MPC Red Dragon Day 1A updates

MacauPokerCup_thn_promo.jpg3.50am: Over. Day of Westmorland
We are done for the day and Jordan Westmorland is a massive chip leader here. He finished with 269,000, which is more than twice his closest challenger. A full wrap is imminent.

3.30am: Last level
Righto, we're now into level 11, of which we will be playing 20 minutes before finishing for the night. There are 33 still with us and Jordan Westmorland is still the boss. He now has close to 200,000 and is seemingly unstoppable.

Full counts will be with you at the end of play.

BLINDS UP. PLAYING 800-1,600-200 IN LEVEL 11

2.50am: One hour left
Tournament officials have announced that we'll play one more hour - a level and a half - before calling it quits for the night. There are 36 players remaining and we have just entered level 10.

Hand updates will be (even more) sporadic over the next little while as we attempt to determine the big stacks for the end of night wrap and data dump.

2.40am: Gupta gotten by Ohyama
Akira Ohyama just doubled up, profiting from a gutsy play by Madhav "Maddy" Gupta that so very nearly succeeded. Maddy opened from early position and Nicky Jin flat called in the cut off. That prompted a three bet from Ohyama, making it 7,600 from the button. It was folded through the blinds to Maddy, who then four bet, making it 16,300.

Jin folded, but Ohyama went deep into the tank. He asked Maddy for a count of his remaining stack - it was slightly more than 18,000 extra, which just about covered Ohyama. But Ohyama made a pained move all in, which in turn forced Maddy to ask for a count.

"I was so sure he had aces," said Ohyama to Nicky Jin, also at the table. Ohyama was clearly delighted that this all in move hadn't been snapped off.

Akira Ohyama

But Maddy couldn't fold, even if it was going to leave him with only about 4,000 chips. He called.

Maddy: A♦7♦
Ohyama: [10d][10c]

Ohyama admitted that he very nearly folded and Maddy said he thought his opponent would pass anything up to jacks in that situation. In the end, though, Ohyama's move was good as the board ran J♣4♠5♦9♦8♠ and offered no help to Maddy.

He was out soon after.

2.15am: Unstoppable Jin
At a rough estimate Nicky Jin now has about 90,000 as his hot streak continues. The latest 20,000 of that just came to him via what started as a flip, but turned into what will probably feel like a bad beat to his vanquished opponent.

Jin had A♠J♣ and the departed man, nameless I'm afraid, had [10c][10s]. The flop was fine. It came 5♠2♥9♠. But things got a bit hairy on the 9♠ turn and then the 6♠ rivered to complete the flush for Jin.


Nicky Jin

Barring absolute catastrophe, he has booked his spot in Sunday's day two.

2am: Slicing through
Only 37 players from the starting field of 110 are still going at this stage, and we have a couple of hours still to play tonight. I don't think it's ever happened that day one gets down to a single table, but if it's going to happen anywhere, it'll be here.

Jordan Westmorland still leads the way with about 90,000, but he's not having it all his own way. Aaron Lim, a PokerStars player from Australia, has about 80,000 and Goindi Abhishek also has more than 80,000 too.

The next couple of levels, with blinds at 500-1,000 now, will almost certainly shake it up a bit more.


The entrance to the PokerStars Macau room. Note Red Dragon, front and center


1.30am: Micka back in the game
Joel Micka has been down to about 10,000, maybe even less, since the last break. But the American is now up to about 55,000 after winning a three-way all-in tangle.

Viktor Lavi, of Israel, who was one of the tournament chip leaders with about 70,000 before the hand, paid off Micka the most. But also Dominique Chauliac added all 7,600 he had been sitting with before the hand.

Lavi got things started, opening to 1,600 from under the gun. Micka flat-called from mid-position, but Chauliac wanted to play for his whole stack on the button. He moved all in.

Lavi then announced that he was all in too, covering Micka, who now had a decision. He counted out his chips, which was about 20,000, and he called all in too. "Three-way all in," announced Ryan Pignatelli, also at the table. "You could triple up!" he added, pointing at Chauliac.

But it wasn't to be. Chauliac was in third place with his 7♣7♠. Lavi had 9♦9♥ but ahead of them all was Micka's [10h][10d].

