GDAM Day 2: Sorel Mizzi leads final after 'nuts' day in Macau
At the EPT Grand Final in Monaco last month, us poker reporters learned a pretty harsh lesson. We had been so busy spewing our superlatives around on poker tournaments that didn't really deserve them that by the time we found ourselves a genuine all-star final table, we had devalued all our "amazing"s and "unbelievable"s to the point of irrelevance.
The reason I mention this is because something similar has happened here in Macau this week, only with words relating to speed. On numerous occasions throughout the past few years, we have talked about the rate at which players have been eliminated throughout the tournament day, suggesting often that things couldn't get any more hasty. But then we bowl into PokerStars Live at the City of Dreams, watch day two of the GuangDong Asia Millions, and suddenly we discover what rapidity is really all about.
Fifty-one players were cut to their final ten in less than six hours, including a dinner break. And even though it slowed down a good deal as the $774,000 bubble approached, all things were relative. We still had our final table set in about nine levels.
By the late stages tonight, there was a table alongside the action around which sat JC Alvarado, Dan Smith, Tobias Reinkemeier, Max Altergott, Fabian Quoss and Di Dang, not playing but merely watching the action. Those superstars were all out of the tournament, but apparently had significant enough pieces of the other players to keep their interest inside the tournament room, where beers and vodka Red Bulls sat on the felt in lieu of chips.
And any piece is a significant piece in this event, the second-largest ever staged outside of Las Vegas and offering about $4.5m to its eventual champion.
Those strays will have seen the following players make it to the final, which will begin at 3pm local time tomorrow. It's worth paying attention to the figures in brackets beside the official chip counts, because that's the number of big blinds in each player's possession.
Even though the action has been moving quickly, the levels have been increasing faster and there could be a lot of pre-flop shoving when we reconvene tomorrow, with blinds of 500,000-1,000,000 and a 10,000 ante for good measure.
GDAM Final Table Line-Up
1 - Igor Kurganov, Germany, 18,400,000 (18 BBs)
2 - Pratyush Buddiga, USA, 13,050,000 (13)
3 - Jeffrey Rossiter, Australia, 12,825,000 (13)
4 - Anson Yan Shing Tsang, Hong Kong, 5,750,000 (6)
5 - Sorel Mizzi, Canada, 28,200,000 (28)
6 - Niklas Heinecker, Germany, 15,275,000 (15)
7 - Isaac Haxton, USA, 7,075,000 (7)
8 - Zheng Tang, China, 24,300,000 (24)
Although the players themselves would have been difficult to predict at the start of the week, the complexion of that table is as expected. We've got two of the so-called "local" players, the wealthy Asian businessmen whose private game we have essentially all gatecrashed.
There are three north American wizards and two German high roller specialists. It wouldn't be a high roller without each of those two groups well represented. There's an Aussie for good measure.
Sorel Mizzi is the chip leader, by the way, but it has scarcely been less relevant. Pretty much any pot can put anyone else out front.
Spare a thought tonight for Rono Shing Fung Lo, who was the bubble boy at the end of play tonight. He didn't actually seem to worry about it all that much himself, but if he'd have clung on for one more elimination, he would have at least another $774,000 (approx) in his bank account. That's a pretty brutal bubble, no matter who you are, and its approach yielded a bizarre passage of play.
There was three quarters of a million at stake and an average stack of about 13 big blinds. It was so weird that at one point Haxton had to dwell for three minutes over whether to call a three big blind shove. He called and lost the pot, and that put him in trouble.
Haxton had held the chip lead throughout almost all of the day, but is a shortie among a sea of shorties now.
Join us tomorrow, though, on PokerStars Blog and PokerStars.tv where we'll find out who has the game to see this one through to its bitter end. There's the small matter of $4.5m available to the winner, and plenty of weirdness still to come.
"This tournament is so nuts," said Mike McDonald in the PokerStars.tv commentary booth. That's very true.
Photos by Kenneth Lim Photography courtesy of Guangdong Group & PokerStars