MPC26: Who's Two Timing?
The 26th installment of the Macau Poker Cup begins next week (February 3-19) and if you missed the early preview of the exciting new schedule then you can read it RIGHT HERE.
Before we look ahead, let's take a look back to the last MPC where impossible happened.
TOM ALNER WINS SECOND RED DRAGON
Tom Alner and Team PokerStars Pro Celina Lin have a lot in common when it comes to the Red Dragon Main Event. Both have captured two Red Dragon titles while also making the final table three times each.
Perhaps an even bigger statistical anomaly is the fact that they both won their second trophy three years after their first victory: Alner claimed the August 2013 & September 2016 titles while Lin won in July 2009 & June 2012.
The history books has Lin as the first two-timer, but Alner has accomplished the feat in the modern era against massive fields. In fact, the Englishman made both final tables last year - in the bi-annual event - which had 1,075 runners (MPC24) and 1,145 (MPC25).
The term momentum seems out of place and illogical when referring to a singular event. With that being said, another Alner trip to the final table somehow feels astonishing and predictable simultaneously.
Alner has managed to turn the unbelievable into an expectation.
DERX LAI WINS BACK-TO-BACK BABY DRAGONS
Hong Kong's Derx Lai (Kwok Chun) began 2016 with exactly zero recorded live tournament cashes.
Let's be real. He was the very definition of an unknown player.
When Lai beat the 346-player field in February's Baby Dragon event you wouldn't have been alone in chalking it up as a lucky HK$420,000 payday - joining a very large group of one-and-done champions. And I don't mean that in a bad way. PokerStars trophies are special because they're hard to win.
Sure, Lai would go on to have a small HK$30,000 cash over the next seven months but that was the foreshadowing of greatness to exactly no one.
Suddenly, the next Baby Dragon arrived in September and the field took a major leap to 575 players (see: lower probability of a two-time winner).
Derx Lai surprised us all by beating that record-setting Baby Dragon and, at one fell swoop, became the first person in the history of the MPC (don't forget there's been 26 of these!) to win back-to-back titles in the same event; dropped the lucky-new-guy status; and, go from zero live cashes to boasting more than HK$1 million in 7 months.
As I write this article today, Lai is No. 23 on the Hong Kong all-time money list... WOW.
JAMES CHEN WINS CAPTURES SECOND MPC HIGH ROLLER
James Chen was first spotted after his runner-up finish in the 2015 opening Baby Dragon event. A self-professed cash game specialist, he wasn't likely to grind the tournament circuit anytime soon as it meant time away from Macau's high stakes action.
Chen returned to the summer edition of the MPC and claimed his first career title in the High Roller event - taking home HK$1.7 million. Now a tourney player?
However, one year later (At the same MPC where Tom Alner became just the second 2-time Red Dragon winner. At the same MPC where Derx Lai went back-to-back.) James Chen made it a trio of two-timers by taking down the High Roller event once again - this time for more than HK$2.2 million. If the so-called cash game pro makes his way to MPC26 he'll enter the 17-day festival as No. 2 on Taiwan's all-time money list.
MPC26 LIVE COVERAGE
Live coverage will be available on the PokerStars Blog beginning February 5 for the following events:
HK$8,000 Baby Dragon (Feb 10-11)
HK$15,000 Red Dragon (Feb 12-17)
HK$100,000 Single Day High Roller (1 re-entry) (Feb 13)
HK$80,000 High Roller Day 2 Final (Feb 18)