Macau set for final Red Dragon Main Event of 2011

On the eve of the final 2011 edition of the Macau Poker Cup Red Dragon Main Event, it is interesting how a day spent outside on the streets of Macau and away from the poker tables and gambling masses eerily compares to what 500-odd players will be put through over the next four days.

Known for its settling by the Portuguese in the 1500's, Macau still holds onto its heritage with immaculately kept historical monuments that pay homage to those that once thrived on the golden trading age of Asia. Now nestled amongst glistening casinos, towering buildings, multi-level franchise shops and small boutiques, Macau has slowly developed into a city with something for just about everyone.

Those people today had to duck and dive as they paced the streets to escape the constant rain that was kindly welcomed on the hardened roads that filter people from A to B. Not only was every puddle-filled pot hole and slippery stone-covered path a hazard, but umbrellas at all types of heights were the biggest fears for those wanting to keep their vision clear of any sharp metal objects. However, once the rain cleared and day turned to night, the pitter-patter of rain drops and taxi horns soon were a distant memory as the bright lights of all the casinos bellowed out in a calm soothing voice saying, "come inside and test your luck!"


The magnificent Grand Lisboa glowing at night

So how does this day walking the streets of Macau compare to a poker tournament?

From the seasoned Macau poker pro to the amateur fresh off the ferry, local players from all around Asia will be possibly sharing a table with players from Australia, USA, South Africa and other parts of the world where poker has taken a stranglehold as the game of choice. However the next four days won't be easy for anyone as players will have to duck and dive their way through a highly skilled field that has amassed to take their lion's share of the guaranteed HK$3,000,000 prizepool.

For every player taking to the felt, there will be many pot hole-styled traps of flopped sets that they will have to jump over, as well as slippery paths of rivered flushes that they will have to avoid if they are to join the ever-growing list of Macau Poker Cup Champions by being victorious here and potentially claiming top honours in the 2011 Asia Player of the Year.

Asia Player of the Year Leaderboard (as of August 10th, 2011)
1. Hung-Sheng Lin (Chinese Taipei) 3,996 pts -- HK$872,500 winnings
2. Mark Benasa (Philippines) 2,585 pts -- HK$1,100,000 winnings
3. Kwan Pao Mah (Canada) 2,365 pts -- HK$983,400 winnings
4. Ion Sang Song (Macau) 2,300 pts -- HK$306,600 winnings
5. Young-Shin Im (Korea) 2,154 pts -- HK$760,000 winnings
6. Yue Xu (China) 1,987 pts -- HK$218,900 winnings
7. Haifeng Xue (China) 1,971 pts -- $679,400 winnings
8. Brice Renaud (France) 1,863 pts -- HK$324,500 winnings
9. Raiden Kan (Malaysia) 1,860 pts -- HK$377,600 winnings
10. Hung-Chang Lin (Chinese Taipei) 1,801 pts -- $160,318 winnings


Asia Player of the Year leader Hung-Sheng Lin of Chinese Taipei

Although a 1-year sponsorship with PokerStars Macau would do every player here the world of good, firstly they will have to navigate their way through this tournament before even thinking about sitting on top of the leaderboard because there are still three (Macau Poker Cup September Special, Macau Poker Cup Championship and APPT Macau) points-earning tournaments for the rest of the year. Even previous winner Kwan Pao Mah -- who collected HK$983,400 for topping the 447-player field in early June -- only finds himself third in the standings after strong showings by Hung-Sheng Lin and Mark Benasa who have combined for two titles, five final tables and nearly HK$2,000,000 in winnings.

With players having two options for the Macau Poker Cup Red Dragon HK$3,000,000 Guaranteed Main Event, they will have to decide whether or not to take a seat -- after handing over the HK$11,000 buy-in -- on the afternoon friendly 2:10 p.m. Day 1a flight or the nightly 8:10 p.m. Day 1b flight the following night.

The success and growth of poker in this region can nearly solely be attributed to Danny McDonagh and his staff here at the PokerStars Macau Grand Lisboa as they look to please players - one of which is by instituting an evening Day 1 flight so that recreational players that hold white collar jobs can make the trek to Macau to take part in the ever-growing Macau Poker Cup.

The Macau Poker Cup Red Dragon HK$3,00,000 Guaranteed Main Event kicks off tomorrow with Day 1a commencing at 2:10 p.m. local time (GMT+8). So stay tuned to the PokerStars Blog for all of the live updates as we look to uncover the next champion live from the tournament floor here in Macau.


Tim Duckworth
@PokerStars in PokerStars Macau