MPC20 Countdown: Top 10 Moments

It's hard to imagine we've already gone through 19 Macau Poker Cup (MPC) tournaments in just over five years but January 10, 2014 kicks off MPC20 - with a record-setting Red Dragon main event expected.

Through the years, there's been plenty of champions and format changes to the MPC and so we bring to you the Top 10 Moments:

10. Kenny Leong wins first ever Red Dragon
Back in May 2008, PokerStars launched its first live poker room in Macau - appropriately named 'PokerStars Macau' - and the cardroom opened its doors to the public with the Macau Poker Cup.

At the time, HK $10,000 was considered a significant buy-in for a tournament that wasn't targeting international players such as the Asia Pacific Poker Tour. As such, a modest 33 players entered the Red Dragon event.

Hong Kong's Kenny Leong won the event to earn the distinction as the first-ever Red Dragon champion.

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Kenny Leong

9. Asia Player of the Year
In 2009, PokerStars Macau started tracking results from MPC events in order to determine the Asia Player of the Year. Since then, the popularity of poker has expanded throughout the region and the APOY now includes all of PokerStars' special events in Macau in addition to Asia legs of the APPT outside of Macau.

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8. Taiwan's Victor Chen breaks trend
Hong Kong and mainland China are the closest countries to Macau. As such, it wasn't strange to see players with HK and China IDs cashing in the Red Dragon winner's slips.

In May 2009, Victor Chen would break that run during MPC6 as he became the first ever Red Dragon champion from Taiwan. In fact, Chen not only stopped the HK-China winning streak at five but inspired a new period of dominance for his nation. A Taiwanese player would win three of the next four Red Dragons including Team PokerStars Pro Raymond Wu who won MPC9.

Taiwan has the second-most Red Dragon victories with four winners.

7. Female Slayers
Three months after Team PokerStars Pro Celina Lin became the first-ever female winner, Taiwan's Kitty Kuo would beat the then-record 247-player field in the Red Dragon - making it back-to-back female champions.

Kuo was also crowned the 2009 Asia Player of the Year and has gone on to become one of most quotable players on the Asian poker circuit in addition to finding success internationally.

6. Kenichi Takarabe marks the arrival of Japan
The first nine Red Dragons were slayed by a hero representing one of the 'Big 3' countries of Hong Kong, China, and Taiwan.

At the time, the Japan poker scene was almost non-existent and despite the MPC growing tenfold there were only a handful of Japanese participants. In fact, there were more railbirds than players.

In July 2010, Kenichi Takarabe changed all that as he became the first-ever Japanese winner. Takarabe was a pioneer for his people as Japan now has three Red Dragon winners. His countrymen represent a significant portion of each MPC player field today.

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Kenichi Takarabe

5. Evolution of the Red Dragon trophy
The MPC's main event trophy was originally made out of glass and stayed that way for three years. It wasn't until someone decided to re-design it as an actual red dragon which is the one you see today.

The new-look trophy was first awarded in February 2011 during MPC12 and continues to be one of the most unique and desired piece of hardware for any poker enthusiast.

'PokerStars LIVE at the City of Dreams' is celebrating MPC20 by giving out Red Dragon trophies to those who never received one before. If you're finding out here...you're welcome!

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Team PokerStars Pro Raymond Wu with the old trophy

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The new Red Dragon trophy

4. Nicky Jin snaps China's winless streak
Arguably no country loves the Red Dragon more than China. But after Celina Lin had won in 2009, no player from the mainland claimed victory for nearly three years and seven MPCs.

That is, until Nicky Jin topped a 635-player field during MPC15. It's strange to think of poker as a game of runs but China ended up winning every major special event at PokerStars Macau in 2012.

3. Terry Fan wins biggest and richest MPC
PokerStars has had several homes in Macau but when it was rebranded 'PokerStars LIVE at the City of Dreams' and opened with MPC18 last April nobody expected the massive 891-player field in the Red Dragon event.

Taiwanese poker pro Terry Fan was crowned the winner and hauled in nearly HK $1.8 million.

2. Team PokerStars Pros dominate four straight
Team PokerStars Pro Bryan Huang was the runner-up at the MPC10 main event. Though disappointed with the loss his result was not just remarkable but virtually impossible. The only four members on Team PokerStars: Asia had come either 1st or 2nd in four straight Red Dragon events.

We put our mathematicians at work and the probability of that happening in 1-in-10 million chance. TEN MILLION!! That's .0001%

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Bryan Huang

1. Celina Lin wins unprecedented second Red Dragon
It's hardly even news as anybody who knows about the Red Dragon knows Team PokerStars Pro Celina Lin.

After a runner-up finish at MPC2, Lin became the first ever female Red Dragon winner at MPC7. But it was 2012's MPC16 where she became the first, and only, 2-time champion.

With more than a thousand players expected in the Red Dragon at MPC20, her title count might never be matched or broken as most of the competition is seeking their first win. But don't tell that to Lin as she's already stated that wants and thinks she could win a third.

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Celina Lin

For more information on MPC20, please visit the PokerStars LIVE Macau website.

Fred Leung
@PokerStars in PokerStars Macau