MPC26: Red Dragon final table player profiles

Player profiles for the final nine Red Dragon final tablists.

Seat 1: Alan Lau, 30, Hong Kong -- 3,790,000

Alan Lau

The 30-year old Hong Kong poker professional will be a familiar face to many at PokerStars LIVE Macau after winning Asia Player of the Year back in 2015 and is no stranger to making final tables.

This is Lau's third final table of 2017 and he has already bagged some silverware during MPC26, winning the HK$10,000 No Limit Hold'em Event #2 for HK$261,900 (~US$33,750).

As the only poker professional at the final table (when he is not moonlighting as a violin teacher) Lau has been playing poker for four years and will fancy his chances at winning the most prestigious title in Asian poker. Lau is certainly in a great position to do so and is sitting second in chips.

It took some ducking and diving to reach this point however, as the vice chairman of the Hong Kong Poker Players Association (HKPPA) was down to just 3 big blinds on Day 1B but dug deep into his bag of tournament tricks and made a sterling recovery. 

When not grinding MTTs and cash games Lau enjoys good food and the odd game of Fifa and cites his biggest influence as his fiancé Amy Li Man Ying, whom he proposed to right here in the PokerStars LIVE Macau poker room right after winning the 2015 APOY race. 

Seat 2: Edwin Gerard, 32, Bayside, New York, USA -- 3,575,000

Edwin Gerard

The New York native boasts two WSOP cashes on his modest poker resume in addition to a final table at the US$250 WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown in Hollywood. 

The 32-year old tennis coach also acts, a handy skill to have at the poker tables, especially when trying to Hollywood with a big hand. A keen tennis fan Gerard is naturally competitive and enjoys travelling and reading.
First introduced to poker by a friend, Gerard just plays for fun and cites Terry Fan as a big influence, which is interesting as the two players were seated at the same table for most of the day. Gerard is mainly a cash game player and plays HK$50/100 but occasionally plays the odd tournament. 

Gerard has already guaranteed himself a tournament career high score with his Red Dragon Main Event final table appearance with the remaining nine players all guaranteed a payday of HK$253,720 (~US$32,690). 

Down to just 4 big blinds at one point after his pocket kings were cracked by pocket nines Gerard surfed a short stack for a while and climbed back up to 10 big blinds before beating an opponent's ace-king with king-queen and never looked back. Should he manage to tame the dragon we're sure he'll be fully bitten by the tournament bug and play a whole lot more. 

Seat 3: Apoorva Goel, 33, New Delhi, India -- 2,030,000

Apoorva Goel

Currently sitting in 26th on the India All Time Money List the 33-year old stock trader plays poker semi professionally and became the first Indian player  to win a Spadie after taking down the 2013 ACOP HK$11,000 Six Max Championship for a career high score of HK$288,100 (~US$37,150). 

The New Delhi native has been playing poker for around nine years and boasts a number of WSOP cashes on his resume in addition to numerous Macau cashes and an APT cash. Goel's usual cash game stakes are HK$25/50 and HK$50/100 and he plays both Texas Hold'em and Pot Limit Omaha. 

When not playing poker Goel can be found watching movies, playing sports and chilling with friends. The Indian player is in a great position to become India's first Red Dragon winner and currently sits in the middle of the pack with just over 2 million in chips.

Seat 4: Jun Liu, 34, Shanghai, China --3,055,000

Jun Liu

Currently fifth in chips the Shanghai native has been playing poker for five years and Liu is already guaranteed a career high score as this Red Dragon final table appearance represents his best tournament poker career cash to date. 

Liu cites Phil Ivey as his biggest poker influence and began playing the game with friends. First bitten by the tournament poker bug after winning the HK$1,500 Turbo Shootout back in 2009 Liu suffered a little bit of a results drought until 2016 where he enjoyed his best year winning US$17,263 and he has almost doubled that in one fell swoop with his Main Event final table appearance. His previous career high was a 5th place finish in the July 2016 MBP Summer Showdown, which was good for HK$66,560 (~US$8,580).

The Chinese player credits good fortune for his deep Red Dragon run and is a keen basketball fan. Will he slam dunk the Main Event? Only time will tell.

