Friday, 2nd December 2022 19:49
Home / Uncategorized / 2016 ACOP Main Event: 999 reasons why Albert Paik loved Day 3

Yesterday was a short day so everyone could attend the brilliant party last night. That meant time needed to be made up. Hence, seven 90-minute levels were played out over a day that lasted more than 12 hours. That left plenty of time for players to bust, a bubble to burst, new names to emerge and a lot of things to write about.


Paik’s the man to catch

Let’s deal with the chip leader. A man who’s already won an APPT title this year when he took down Seoul early in the summer. And we rarely say this, but Albert Paik deserves to be chip leader for a great call all-in he made on the bubble. Neel Murphy, the then chip leader (more on him below) set him in on the river and he made a great call with just one pair, in a four-bet pot. He could’ve easily folded when four-bet preflop and cruised into the money, but he didn’t and that armed him with the chips to go on a run post bubble that saw him ascend to the top of the counts with 999,000. For full details on the hand, check out the 10:10pm post.

If we were betting men (and let’s be honest – we are) then we would’ve found it hard to find a bookmaker willing to take the bet that Murphy would end the day as chip leader. For the first two-thirds of the day he crushed every table he was on and was the first player to pass a million chips. And that was when the average was 250,000! Then he slow played a flopped set in a three-way hand and that let one of his opponents – Stevan Chew – catch up and make a bigger full house by the river. Murphy set the trap and then fell into it himself with a huge river shove. That loss put him back into the pack, but to be fair to him, he seemed to put it behind him and continued to apply pressure and rebuilt to stay in contention heading into tomorrow.


Murphy was one of the players of the day

Money. That’s what today was all about. Making the money will have been on the minds of all of the 77 players that returned today. More than half of them left disappointed, but perhaps, none more than the bubble boy, Jingzhi Huang. It’s always a nasty surprise to run into a huge hand behind you, and that’s exactly what happened to Huang. He three-bet all-in from the button for fewer than nine big blinds but Jordon Westmorland woke up with kings in the small blind, moved all-in and five community cards later, he was the most popular man in the room.

Other players who failed to make the money included: Team PokerStars Pro Chen An Lin, last year’s runner-up Thomas Ward, JC Tran, Jonathan Karamalikis, Michael Rocco, Daniel Dvoress and Connor Drinan. Those who made the money but failed to make tomorrow included the likes of Super High Roller champion Yuan Li, Kitty Kuo, Christian Christner, Winfred Yu and former WSOP Main Event champion Mansour Matloubi.


Last year’s runner up couldn’t survive

Normally after a bubble bursts, there’s a mass of eliminations but the ACOP Main Event structure is one of the best and flattest around, that only 16 more players busted during the last (almost) four hours of play. The surviving players (listed below will be back at the tables at 2pm tomorrow and the plan is to play until just six players reaming. That’s not the only tournament we’ll be covering tomorrow you lucky people. The festival ending $250,000 High Roller kicks off at 6pm tomorrow and we’ll be bringing you full coverage of the three-day event. Andy Andrejevic satellited into that tournament last year and beat a star-studded field, but he’s not here this year so a new champion will be crowned.

Until tomorrow, it’s goodnight from us.

End of day chip counts can be seen below and click here for the Day 4 seat draw.

Last Name First Name Country Chip Count
Paik Albert USA 999,000
Song Jian Zhong China 938,000
Chew Stevan Australia 776,000
Geshkenbein Vladimir Switzerland 748,000
Sun Yunsheng China 625,000
Tanaka Shinobu Japan 614,000
Murphy Neel USA 565,000
Aido Sergio Spain 561,000
Zhou Jimmy Zhou China 550,000
Burns Kahle Australia 506,000
Lukashaugen Tore Norway 480,000
Ung Senh Man UK 379,000
Westmorland Jordan USA 364,000
Li Yuguang China 346,000
Narula Vijay Australia 345,000
Huang Bryan Singapore 271,000

2:25pm: Play concludes

Day 3 is in the books. We’ll have a full recap of today’s proceedings as soon as possible. — BK

2:05am: Four more hands

There will be four more hands here on Day 3. Stay tuned! — BK

2am: On the up for Ung
Level 18 – Blinds 4,000-8,000 (1,000 ante)

Senh Ung just secured himself a double up through Team PokerStars Pro Bryan Huang.

Ung opened the betting with a raise to 18,000 before Huang bumped it up to 45,000. Ung moved all in with a four-bet jam and Huang asked for a count. The dealer raked the bets and when Huang was informed it was 144,000 he made the call to put Ung at risk.

