MPC Red Dragon Day 1C live updates

MacauPokerCup_thn_promo.jpg9.40pm: Clock paused
The clock is paused for the end of the day. We'll play a couple more hands then bagging will commence. It's a close one tonight, with no clear leader. You'll need to wait for the wrap, which will follow shortly, to know who is ahead.

9.25pm: Benton bludgeoned by Liu's boat
Aaron Benton has just lost a huge chunk of his stack, doubling up Yi Liu in a cooler at any time of the day, let alone with 15 minutes left on the clock. Benton was in the big blind, which explains how he got to see a flop with 5♣2♥. And he must have liked the 5♥[10h]5♠A♦Q♦ board.

However Liu had A♠5♦ for the boat and managed to get paid off. Benton has about 16,000 left, which is pretty much what he started with.

Yi Liu

9.10pm: Home from home
Brice Renaud might seem like a long way from home - he started life in France, after all. But he now lives in Macau meaning busting from a major tournament doesn't necessarily mean a 12-hour flight until he finds he own bed.

And he hasn't actually even bust either. He just managed to get 8♦8♥ to stand up all in against Takayoshi Akimoto's Q♣K♦. (The board ran J♣A♣7♥2♥3♠.)


Brice Renaud

If he can keep hold of his newly-acquired 26,000 for another half an hour of play, he's into day two and en route for another Macau score. He finished second in the Macau Millions in 2011, for HK $300,000.

8.50pm: An hour left
Players have returned to their seats and will play one hour more. That's a level-and-a-half in poker terms.

One player inexplicably left off that last round-up of counts was Raiden Kan, the MPC Champion from October last year. Kan has 80,000 and is looking exceptionally composed. He's even reading PokerStars Blog on his smart phone.

Hello Raiden!


Raiden Kan is massaged into level ten


8.40pm: Last break
It's the final break of the day, with the 52 remaining players heading off for whatever poker players do in these ten minute intermissions.

When they return, I put these few among the chip leaders:

Danny Lai: 120,000
Richard Hu: 73,000
Darian Tan: 68,000
Yang Renjun: 71,000

There are a few others around the 70,000 mark too. Let's see if anyone can make a charge.

Bryan Huang, by the way, has 53,000 now. The comeback is most certainly on.

8.30pm: Benton boosted
Aaron Benton, the APPT Champion of 2009, has just pulled off a near triple up with pocket eights. He had about 18 big blinds and got them in, finding himself up against pocket fives and a short-stack with not much more. The board was safe, running 4♦K♥4♠7♥6♥.

Benton won US $543,260 for that APPT success. He now has 53,000 tournament chips here in Macau. It's not quite the equivalent, but it's significantly better than nothing and is well above the average stack of 35,000.

8.15pm: Lai rising high
Yee Lap "Danny" Lai is our runaway chip leader at this stage, currently sitting with 125,000. He accounted for Dmitry Ivanov about an hour ago and has now just left another player wandering from the table muttering, "Four percent!"

I didn't see this hand, I'm afraid, but can only assume that the four percent was the chances Lai had of hitting whatever he hit. Thing is, from what I've seen of Lai today he doesn't look to be any kind of maniac, making some pretty measured plays for the most part. I don't think his gains are entirely ill-gotten.


8pm: Notable stacks/casualties
Darian Tan - 80,000
Sun Yang - 78,000
Raiden Kan - 51,000
Aaron Benton - 29,000
Bryan Huang - 26,000
Rober Karian - 37,000
Ira Blumenthal - 53,000
Jee Soo Pyon - 60,000

And some notable casualties:

Oliver Speidel
Dmitry Ivanov

7.45pm: I Love Poker
Darian Tan has just taken over the chip lead in this tournament, with what can only be described as a cooler turned pretty brutal beat. He had K♦Q♦ on a board of Q♣Q♥6♠, which would ordinarily be pretty good. Only his opponent, Carlos Chang, had pocket sixes for the flopped full house.


Darian Tan, left

All the money went in on a turn of J♥ and Tan was still in big trouble. But then another jack, the J♦ rivered, giving Tan a bigger full house.

