By Landon Blackhall and Sean Callander
Poker has found an Asian home in Macau, with players nearby markets such as the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Taiwan, Japan and Korea also picking up on the game that is sweeping the planet.
But there’s another Asian country that is being touted as the “next big thing”: India, home to almost 1.2 billion people. One of the sub-continent’s top young players, Aditya intervention Agarwal, is playing in the PokerStars.net APPT Macau Main Event today.
A top-50 globally ranked online player, Agarwal has won three $109 rebuy events on PokerStars along with a $215 rebuy tournament, making him one of the world’s most successful players over the past 12 months. A native of Calcutta, Agarwal is also making his mark in the live ranks as shown by his 96th in the 2008 WSOP Main Event.
“There was a time when I was more confident playing online, but now I feel that my live game is better than my online game. I am very optimistic about a big live win sometime in the near future,” he said.
Agarwal is also conscious of the role he’s playing in helping poker become palatable in the tight and traditional Indian family unit: “Indian families really don’t understand poker and just consider it to be gambling, but thankfully my parents are supportive and really like that I am able to travel and play in big tournaments around the world.”
Players have just returned from the first break, with only six casualties in the field of 125 starters during the first two hours of play. 2008 Joe Hachem Deep Stack Series champion Luke Santo was lucky not to join them.
On a flop that read 4♥ 4♣ A♣, Santo checked to American Victor Torres who pushed all-in for around 18,000 in chips. Santo went deep into the tank before making the call. Both players tabled ace-king offsuit and they would chop it up after the turn and river bricked out 9♠ 5♥.
Steve Yea earned the unwanted title of first player eliminated on day 1B after moving all-in for his last 2500 with J-8, only to be called by an opponent holding A-J. The board said no to Yea and the Korean was out.
Dennis Huntly was quick to pick up on a breach of the local rules after some action on a flop of 5♠ Q♦ J♣. Huntly and one player had checked but a second player had bet 1100 out of turn. There was a brief argument but Huntly calmly and collectively stopped the game and called the supervisor to clarify the situation.
The ruling here at the Grand Lisboa is that if a player bets out of turn and the player in turn checks, then the out-of-turn player is forced to check. Play continued; the turn of the 4♥ saw Huntly and the first opponent check before the second player fired out 2000 in turn. “You were always going to win the pot, but this affects how I play,” Huntly said as he watched the offender rake in the pot.