The board was dry. It came 3♣4♣4♠2♣K♠ and that was the end of that. Lavi still has about 50,000 to play with, as does Micka.

1.15am: Wang whacked by Westmorland
Jordan Westmorland just knocked out Jacky Wang, giving former close to 80,000 chips. Westmorland opened, Wang shipped from the big blind for something like 12,000, and Westmorland called with J♦J♠ and a dominant stack.

Wang's A♦5♣ was never good enough and the [10h]4♥K♦K♠Q♠ board did not help.


Jacky Wang


1.10am: And a little goes back
Wayne Yuan just gave a good portion of his newly-acquired wealth to Junki Lee, immediately to his right. It was a strange hand that played out as follows, but leaves us no closer knowing what they had.

Lee opened to 1,200 from the cut off and Yuan called on the button. It was just those two to a flop of [10h]Q♣Q♦. Lee checked and Yuan bet 1,900, which Lee called. This set a pattern, which repeated on the 8♦ turn. Lee check-called a 4,000 bet.

The river was 3♥ and we went through the same routine again. Lee checked, Yuan bet 7,500 and Lee called. Yuan insta-mucked, and Lee raked the pot without needing to show what he had.

Also at that table is Mishel Anunu. The Australian has been putting together some good results recently, having also won the Sunday Warm Up on PokerStars. He is a relative short stack today, but will be licking his lips at some of the chips apparently on offer.

1am: Crivell crushed
Patrick Crivell is a PokerStars qualifier from Canada, and has had some success before at PokerStars Macau, finishing second in a High Roller event in February for the equivalent of $63,000. But he won't be going one spot further in this event. He's out, at the hands of Wayne Yuan.


Wayne Yuan

Yuan opened to 1,300 from under the gun and Crivell moved all in, for about 14,000, from a couple of seats to his left. Yuan called with Q♦Q♥ and was always ahead against Crivell's 9♣9♥. The board ran A♥[10c]2♦8♦[10s].

12.40am: Table of death
Julian Hasse certainly can't take his foot off the gas this evening. There are another two sizeable stacks on his table, sitting in front of Phil Muscarello (58,000) and Lawrence Sanjay (43,000).

Hasse just took a very small pot off the latter, when Sanjay limped pre-flop from under the gun and Hasse checked the big blind. (Everyone else got out the way.) They saw a flop of 2♠6♥J♥, which Hasse checked. Sanjay bet 1,200 and Hasse called.

They checked both the Q♥ turn and the Q♣ river and Sanjay's 7♥7♣ lost to Hasse's J♠5♠.

The other notable stack in that area belongs to Nicky Jin, who has about 55,000. But he's on an adjoining table.

12.20am: Break time
And with that, players are off on their second 10-minute break of the day/night. It's done midnight here in Macau and yet it barely feels as though the tournament had begun.

Nevertheless, there are only 72 players remaining from the starting 110 and we are about half way through the day.

12am: Hasse on the charge
Something very rare has happened here today in Macau, where pretty much every player I was told to look out for as a notable has started to amass a good stack of chips. Usually it's the other way round: the notables crash and burn and the unknowns take their place in the sun.

But if nothing else, Julian Hasse is fighting a good fight for the known names and is now a clear chip leader with about 80,000. A huge pre-flop pot just brewed between Hasse and Tommy Wong, which ended with the departure of the latter.


Julian Hasse

There was already more than 10,000 in the pot when I arrived, and the clear whiff of a raise, a three-bet and then a four-bet. Hasse had 4,700 spread out in front of him, which was clearly how much more he had made it after having his opener re-raised by Wong, on the button.

Wong asked his neighbour what time it was. "Midnight," said James Hunter. "Time to turn into a pumpkin."
"That's what I was asking," said Wong. "Is it time to go home?"


Tommy Wong

He dwelled a little more then announced he was all in, which Hasse snap-called.

Hasse turned over K♦K♠, while Wong showed A♦K♥. The flop was uneventful: 6♦3♣5♦. But the J♦ on the turn brought a sweat. Any diamond would be good for Wong. But the 9♥ rivered, and that was good enough for Hasse.

