/50,000 (ante 5,000)

The first pot of the official final table went to Yan Li, who won a pot from Xuan Tan. Tan opened to 100,000 from the cutoff and Li put in the extra required from the small blind.

Tan c-bet 75,000 on the 4♦T♥4♥ flop and Li made the call. The 8♣ turn and 9♠ river were checked through and Li's A♣9♥ won her the pot. --NW

4:20pm: Fabrice Soulier out in ninth
Level 25 - Blinds 20,000/40,000 (ante 5,000)

In what would be the last hand of the level Fabrice Soulier opened for 95,000 in early position, which Aymon Hata raised to 225,000 form the cutoff. With the action back on him, Soulier announced all-in, for what was about 900,000 in total. Hata wasted no time calling.

Soulier: A♦K♥
Hata: K♦K♠


Fabrice Soulier survived this one, but out soon after

The board came J♥T♦8♠2♣3♣ which brought no help for Soulier. He departs in ninth place, winning HKD$386,000. The next player out gets the same.- SB

4:15pm: Off they go again
Level 25 - Blinds 25,000/50,000 (ante 5,000)

With five minutes remaining of Level 25, they are playing again. They will skip the next tournament break as they just took a long break before the final table started.

Remember, we're playing down to a last six today. -- HS


The last nine in the Main Event. Standing (l-r): Elliot Smith, Aymon Hata, Daniel Laidlaw, Pete Chen, Avraham Oziel, Xuan Tan. Seated (l-r): Fabrice Soulier, Yan Li, Terry Tang

4:10pm: Restart delay
Level 25 - Blinds 25,000/50,000 (ante 5,000)

There's a slight delay before the restart as the tournament staff members are just making sure stack sizes are correct. They'll be back at the coalface very soon. -- HS

4pm: Spinning & Go-ing
Level 25 - Blinds 25,000/50,000 (ante 5,000)

Information has just reached us that Avraham Oziel is a Spin & Go qualifier to this event. It's no wonder he's playing without a care in the world. This trip has cost him less than a round of drinks and he's on for a massive payday. -- HS

4pm: Final table formalities
Level 25 - Blinds 25,000/50,000 (ante 5,000)

They're down to the last nine, and everybody now has a medal. They're just having their photos taken, then they will return and sit down in this order:

1Aymon Hata2,975,000
2Xuan Tan2,800,000
3Terry Tang2,150,000
4Avraham Oziel1,825,000
5Yan Li2,650,000
6Fabrice Soulier935,000
7Pete Chen1,010,000
8Elliot Smith1,150,000
9Daniel Laidlaw670,000

3:40pm: Guo gone; unofficial final table set
Level 25 - Blinds 25,000/50,000 (ante 5,000)

We're now down to nine players and the unofficial final table is set after short stack Dong Guo was eliminated by Xuan Tan.

The action folded around to Tan in the small blind and before he could act, Guo put his last five big blinds in the middle. After being informed it wasn't on him, Guo proclaimed that he hadn't actually moved all-in out of turn.

"I just show my stack," protested Guo.

Regardless, Tan ended up shoving and Guo called it off to see he was dominated.

Guo: 4♣3♣
Tan: K♣4♠

They both paired the 9♦4♦7♠ flop and while the 5♠ turn brought Guo some additional gutshot outs, the J♦ river did not save him. Tan moves up to 2.8 million and players are now combining to a single table. -- BK


Dong Guo: Gets his coat

3:30pm: Tan's the man
Level 25 - Blinds 25,000/50,000 (ante 5,000)

The big stacks on Table 1 aren't having it all their own way. Aymon Hata and Yan Li are meeting plenty of resistance from their opponents.

Here's an example:

Li raised to 90,000 from the cutoff and Xuan Tan called from the big blind. The dealer fanned a 3♦7♥A♦ flop and Tan checked to Li. Li bet 95,000 and Tan called.

The Q♦ turn checked through and the 8♥ fell on the river. Tan led for 175,000 and Li peeled seven green 25,000 chips from her huge stack and riffled them for a few rotations. She then plonked them over the line and waited to see if she'd made a good call.