1:50am: Kitty Kuo Ko’d
Level 18 – Blinds 4,000-8,000 (1,000 ante)

Kitty Kuo has fallen in 19th place for a HK$252,200 payday.

After a button raise from Neel Murphy, Kuo moved in from the small blind for her last 112,000 in chips. Murphy made the call to put her at risk and Kuo saw she was behind but had live cards.

Murphy: KJ
Kuo: 109

The 8 in the window was a good card for Kuo but ultimately the A8842 runout couldn’t save her. She leaves us late on Day 3 while Murphy builds to 480,000. — BK


Kitty Kuo

1:40am: All-ins but no calls
Level 18 – Blinds 4,000-8,000 (1,000 ante)

A couple of shoves from two of the better-known players just happened now, but neither of them received a call.

Kitty Kuo was down to 103,000 when she moved all-in from under the gun. One by one her opponents folded.

At the same time on the next table, Bryan Huang raised to 19,000 from the cutoff before Vladimir Geshkenbein three-bet from the small blind. The Team PokerStars Pro came back with a jam for around 300,000 and Geshkenbein folded. –MC

1:30am: Dours done and dusted
Level 18 – Blinds 4,000-8,000 (1,000 ante)

Romain Dours is the latest evictee after getting his short stack all in preflop against Jordan Westmorland.

Westmorland raised to 20,000 from cutoff and it folded to Dours in the big blind. The latter moved all in for a total of 76,000 and Westmorland made the call to put Dours at risk.

Dours: A9
Westmorland: J10

The 5410 flop was a sore sight for Dours with Westmorland spiking top pair to take the lead. Dours shook his head at the 6 turn but since he had the ace of hearts, Westmorland picking up the flush draw didn’t actually remove one of Dours’ outs.

Down to just two cards to save him Dours couldn’t find one when the J river completed the board. He leaves us while Westmorland climbs to 460,000 in chips.

1:20pm: Senh getting shorter
Level 18 – Blinds 4,000-8,000 (1,000 ante)

Senh Ung’s stack has been pretty steady the last few hours. The only problem with that is that the blinds are catching up on him. Neel Murphy took him off a hand just now to drop him down to 225,000.

The Brit opened from the cutoff and was called by both blinds. The flop came 66A and Ung continued for 20,000. Murphy check-called from the small blind and both players went on to check the K turn. The 4 filled out the board and Ung folded when faced with a 70,000 bet. –MC

1:10am: Sun rises
Level 18 – Blinds 4,000-8,000 (1,000 ante)

Kahle Burns raised to 18,000 under the gun and it folded around to Yunsheng Sun in the big blind. He opted to defend and the flop came A59.

Sun checked it over to Burns who continued for 16,000. Then came the check-raise from Sun, he made it 45,000 in total. Burns made the call and the K arrived on the turn.

Without hesitation Sun slid out 75,000 and Burns clearly wasn’t happy with the predicament he was in. After about a minute in the tank Burns decided to let it go and started asking about Sun’s holding.

“Bluff!” Jordan Westmorland chimed in with a laugh.

That pot brings Sun up to 485,000 and knocks Burns down to 660,000. — BK

1am: Kavrakov and Gao bust
Level 18 – Blinds 4,000-8,000 (1,000 ante)

Just 20 players are left in the Main Event now after the eliminations of Atanas Kavrakov and Wenling Gao.

Kavrakov busted after he moved all-in for 107,000 from the button. Shinobu Tanaka was in the small blind and slid in the call.

Tanaka: QQ
Kavrkov: A2

The board ran 8Q574 to make the Japanese player top set.

While the Bulgarian was at the payout desk accepting his money, Gao queued up behind him with a 21st ticket in her hand. –MC

12:35am: Break time counts
Level 18 – Blinds 3,000-6,000 (1,000 ante)

Players are taking their last break of the day. Here are the approximate chip-counts:

Name Country Chips
Stevan Chew Australia 900,000
Albert Paik USA 765,000
Kahle Burns Australia 675,000
Jian Zhong Song China 675,000
Sergio Aido Spain 530,000
Vijay Narula Australia 525,000
Neel Murphy USA 520,000
Tore Lukashaugan Norway 510,000
Yuncheng Sun China 460,000
Yugyang Li China 400,000
Tobias Ziegler Germany 370,000
Shinobu Tanaka Japan 365,000
Jordan Westmorland USA 361,000
Bryan Huang Singapore 355,000
Jimmy Zhou USA 335,000
Fabian Geisel Gibraltar 280,000
Seng Ung UK 266,000
Vladimir Geshkenbein Switzerland 260,000
Atanas Kavrakov Bulgaria 185,000
Kitty Kuo Taiwan 140,000
Wenling Gao China 101,000
Romain Dours France 60,000

12:30am: Super High Roller champion departs
Level 18 – Blinds 3,000-6,000 (1,000 ante)

Yuan Li won the Super High Roller just a couple of days ago and he’s made another impressive run with a 23rd place finish here in the Main Event.

