MPCC TOC: Levels 1 - 4 (blinds 150-300, ante 25)

7:10pm: Ten-minute break

7:00pm: Huang joins the TOC

It looks like Bryan Huang has been eliminated from the rebuy side event as he's now taken his place in the Tournament of Champions field. Huang is now left to anxiously sweat the progress of fellow Team PokerStars Pro Raymond Wu who is deep in the same event as the two are locked in a tight duel for the Asia Player of the Year title. We believe if Wu can finish first or second in that event then he can challenge Huang for top spot.

6:50pm: A man in form

You could say that Julian Hasse is in good form. With that comes confidence, but also it means that lady luck is on your side. The MPPC Main Event champion is still coming down off the high of winning last night's Main Event, but the form is continuing today as he just found a big double up through Chen An Lin.

The chips were in preflop with Lin calling with Q♠Q♦ to have Hasse needing help with his A♥J♣. The first four cards landed 3♠5♠4♥T♦ and Hasse was already standing up to leave but he had to sit back down when the A♠ fell on the river.

Hasse doubles through to 17,000.

Our field has also grown by one with the late registration of Hong Kong's "Roy" Kun Cheung Wan.

6:40pm: Yoong gone as Chen fills up

Our players have merged to the final two tables after the eliminations of Rathi Shanshak and Saehoon Lee.

Also joining them on the rail is Hong Kong's Kah Wah Yoong who moved all in preflop with J♠J♣ but ran into the Q♥Q♦ of Victor Chen. The board was all Chen as it landed 2♦7♦5♣Q♣2♠ to give Chen a full house.

The 2009 Red Dragon winner is now up to 30,000 in chips.

6:15pm: Late registrations

Registration is still open in this event with both old, and potentially new champions, eligible to register. Across the room we've just witnessed Nick Wong defeat Andrew Hinrichsen to win the High Rollers Event which carried over from last night. Wong is now eligible to jump into this TOC event if he so chooses.

Also joining the field is Team PokerStars Pro Celina Lin who has jumped in next to Saehoon Lee on table 15.

6:10pm: Steicke loves the big stage

David Steicke is up to 40,000 in chips after collecting a nice pot with a bet of 5,750 on the river on a board of 2♥6♥2♣Q♣6♠. Kah Wah Yoon made the call but couldn't better Steicke's queen-six for a full house.

"I had a big pair," sighed Yoon.

David Steicke loves nothing more than a big event, with several wins in High Roller Events where the fields are equally high quality. Steicke seems to thrive on the challenge and will be a real threat here this afternoon.

5:45pm: Early movers and shakers

The early levels of play have seen a few casualties with Wallace Max Wu the first to go as Chen An Lin now sits with a double stack. Although he just offloaded a few of those chips to David Steicke. Lin raised from early position to 550 with Steicke calling to see a flop of Q♣J♣J♦. Lin fired 1,050 and Steicke called. The turn brought the 2♠ and Lin checked to Steicke who splashed 2,700 into the middle, which was enough to take it down.

However our chip leader is currently Roel Pijpers who is a big supporters of events in the Asia-Pacific region and won his way into this event by winning a Red Dragon charity event earlier in the year. Pijpers currently has 50,00 in chips after disposing of Cheng-jui Yang and Hung-sheng Lin from table seven.

Japan in the spotlight

Jenn Barr takes a close look at the progress of the Japanese players throughout the 2010 Macau Poker Cup season and how they progressed to today's Tournament of Champions

If there were a Macau Poker Cup awards ceremony, it is likely that one country would sweep the field for 2010. They could easily take most improved, most enthusiastic, and could give the other nations in Asia a run for their money in number of final table appearances, cashes and even wins. The tournament is held at the Pokerstars Macau poker room in China, but it's the Japanese that have made their mark on Asia's popular poker series.

Japan started spreading its wings at the March MPC, sending three representatives to the final table. This not only showed Asia and the world that Japan was going to be a force to reckoned with for the rest of the year, it also established these players in the race for the prestigious APOY list.

The July event is where people finally started to take notice. They had to. With nearly a quarter of the field speaking Japanese there was no more denying the hunger and drive for live tournament action. Again three representatives made it to the final table and this time Ken Takarabe took it down, defeating PokerStars Team Pro Bryan Huang in a grueling heads-up match.

This win also proved the camaraderie of the Japanese players. After the chips were shipped to the new champion, the players on the rail flooded the final table. Everyone was proud, everyone was celebrating and everyone went to the after party, sharing Takarabe's victory. From that moment on we were all following Ken and the APOY leaderboard with every event. Even after he went home to Japan, Takarabe continued to play in poker tournaments and was even asked to speak at a number of poker events. He is certainly admired by his peers for his accomplishment, and is still playing all events, hoping for another final table, or even a win to collect even more APOY points.

In September the numbers continued to grow. Just under a third of the participants in the MPC Red Dragon Main Event in September claimed Japan as their home and tens more played in the side events. For the 3rd MPC in a row, Japan sent three players to the final table. This time the winner wasn't from Japan originally, but James McCarty has claimed the land of the rising sun as his home for the past three years, and five years before that when he was a child.


Ken Takarabe, James McCarty and Naoki Takiguchi in action at today's MPCC TOC

Now here we are at the end of the run, the 2010 MPCC, and Japan is at it again. With over 20 participants in the record-breaking 254-person field, three cashes in the Main Event and Takashi Ogura taking 5th place at the final table, this nation has not even let a doubled entry fee stop them from dominating. In the side events, besides a number of cashes, Masato Ito won the $1500 deep stack event and Oshiyama Masayosh won the 2-day $3000 event.


Takashi Ogura during the MPCC Main Event

When players from Japan come to an international tournament, it's a group trip. Dealers from the local maid casino come in costume, qualifiers bring their friends and everyone is madly texting their results to the poor souls that had to stay home. It is clear that the poker bug is spreading in Japan and it's not going away anytime soon. And, while a few years ago these players had only just heard of the game, now they're taking down pots and winning events. These numbers are sure to grow in 2011 and as always the PokerStars blog will have the latest news from poker in Japan.

5:20pm: No soft spots in this field!

While it's a who's who in today's Tournament of Champions field, there are a few players in particular we want to mention. The most notable is of course Germany's Julian Hasse, who is fresh off his victory last night in the MPCC Main Event. Clearly there is no hangover as Hasse has jumped straight into today's field. He finds himself on the same table as Macau Millions champ Justin Chan and last year's MPCC Main Event winner, Devan Tang.


Newly crowned MPCC champ Julian Hasse seated next to the previous MPCC winner Devan Tang

Also listed in the starting field is Team PokerStars Pro Bryan Huang, but it appears he might be multi-tabling with the rebuy side event as his seat is currently still empty.
Others in the field include David Steicke, Michael Mariakis, Victor Chen, Ken Takarabe, James McCarty and Sparrow Cheung.

5:10pm: Tournament of Champions kicks off

The cards are officially in the air in the 2010 Macau Poker Cup Championships Tournament of Champions. We have three tables in action to start things off with late registration open for several more hours.

The players are starting with 15,000-chip start bank and levels will be thirty minutes in duration.