MPC Red Dragon Day 1B updates

3:05am: Done

The clock has stopped and Day 1B has come to a close.

Zhenwu Wang will finish as our chip leader with 161,700, slightly behind Lohia's 164,500 in Day 1A.

Stay tuned for a full wrap of today's events.

2:50am: Four more

The clock has stopped and a lucky player picked out how many hands we'd play before the end of the day.


The chip leader race is still close and several other players have broken through the 100,000 chip mark.

2:40am: Photo finish

Yesterday, Sailesh Lohia was the massive chip leader by Level 12. Even after losing a massive pot in the final hands of the day, Lohia finished with 164,500 and the chip lead.

Today, the title of chip leader is much more competitive. Zhenwu Wang and Ken Wong are nearly even in chips. Both players hit the 125,000 mark a few levels ago and now both player are nearly even with 150,000.


Zhenwu Wang

We'll find out who ends up on top in 20 minutes.

Level 12: 1,000/2,000 blinds, 300 ante

2:25am: Wang rises

There was a large pile of chips and the board read A♣Q♠9♣6♣9♦.

A significant amount of Zhenwu Wang's chips were in the pot and his opponent had just thrown in another 12,000.

It didn't take too long for Wang to call and he showed J♥9♠ when he did. His opponent nodded and mucked his cards.

This hand gave Wang the tournament lead with 157,000.

2:10am: Breaking through

The field is shrinking quickly. We started the last level with about 135 players and only 108 remain.

Stack inequality has a lot to do with it.

There are a few micro stacks in the field that only consist of a handful of chips. There are then the standard short stacks and those starting to get low. Those stacks are quickly getting absorbed by the larger stacks that seem to have developed their own gravitational field.

They suck in every chip within a one-table radius and continue to grow. One of these stacks belongs to Hong Kong professional Ken Wong. Wong is currently seated behind a stack of nearly 122,000. While his stack might be good for the lead, Wong is nearly even with Zhenwu Wang.


Ken Wong

Wang is at the opposite corner of the tournament area -- explaining how their gravitational force fields don't clash -- and is seated with 125,000.

While these stacks currently hold the lead, we still have one hour of play to go.

Level 11: 800/1,600 blinds, 200 ante

1:50am: Untamable

"I was bleeding man, but I'm back," Amit Ajwani said. "Back to about 80."

Ajwani is seated over at Vivan Im's table and was the chip leader for a small fraction of time. Then Ajwani lost a lot of chips and Im soared to the lead. Ajwani then got some back.

Ajwani and Im were faced with a 5♥3♣9♥ flop in a large pot. Im had just bet 3,000 from early position and Ajwani raised to 12,000 from the cutoff.


Amit Ajwani trying to stop the bleeding

Im thought for a while and threw in the extra chips for the call. A 5♦ came on the turn and Im checked.

Ajwani bet 20,000 -- more than half his stack -- and action was back on Im. Im took a few minutes before acting, but eventually folded, leaving herself with about 60,000.

Ajwani on the other hand went back up to about 80,000.

The Red Dragon is a cruel and unpredictable beast.

1:40am: Im leads

A quick scan of the field suggests that Team PokerStars Pro Vivian Im is the current chip leader with about 85,000.

Level 10: 600/1,200 blinds, 200 ante

1:20am: Last one

Nine levels are done and players are on the final break of the day. We'll be returning to play two and a half more levels and then wrap things up.

We've already lost more than half the field as only 135 of the initial 288 remain. The next few levels will add to the slaughter as the antes double and the blinds become more menacing.

1:10am: Shrinking team

Team PokerStars Pro Celina Lin won't be winning her third Red Dragon this event.

As we stated before, Lin was having a rough day and just couldn't get the poker momentum on her side. The Russian player to her left, Victor Sheerman, kept the pressure and Lin says he just couldn't stop flopping sets.

Unable to beat sets, Lin was left with 10 big blinds and struggled throughout the last level. But Lin wouldn't be able to leave the danger zone and eventually fell to her nemesis.

The hand that did her in was indeed a flopped set, but it managed to turn into a full house on the turn.

With Lin's departure and Raymond Wu's elimination yesterday, Im is the only Team Pro currently in the field. While Im may be the lone red spade in the field today, she'll be getting reinforcements tomorrow. Team PokerStars Pro Bryan Huang and Team PokerStars Online Naoya Kihara are both scheduled to make appearances tomorrow.