She hadn't. Tan showed A♠Q♣ and Li mucked. He's up to 2.4 million and Li is down to 2.6 million. --NW

3:20pm: Laying down the Laidlaw
Level 25 - Blinds 20,000/40,000 (ante 5,000)

Credit to Daniel Laidlaw, who opened for two pots in a row, got raised off his hand twice, but then tried a third time. That proved third time lucky, when his ace-ten looked better on a board of 9♥5♦8♥8♠3♥ board than Avraham Oziel's ace-four. Laidlaw back to where he was three hands ago with 750,000. - SB

3:15pm: Oziel on the up
Level 25 - Blinds 20,000/40,000 (ante 5,000)

Avraham Oziel and Tianyuan Tang just went to war on a very dry flop.

Oziel raised to 95,000 pre-flop and Tang defended his big blind before the dealer spread 5♦3♣Q♠. Tang took the betting lead with a 70,000-chip wager but Oziel had other ideas, playing back at Tang for 175,000.

Tang wasn't done, however, he came back over the top again - this time for 300,000 total. Oziel wouldn't flinch, instead announcing he was all-in for 1.25 million. While Tang spend a minute contemplating a call he ultimately decided to give it up, dropping to 1.8 million while Oziel eclipsed the 2 million mark. -- BK

3:10pm: Raise fold fold fold
Level 25 - Blinds 20,000/40,000 (ante 5,000)

Another hand that promised so much, but delivered very little.

Yan Li opened for 90,000 in early position, which Aymon Hata called on the button. Then Xuan Tan raised to 400,000 in the small blind. Dong Guo in the big blind agonized, then folded. Not so much agonising from Li or Hata, who also folded. - SB

3:05pm: Where did he go?
Level 25 - Blinds 20,000/40,000 (ante 5,000)

Yan Li looked up at the tournament information screen, noticed it now said 10 and not 11, and expressed surprise. Who had busted?

Dong Guo smiled and pointed towards the empty chair next to her, previously occupied by the now departed Artem Metalidi.

"Ohhhh," said Li, suddenly remembering. -- SB

3pm: Metalidi melts away as Hata turns up the heat
Level 24 - Blinds 20,000/40,000 (ante 5,000)

Remember about 20 minutes ago when we said we'd just witnessed the biggest pot of the tournament. Well scratch that, there's just been a bigger one.

Artem Metalidi opened to 85,000 from early position and Hata called from the small blind. The two of them went heads-up to an 8♦A♥6♥ flop. Metalidi c-bet 100,000 and Hata made the call. The T♦ fell on the turn and Hata checked again. There was no slowing down from Metalidi on the turn as he bet 275,000. Hata stared at the board for a long time and then he check-raised all-in.


Artem Metalidi: Melted away

Metalidi just sat there shaking his head. He had about 1.175 million total (including the 275,000 out there) and his head shaking continued for about 10 seconds and then he committed the rest of his chips. He showed A♣6♣ for flopped two pair and Hata opened A♦T♥ for a superior two pair. Ouch.

The Q♦ river kept Hata in front, he had Metalidi covered and is now up to 3.4 million. --NW

2:50pm: Oziel making a name for himself
Level 25 - Blinds 20,000/40,000 (ante 5,000)

We knew absolutely nothing about Avraham Oziel before this event, beyond the fact that he is a PokerStars qualifier from Canada. But he's doing his best to change that having just won a pot from Pete Chen to build his stack to 1.6 million.


Avraham Oziel: Newcomer

Chen opened the cutoff pre-flop and Oziel called from the big blind. On the 6♣8♥6♥ flop, Oziel checked, leading to a bet of 70,000 from Chen. Oziel check-raised to 175,000 and Chen folded.

Easy as that. -- HS

2:45pm: Melodrama, but no drama
Level 25 - Blinds 20,000/40,000 (ante 5,000)

Not a lot to report from Table 1, where pots are raised, and folded. A couple of players form the outer table have taken turns coming up to see what's going on, walking away none the wiser.