In the end it all came down to a coinflip when Li got into a classic race scenario with Jian Song.

Li: JJ
Song: AK

Li was looking great for a double up as the cards came down, that was until the river on the 2Q106A runout. The ace on the end a death knell for Li – he looked devastated as he got up from his seat.

Li will have to be content with a payday of HK$224,150. Add that to the HK$6,700,000 he pocketed for shipping the Super High Roller and he’s had a pretty damn good week. — BK

12:25am: River folding
Level 18 – Blinds 3,000-6,000 (1,000 ante)

Jordan Westmorland and Vladimir Geshkenbein were both preflop aggressors in hands on adjacent tables. Both ended up being taken off their hands on the river in small pots.

Westmorland opened to 15,000 from under the gun and was called by Kahle Burns a couple of seats along. The board rolled out 23597 with no betting happening until the river. There, Burns bet 33,000 and Westmorland check-folded.

Moments later, Geshkenbein opened from the cutoff and Tobias Ziegler defended his big blind to see a 653 flop appear. Geshkenbein continued for 15,000 and his German opponent check-called. The turn was the J and both players checked to the 2 river where Ziegler bombed it for 50,000. Geshkenbein shook his head, thought for a minute and then folded.

Westmorland – 325,000
Burns – 530,000
Zeigler – 215,000
Geshkenbein – 215,000

12:15am: Six high like a…bust
Level 18 – Blinds 3,000-6,000 (1,000 ante)

There was a rash of three-bets on two adjacent tables, but divergent fortunes for the perpetrators. Let’s do the easy ones first, before ending with the humdinger that has accounted for Christian Christner.

Stevan Chew opened to 14,000 in the hijack and Kitty Kuo three-bet to 40,000. Chew folded. Then, on the same table, Jimmy Zhou opened his button to 15,000 and Senh Ung, in the small blind, three-bet to 41,000 and Chew Zhou folded.

Sticking on that table, Albert Paik opened the hijack to 15,000 and Tore Lukashaugen three-bet to 41,000 from the button. Paik is rapidly becoming a wonderful player to watch and his four-bet here to 105,000 not only broke the folding trend, but also won the pot.

All of the above took place in the time that it took the following hand to play to its conclusion. It started with a three-bet, but things took a more complicated turn after that.

Christner opened his button to 12,000 and Sergio Aido, in the small blind, three-bet to 40,000. Christner called in position. The dealer delivered the 7K3 flop and Aido, who doesn’t act especially quickly, bet 34,000 at it. Christner, also a deliberate player, called.

The turn brough the J and Aido, after due thought, now checked. Christner seized his chance and slowly bet 40,000. Aido checked stack sizes (he had about 330,000; Christner had 135,000 more after the bet) and called.

The river was the 7 and Aido checked again. After another long pause, Christner jammed. Aido didn’t seem to like it, but must have been expecting it. He considered his options again and called.

Christner was forced to show his 65–a gutsy bluff–and Aido’s QQ were good. — HS

12am: Play slowing down
Level 18 – Blinds 3,000-6,000 (1,000 ante)

As we’re now into the penultimate level of the day and only 25 players remain the action appears to be slowing down dramatically. It could be that all the shortstacks who were holding on to make the money have either busted or doubled up but the floodgates seem well and truly closed at this stage.

There’s only two hours left here on Day 3. Let’s see how many survive to tomorrow where we’ll play down to a final table of six! — BK

11:55pm: Luo falls to the champ
Level 18 – Blinds 3,000-6,000 (1,000 ante)

They’ll be no back-to-back major final tables for Xixiang Luo, but the chance of Jimmy Zhou maintaining his title has increased after he eliminated the former.

Luo made the final table of EPT13 Malta a couple of weeks ago and continued the good form with another deep run here. He was down to 23,500 when he moved all-in from UTG+1. The action folded all the way around to Zhou in the big blind and he called after looking at just one card.

Luo: QJ
Zhou: Q9

The board ran 6579A to pair Luo’s kicker. He moved up to 440,000. –MC

11:40pm: Cash log
Level 18 – Blinds 3,000-6,000 (1,000 ante)

A quick reminder, you can see who has been knocked out and in what position on the payouts page.