Wong departs, leaving the last of his 15,000-ish stack with Hasse, who vaults out front.

Hasse won one of these events in November 2010 and has made the best start possible in his attempts to repeat.

11.45pm: WestMOREland
Things have been all action on Jordan Westmorland's table, as evidenced by his enormous stack (which is now beyond 55,000) and also by the presence of Jacky Wang, a final table finisher at APPT Cebu and at a side event here this week.

Those two are talking about a hypothetical hand in which "he ships, he re-ships, he ships over that, you tank and then flat and it's an easy fold for me." Who knows what this actually means, but in poker-speak it means there was almost a huge pot, that didn't necessarily materialise. "That's so sick," said Westmorland, appropriately.


Jacky Wang

That table also had Richard Austin around it for a while, but it appears that the World Series bracelet winner - won in 2009 for pot-limit Omaha - has either busted or been moved. I'm suspecting the former.

11.30pm: Big stacks
It's a daunting task to keep a full and accurate chip count on the opening day of any tournament, but while flying solo with a room full of unfamiliar faces peering up from the tables, it is absolutely impossible. Sorry about that. However, it is usually just about possible to keep tabs on players with the really dominant stacks, and at this stage anything bigger than 40,000 is a fine tally.

Jordan Westmorland is one of those. He has about 42,000. And Alvin Cheam is another. He has about 45,000. Those two are cruising at the moment as we approach the end of level five.


Jordan Westmorland

Just a reminder, we will play eight hours today, taking us to 4am local time. That's about 12 of these 40-minute levels.

11.10pm: Sun down and Goindi flops set
Abhishek Goindi was brought to the Blog's attention earlier today. He was runner up in the Red Dragon event in February and currently sits second in the Asia Player of the Year standings. Originally from India, he won his seat in this event in a live satellite here, and things have been going excellently in the early stages. Goindi now has about 45,000 and has just won a monster from Donats Larionovs and Yujie Sun.

I didn't see the pre-flop action, but it certainly got a degree more exciting on the flop of 6♥[10s]9♦. Those three players were involved, Goindi in what would have been the small blind, Larionovs in the big and Sun under the gun.

Goindi bet 2,575 at that, which was called by both his adversaries, taking them to a 3♦ turn. After an extended pause, Goindi announced that he was all in, for what was about 19,000. A plainly irritated Larionovs folded, but Sun, calmer, called for his whole stack.


Abhishek Goindi on day 1A of Macau Poker Cup

Sun tabled Q♦Q♣ for an over-pair. But Goindi had flopped a set with his 6♠6♣ and the K♣ river was meaningless. That puts Goindi into what might be the chip lead at the moment. Sun sets.

10.50pm: Unimpressed by Kitty
Jenn Wed is here, working for, following the Japanese players for readers of that baffling typeface over there. One of those is Kosei Ichinose, who is wearing the pink Hello Kitty tracksuit today, after losing that prop bet. Wed is unimpressed. She tells me he usually wears pink anyway so it's no big deal that he's dressed in this particular outfit. I think romper suit is closer to it, but if Wed is unimpressed, then so am I.

Ichinose himself is probably unimpressed with his showing so far. He is down to about 7,000 in chips, half his starting stack. Still plenty to play with, but hardly ideal.


Kosei Ichinose: In pink

10.40pm: Keeping it binary
Official numbers for Day 1A here in Macau are in, and we have 110 players. Already 11 have departed and we're not yet through level four.

10.30pm: Jin the one to watch
As mentioned earlier, Nicky Jin is the form player here in Macau. He is the defending champion, having won the last Macau Poker Cup in February, and he won a side event here last night. He has also enjoyed an excellent opening few levels and is up beyond 35,000 already.

He just took down a small pot, opening to 400 from the cut off and picking up two callers: Kavin Shah on the button and Jun Cheng in the big blind. The three of them saw a flop of 3♠A♥3♠ and after Cheng checked, Jin bet 625. Shah called and Cheng folded.


Nicky Jin, form player in Macau

The J♦ turned and this time a bet of 1,150 was enough to win it for Jin. He continues to stack up.


10.15PM: Break time
Even the breaks are lightning fast over here. Players are having a 10-minute breather and will return for level four, which will mean the introduction of the antes.

