"Baby" Tom Alner claims the Red Dragon
If we thought the early speed of play on Day 3 of the Macau Poker Cup Red Dragon Main Event was going to be an indication for the day ahead, we were sadly mistaken. It took almost 12 hours of play, and an unprecedented 29 levels in the tournament to crown our champion with "Baby" Tom Alner surviving the field of 645 players to win the coveted title.
The day began with 21 still in the hunt but one-by-one they quickly dropped away. Genie Li Fu (20th), Mei Ngok (19th) and Fanny Li (17th) left us without female representation in the tournament, while Akira Ohyama's supporters on the rail were disappointed to see their man bow out in 12th. However one of the defining points of the day was the fall of LK Chan in 10th place.
Chan looked the real deal. He played superbly, but ultimately, an enormous clash with fellow big stack Brian Yip on a board of 2♣T♥7♣9♥9♣ started the fall. Yip moved all in on the river and Chan couldn't bring himself to call as Yip flashed the K♦. Perhaps it was a good fold, perhaps it wasn't, but from there, Chan lost two near coin flips to bubble the final table.
Frank Maley started as the short stack, Thomas Ward was happy to be there after surviving an all in with 4♣3♣ against pocket sevens moments earlier, while Brian Yip was looking to go coast-to-coast with the chip lead.
It took a while to lose our first player but when Japan's Shinichi Takenouchi made a move with 3♣7♣ on a baby flop, he ran smack into Thomas Ward's A♠A♦ to become the first final table casualty.
Portugal's Joao Pedro de Castro quickly followed in 8th place when his Q♦J♠ was no match for Frank Maley's A♥K♥, yet Maley would be next to go just moments later.
In a three-bet pot, Maley floated the flop before catching top pair on the turn with A♥J♥. Only problem was that Thomas Ward had already flopped a full house with his pocket tens. It was a huge pot and Maley only had two more jacks in the deck to save him, but it wasn't to be as the popular Aussie bowed out in 7th place.
Thomas Ward was into the lead, but that switched when Russian Victor Sheerman spiked a two-outer with pocket sixes to crack Ward's pocket queens.
Brian Yip was still sitting comfortably in second chip position, and continued to push the action, but the aggression that had proven so profitable over the last two days ultimately brought him undone.
Yip got sucked into a limped pot from the big blind with 2♦3♥ and made a move with a bet, three-bet on a 2♣J♠4♥ flop. However Wilson Fu wasn't going anywhere with A♦J♥ and made the call to leave Yip crippled. Yip's last chips were then all in moments later, never to return. He stumbled out in 6th place which was perhaps short of expectations considering his dominance of the tournament.
The big cards continued to fly around the table but the short stacks kept surviving with a series of big clashes and a few suckouts. However Wilson Fu was one who appeared to want to avoid any bad beats after he folded pocket kings preflop to a three-bet shove against Victor Sheerman. The rail was in shock as Sheerman flashed ace-queen. Perhaps Fu avoided elimination if an ace had fallen, or perhaps he missed the opportunity to become a commanding chip leader. We'll never know.
Thomas Ward was fortunate with ace-jack against pocket queens, spiking an ace on the river to stay alive, but his luck deserted him soon after. Ward shoved K♦6♣ but was out-flopped by Tom Alner's Q♥T♥, before Ward's last chips were in preflop with J♥8♠. He was up against Wilson Fu's A♦3♠ but no help on board left the Kiwi and his support crew to depart in 5th place.
At that point, the blinds were getting pretty crazy, so the four remaining players decided to look at some numbers for a potential deal. All players were pretty even in chips, and they were happy to sign off on an ICM deal with the HK$100,000 Asia Championship of Poker Main Event entry, and the Red Dragon title, left in the middle to play for.
With the money out of the way, we expected play to open up a little. Victor Sheerman shoved preflop with A♠3♥ and failed to improve against Tom Alner's pocket sevens to fall in 4th place as things started to go Alner's way.
Alner was all in a short time later himself with Q♠J♣ against Jason Chong's A♦J♠ but caught a miracle queen on the river to stay alive. Alner then took care of Wilson Fu with ace-jack holding on against Fu's ace-eight when the board was spread K♣K♦9♦8♣A♣. Fu was out in 3rd place as Alner held a commanding chip lead against Chong with the title up for grabs.
Jason Chong shoved the first hand and took the blinds and antes, but on the second hand Chong made the call with Q♣T♣ to be racing against Tom Alner's 7♦7♣. The flop was 7♥8♠9♠ to bring a sweat as Alner's set would have to survive the straight draw for Chong. The turn was the A♦ and the river bricked 2♥ to eliminate Chong in 2nd place and crown Alner as our champion.
"Baby" Tom Alner was down to just 8,000 in chips on Day 2, and managed to survive in a tough spot with the aggressive Brian Yip splashing around to his right. Once that danger had subsided, Alner opened up his game, and with a little luck, was able to come away with the win. After the tournament was over, Alner stated that winning the Red Dragon had always been one of his goals, and was part of the reason why he spent so much time out in Macau. Now, Alner has the beautiful Macau Poker Cup Red Dragon trophy, the HK$100,000 ACOP Main Event entry and HK$723,000 in prize money!
Macau Poker Cup Red Dragon Final Table Results
1st Tom Alner (United Kingdom) - HK$723,000* + HK$100,000 ACOP Entry
2nd Jason Jia Cheng Chong (Singapore) - HK$758,000*
3rd Wilson Chuanyu Fu (China) - HK$827,000*
4th Victor Sheerman (Russia) - HK$853,000*
5th Thomas Ward (New Zealand) - HK$317,000
6th Brian Long Yip (Hong Kong) - HK$253,000
7th Frank Maley (Australia) - HK$206,000
8th Joao Pedro de Castro (Portugal) - HK$158,000
9th Shinichi Takenouchi (Japan) - HK$126,578
* denotes four-handed ICM deal
That brings us to the end of another hugely successful running of the Macau Poker Cup. The team here at PokerStars LIVE Macau were able to overcome a Level 8 typhoon to help post the second largest MPC Main Event field in history which is a credit to Danny McDonagh, Fred Leung and all the team.
Also a big thanks to Long and Ken at Kenneth Lim Photography for their photographical brilliance throughout the week.
The next major event on the Australasian calendar is the APPT Melbourne at Crown Melbourne. The side events start next week with the $5,000 Main Event running from September 5th - 9th. For Macau locals, the ACOP Platinum Series runs from September 12th - 15th, while the Asia Championship of Poker will run from October 18th until November 3rd here at PokerStars LIVE at City of Dreams.
Thanks for following our live coverage and we look forward to seeing you in Melbourne! Until then, so long from Macau!