11:30pm: Yu’s queens cracked
Level 18 – Blinds 3,000-6,000 (1,000 ante)

Winfred Yu is out, losing poker’s most traditional race. He had QQ and was up against Fabian Geisel’s AK. The dealer waited all the way to the river to deal the blow that crushed Yu: the A completed the 5497 board.


Winfred Yu: Busting in the money

Yu and Geisel had stacks of very similar size–about 120,000 each. But Yu’s doesn’t exist anymore and Geisel’s is twice as big. –HS

11:20pm: Matloubi doubles then busts
Level 18 – Blinds 3,000-6,000 (1,000 ante)

Former WSOP Main Event champion, Mansour Matloubi, doubled and then busted shortly after. We missed the bust out hand but here’s how he almost got back in it:

Team PokerStars Pro Bryan Huang opened to 16,000 from under the gun and made the automatic call after Matloubi moved all-in for 23,000. “I can’t wait to be blinded out,” said Matloubi, “At least I’ve found a favourite hand!”

Huang: 98
Matloubi: 54

The board ran 264JQ to pair his four.


Mansour Matloubi: Up, then down and out

“Back in the game!” Tore Lukashaugen said. That he was, but not for long. The payout desk is opposite media row and Matloubi was seen collecting his money as this post was being written. –MC

11:15pm: The pot of the tournament so far
Level 18 – Blinds 3,000-6,000 (1,000 ante)

Sitting Neel Murphy and Stevan Chew next to one another was like putting a cube of potassium next to a glass of water. It would be fine unless they started interacting. If they did, well, SCIENCE.

We have just seen the enormous explosion the seat draw seemed to tempt, and it’s Chew who now takes over the chip-lead in this tournament and leaves Murphy back in the pack.

Chew started it, raising to 15,000 from under the gun and Kitty Kuo called to his left. Action folded around to Murphy in the big blind and he called. All of this was perfectly normal.

The flop brought the 1084 and all three players checked. Again, all normal. Then the A came on the turn and all three players checked again. Either this was fizzling out, or someone was laying a big trap. It was very difficult to know whether it was one or the other.

The A on the river soon answered the question. Murphy, first to act, bet 24,000. (He had a stack of around 800,000.) Chew raised to 110,000 and Kuo left them to it.

After a brief pause, Murphy then announced that he was all-in. All-in! For 800,000! Chew called immediately, even though he was up against the only player at the table who could knock him out.

Good reason, though. Chew had A10, the absolute nuts. Murphy showed his 88 for a flopped set and rivered full house. He had slow played it into oblivion.


Stevan Chew: Blast off

Chew now has 920,000. Murphy is cut back to 320,000. — HS

11pm: Take a break

It’s that time again. Play resumes in 10 minutes.

10:55pm: Burns doubles Fan
Level 17 – Blinds 2,500-5,000 (500 ante)

Kahle Burns seemed a little surprised that Rong Fan took so long to call all-in after flopping top pair.

Burns had opened from the cutoff and Fan defended his big blind to see a 2108 flop. Fan checked and Burns set him in for his remaining 51,500. Fan tanked for around three minutes and then called with K10. Burns opened QJ and failed to catch up as the board ran out 37. He dropped down to 550,000. –MC

10:50pm: Line-up for the money
Level 17 – Blinds 2,500-5,000 (500 ante)

And so begins the post-bubble bust out frenzy. At least four players are now out in the money, including Quan Zhou, Chen An-Lin, Chane Kampanatsanyakorn and Oystein Kristoffersen, who were all massing around the payouts table at the same time.

10:45pm: Fan picking up steam
Level 17 – Blinds 2,500-5,000 (500 ante)

Rong Fan has risen above the super-shortstack he’d been peddling for a while after doubling up through Tobias Ziegler.

Ziegler brought it in for a raise to 26,000 under the gun before Fan committed his 26,000 next to act. The action folded back around to Ziegler and he tossed in the extra before the two players flipped up their hands.

Fan: AJ
Ziegler: 33

It was a coinflip and Fan ended up on the right end of it when the cards came down 410J94.

He scooped the pot and Ziegler’s small loss set him back to 290,000. — BK

10:40pm: Paik on a roll
Level 17 – Blinds 2,500-5,000 (500 ante)

Albert Paik’s stack had risen to 635,000 after he managed to get former APPT champion Yuguang Li to fold aces.