10.05pm: Allison Alloutison
What looks like something of a cooler has just accounted for Dean Allison, a PokerStars qualifier from Australia. He showed a bare [10c] after he called all in on a board of [10h]9♥J♦[10d]J♠. His opponent, Hiu Yin Cheuk, was going nowhere at any stage of the hand with his J♥Q♥. That translates as a flopped top pair with nut flush draw, which made a full house on the end.

Allison was, of course, ahead on the turn, but that was about it.

9.50pm: Chop it
In the early rounds of EPT tournaments, it can sometimes be difficult to find a hand to report on. It tends to go raise, three-bet, fold for hours and hours on end. Over here in Macau, it seems as though no hand can be complete until it's at least to the turn, which means there's another problem for reporters, namely, what the heck is going on here, there and everywhere.

A moment ago, a pot was brewing on table seven. There was only about 2,000 in the pot and four cards already exposed: 5♥4♦A♦2♥. But it looked as though things had got a bit frantic here. Chuan Fu Shih had bet 700, Ming Cui had raised to 3,125 and Shih had moved all in for about 21,000.

Cui went into the tank, but he emerged with the call. He tabled 3♣3♠ for the low pair, turned low straight. Shih showed his 5♠3♦ for the utter filth, flopped straight.

The J♦ river was irrelevant and they chopped up the pot. I have no idea at all how all this happened, but I strongly suspect there will be a lot of things happening this week about which I have no idea. For instance, I just ate a sweet that looked like a slug but tasted like a peanut. It was very nice, but might have been poison for all I know.

9.40pm: Madhav burns Cockburn
Registration here remains open for two hours (another 30 minutes from now), but it's pretty obvious already that several players don't intend to see the end of that. At least four are already out, and I suspect it is even more than that. Certainly no one seems afraid to get their whole stack in the middle.

Just recently, Craig Cockburn opened from under the gun, making it 375 to go. (Blinds have recently gone up to 100-200 in level three.) It was folded to Gupta Madhav in the big blind, and he raised to 1,100. Cockburn called, taking them to a Q♥K♠8♠ flop. They both checked.

The 4♦ didn't look much like an action card, but that's precisely what it turned out to be. Madhav bet 1,275, Cockburn raised to 4,075 and after a brief pause, Madhav announced that he was all in, tossing a single 25 chip into the middle to indicate his intentions.

Cockburn couldn't fold quick enough, giving the pot to Madhav.


9.20pm: Action table
I have no idea what is happening on table 12 here today, but not only does Kai Sheng Yang appear to have bitten the dust (see report from 8.40pm, where he was crippled) but also Wang Zhenwu, who crippled him (see report from 8.40pm again) is also gone.

That leaves Victor Chen with more than 30,000, so I'm assuming he took a lot of the available chips, and a couple of other big stacks around the table. Certain Chen is getting heavily involved. He just opened to 225 from under the gun and two players called in hijack and button, leaving Chen to mutter something about not being believed.


Victor Chen, day 1a at Macau Poker Cup

The flop came A♠5♦K♠, which they all checked, and then the Q♥ turned. Chen checked, Phil Lau checked and then Joel Micka bet 425. That was good.

9pm: Hello Nitty
The day didn't start so well for Kosei Ichinose, a PokerStars qualifier from Japan. He lost a prop-bet with two others, including the Team PokerStars Pro Bryan Huang, and as a result has had to wear a Hello Kitty tracksuit to the table today, and carry a big teddy bear. He also has a Barbie doll for a card protector.

Presumably it was Ichinose's own choice to complement this outfit with a blue T-shirt, pink sunglasses and a pair of sparkly PokerStars headphones. But each to his own.

Ichinose was just involved in two small pots, both of which he ended up folding faced with aggression on the flop. First up, Ji Li limped from the cut off, so Ichinose raised to 250 from the button. Li called. They saw a flop of A♠8♥[10s] and after Li bet 400, Ichinose folded.

On the next hand, it was folded to Kitty Ichinose in the cut off and he raised to 225. Only Sivakumar Sachidanandan called this time, and they went to a flop of K♦Q♣2♥. Ichinose bet 275, but Sachidanandan raised to 800. Ichinose folded.

