Chao Li and China dominate leaderboard of Red Dragon Day 1a

Poker in Macau has been consistently on the rise ever since those stray few Baccarat lovers decided to see what this poker thing was all about several years ago. Today - and tomorrow - will prove that this region has no boundaries when it comes to the game that involves some luck, some skill and probably the most appealing factor for the Asian community... some gamble!

Boasting a HK$3,000,000 guaranteed prizepool, today saw Day 1a of the Macau Poker Cup Red Dragon Main Event kick off with 188 players taking their seat in the final Red Dragon event for the year. Speaking to Danny McDonagh about the numbers, he was certain that the August running would easily surpass the May/Jine edition and push towards that magic number of 500.

Although today's starting field fell one player short of the previous edition's flight one, the calibre of players that found themselves in the PokerStars Macau Poker Room located inside the magnificent Grand Lisboa Casino definitely match expectations. Newly appointed Team PokerStars Pro: Asia member and APPT Cebu Champion Vivian Im joined teammate Raymond Wu leading the charge. Regular visitors Ivan Tan, Daoxing "Bobo" Chen, Kai Paulsen, Nathanael Seet, Kim Gap Young and Australians Andrew Scott, Michael Mariakis and David Ewing also took part in today's flight.

Michael Mariakis

Australian Michael Mariakis contemplating a decision

It would take one full level before we lost a player - and in fact it would be a double elimination - as Bobo found himself on the losing end of one of his unorthodox plays as Mariakis was the recipient of some gifted chips when his pocket kings held true. Mariakis would see himself climb up the chip counts before seeing Chao Li take a substantial pot off the Australian when he turned a straight with pocket sevens to better Mariakis' two-pair.

With that pot sending Li over the 100,000-chip mark, he wouldn't relinquish being a member of the six-figure club or the chip lead for the rest of the tournament as he amassed a 115,500-chip stack to have him placed atop the sixty-two players that survived for a Day 2 berth.

Chao Li

Chip leader Chao Li of China

Top Ten Chip Counts:
Chao Li (China) - 115,500
Jun Chen (China) - 110,700
Kim Gap Young (Korea) - 91,500
Konstantin Pogodin (Thailand) (PokerStars Macau Qualifier) - 88,400
Jishui Hao (China) - 83,800
Shashank Rathi (India) - 83,500
Susumu Toge (Japan) (PokerStars Qualifier)- 83,400
Jian Yang (China) - 82,300
Michael Mariakis (Australia) (PokerStars Qualifier) - 81,600
Tom Alner (United Kingdom) (PokerStars Macau Qualifier) - 77,300

The big story of the day was the roller coaster ride that Raymond Wu would endure. He lost virtually half his stack in one of the first hands he played before he saw those chips dive down a little further before mounting a come back that soar him creep high on the leaderboard back to a better-than-average chip stack. Wu would slip again, then double, then fold in a four-bet pot before eliminating a player on the final hand of the night to finish with 32,800 in chips. Notables also managing to sneak through include Manami Hayamizu (46,700), Winfred Yu (50,900), Nathanael Seet (48,700), Will Cheong (30,500) and Ivan Tan (20,300).

Raymond Wu

Team PokerStars Pro Raymond Wu battling away with his short-stack

Click here for the complete Day 1a end-of-day chip counts.

We'll be back tomorrow for an expected 300-player field for Day 1b of the Macau Poker Cup Red Dragon Main Event. As a reminder, the action will kick off at 8:10 p.m. (GMT+8) to give everyone in the region a chance to take part in one of the biggest tournaments this part of the world has ever seen. Whatever is on the menu - some poker, some gambling or some pampering - enjoy it on behalf of the PokerStars Blog team and make sure to join us for all the live updates once you're cashed up or totally relaxed tomorrow night!

Tim Duckworth
@PokerStars in PokerStars Macau