Li opened to 12,000 and was called by Paik in the button and Chen An Lin in the big blind. The flop fell 694 and Li continued for 20,000 before Paik raised to 58,000. Li called after Lin folded and then checked the 2 turn to Paik who fired 75,000. Li had 400,000 to play with but decided to open-fold AA and preserve them. –MC

10:30pm: Prodding the bubble
Level 17 – Blinds 2,500-5,000 (500 ante)

All things considered, that was a fairly conventional way to burst the bubble: big pair versus bigger pair. But there was some trickery afoot that might have burst it in less traditional fashions.

Two hands on Table 18 were of particular note, both featuring Tore Lukashaugan but neither won by him.

On the first, Lukashaugen opened to 13,000 under the gun and action folded to the short-stacked Quan Zhou in the big blind. Zhou had about 80,000 and he very quickly moved all-in.

Lukashaugen has been playing with Zhou for a while today so obviously knew this was an opponent with whom he could joke around. “You have queen-queen?” Lukashaugen said. “What if I have king-king?”

Lukashaugen didn’t drag it out too long before folding and then the table asked Zhou is they could see his hand. He allowed them to see one card, selected by Lukashaugen. He turned over the 6 to general amusement–and to Lukashaugen reaching for his wrist to check his pulse.

Two hands later on that table, an even weirder pot occurred. Senh Ung opened to 11,000 from under the gun and Lukashaugen called from the small blind. Mansour Matloubi was the shortest stack, but when you’re priced in, you’re priced in. He called.

The flop came 2A6 and they all checked.

The turn was the 7 and Lukashaugen bet 15,000. Matloubi, who didn’t quite have 100,000 in his stack, called. But Ung apparently liked his hand even better. He raised to 45,000.

Lukashaugen had both opponents easily covered, but must have figured he wouldn’t be able to shake two of them. He folded. And then Matloubi, who had a quick double-check of his cards, folded too.

Matloubi is now a very short stack just heading into the money. — HS

10:25pm: Bubble bursts as Jingzhi Huang heads home
Level 17 – Blinds 2,500-5,000 (500 ante)

The ACOP Main Event is now in the money as Jingzhi Huang departs. The 36 players remaining have all locked up HK$182,100!

Huang’s final hand came when he moved all in for 43,500 on the button over an opening raise to 11,000. Jordan Westmorland was in the small blind and he moved all in over the top as players from neighbouring tables gathered around to sweat the action.

“Good luck buddy” Westmorland wished to Huang after the initial raiser folded and the cards went on their backs.

Huang: JJ
Westmorland: KK

Huang was in trouble and there was nothing that the 296107 runout could do to save him. He shook hands with Westmorland and departed with the unfortunate title of Bubble Boy. — BK


Jingzhi Huang’s face says it all

10:10pm: Paik makes great call to double up
Level 17 – Blinds 2,500-5,000 (500 ante)

Take a bow Albert Paik. He just tanked for several minutes to make a great call all-in on the river in a hand with chip leader, Neel Murphy.

Murphy had been terrorising his table during the bubble period and that continued with a raise to 13,000 from UTG+1. Paik was in the cutoff and three-bet to 33,000. Murphy then came back with a four-bet to 84,000 and Paik tank-called.

The flop spread 7109 and Murphy led for 55,000. Call. The turn was the 4 and both players checked to the J river where Murphy set Paik in for his remaining 137,000. A crowd had gathered around the table by this point and they watched as Paik agonised over his decision. He rested his head on the table rail for a minute, then shook his head once he raised it again before burying his face in his hands for another minute. Finally he found the courage to call and Murphy nodded his head as he opened a bluffing Q4. Paik was congratulated by many as he opened AJ for a rivered pair. –MC


Albert Paik with a tough decision

9:45pm: Jin thankful for a triple up
Level 17 – Blinds 2,500-5,000 (500 ante)

Xin Jin was extremely happy to triple up on the second hand of hand for hand play. He was the shortest stack coming in to the bubble and now has given himself a great chance of a payday.

Neel Murphy opened to 13,000 from UTG+1 and was called by Albert Paik. Jin was in the big blind and capped his cards after looking at them. He then got out of his chair, stood three yards back from it, and then did what looked like a run up before moving all-in for 21,500.

Both opponents called and checked down the 5KQ32 board. Jin opened AK to beat Murphy’s 94 and Paik’s 97. They may have lost the pot but they got the bowing thanking treatment form Jin. –MC

9:30pm: Time for the bubble as Lai departs
Level 17 – Blinds 2,500-5,000 (500 ante)

The ACOP Main Event is now on the direct money bubble after the elimination of Stephen Lai.

The action folded around to Lai in the small blind and he moved all in. Atanas Kavrakov was in the big blind and he called off to put Lai at risk.

