GDAM Day 1: Unfamiliar faces behind big reputations hiding in Macau

For the past couple of years, poker players and commentators have been having a version of the following conversation.

Q: "Where's Player X these days?"
A: "He's playing the big cash games in Macau."

The conversation ends about there, with no further explanation likely to be either necessary or forthcoming.

Until Isaac Haxton and the like sat down in Monte Carlo last month for their massive cash-game brawl, Macau has been central to all the very biggest action, even though no one has really known too much about the games. Despite taking place largely in public, in the wide open spaces of the major casino chains' poker rooms, there have been few reporters and fewer accurate records taken. And the players like it that way.

The general gist is that if you're a winner, you stay there as long as possible and keep quiet about it. Otherwise you come home, and keep quiet about that too. It's been pretty well known that Tom Dwan and Gus Hansen have been spending a lot of time in Macau, but there are plenty of other westerners who have made this a home from home.

One suspects that many of the players in today's tournament field have migrated temporarily across Macau from the cash tables. Certainly that seems to be the case for Mikael Thuritz, a cash-game wizard from Sweden, who has appeared in today's field, and Tom McDonald, a young Brit who was recently singled out by Jake Cody as one of the players he most respects in the world game.

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Tom McDonald

Cody was speaking at the PCA when he was asked to name his current poker heroes, and he quickly said Andrew Moseley and McDonald. "They are incredible at poker," Cody said. "When I talk to them about hands, it's always amazing."

Cody is currently hunting bracelets, but true to form McDonald is here, in near silence, seeking what will surely be a first prize far larger than most of the bracelet events in Vegas this summer.

McDonald is currently sitting on a table with his namesake Mike McDonald, as well as Shaun Deeb, Igor Kurganov and Vladimir Troyanovskiy. He won't have it easy, but he clearly has the game.

Thuritz used to be something of a regular face on the tournament tables of the world, and he has had some excellent results at the WSOP. But according to sources in Scandinavia, he has always been more of a cash-game player. It most likely explains his presence here.

I should add that none of this is confirmed. I would hate to break anyone's cover. But when you see these relatively unfamiliar faces suddenly appearing in what is likely to be among the biggest poker tournaments of all time, you can usually add two and two together.

A quick guide on following the action here at the GuangDong Ltd Asia Millions. Hand-by-hand coverage is available in the panel at the top of the main GDAM page. Feature posts will come in below that. You can also watch the action from the feature table on PokerStars.tv.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in PokerStars Macau