Hello Kitty? Hello Nitty more like.


8.40pm: No messing around
Thirty minutes in, and the first notable stack has emerged in front of Victor Chen, one of the most feared players in these parts. He's obviously won a fair few small pots early on as his stack has grown considerably in size, if not too much in value. He looks like he's a small-chip accumulator.

Chen got this next pot started, however, which resulted in Wang Zhenwu all but doubling up within the first level. This was mainly at the expense of Kai Sheng Yang.

Chen opened to 250 from early position and Yang three-bet from his left, making it 775. One suspects this three bet could have been pretty wide, as Chen has almost certainly been getting involved a lot in these very early stages.

Whatever the truth of that, Wang now four-bet from the small blind, adding another 1,500. Chen saw the error of his ways and folded, but Yang called, meaning two of them went to a flop.

It came Q♥4♥8♠ and Wang bet 3,000. At this point, one of Wang's friends came over to chat, and the two exchanged friendly conversation. Yang meanwhile made the call. The friend disappeared.

The turn came 8♣ and Wang announced that he was all in. This was for 6,125, which was less than Yang's total stack but would leave him crippled if he called and lost.

"You have aces, right?" Yang said. "I call."

Wang threw in the calling chips and was indeed shown A♣A♦ by Wang. Yang could only muster 9♥9♣, which never caught up on the river. That gives Wang close to 30,000 and Yang is left with almost nothing.

8.30pm: Assessing the field
The number of entrants has already rocketed to 110, which keeps us well on target for the 500 total over the next three days.

Spotted so far in today's field: Nicky Jin, defending Red Dragon champion, who also took down a side event yesterday. Victor Chen, a regular in these parts, with four final tables in events held in Macau. Julian Hasse, a German player with a formidable record around the globe. Hasse won the Macau Poker Cup Championship in November 2010 and has cashes on the EPT and UKIPT as well.

8.15pm: We are go
When you advertise a poker tournament to start at 8.10pm, you had better make sure you start it on time. And in common with the characteristic efficiency of these parts, the Macau Poker Cup Red Dragon is under way, right on the dot.


Fred Leung gets things started

Levels last 40 minutes on the opening day. Players start with 15,000 chips and blinds are 25-50 in this opening level. Play is expected to be frantic right from the off, so stick with us.

Currently the tournament board is showing a field of 97 for this opening salvo. That will grow today, and be comfortably surpassed on the next two days ones. We're aiming for about 500 total.

7pm: Waiting for the offHello all. Are you feeling slightly disoriented, a long way from home, like a character in season eight of a sit-com that you've never seen an episode of before? If so, you're in good company, because today PokerStars Blog returns to Macau for the Macau Poker Cup: Red Dragon Series main event.

We are in the cavernous surroundings of the all new Conference & Exhibition Center of the Grand Waldo Casino and Hotel. This is a monstrous 3,950 square meter venue, which is 42,517 square feet. That's almost an acre, and feels like it too. Once upon a time this was the main casino floor of this complex, but now it is the PokerStars Macau poker room. The familiar red spade of PokerStars adorns the wall, as well as banners and table felt across the room. It's quite a sight.


Grand Waldo, Macau

In a matter of minutes, the room will also be flooded with poker players, joining day 1A of the HKD $3,000,000 guaranteed main event. That equates to about USD$385,000, which is startling given the US $1,400 equivalent buy in.

This is the 16th renewal of this event, which first appeared in 2008. This time last year there were 447 players, topped by Kwan Pao Mah of Canada, and we are expecting even more runners this time.

The form player is China's Nicky Jin. He won the last Red Dragon main event in February and yesterday also took down a side event here. That earned Jin HKD $97,500, and took his year's total earnings beyond HK$ 1.2 million. With two titles from two final tables so far, Jin is clearly a favourite.

I'm not totally sure yet what day Jin will be playing - we have three day ones, the first of which starts at 8.10pm local time. Yep, things are so precise over here in Macau that tournaments start at ten past the hour. And every indication is that we will be starting right on the button.

So strap yourself in and prepare for all the fun of the Red Dragon series.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in PokerStars Macau