Mark Benasa wins record Red Dragon

ps_news_thn.jpgPokerStars Macau at Casino Grand Lisboa produced the biggest Macau Poker Cup (MPC) to date with record numbers throughout the week's poker festivities from February 21-27.

"Asia's premiere poker series" is clearly more than a tagline as the MPC had a whopping 1,579 players compete in the 6 featured tournaments awarding HKD $7,780,280 (USD $1,000,000) worth of prize money in the process.

PokerStar player Mark Benasa from the Philippines took the lion's share as he became the first Filipino player to win the Red Dragon main event. Benasa took home the HKD $1,100,000 (USD $141,000) first prize after besting the monster 509-person field.

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The Red Dragon hit capacity on both Day 1A and 1B on it's way to shattering the 11-month old record of 321 players. 38 countries were represented in the main event which crushed the HKD $3,000,000 guarantee with a HKD $5,090,000 prize pool.

In the remaining side events, China's Yang Sun picked up HKD $198,510 after winning Event 6: $5,000 NLH. The tournament set a personal record with 182 players, creating a prize pool of HKD $810,000.

The Ladies event on Saturday night was won by Malaysia's Christine Hia who won HKD $13,899 for her first title in Macau.

Red Dragon's Day 2 Chip Leader, Dawid Mysiewicz from Poland, never got it going and ended in 21st place for HKD $30,500.

Team PokerStars Pro Celina Lin's pursuit of a 2nd Red Dragon title ran short when she pushed into aces during the late stages of the tournament. Lin narrowly missed the final table and came 13th for HKD $66,000.

The final table was really a poker clinic for Benasa who sent 4 players to the rail before setting up a final 2 showdown with 2010 APPT Cebu winner Young-Shin Im.

China, Hong Kong, Taipei and Japan have dominated the Red Dragon since it's creation in 2008 but the heads up finale between Benasa and Korea's Im ensured that the MPC's signature event would crown a champion from a different area code this time.

The result seemed inevitable as Benasa started with a massive 9-1 chip lead and proceeded to grind down his opponent with a series of early all-ins. The final hand saw both players move their chips in pre-flop and the 27-year-old poker pro had ATo against Im's 76o. Benasa made a pair of tens on the flop and it held the rest of the way to win the first ever 7-figure prize in Red Dragon history.

"This is my first major live poker win" said the online pro. "I'm used to playing 20-30 tables online but it's amazing how much adrenaline you can get from a single live table. I'm honored (to be the first Filipino Red Dragon winner) and will definitely be back to play all the PokerStars Macau events."

"Mark is a real pro." says Bryan Malantic, Assistant Tournament Director. "I've known Mark since 2007 and he's one of the nicest guys out there. He's won a bunch of online tournaments and one win was for over USD $80,000. This will be real big back in the Philippines and I can see it starting a trend that will build a strong Filipino following in Macau."

Final Table Winners

1. Mark Benasa, Philippines - Prize: HKD $1,100,000
2. YoungShin Im, Korea - Prize: HKD $760,000
3. Hung-Sheng Lin, Taipei - Prize: HKD $450,000
4. Kuo Yang Huang, Taipei - HKD $343,000
5. Charles Lam, Hong Kong - HKD $254,000
6. Wai Kin Wong, Hong Kong - HKD $203,000
7. Joni Jouhkimainen, Finland - HKD 165,000
8. Yoshinori Hayashi, Japan - HKD 127,000
9. Kenichi Takaki, Japan - HKD $101,500

The win moves Benasa into the no. 1 position for Asia Player of the Year (APOY) where the eventual winner will receive a 1-year sponsorship with PokerStars Macau. Team PokerStars Pro Bryan Huang is the defending APOY and is currently ranked 10th.

Asia Player of the Year standings

1. Mark Benasa, Philippines (2,585 points)
2. Young-Shin Im, Korea (2,154)
3. Hung-Sheng Lin, Taipei (1,723)
4. Ion Sang Song, Hong Kong (1,400)
5. Charles Chua, Malaysia (1,362)
6. Kuo Yang Huang, Taipei (1,292)
7. Yang Sun, China (1,200)
8. Wai Hong Wong, Malaysia (1,160)
9. Alvin Peh, Singapore (1.099)
10. Bryan Huang, Singapore (1,080)

The next special event at PokerStars Macau is the Macau Millions from April 2-10. Last year, the Macau Millions set a new record for player numbers in Asia with 741 entries and will look to set the bar even higher in 2011.

Macau Millions is an Official Asia Player of the Year event and has a prize pool guarantee of HKD $1,500,000 with an buy-in of only HKD $2,200.

Players can qualify free to the Macau Millions at PokerStars.net. Freerolls and satellites are running now and can be found on the 'Events' tab, then click 'Macau'

Macau Millions 2011 Schedule
(All figures in HKD)

Saturday, April 2 @ 8:10 PM - Macau Millions - Day 1A
Sunday, April 3 @ 2:10 PM - Macau Millions - Day 1B
Wednesday, April 6 @ 8:10 PM - Macau Millions - Day 1C
Thursday, April 7 @ 8:10 PM - Macau Millions - Day 1D
Friday, April 8@ 2:10 PM - Macau Millions - Day 1E
Friday, April 8 @ 7:10 PM - Macau Millions - Day 1F
Saturday, April 9 @ 12:10 PM - Macau Millions - Day 1G
Saturday, April 9 @ 6:10 PM - $1,500 Deepstack [2-day event]
Sunday, April 10 @ 2:10 PM - $1,000 Rebuy

For the complete Macau Millions schedule please visit www.pokerstarsmacau.com.

Fred Leung
@PokerStars in PokerStars Macau