Seat 5: Bobby Zhang, 29, Melbourne, Australia -- 1,540,000

Bobby Zhang

The 29-year old cryptocurrency speculator will be no stranger to crunching numbers, which is always a handy skill to have at the poker tables.

Other than poker Zhang's hobbies include gardening and travel  and he has been playing poker for seven years, starting off playing home games before making the jump to tournaments back in 2009. 

Boasting a slew of final table appearances in his native Australia, Macau and the Philippines the Melbournian is currently the only player in the field who can unify the Dragon trophies after taking down the January 2014 Baby Dragon for HK$340,800 (~US$43,940). However, Zhang's career high score came in January 2016's APPT Aussie Millions where he finished 10th for AU$120,000 (~US$84,000).

Seat 6: Liang Xu, 26, Guiyang, China -- 3,310,000

Liang Xu

The 26 year-old from Guiyang in China works in finance so should have a good head for numbers, a skill that should stand him in good stead at the poker tables. 

A regular in the Venetian poker room, Macau, Xu has results dating back to 2013 on his poker resume that include an EPT side event win in the 2013 EPT London £550 Pot Limit Omaha Event. Xu picked up the game when he was studying in Macau and holds an MBA degree. 

While this is Xu's first Red Dragon final table the Chinese player has come close before coming in 13th place in the September 2016 MPC25 Red Dragon for HK$107,000 (~US$13,790) with his most lucrative result so far a sixth place finish in the APPT 10 MPC25 HK$25,000 Event for HK$210,400 (~US$27,125). Xu will be looking to go a little bit further this time around and as one of the bigger stacks he has every chance to go the distance.

Seat 7,Wen Zhen, 43, Beijing, China -- 1,020,000

Wen Zhen

At 43 the Beijing native is one of the older players at the final table and holds down a professional job so poker is just a side line. However he has been playing for 4 years, mainly with friends, and prefers multi-table tournaments and sit and goes to cash games. 

Outside of poker Zhen likes sports and travel and this final table appearance is the highlight of his poker career to date.

Seat 8, 49, Chien Fa Chou, Taipei, Taiwan -- 4,070,000

Chien Fa Chou

The man best positioned to take down the lion's share of the prize pool is Taiwan's Chien Fa Chou with the Taipei native coming is as chip leader with a stack in excess of 4 million. 

The hand that really defined Chou's tournament came near the close of the day when he got all the chips in with pocket tens against the pocket kings of Terry Fan and spiked a ten on the turn to win a huge pot and put himself in a commanding position.

A professional photographer, Chou's only other poker result is a cash in this very event back in February 2016 at MPC24 for HK$29,000 (~US$3,720) so this final table appearance represents the pinnacle of his poker achievements to date, though according to Chou he also cashed the HK$5,000 side event with a 15th place finish.

Chou cites Taiwanese poker pro Chen An Lin as one of his biggest influences in the game and should the cards fall his way Chou could take down the largest Red Dragon in Asia poker history.

Seat 9, 25, Zhang Yang, Liaoning, Dalian, China -- 2,000,000

Zhang Yang

While he is coming in as one of the shorter stacks the 25-year old financial investor has been playing poker for three years and boasts a slew of cashes on his tournament resume with his biggest career result a runner up finish in the 2014 APPT Beijing Millions for ¥700,000 (~US$113,460). 

When it comes to titles Yang has two and took down the ¥8,800 2014 APPT Beijing Cup for ¥623,125 (~US$101,680) though his best result in Macau is a runner up finish in the May 2016 HK$13,500 No Limit Hold'em Event for HK$323,100 (~US$41,480).

Yang is no stranger to making final tables and boasts a WSOP final table appearance in the July 2016 US$888 No Limit Hold'em Crazy Eights 8-Handed Event, which was good for US$74,888. 

The Chinese player has a head for strategy and when not playing poker Yang can be found playing chess, bridge and shogi - a Japanese two player strategy game similar to chess. Will he be able to check-mate the Red Dragon? Just eight other players stand in his way so anything is possible.

Ben Wilson
@PokerStars in PokerStars Macau