A few other players rumored to join the Red Dragon tomorrow are Lacey Jones, Joseph Cheong and defending champion, Yoshitaka Okawa.

Level 9: 500/100 blinds, 100 ante

12:40am: Join the club

Peter Chiu is still seated behind a large stack, but other players are starting to catch up.

One of those players is Amit Ajwani. Ajwani recently scored a bustout and added a few more chips to his stack.

Ajwani raised to 2,500 and the player to his left moved all-in for 3,800. Ajwani didn't look happy, but he called anyways, turning over 9♣8♦.

The all-in player showed A♠J♦ and was ahead. Well, that's until the flop came [10s]9♦6♥. Then the turn brought an 8♦, giving the at-risk player hoped of a straight.

But then a 3♣ came on the river and Ajwani took all his chips. Ajwani is now at about 73,000.

Ajwani is seated at Team PokerStars Pro Vivian Im's table. While Ajwani has the most chips at the table, Im comes in at second. Im is currently seated with about 60,000.

12:15am: Nothing Niu

"You out?" Alex Niu asked a friend while he was walking towards the real. His friend nodded.

"Me too," Niu said. "Just now."

The Taiwanese TV personality lost most of his chips before the break and hung on for as long as he could.

Niu lost most of his chips when he opened to 1,800 and his opponent made it 4,000.

"I called and the board came jack-ten-four," Niu said. "He bet, I raised and he moved all in. I couldn't call."


Alex Niu

Niu held king-jack on the hand and it turned out to be the right move as his opponent showed him ace-jack.

The hand left Niu with about 8,000 and he was chipped down even more. Niu then made his move with queen-ten and got called by king-eight.

Niu hit an open-ended straight draw on the flop but the turn and river wouldn't complete it.

Level 8: 400/800 blinds, 100 ante

11:55pm: Rising

We've crossed the halfway point of Day 1B some bit ago and it's showing in the stacks.

There are plenty of short stacks moving all-in every few minutes and a few large stacks have started to emerge. Liao Xiaoyong is sitting with a stack of 65,000. A formidable stack with 300/600 blinds, but still not the largest in the room.

At the moment, Peter Chiu seems to have the largest stack with 75,000. But if Day 1A taught us anything, it's that the chip lead is a wild, elusive creature.

Nothing is certain.

11:30pm: Chan out

Johnny Chan won't be winning a Red Dragon at this MPC.

There was lots of commotion over at Chan's table and two all-in triangles were on the table. One was in front of Chan and action was on the player in the one seat.

The one seat had opened to 1,600 and was now contemplating the call. Chan's had moved all-in for about 6,500 while the other all-in was for 5,750.

The initial raiser called and we had a three-way showdown. The big stack showed 5♦5♥ and the shortest stack turned over K♥K♣. Chan, the middle stack, had the middle pocket pair: 6♥6♠.

The short stack was already in the lead and the board came J♠A♥J♣K♦2♠ to give him the victory. Chan was already walking away when his table mates told him he still had chips.

Chan sat down and moved almost moved all-in the next hand. Chan was first to act and put his 12 black T100 chips in. The dealer put the all-in triangle in front of the stack but Chan stopped him.

"No," Chan said. "What're you doing?"

He pointed at the lone, green T25 chip protecting his cards.

The table laughed and then four of them called Chan's bet. The flop came J♥9♠9♦ and action checked to Liu Zuo Jian, who was on Chan's left. Jian threw in a big stack of chips and everyone folded to Chan.

Chan put in his last chip and showed 8♦2♠. Jian showed J♣[10c]. The turn was a 6♠ and the river brought a 3♠, eliminating Chan.

Level 7: 300/600 blinds, 75 ante

11:00pm: Ready...break

Six levels are done and players are on the second break of the day.

The remaining 225 players have a few minutes to go stretch, excrete, consume and partake in any legal, non-poker activity they desire.

No smoking in the tournament area though.

10:50pm: A win for Lin

Team PokerStars Pro Celina Lin had been having a rough day. Her starting stack was dwindled down to about 8,000 and the cards just weren't coming.

Then it hit.

Victor Sheerman raised to 900 from under-the-gun and got calls from the cutoff and small blind. Lin was on the big blind and raised to 3,100.

Sheerman and the cutoff called while the small blind folded.

"The flop came ten-eight-deuce," Lin said. "And I went in with my queens."

Lin put her remaining 5,000 in the pot and only Sheerman called. Sheerman showed 10s for the set but Lin managed to hit a queen on the turn. Lin doubled up to about 20,000 but then lost a few back to Sheerman.


