MPC Red Dragon Main Event Day 1a: Levels 1-3 (blinds 100-200)

10:10pm: Ten-minute break

10:00pm: Hasse stays out of trouble

Julian Hasse knows the sweet taste of success in the PokerStars Macau Poker Room as the 2010 MPCC champion is among today's runners. He's been in the thick of the action early, on a tough table where Japan's Seijiro Machi has grabbed the early table chip lead.

We caught Hasse in a recent hand, with a three-bet to 1,325 following an opening bet to 500 from his opponent seated to his right. The player made the call then decided to lead out with a bet of 1,300 on the T♠5♣T♥ flop. Hasse wasn't sure what to make of it, and decided to let his hand go. Hasse sits with a little over 20,000.

9:40pm: They keep rolling in

The big screen is currently showing 283 players with registration still open. This number smashes the previous best for a Day 1a of the Red Dragon which was 217 entrants.

It appears that Haifeng Xue might be our current chip leader with a stack of around 45,000 in front of him, while David Steicke is also off to a strong start after recently taking his seat.

9:30pm: Level up, blinds 100-200

9:15pm: Segal stumbles

Mark Segal may hold two Aussie Millions gold rings, but that doesn't mean that he can dodge bullets as he has just run into an opponent's pocket aces to take a hit to his stack.

Catching the action on the river on a board of T♦K♦K♣Q♣K♠, Segal's river bet of 800 was raised to 2,400. Segal made the call with Q♠9♠ for a full house but it wasn't enough against his opponent's A♦A♣. Segal slips to 11,000.

9:05pm: Not a perfect start

"She's perfect and has the perfect life!" commented our Japanese blogger Jenn Barr when we asked her earlier in the evening for a bit of info about Japanese player Manami Hayamizu. "And she's so nice that you can't hate her for it!" she laughed.

Manami is certainly starting to grab some attention with some impressive performances in Macau with five cashes and a deep run in the APPT Macau Main Event last year. She's proving to be more than just a pretty face in the poker room.

However it's been a not-so-perfect start for Manami in today's event. She's down to 9,000 after we caught her firing a bet of 2,500 into the middle from the big blind in a heads-up pot on a board of 3♦K♥3♥6♦7♠. Her opponent on the button came back with a raise to 6,500 which forced Manami to fold.


Manami Hayamizu grabbing plenty of attention at the Macau Poker Cup

8:50pm: Level up, blinds 50-100

8:45pm: Chan chopped with set over set

It usually doesn't take long for the chips to fly here in Macau, but we were a little surprised to see two experienced players in Justin Chan and Yvo Molin go to war so early in the tournament. Of course, it was a cooler of a hand with set over set leaving the 2010 Macau Millions in desperate trouble.

It started with a raise to 150 from Hung-sheng Lin which was called by both Chan and Molin to see a flop of J♦K♦6♣. Play was checked around before the 7♣ appeared on the turn.

From the big blind, Molin led out with a bet of 300 which forced a fold from Lin, but Chan popped it up another 675 on top. Molin called as the 2♠ was a huge brick on the river.
Molin tapped the table as Chan bombed it with an overbet of 2,750. Molin didn't take long to respond as he casually flicked out a bet of 6,000. Chan grabbed the rest of his stack and moved then into the middle and Molin quickly obliged with a call.

"You have a set of jacks?" sighed Chan, seemingly realising that his 7♠7♥ was beat as Molin opened J♠J♣ for a larger set. Chan was left with just 2,000 in change as Molin becomes our early chip leader with a double stack of 30,000.


Yvo Molin is our early chip leader

8:35pm: Better late than never

A few latecomers spotted in the registration line, who are now going to have to be satisfied with being an alternate this evening, include Andrew Scott, Michael Mariakis and cult hero David Steicke.

8:30pm: A few names

On our first round of the PokerStars Macau Poker Room and we have to make comment about the luxurious spacing between tables which comes as a blessed relief for your humble tournament reporter. No more climbing over side tables, squeezing between chairs or bumping players in the back of the head!

The field is largely dominated by locals, with many overseas players likely to hit the shores of Macau for tomorrow's flight, but some of the notables we've spotted in our first rounds include Chong Wing Cheong, Kai Paulsen, Justin Chan, Sparrow Cheung, Gordon Huntly, Roger Spets, Mark Benasa, Haifeng Xue, Jimmy Siu, Ted Wang, Yvo Molin, Emanuel Seal, Daren Yoon, Julian Hasse, Victor Chong, Seijiro Machi, Craig Cockburn and Japanese starlet Manami Hayamizu.

8:20pm: Today's format

The players are starting out with 15,000 in chips with the blinds at 25/50. Each level will be 40 minutes in duration and we believe that play is scheduled for seven hours on each of the opening day flights.

8:10pm: Red Dragon Day 1a underway!

The wait is over as the first major championship event of the 2012 year has arrived in Macau. The HK$11,000 Macau Poker Cup: Red Dragon Main Event boasts a HK$3,000,000 guarantee which is expected to be blown out of the water. Side event action during the week has shown growth of almost 50% with many tipping this event to set a new record for the Red Dragon.

It's going to be a capacity field with PokerStars Country Manager Fred Leung already announcing that we have a full field of 250 registrations with alternates now being taken.

We've also received the inside tip that Team PokerStars will be represented by Raymond Wu this evening, and he will be joined by 2011 Asia Player of the Year Hung-sheng "Shaq" Lin and ten-time WSOP champion Johnny Chan.

The players have been welcomed into the PokerStars Macau Poker Room in the Grand Lisboa Casino and the final instructions have been given to dealers to shuffle up and deal!