On the outer table there has been some quite spectacular folding, with elaborate displays threatening to turn the simple art of folding into operatic melodrama. - SB

2:40pm: Soulier still swinging after suck-out
Level 24 - Blinds 15,000/30,000 (ante 5,000)

Fabrice Soulier is lucky to still have his tournament life after spiking a three-outer and doubling up through Aymon Hata.

Soulier shipped it in from the small blind for 585,000 and after a minute in the tank Hata called it off to put Soulier at risk.

Soulier: J♠T♥
Hata: Q♠J♦

It turned out Hata had made a great call but the 4♠9♥7♣T♠6♠ runout--particularly the ten on the turn--meant a double-up for Soulier. He builds to 1.1 million while Hata falls to 1.7 million. -- BK


Fabrice Soulier: Suckout

2:35pm: Li too slick for Guo; takes the chip lead
Level 24 - Blinds 15,000/30,000 (ante 5,000)

We've just witnessed the biggest pot of the tournament and fittingly it played out on the feature table. It featured Dong Guo, who raised to 85,000 from the cutoff and Yan Li, who three-bet to 205,000 from the big blind. Guo called and a K♣2♣2♠ flop hit the felt.


A massive pot for Yan Li

This is where the fireworks went off. Li led for 300,000, Guo raised to 650,000, Li moved all-in for 1.295 million and Guo then shrugged before calling it off. Li opened A♦K♠ for top-top while Guo had K♦Q♣. The two players weren't even looking at the board when the T♣ rolled off. They were deep in conversation. I don't speak Chinese so I don't know exactly what was being said, but it was in a reasonably aggressive tone.


Yan Li: Chip-leader

Back to the hand, the turn card had given Guo a flush draw but he missed it on the T♠ river. That huge double up boosts Li to 3.1 million and drops Guo to 715,000. --NW

2:30pm: Off they go again
Level 25 - Blinds 20,000/40,000 (ante 5,000)

That was an extended break because they raced off the 1,000-denomination chips. But they're restarting now with 11 left. -- HS

1:55pm: First break
Level 24 - Blinds 15,000/30,000 (ante 5,000)

That's the end of Level 24 and the first break of the day. We lost five players in those opening exchanges. When we lose five more, the day is done.

Here are the full stacks for the last 11. -- HS

Tianyuan TangChina 2,730,000
Aymon HataUK 2,300,000
Dong GuoChina 2,250,000
Artem MetalidiUkraineLive satellite winner1,600,000
Avraham OzielCanadaPokerStars qualifier1,530,000
Yan LiChinaPokerStars player1,400,000
Xuan TanChina 1,200,000
Pete ChenTaiwanLive satellite winner1,050,000
Elliot SmithCanada 785,000
Daniel LaidlawAustralia 750,000
Fabrice SoulierFranceLive satellite winner640,000

1:50pm: Blondel departs
Level 24 - Blinds 15,000/30,000 (ante 5,000)

It's all over for Thibaut Blondel. After Avraham Oziel opened for 75,000 Blondel shoved for his last 51,000. Pete Chen was in the big blind and called Oziel's bet for a flop of 8♣9♣4♠.


Thibaut Blondel: Not bad at this stage, but...

That was checked for the 6♠ turn card. Chen bet 80,000 to force out Oziel.

Chen: J♠T♣
Blondel: T♥8♥

Blondel was ahead but there was plenty he needed to miss on the river, including the J♦.


...couldn't fade the river

That sent Blondel out in 12th place. Chen moves up to 1.15 million. - SB

1:45pm: Blondel down to dust
Level 24 - Blinds 15,000/30,000 (ante 5,000)

Thibaut Blondel is down to just 2.5 big blinds after a couple of mis-steps saw his stack shredded. The biggest dent came in a hand against Tianyuan Tang, where Tang opened to 70,000 from the hijack and Blondel defended from the big blind.