Chang and Tan had almost the same size stack - about 40,000 apiece - and so when the dust settled, Tan was up to about 80,000 and Chang was out.

Tan is wearing a T-shirt that says, simply, "I (HEART) POKER". It's easy to see why.

7.35pm: Not so great Scott
It looks like Andrew Scott is our latest faller here. He is on the rail talking to Gordon Huntley, who managed to grind it through yesterday but will be on a short stack when he comes back on Sunday.

Scott couldn't get much going here today, meaning he'll simply have to roll back onto his big mountains of blackjack winnings, bolstered by copies of his magazine World Gaming (of which he is founder).


Andrew Scott on Day 1C

7.30pm: Huang on the boomerang stack
It might be time to start dusting down the "Singapore? Sing-a-rich, more like" joke as Bryan Huang has launched a spirited comeback here today. He now has close to 30,000 chips - double the starting stack and more than the average - after clawing back from the brink.

He just flexed his muscles to take a pot from Jan Zeuschner - a simply three-bet from the button to 3,900 did the trick, following Zeuschner's open to 1,700. Huang is on a move in the right direction.

7.15pm: Money bags
As anticipated, we now have details of the complete prize breakdown for MPC Red Dragon, June edition. You can head on over to the prizepool page for full details, or just take my word for it that the winner will get HK $854,000.


An aerial view of today's tournament area

7.05pm: Wu departs
Yesterday, Team PokerStars Pro Asia's female contingent put on a mighty strong showing, with both Viviam Im and Celina Lin navigating ten levels and bagging up stacks to bring back on Sunday.

It's been significantly less successful for the male Team Pros today. Bryan Huang has been grinding a short stack since about level three, but he's not even the first one of them out. That dubious honour goes to Raymond Wu, who was just spotted wandering from the card room, shaking his head and making a universally recognised gesture for "It's all over" as he went. (It wasn't quite the finger sliced across the throat, but something equally clear.)


Raymond Wu, during his brief stay at the tables

So that leaves Huang and his 5,000 chips fling the Team Pro flag today.

7pm: Hibuse vexes Lau
Emi Hibuse just managed to bully her way to a pot from Marcus Lau, and only she knows if she had it or she didn't. Lau raised to 1,300 from the button and Hibuse was the only caller from the small blind. Then it got a little suspicious.

The flop came Q♠8♦[10h] and Hibuse checked. Lau bet 1,800, which Hibuse swiftly called. The 4♣ turned and no sooner was it down than Hibuse moved all in, spilling 12,100 in unco-ordinated chips onto the felt in front of her.

She moved a tin of Eclipse mints on top of her cards by means of protection, then turned round to her friend on the rail. They exchanged a smile of support.


Emi Hibuse, in similarly cheery times earlier

Lau was watching all this, but he also seemed profoundly interested in making a call. He checked his own cards, peered around the dealer at his opponent, and then said: "If I fold, you show me one card?"

Hibuse didn't respond, but when Lau did fold, Hibuse flipped over the J♥, for whatever that was worth.

6.45pm: Lai levels Ivanov
When Dmitry Ivanov bet 10,250 on the river - looking at a board of 3♣A♣8♦7♥Q♦ - it was about half the size of the pot, and represented only about a third of his stack.

But after a long while Yee Lap Lai made the call and was taking it all, tabling A♥[10h] for nought but top pair, which was nonetheless better than Ivanov's K♠[10d]. In other words a bluff gone awry.


6.30pm: Break time
That's the end of level six and players are on a ten-minute break.

6.20pm: Tang done by Sun
Weiguo Tang is out, the latest to be blinded by the Sun - Yang Sun, that is. There was about 15,000 in the pot already and a board dealt all the way to the river: 3♣7♣9♣A♠9♠. Tang announced that he was all in, piling up his various small stacks and shoving them forward. It totalled 11,350.

Sun thought for a little while before calling. But he had made the right decision. Tang showed A♣J♠ for top two, with a blocker to the nut flush. But it didn't matter to Sun, who had 5♣2♣, which was the micro flopped flush.