Lai: K9
Kavrakov: 66

It was a fair fight but Lai couldn’t improve on the 7J104A runout.

He departs in 38th place two shy of a payday. — BK

8:20pm: Chips for dinner

The 38 remaining players are off on their one-hour dinner break, and two of them will be eliminated when they come back without making the money. The full counts for the field are on the chip-count page.

Here’s the top ten but perhaps more importantly given the state of the tournament, the bottom five follow too.

Name Country Chips
Neel Murphy USA 1,081,000
Tore Lukashaugan Norway 620,000
Kahle Burns Australia 475,000
Yugyang Li China 440,000
Vijay Narula Australia 420,000
Stevan Chew Australia 383,000
Yun Chen Sun China 340,000
Jordan Westmorland USA 320,000
Jimmy Zhou USA 298,000
Vladimir Geshkenbein Switzerland 295,000

Bottom five:

Name Country Chips
Ron Fang China 65,000
Junji Zhi Wang China 60,000
Lu Xiang China 58,000
Stephen Lai Hong Kong 54,000
Xin Jin China 24,000

8:20pm: No more Nozaki
Level 16 – Blinds 2,000-4,000 (500 ante)

Koichi Nozaki has been eliminated painfully lose to a payday after losing a flip to Kahle Burns.

Nozaki got the last of it in preflop with AK and needed to overtake the 88 of Burns. It was an exciting 2J8 flop to see Nozaki pick up the nut flush draw but also give Burns middle set.

Nozaki hit the flush on the J turn but unfortunately for him Burns also filled up to leave Nozaki drawing dead. The 5 wouldn’t change anything and Nozaki’s elimination was final.

“Unlucky” Burns insisted as he climbed to 460,000 and Nozaki departed. — BK

8:10pm: Murphy’s million
Level 16 – Blinds 2,000-4,000 (500 ante)

Neel Murphy is closing in on a million chips after he “got there” versus second in chips, Yuguang Li. The latter probably wasn’t happy that the chip leader was moved to his left, and will be even less happy now.


Murphy crushing Day 3 so far

Li opened to 9,000 from under the gun and was only called by Murphy before a 5Q4 flop was delivered. Li continued for 9,000 and called when Murphy raised to 27,000. The turn was the 10 and Li check-called 40,000 before both players checked the 9 river.

Li opened 77 but Murphy made a bigger pair on the river with his flush drawing J9. As Murphy added to chips to his huge towers, many of his table mate’s just looked at him with green eyes and no wonder. –MC

8pm: Fan finds some more chips
Level 16 – Blinds 2,000-4,000 (500 ante)

Rong Fan’s stack is climbing after his three-bet jam got through against Wayne Yap.

Yap started the betting with a wager for 8,000 before the action folded around to Fan on the button. Fan slid his entire 46,000 into the middle and the decision was back to Yap.

After a minute of consideration Yap let it go and Fan was able to relax.

The latter scooped up the chips as the two traded some friendly banter and a laugh. Yap is now down to 135,000. — BK

7:50pm: To me, to Zhou
Level 16 – Blinds 2,000-4,000 (500 ante)

Jimmy Zhou tried to set a trap for Bryan Huang, which is no way to treat a friend. But Huang wriggled out of it–at the second attempt, at least.

Huang opened the button, raising to 5,500. Zhou called in the big blind and they saw a flop of 10J6. Zhou check-called Huang’s bet of 6,000.

The turn was the J and Zhou checked again. Huang continued with a bet of 26,000 and Zhou’s second call likely set alarm bells ringing.


Jimmy Zhou: Back-to-back?

When it was then followed by a check on the 3 river, Huang felt he had invested enough. He checked too. Zhou turned over J8 and, as if it wasn’t plain enough, rubbed his buddy’s nose in it by flashing the third jack back and forth over the two on the board.

Zhou is looking good in his bid to retain his title. — HS

7:45pm: Big slick makes Matloubi some chips
Level 16 – Blinds 2,000-4,000 (500 ante)

The 1990 World Series of Poker champion Mansour Matloubi is still in contention after doubling up through Tore Lukashaugen.

Matloubi got his last 32,500 in preflop and Lukashaugen called to put him at risk. Matloubi had the best of it with the dominating AK versus Lukashaugen’s A4.

There was no danger on the 873K9 runout and Matloubi held to keep his tournament alive.

“Back in the game” Lukashaugen said to Matloubi after passing over the chips.

Lukashaugen still sits with a very healthy 460,000. — BK

7:35pm: Kristoffersen pays off Stausholm
Level 16 – Blinds 2,000-4,000 (500 ante)

Oystein Kristoffersen has dropped down to 140,000 after he paid off a river bomb from Martin Stausholm, who rose to nearly 300,000.