On the 2♣3♠9♠ flop Blondel check-called a bet of 60,000 and he check-called a further 150,000 on the T♦ turn. The Q♠ river quickly checked through and Tang's J♣T♣ bested Blondel's K♣2♦ at showdown.

That left Blondel with just 195,000 and he's since lost 120,000 of that through a combination of blinds, antes and calling one pre-flop raise of 70,000 and then folding the flop.

Blondel is down to exactly 71,000 at this point. There is a pay jump of HK$70,000 between 12th and 11th spot, which helps explain Blondel putting in half his stack pre-flop and then folding. --NW

1:40pm: So long Wenlong
Level 24 - Blinds 15,000/30,000 (ante 5,000)

Wenlong Jin becomes to next player out of the Main Event. After Dong Guo opened for 75,000 in the cutoff Jin shoved for 690,000 in the small blind. Guo asked for a count, then called.

Jin: Q♥Q♦
Guo: 9♣9♠


Dong Guo films the good flop

Guo needed something, and got it on the flop. The board ran 7♥9♦5♠8♣2♦.

Guo is now up to 2.42 million. - SB


Wenlong Jin: So long

1:35pm: Tan doubles through Jin
Level 24 - Blinds 15,000/30,000 (ante 5,000)

Xuan Tan is now stacking chips after ending up on the right end of a flip versus Wenlong Jin.

It folded to Tan in the cutoff and he pushed all in for 407,000. Jin woke up with a calling hand in the big blind and they were off to the races.

Tan: 5♣5♦
Jin: A♦Q♣

Tan's pocket fives would prove too good on the 3♥3♣2♥K♠6♠ runout to take him up to 850,000. Jin meanwhile dips to 550,000. -- BK

1:30pm: Smith up
Level 24 - Blinds 15,000/30,000 (ante 5,000)

Elliot Smith opened for 70,000 and the action was foled to Yan Li.

Mercifully, for those of us not rigorously drilled in the 17 times table, Li now stacks her chips in 20s. She peeled off enough to call and tossed them forward.


Elliot Smith: On the up

The flop came 7♠9♥Q♠, which was checked for the 4♣ turn. Li bet 65,000 at this point, which Smith called for the Q♦ river card.

Li spent another 110,000 and waited as Smith tanked for a while. Suddenly he called, and watched Li turn up 8♠6♠. Relieved, Smith showed J♦A♠, moving up to 1.3 million in the process. -- SB

1:20pm: No love for Yu
Level 24 - Blinds 15,000/30,000 (ante 5,000)

We're one local legend light in this tournament as Winfred Yu has just been eliminated in 14th place. He three-bet shoved for 165,000 over the top of Dong Guo's opening raise. "I don't like my hand, but I have to call," Guo said as he put in the 105,000 extra required.

Yu: A♥Q♥
Guo: 2♠2♣


Winfred Yu: The end

Guo was ahead with his pair of ducks and they stayed there as the board ran 5♦8♦9♠4♦T♥. Yu headed to the payouts table where he'll collect HKD$221,000. He was the short stack at the start of the day, but laddered up one spot. --NW


Dong Guo: What could he do?

1:10pm: Jiang eliminated
Level 22 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (ante 3,000)

Jianbo Jiang was the next to fall after he ran a good pair into the better one of Avraham Oziel.

It was Oziel who opened to 100,000 and when it folded around to Jiang in the big blind he shoved for 715,000. Oziel snapped it off with a monster and the cards went on their backs.

Jiang: T♥T♣
Oziel : Q♠Q♥

Jiang was chasing a ten but he couldn't find one on the J♠6♥A♦8♣3♥ runout. He departs in 15th place and collects HK$221,000. -- BK


Jianbo Jiang: A lonely wait for a payout

1:05pm: Blondel short
Level 24 - Blinds: 15,000/30,000 (ante 5,000)

Thibaut Blondel is short and everyone knows it.