Then it all got a bit confusing, because although Sun had Tang well covered, it turned out that there was still some counting to do. The reason was that Tang had been sitting next to a dead stack, belonging to an online qualifier who did not show up. When Tang had moved all in, he had combined his own live stack with the dwindling dead stack of the no show. And even if you don't make the trip to play yourself, you still deserve not to be put all in by someone else.

It meant that Tang was out - that much was obvious. And that Sun had won another decent pot. But the no show remains in the tournament, albeit with less than 10,000, and Sun did not win quite as much as he was expecting. C'est la vie.

6.10pm: Huang and Wu team mates and table mates
The two Team PokerStars Pros in today's field, Bryan Huang and Raymond Wu, are now on the same table. Neither has many chips - Wu with about 10,000 and Huang with less than half that - but at least they have each other for company.

Huang also has his mobile device, on which he is simultaneously playing on PokerStars' mobile client. One hopes he's doing slightly better there than he is in this tournament.


Bryan Huang's mobile client

5.50pm: Japanese report
The daily lowdown on some of the Japanese players in today's field, courtesy of Jenn Barr from

Emi Hibuse - six lifetime MPC cashes with three final tables and one of those a win
Hirotoshi "Hirobow" Nakabo - MPC regular, 10 cashes over the past two years, all at PSM. Six final tables including Macau Millions.
Yosuke Sekiya - On fire with three final tables and one win at this year's February MPC, two WSOP cashes last year, two more cashes (at APT) this year.

5.40pm: Tough going for Bryan Huang
Last year the Inside SCOOP web show featured Nick Wealthall and Joe Stapleton rambling on - often nonsensically - about the Spring Championship of Online Poker, sometimes featuring star guests. One of the recurring "jokes" centred on Bryan Huang's succession of min-cashes. "From Singapore?" Stapleton would begin. "Sing-a-rich more like." Groan, groan, chortle, chortle.

Huang is here in Macau this week, of course. He's the 2010 Asia Player of the Year and a Team PokerStars Pro. He was just reminiscing fondly about Stapleton's weary gag-meistering - that's actually one of his best jokes, huh, Joe? - but it was mainly to divert attention away from his meagre stack at the moment.


Bryan Huang, Sing-a-poor

Huang is already down to about 4,000 chips, less than a third his starting stack and only ten big blinds. Definitely Sing-a-poor at the moment, but he could yet grind it up.

5.20pm: Greedy Kan caught by Yang
Remember that truism about pocket jacks, that nobody likes playing them? Well you can scrap that: Renjun Yang likes them. He just picked up a decent pot from Raiden Kan with precisely that hand, although both players were a little unsure where they stood at all times.

I arrived with the turn already out. There was about 7,100 in the pot already and these four cards exposed: J♥Q♠3♠K♣. Yang, who would have been in mid-position pre-flop, bet 4,000. Kan, who would have been on the button (and still was), called.

The 6♥ rivered and Yang checked. Kan bet 4,000 into a pot of about 15,000 and that elicited a sigh from Yang. He peeled the four blue chips out of his stack to make the call and said, quizzically, "Nuts?"


Raiden Kan

Kan showed A♠K♦ for top pair. But Yang's J♦J♣, for a flopped set, was good. "Greedy," Kan berated himself as the chips went to Yang.

5pm: Numbers!
Numbers are in for today and there are 133 players in the mix. Added to yesterday's 148 and Thursday's 110, that makes a total of 391 chasing the Red Dragon of the Macau Poker Cup.

We will have a full break-down of the prize pool as and when it is calculated. Suffice to say, the HK $3m guarantee has been breached.


The tournament room ahead of play today. It's significantly fuller now

4.55pm: Jacks no good
You can travel the poker world over and not find a single player to extol the virtues of pocket jacks. The curse applies here in Macau too as Danny Byun just sent a player to the rail, with pocket queens against those dastardly knaves.

The defeated player ambled miserably away - he had moved all in for about 10,000 total after a pre-flop raising war with Byun. Byun called with Q♦Q♥ and turned another queen to make it certain.

