MPC Red Dragon: Fan survives the flames, leads charge to final table
The official name for this tournament is the Macau Poker Cup, but its "Red Dragon" nickname is so well established that even a replica red beast sits atop the winner's trophy. And when you go searching for a dragon, you've got to expect to get burned every now and then, as 95 players will attest from today.
That's the number of competitors who will not return for day three, but even those who will - our final nine, of whom China's Qi Ming Fan is the leader - were all forced to endure a brush with the flames throughout 12 punishing hours of play. It was furnace-hot out there, and all those remaining clearly have asbestos blood coursing through their veins.
The full list of finalists is as follows - and you may well recognise several of them. It includes two day one leaders and a Team PokerStars Pro.
Seat 1 - Celina Lin - 477,000
Seat 2 - Zhengwei Ni - 304,000
Seat 3 - Jordan Westmorland - 256,000
Seat 4 - Qi Ming Fan - 1,669,000
Seat 5 - Chang Rak Choi - 1,450,000
Seat 6 - Richard Hu - 305,000
Seat 7 - Yu Liang - 82,000
Seat 8 - Daniel Sing - 380,000
Seat 9 - Chul Woo Park - 902,000
How they got there is best recalled via our live updates, which actually managed to break the Blog at one point. But it's back now, and I suggest you join us tomorrow, for what is going to be another terrific final table.
Looking back on today, the main stories centre on Celina Lin and Jordan Westmorland, but there are admirable sub-plots involving Daniel Sing, Richard Hu and Yu Liang as well.
First up, Lin. The Team PokerStars Pro from China is now going to her third Red Dragon final table, having been up into the chip lead, and down to the short stack at various times today.
She also had the privilege of sitting next to her Team Pro colleague Vivian Im for long periods today, before their table broke. Im would eventually bust in 13th, but Lin is going to the final.
Westmorland was the massive chip leader from all day ones, but it seemed at one point today as though he may even miss the cash. His overnight 269,000 was down to about 50,000 before he went on an unbelievable uptick once more.
He then got himself to more than a million by the dinner break, but then took a huge nosedive again afterwards. He finished with 13,000 less than he the amount with which he started. It was a disaster, triumph, disaster, triumph all in one.
Sing began today with less than 30,000 chips and probably harbored hopes only of sneaking into the money. But he too went on a remarkable surge ahead of the bubble, soaring him deep, before he too went on a downswing back to about 45,000. But then that went double, double, double again and he was then able to cling on to a short stack into the last nine.
Another player just squeaking in by the skin of his teeth is Yu Liang. He looked solid until he lost almost all his chips to Chul Woo Park with ten left. He was all in for about two big blinds on the next hand, getting two callers. He'd only gone and found pocket aces, right when he needed them most, but also when he would win the minimum with them.
His triple up was enough to get him to the final, but Liang is facing a tough ask tomorrow.
As for Hu, he deserves mention simply because he was also a day one chip leader who has gone all the way. I can't remember when two day one flight leaders have made the final reckoning, so congratulations to Hu for that.
But our chip leader is Qi Ming Fan, who had the great pleasure of sitting between both Lin and Im at one point today. He agreed that that was the best seat in the house, but actually had no idea at that point how good it was. He was still sitting there as he amassed a seven-figure stack, with which he will be the favourite at the final.
That, then, is that. If a player didn't get a paragraph about them up there, that means they had the most remarkable of journey today: relatively peaceful.
It'll sure be choppy again tomorrow.
Join us at 2pm for the resumption, and the final table of the Red Dragon. Until then, goodnight from Macau.
All photographs on PokerStars Blog from Macau are © Kenneth Lim Photography (//kennethlimphotography.com)