Thibaut Blondel: Short, and knows it

Yan Li just shoved on him blind-on-blind as first to act in the small, forcing him to fold. But he's not letting himself get bullied around. The very next hand he did the same thing against Daniel Laidlaw and also got a fold. --DJ

1pm: Smith v Oziel
Level 24 - Blinds: 15,000/30,000 (ante 5,000)

Out on Table 2, Elliot Smith and Avraham Oziel got tricky in the blinds. Action folded to Smith in the small and he completed. Oziel checked his option.

The flop brought the 7♣A♠5♣ and Smith bet 30,000. Oziel raised to 90,000 and Smith called.

The turn was the T♦ and Smith checked. Oziel bet 100,000 and started rocking from side to side in his chair, then slipping one card under another. In a word: fidgeting.

Smith, impassive, folded. -- HS

12:55pm: Soulier doubles
Level 24 - Blinds 15,000/30,000 (ante 5,000)

Fabrice Soulier just doubled up through Aymon Hata in a speedy hand that came as some relief after the tank-fold-athon that came before it.

Soulier shoved for 383,000 and Hata shoved from the button, prompting the blinds to fold.

Soulier: T♦T♣
Hata: A♥9♠

The board ran 9♦J♦7♥5♦7♣

Soulier allowed himself a first pump, doubling to around 800,000. Hata drops to 1.9 million. - SB

12:50pm: Smith ships it
Level 24 - Blinds 15,000/30,000 (ante 5,000)

This was one of those blind on blind battles that quickly escalated into full-on war. The pot seemed like a pretty standard blind on blind encounter at first as Jianbo Jiang raised to 80,000 and Elliot Smith called.

The flop fell T♦A♣A♥. That's not a flop that's meant to fit the profile of creating action in this type of hand. Nonetheless, action is what we got. Jiang riffled some of his turquoise T25,000 chips and then placed a bet of 50,000 over the line. There was no great care to the amount he bet and he seemed to just arbitrarily bet the amount of however many chips slipped out of his hand. Still, it was 50,000 for Smith to call and call he did.

The turn was the 3♦ and again the random betting generator seemed to control how much Jiang bet. This time it was 130,000 and Smith once more called. The K♣ completed the board and this time the random betting generator landed on 100,000. Smith eyed up this bet and then went into the tank. He had just over 460,000 behind and he pushed the entirety of his stack over the line.

Now, it was Jiang's turn to see if he could sniff out what was going on here. He cut down the calling chips from his stack and I could see that he'd have 265,000 left if he called and lost. Considerably more, of course, if he called and was right. In the end, we'll never know what each player was holding as Jiang folded. He slips to 627,000 while Smith climbs to 1,082,000. --NW

12:45pm: Tan gets even shorter
Level 24 - Blinds: 15,000/30,000 (ante 5,000)
We've genuinely run out of Tan related-puns now, so I'm not even going to bother.

Anyway, Tan started the hand short, and he's now even shorter.

The action kicked off with a new dealer arriving at the table. After Dong Guo opened out of turn in early position before realising and raking his chips back, Xuan Tan opened to 65,000. It prompted Guo to fold, and everyone else other than Aymon Hata in the big-blind. He completed and the dealer laid out a 8♠4♦8♥ flop.

Hata checked and Tan continued for another 65,000. Hata called, before the 9♠ landed on the turn.

It prompted two checks, but Hata wasn't going to check on the 7♠ river. After re-peeking at his cards, Hata put out a bet of 110,000 to which Tan quickly folded.

Tan is still alive, but barely. --DJ

12:40pm: And away they go
Level 24 - Blinds: 15,000/30,000 (ante 5,000)

The first hand of Level 24 on Table 1 was an epic. That's not "epic" as a synonym for excellent, as it has come to be used, rather as a synonym for drawn out far longer than it should be, ie, the way schoolchildren of ancient Greece used to use it. Probably.

It went on for more than 15 minutes and ended with a shove-fold. So don't get your hopes up.

It started with Dong Guo opening to 70,000 from the cutoff and Tianyuan Tang three-betting to 215,000 from the small blind. He has shown up today in a New York Yankees branded face mask, which goes to show the marketing bods at the world's most marketable sports team are still doing a fine job.