Byun, from the United States, is cruising along with more than 25,000.

4.35pm: Sun blinds two
Yang Sun was slightly late back from the break, but managed to reach table five just in time to pick up his hand. And how Conrad Coetzer and Andrea D'Alessandro must have wished someone had tripped him up on his way back: Sun bust them both in the same hand.

I don't know how it all went down, but both Coetzer and D'Alessandro's short stacks were in the middle pre-flop. Coetzer had [10d][10c], D'Alessandro had A♥8♣. But comfortably ahead of them both was Sun's A♦A♣.

The board bricked and the aces held. Two down, as Sun rises to the chip lead. He has about 45,000.

4.30pm: Hello ante
The start of level four means the introduction of the ante. Just thought you'd like to know.


4.15pm: Break time
That's the first break of the day - ten minutes, which will give time for tournament staff to assess the numbers. It looks as though we're up to 128 today, although that may yet rise.

4.10pm: Poker maths
If you didn't see it with your own eyes, you can't be sure it happened. But there are always some things you can infer in the early stages of poker tournament. For instance, on table ten, Hui Wen is sitting with 44,000 chips, which must be the most of anyone at the moment. (Starting stack was 15,000.) A few seats to his left there is the empty chair that once belonged to Kengo Ita. I'm putting two and two together here and determining that these two facts are related.

Also on that table is Ira Blumenthal, who made the final table at the first ever APPT event in 2007. He's an American lawyer, based in Thailand, but is clearly a mean poker player too. That said, he was just forced out of a pot by a cheeky check-raise from Abrol Ajay.

Ajay limped from early position and Blumenthal raised to 1,100 from the button. Ajay was the only called. They went to a flop of 8♠Q♣4♠ and Ajay checked.

Blumenthal bet 1,300 but almost the moment Ajay flicked out his check-raise to 4,000, Blumenthal folded quicker than you could say "Objection".

4pm: Rubianes wronged
Vincent Rubianes is a regular sight on poker tours across the world. I remember watching him make the final table at the NAPT Mohegan Sun Main Event in 2011, and he has also made an APPT final table in Seoul. Both those finishes netted him close to US $100,000.

He won't, however, be adding to that haul here in Macau this week, at least not in this tournament. Rubianes is out.


Vincent Rubianes

The most likely benefactor is Yuri Ishida, who is sitting with close to 30,000 chips and was stacking them neatly when I wandered past the table. A few other players have more than 20,000, so it seems as though Rubianes had been generous with some others too.


Yuri Ishida

3.45pm: Double Tang
Weiguo Tang is attracting a good degree of interest among the local press here in Macau, but it was almost a very short tournament for the man from across the bay in Hong Kong. But he hit the perfect card on the turn to keep himself alive, doubling his stack in the process.

Yang Sun got this one started, raising to 425 from the cut off. Andrea D'Alessandro called from the small blind and that probably persuaded Tang in from the big.

The three of them saw a flop of 7♠4♥Q♣, which was checked round, but then the J♦ turned. D'Alessandro checked, Tang bet 600 but was then faced with a raise to 1,600 from Sun. D'Alessandro got out the way, but a resigned Tang flipped in the last of his chips - a total of 5,625.

Sun seemed to think something might be up here, but called. And then after a moment of hesitation, when each player wanted the other to reveal his hand first, they finally got them on their backs.

Sun had A♥Q♥, for flopped top pair. But Tang had Q♠J♥ for top two pair after the turn. The 9♣ river was irrelevant, so Tang doubled.


3.30pm: Yoshioka first to depart
Registration remains open, but already Kohei Yoshioka is out. His chips have just been slid in the direction of Shen Yu. I didn't see the hand, but I did see Yoshioka make his long walk towards the exit.

3.20pm: Juicy squeezed
Sixiao Li goes by the moniker "Juicy" and it appears she has earned the right to a nickname. She has a handful of decent scores in Macau-based tournaments, as well as a win in a side event on the APT in Cebu.

She is resplendent today in a bright pink track-suit top, and has a small squeezy mascot by her chips, as well as two tins of sweets. She is also riffling chips with furious rapidity through fingers adorned with at least three chunky rings and long, painted nails.