Celina Lin having an up and down day

Lin raised to 850 from middle position and Sheerman called from the hijack. The flop came 6♠8♥[10c] and Lin bet 900. Sheerman called and the turn brought a 4♥. Lin bet out again, this time for 1,500.

Sheerman called again and the final card on the board was a 9♠. Both players checked this time and Lin turned over A♥J♣.

Sheerman showed another pocket pair, 3♣3♠, and took down the pot. Lin then went to the break with 18,850.

10:35pm: Straight to Im

Team PokerStars Pro Vivian Im was a bit short but still managed to score an elimination.

In a raised pot, Im and the cutoff were faced with a 2♦K♦[10h] flop. The cutoff bet 1,500 and Im called from the button. A Q♣ came on the turn and the cutoff threw in a T5,000 chip, leaving himself with 1,125.

Im grabbed her stack and put it all in the middle. The cutoff called all-in and showed K♣Q♠ for two-pair. Im showed A♠J♥ for the straight and an A♥ on the river finished things off.

The cutoff was eliminated and Im chipped up to 21,400.

Level 6: 200/400 blinds, 50 ante

10:15pm: A meal with chips

Johnny Chan is having a feast over at his table. A platter of meat, rice, vegetables and tea is on a trolly next to the 10-time bracelet winner and it seems to be occupying most of his attention.

Chan occasionally turns back to the table to play a hand. During one of those hands, Wenceslao Sombero threw in a blue T1,000 chip for a raise from the hijack. Action folded to Chan who paused his feast, looked at his cards and moved all-in for about 16,000 from the big blind.

Sombero looked at Chan and then at his own meal. Sombero was having soup.

After some time, Sombero picked up his cards and folded face-up: pocket kings.

"I want him to stick around a bit longer," Sombero said to the table.

Chan nodded, took in the chips and continued to feast.


Johnny Chan, pre-feast

The following hand, a player raised from middle position and Chan called from the small blind.

The flop came 3♠6♠Q♣ and Chan check-called a 1,200 bet. Chan then check-called a 2,500 bet on the turn and took the initiative on the river, firing a 2,600 bet.

The player in middle position folded and Chan chipped up to about 25,000.

Chan is almost done with his meal, but now he has a healthy serving of chips.

9:50pm: Shrinkage

The field for Day 1B has finally stopped growing. An hour before the tournament got underway, there were 140 players registered for Day 1B. Since then, the number has kept ballooning until it couldn't grow anymore.

Late registration closed and we ended up with 288 players.

The tournament area was packed, but now we've started to get some space. Play has gone nine-handed and tables are starting to break.

We now have 234 players left and they're sprawled across the remaining 26 tables. That number is going to drop quickly as the day goes on.

Level 5: 150/300 blinds, 25 ante

9:40pm: Japanese contingent

The Japanese poker community is strong. They play together, they travel together and they're getting better together.

Team PokerStars Online Naoya Kihara gave Japan their first WSOP bracelet last year and he'll be trying to add a Red Dragon tomorrow.

While Kihara will wait till Day 1C, about 13 Japanese players registered for Day 1B. They include Yuri Ishida, who has four final tables and a WSOP cash, and Tsugunari Toma. Toma has made three final tables in Aussie Millions events and one at the ACOP Main Event. Toma also has a few other final tables throughout Asia and has one MPC side event win under his belt.


Yoshitaka Okawa and his Red Dragon

Japan, of course, is the reigning Red Dragon champion. Yoshitaka Okawa won this event this January but might not return to defend his title.

Someone else will have to rise to that challenge.

9:25pm: Late arrival

It's fashionable to show up late to poker tournaments. Phil Hellmuth is notorious for this and other players are fans of the technique.

As late registration closed and players were coming back from their first break, we had a last-minute addition: two-time world champion Johnny Chan.

Chan is now seated over at table 18 and will try to add a Red Dragon trophy to his impressive poker resume.

Level 4: 100/200 blinds, 25 ante

9:00pm: Shake and Break

Three levels and two hours of play have passed and players are on their first break of the day. The first break also signals the end of late registration and the current amount of entries for Day 1B is 280.

This exceeds the 200 mark staff was hoping for by a fair bit.

8:50pm: Counterfeited to the lead

A big hand was brewing over on table nine. Three players were in a hand, there was about 2,000 in the pot and the flop read 6♦5♦[10s].Tzu Hung Chuang was under the gun and had a 2,100 bet in front of him, Ruiqi Shi was on his left and called.