Dong called, taking them to a flop of J♠6♣A♥. Tang led for 125,000 and Dong called. (Just add about three minutes thinking time before each of these rudimentary bets/calls.)

That brought the 7♥ on the turn and another few minutes thought. "We need a shot clock in this tournament, right?" Artem Metalidi said to Aymon Hata. He called that assertion.

Tang checked and Dong bet 255,000. Tang then moved all-in for about 760,000 and Dong folded without getting a count.

Tang is up to around 2.1 million now. Dong is back down to 1.6 million.

"Two eights?" Fabrice Soulier asked of Tang. "Nines?"
"Maybe," Tang said.
"Deuces?" Soulier said.
"Deuces? Nooooo." -- HS

12:35pm: Li doubles
Level 24 - Blinds 15,000/30,000 (ante 5,000)

Yan Li is now up to more than 2 million after she four-bet shoved from the small blind.

There were elements of obstinacy involved as she got into a raising war with Thibaut Blondel in the big blind. Li opened for 65,000, Blondel made it 180,000 and Li shoved. Blondel called, and when Li showed A♣J♣ he showed his A♦K♣ with a dash of triumph. But that would be short lived.

The board ran out Q♥9♥T♣8♠9♦, with that lucky eight on the turn making a straight for Li.

She doubles up to 2.17 million, while Thibaut drops to 420,000. - SB

12:30pm: Chen vs. Chen
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (ante 3,000)

Feng Wen Chen has been clinging on for dear life for a while now.

With a little over 10-bigs, he finally got them all in the middle in late position when action was folded to him. It received two folds before another Chen - Pete Chen, paused for thought in the big blind. He asked for a count before putting in a stack of green 25,000 to indicate the call.

Feng Wen Chen flipped over A♠6♠, and Pete A♠9♥. The board of 2♠K♦T♠T♥7♣ wasn't good enough for Feng Wen who hits the rail in 16th for the first elimination of the day.

It's an important near double for Pete Chen, who was also struggling but is now back up around 720k. --DJ

12:25pm: More for Metalidi
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (ante 3,000)
At the start of play, the two biggest and three smallest stacks were all sitting on table one. One of the middling stacks at that table belonged to Artem Metalidi. The Ukranian, though, has had a great start to the day and he's just won another pot to increase his stack further.

He raised to 53,000 from the cutoff and Tianyuan Tang defended from the big blind. The T♦Q♠J♥ flop wasn't exactly bone dry and Tang check-called a bet of 67,000. On the J♣ turn Metalidi fired a second bullet. He bet 110,000 and, despite a long dwell, Tang relinquished his cards. --NW

12:20pm: Small pots
Level 23 - Blinds: 12,000/24,000 (ante 4,000)

Some small skirmishes from Table 1:

Aymon Hata opened to 52,000 from the cutoff and Artem Metalidi called from the big blind. That was all the betting though as the board was checked through. It read 3♥K♥5♥T♠3♣ by the time it was done and they both turned over the same hand. Metalid's Q♣7♣ was the same as Hata's Q♠7♠. (This happened at the same time as a pot on Table 2 was chopped between two Jack-Fours. Wow. Poker.)

Shortly after, Winfred Yu opened to 50,000 from under the gun and Dong Guo called on the button. This was short stack versus big stack, respectively, although Wenlong Jin also called in the big blind to provide medium-stacked balance.

The three looked at the flop of 5♠4♠3♥ and Jin and Yu checked. That allowed Guo to pick it up with a bet of 85,000.

One hand after that: Hata again opened, this time for 50,000, and Xuan Tan jammed his 400,000 stack over the top. Hata folded. -- HS


Xuan Tan: Jam happy

12:15pm: Good start for Smith
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (ante 4,000)

A lively start on the outer table, not least owing to the late arrival of Yan Li who appeared with apologies (none necessary) as this hand reached the turn.

It was opened by Elliot Smith who bet 50,000 in the cutoff. Feng Wen Chen, now becoming an expert at short stack play, was in the small blind and raised to 127,000. Smith called.