A 24J flop was out and Kristoffersen bet 5,500 off the button. Stausholm check-called and both players went on to check the 7 turn. The board was completed with the 9 and Stausholm led for 22,000. Kristoffersen called and mucked upon seeing his fellow Scandinavian’s QJ for top pair. –MC

7:30pm: The European Poker Tour?
Level 16 – Blinds 2,000-4,000 (500 ante)

Come to Macau to play the crazy Asians, right? That’s the plan, huh? Think again.

There’s a table in this tournament that has Norway’s Oystein Kristoffersen (200,000), Denmark’s Martin Stausholm (250,000), Germany’s Christian Christner (195,000), Spain’s Sergio Aido (150,000), the USA’s Jordan Westmorland (240,000) and Vladimir Geshkenbein (205,000) who speaks seemingly every European language and has passports to match. (He’s representing Switzerland here.)


Christian Christner: Home away from home

There are only two Asians at the table and one of them, Winfred Yu, is what you might call a well-travelled man. This is far from what many might have expected from the Asia Championship of Poker. — HS

7:30pm: Murphy makes a set
Level 16 – Blinds 2,000-4,000 (500 ante)

We arrived at the table to see Neel Murphy and Stevan Chew engaged in a battle of the blinds.

The flop showed 109A and Murphy made it 14,000 to go from the small blind. Chew made the call from the big blind and the 3 appeared on the turn.

Murphy loaded up again and fired for 34,000. Chew paused for around 30 seconds before reaching into his stack and meticulously sliding out a call. The 2 fell on the end and Murphy opted to slow down, checking it over to Chew.

Chew checked behind and Murphy looked frustrated that Chew didn’t bet as he tabled 99 for a flopped set. Chew couldn’t beat it and mucked his hand as Murphy extended his lead to over 800,000. — BK

7:25pm: Hunting the short-stacks
Level 16 – Blinds 2,000-4,000 (500 ante)

With 40 players left and only 36 due to be paid, it’s that time of the tournament where everyone goes searching for the short-stacks. As far as I can tell, these are the men under most threat:

Xin Jin — 45,000
Lu Jiang — 55,000
Koichi Nozaki — 65,000
Jingzhi Huang — 70,000
Chane Kampanatsanyakorn — 80,000


Koichi Nozaki: Can he cling on?

The way this tournament has gone so far, however, I wouldn’t be surprised if two or three of them make the money. There’s every chance that a couple of people sitting now with what they consider comfortable stacks lose all their chips in massive coups.

There’s 55 minutes before the dinner break,so it’s touch and go as to whether we burst the bubble or eat first.– HS

7:20pm: Huang happy despite defeat
Level 16 – Blinds 2,000-4,000 (500 ante)

I’ve never seen a player so happy in defeat as Shan Huang just now, after Tobias Zeigler took him out.

The two players were under the gun and in the big blind. They had reached the turn with around 35,000 in the middle. Huang checked with the board reading 352J to face an all-in bet for 57,500 from Ziegler. He tanked and then called holding A3 for third pair. Zeigler looked to the heavens and opened KQ for over cards and a flush draw. He needed help from above and duly got it as the river was a heart to make his flush.

“I had to call,” said Huang to no one on particular.

“It was a good call, you were just unlucky,” reassured Kahle Burns to his right.

Huang was left with just an ante and busted the very next hand to Zeigler. “I’m sorry,” said the German.
“Good game. I like your shove.” said a smiling Huang before he wandered over to tell Sergio Aido about the hand. Zeigler moved up to 160,000. –MC

7:10pm: Paik exacts revenge on Huang
Level 16 – Blinds 2,000-4,000 (500 ante)

There are loads of small complexities to the following hand, which played out between Bryan Huang and Albert Paik. No doubt a previous skirmish between the two (see 3:30pm) had a part of it, as did the fact that just as Paik was pondering a big call on the river, tournament officials came and hovered by the table preparing to take the player in the big blind away next hand. That player was going to be Albert Paik.

In the hand in question, Paik raised to 9,500 from under the gun and Huang called from two seats to his left. That took them to a flop of K8Q. Paik bet 11,000 and Huang called.

The J came on the turn and Paik’s check allowed Huang to assume the betting lead. He put 25,500 forward. Paik called.

After the Q came on the river, Paik checked again and Huang bet 44,000. Paik looked down at about 125,000 that he had behind and began chuckling. Right about then, the tournament official appeared, racks in hand, and the dealer indicated where the button was and that the player they were looking for was involved in this hand.