Sixiao "Juicy" Li

All of that means precisely nothing to Clifford Lee, it seems, who just strong-armed Li out of a pot. Lee appears to be a solid, unflappable character and lets his chips do the talking.

Lee limped from early position and Li (that's Juicy) made it 250 from the cut off. Jian Yang called from the big blind, as did Lee (that's Clifford).

The flop came [10h]Q♣3♦ and it was checked to Juicy. She bet 250. Yang folded by Lee made it 700 to play. Juicy didn't like that. She now raised another 1,175. But Lee wasn't having any of that. He made it 4,175 - ie, another 3,000 to play - and finally Juicy was squeezed out of it.

That table will be first to break today. But it's going to be fun while it lasts.

3pm: Add another to the list of notables
We also have Malaysia's Raiden Kan in today's field, who has a string of exemplary results in Macau-based tournaments. The pinnacle was victory in the 2011 October Macau Poker Cup, worth HK$ 1.25m.


2.45pm: Early action
Here's how the early stages are going here in Macau today. There's not a lot of respect being shown for anybody, in short. The bet sizing might be slightly wonky on this next example, but it's pretty much right.

Conrad Coetzer opened to 150 from under the gun. Weiguo Tang called. Kenichi Yagura called. Aaron Benton called (from the small blind) and Yang Sun called (from the big). One raise, four callers.

The flop came 4♦5♦7♣ and Benton checked. Sun bet 575 and the original raiser, Coetzer, made it 1,500 to go. Everyone folded except for Sun, who called for a 2♣ turn.

Sun checked now. Coetzer continued the aggression, betting 1,600. But Sun then came out to shine and check-raised to 4,175. Coetzer folded, none the wiser.

2.30pm: In the field
Numbers have crept up to 111 today, but there's still two hours left on registration, so we are expecting more. Spotted already in the field:

Oliver Speidel - Aussie Millions champion 2012
Ira Blumenthal - Second in APPT Manila in 2007 (first ever APPT event)
Aaron Benton - APPT Sydney winner 2009
Vincent Rubianes - Final table of NAPT Mohegan Sun, runner up in APPT Seoul
Andrew Scott - Blackjack fiend, World Gaming Magazine proprietor, APPT regular, second in High Rollers event in 2008

2.15pm: Shuffle up and deeeeeeal
It was down to Team PokerStars Pro Bryan Huang to get us under way here in Macau today. After thanks of all concerned in this event, Huang was handed the mic and uttered the familiar instruction to "Shuffle up and deal." Off we go.


Bryan Huang does shuffle up and deal honours in Macau

2pm: The third of three
Good afternoon all and welcome back to the Grand Waldo Entertainment Complex in Macau for Day 1C of the Macau Poker Cup: Red Dragon Series Main Event.

This is the third and final opening flight, and it is expected to be the biggest. After 110 ponied up their HKD $11,000 on Day 1A, followed by 148 on Day 1B, no one would be surprised if we break through 200 today, such is the way these things tend to work.

Our prize pool is guaranteed at HKD $3m, assuming there isn't a typhoon level eight or stronger. (Check the Terms and Conditions, folks, it's all in there). But weather seems clement, so that three million is the minimum they're all playing for. We'll have full details of the prize pool as and when registration closes.

Today we expect to see Bryan Huang and Raymond Wu of Team PokerStars Pro, as well as a host of other familiar faces. We'll scoot around the room after the klaxon has sounded to bring you the latest attendance details.


Bryan Huang in good form in a sit and go yesterday

As before, we will play ten-and-a-half levels, which equates to something like eight hours of play (including breaks). That will get us to about 10pm local time, which is a degree more agreeable than the 4am finishes we have had previously. Principally that's so that we can start what will be a monstrous day two at noon, where we'll be intending to cut a field of more than 100 down to a final nine.

But all that is tomorrow. Today has not even yet begun. Stick with us for another step on the path towards the Red Dragon.


Howard Swains
@howardswains in PokerStars Macau