The flop came 2♥A♣7♠

Chen now bet another 100,000. Smith called and then both checked the 9♠ turn for the T♣ river card.

This time Chen checked to Smith, who pushed his stack forward, a bet of 330,000. Now Chen had a decision for his tournament life. He fiddled with his chips a bit. There was an element of performance as he straightened everything out, then, looking in the other direction, he folded, perhaps hoping nobody would notice.

Smith did though. He's up to 750,000 now while Chen gets comfortable with the short stack again with 250,000. - SB

12:10pm: No messing from Metalidi
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (ante 3,000)

Artem Metalidi made two positive actions in this hand, in comparison to Wenlong Jin's one. Yet, if this was a shot clock tournament Jin would've used up at least three time-bank chips, whereas Metalidi would've had his full compliment intact.

From under the gun Metalidi opened to 52,000. Jin was next to act and he stood up to get a look at Metalidi's stack, which amounted to 732,000 in total. He then tanked for at least two minutes before raising to 104,000. It folded back around to Metalidi and the Ukrainian took one look back at his cards before moving all-in.

Jin again needed more time than his opponent had taken, but he elected to let his hand go. Pot to Metalidi. --NW

12:05pm: Hata takes hand one on table one
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (ante 3,000)

The first pot on table one was about as gentile as they come. The action folded to Aymon Hata, who was in the small blind, and he completed. Xuan Tan checked his option and the two saw a 3♥A♦T♠ flop. Hata bet the minimum (24,000) and he took it down. --NW

12pm: And away they go
Level 23 - Blinds: 12,000/24,000 (ante 4,000)

I'd be lying if I said all the reporters were here, or even all the players. (If you know Yan Li, tell her to get here quickly!) But cards are in the air nonetheless and action is under way on the penultimate day of the PokerStars Championship Main Event.

There's 23 minutes left on this level and they'll play this, then straight into Level 24 too without a break. -- HS

Good morning all and welcome back to the PokerStars LIVE! card-room at the City of Dream for the penultimate day of the PokerStars Championship Macau. It's going to be another rip-roaring day, however long it lasts.

The plan for the Main Event is simple. We have 16 players remaining and they will want to cut that number down to six. At present, eight players have more than 1 million chips and that will represent a "comfort" zone. By contrast, eight have fewer than 1 million and that will represent a "danger" zone.

Ready to embark on your own poker adventure? Sign up for PokerStars and begin your journey. Click here to get an account.

We're still in Level 22, where blinds are 12,000/24,000 (ante 3,000). There's potentially a lot of play left in this one.

Here's how they line up for Day 5, with the all-important number of big blinds now listed. That 1 million line in the same is the difference between a 40+ BB stack and a sub-40 BB stack.

NameChipsBig Blinds
Aymon Hata2,188,00091
Dong Guo2,160,00090
Thibaut Blondel1,388,00058
Wenlong Jin1,296,00054
Yan Li1,248,00052
Tianyuan Tang1,241,00052
Daniel Laidlaw1,077,00045
Jianbo Jiang1,057,00044
Avraham Oziel873,00036
Artem Metalidi740,00031
Elliot Smith583,00024
Feng Wen Chen491,00020
Pete Chen481,00020
Fabrice Soulier472,00020
Xuan Tan439,00018
Winfred Yu385,00016

As you can see, it's a two-way tie at the top, with plenty of talent below Aymon Hata and Dong Guo hoping to leapfrog them.


Play starts at 12pm and will go on as long at it takes. -- HS

Take a look at the official website of PokerStars LIVE, with tournament schedule, news, results and accommodation details for the PokerStars Championship Macau and all other Festival and Championship events.

Also all the information is on the PokerStars LIVE App, which is available on both Android or IOS.

PokerStars Blog reporting team on the $5,000 Main Event: Stephen Bartley, Brad Kain, Howard Swains and Nick Wright. Photography by Neil Stoddart.

Live reporting team
@PokerStars in Macau