Action went back to Archie Mariano who moved all-in for over 17,000. Chuang thought until another player called the clock and Chuang folded.

It was Shi's turn to think. He took considerably less time than Chuang and came out with a a different result: Shi called.

Mariano turned over 6♣5♣ for two pair and Shi showed J♣J♠. The turn was an 8♥ and then the river brought a devastating 8♠ for Mariano. Shi had the bigger two pair and doubled up to a bit more than 30,000.

Shi now has one of the largest stacks in the room.

8:35pm: Living live

While PokerStars was born and raised on the internet, it soon spread to the material world. It flourished here and continued to spread, spanning several countries and multiple continents.

Now it's in Asia and the expansion continues. Aside from the live poker room here in Macau, PokerStars is now sponsoring the Chinese Series of Poker (CSOP). The CSOP will be having an event next month in Sanya, Hainan from May 15th-May 19th.

For more details about this event, check out the CSOP website.

Level 3: 100/200 blinds

8:15pm: Dragons

With the Macau Poker Cup being in its 18th installment, a lot of Red Dragons have been set free.

Team PokerStars Celina Lin owns two of them, but that still leaves 16 of these beasts unaccounted for. A few of their masters are here in the field today.

The winner of the fourth Red Dragon Main Event, Wing Cheong Chong, is here in the field today, and so is his predecessor.

Over on the other side of the tournament area is Zhenjian Lin, the fifth Red Dragon champion.

7:55pm: Im rising

Team PokerStars Pro Vivian Im has won a few pots early on.

One started with a player limping from early position and another raising to 400. Im called from the cutoff and so did the limper.

The dealer then tapped into her random number generator and produced a J♠Q♠4♣ flop. Action was checked to Im, who bet 750.

Vivian Im Day1B.jpeg

Team PokerStars Pro Vivian Im

The limper called and the raiser folded, bringing a [10h] on the turn. Im bet 1,525 when action was checked to her and the 8♥ came on the river when her opponent called.

Im put out a final bet for 2,550 and it was too much for her opponent.

Im is now at about 20,000.

Level 2: 50/100 blinds

7:35pm: A field of faces

Poker players are quite notorious for having faces, especially poker faces. A few of those faces stuck out during a quick stroll through the field.

Another familiar face from APPT Seoul is Taiwanese celebrity, Alex Niu. But the charismatic TV personality doesn't have a TV crew with him today, he's all about poker.


Alex Niu

Celin Lin isn't the only Team Pro in the field today, Vivian Im has cut her hair and registered for Day 1B of the Red Dragon.

2013 APPT Seoul runner-up, Chane Kampanatsanyakorn, is also in the field today. Kampanatsanyakorn was involved in a lengthy heads-up match for his first major victory but fell short.

Now he's back for another shot.

7:20pm: Progress report

If the tournament staff at the MPC were to fill out a satisfaction survey for Day 1B, they would fill in every bubble with "greatly exceeds expectations."

Today, tournament staff was hoping to break the 200 player mark. Their hopes were fulfilled. We're halfway into Level 1 and there are already 260 players.

This brings the total up to 469 players and much closer to making Asian poker history. The Red Dragon currently hosts the record for largest poker tournament with 635 unique players and we're on track to beat that number.


7:05pm: The storm

"Shuffle up and deal," said Team PokerStars Pro Celina Lin.

She said several lovely sounding things in Chinese before that, but we were able to understand none of it. For all we know, they were fierce fighting words.


Celina Lin and Danny McDonagh

Behind Lin's sweet exterior lies a dangerous poker player. The Team PokerStars Pro is still the only person to have won the Red Dragon Main Event twice.

She's looking for the third.

6:50pm: The calm

Players are lined up at the registration desk with wads of Honk Kong dollars. Dealers are huddled around a table giggling and preparing. The media desk is filled with hands feverishly clacking away at keyboards.

Soon, all three groups will be meshed together in a poker frenzy known as the Red Dragon Main Event.

The tournament is fast. Levels last 40 minutes and players will try to hang around for as many of them as they can. Most of them won't survive the eleven and a half scheduled for today.

Yesterday, 209 players signed up for Day 1A, but only 51 survived.

It was a brutal battle royale that started the second Team PokerStars Pro Raymond Wu announced the shuffle up and deal.

Today will bring more of the same.

Alex Villegas
@PokerStars in PokerStars Macau