Paik will have known that if he lost this, he wouldn’t have much chance of getting his chips back, and would be taking only about 20 big blinds to his new assignment.

But he did call. And he was right to do so. Huang showed AK and had every right to think he was ahead. But Paik showed AA and that was the bigger pair.

And with that, Paik was off to torment another table, leaving Huang with about 270,000 on an eight-handed table. — HS

7:05pm: A happy chopping pair
Level 16 – Blinds 2,000-4,000 (500 ante)

Tobias Zeigler and Vijay Narula were a happy pair of players after they both turned a straight with the same hand to chop a pot.

Ziegler opened to 7,000 from the cutoff and was only called by Narula in the big blind. The flop fanned J74 and Narula check-called 9,500 to see the 10 appear on the turn. Narula checked and stared intently at Ziegler as he tanked for two minutes. Then the German bet 15,500 and called all-in after Narula raised enough to cover him.

Narula opened 89 and Ziegler matched him with 89. The river was the K.

“That’s not what I expected to see from both of you!” commented Kahle Burns.

“Nice turn card for both of us!” said Narula who still has around 300,000. Ziegler’s got 70,000 to try and use to get in the money. –MC

6:55pm: Busto for Boskovic
Level 16 – Blinds 2,000-4,000 (500 ante)

Dejan Boskovic was down to a super short stack and he just lost the last of his chips to Yuguang Li.

Boskovic moved all in from under the gun for just 13,500 and it folded around to Xixiang Luo who raised it up to 20,000 on the button. Li was in the big blind and he stared at Luo before sliding in another raise to 73,000.

Luo gave it up and Boskovic was happy to have extra in the pot and still be heads up. He was even happier to see he was live when the cards were turned over.

Boskovic: 53
Li: AK

By the turn Boskovic actually had the lead on the 7Q85 board but the A river rolled off on the end to see him eliminated.

“Good luck guys” Boskovic farewelled the tabled after shaking Li’s hand. — BK

6:40pm: Geisel’s Kings punish Paik
Level 15 – Blinds 1,500-3,000 (500 ante)

All of a sudden there’s a flurry of huge pots, the latest of which has earned Fabian Geisel a double up. Albert Paik was the non-believer in this one, and ended up losing about half of his stack.

Paik opened the button, making it 7,000 to play, and Geisel three-bet from the small blind, pushing the price to 21,000. Paik called.

They both checked the 953 flop, but then Geisel jammed his last 65,000 in after the 2 turn. Paik called.

Geisel: KK
Paik: A9

The river was the inconsequential 8 and Geisel set about stacking his newly-acquired chips. — HS

6:30pm: Cooler central
Level 15 – Blinds 1,500-3,000 (500 ante)

When you hear a huge cry of excitement at a poker tournament, you know something big has gone down. That just happened and we dashed over to see the end of a huge pot.

Overnight chip leader Yuri Martins was on the wrong end of it and former APPT champion Yuguang Li rocketed to second in chips with around 560,000. Apparently, the chips went in on a J210 flop after around 100,000 chips had already been amassed pre-flop.


Yuri Martins: Cooled

Li held AK for the nuts, crushing his Brazilian opponent’s 54. The board ran out A10 and Martins dropped to just 27,000. –MC

6:30pm: Joy for Jin after a lucky catch to stay alive
Level 15 – Blinds 1,500-3,000 (500 ante)

Xin Jin is counting his blessings after a come-from-behind victory to stay in the tournament.

Jin got the last of it all in preflop with AQ but saw he needed some help after Yuri Martins tabled AK. The KJ7 flop turned the tables with Jin flopping a flush and shooting into the lead.

“Wowww” Jin gasped at the sight of almost locking up the hand.

The J turn meant he’d lose to a river king or jack but the Q was safe to see him secure the double up.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, sorry” Jin continued to a smiling Martins.

Jin now has 80,000 while Martins is sent back down to 280,000 in chips. — BK

6:15pm: Some counts
Level 15 – Blinds 1,500-3,000 (500 ante)

There are 43 players left, nine from the money. Here are a few chip stacks:

Name Country Chips
Neel Murphy USA 748,000
Bryan Huang Singapore 380,000
Tore Lukashaugen Norway 370,000
Stevan Chew Australia 360,000
Kahle Burns Australia 350,000
Vijay Narula Australia 300,000
Yuri Martins Brazil 280,000
Senh Ung UK 255,000
Yuan Li China 250,000

6:15pm: Break time cooler
Level 15 – Blinds 1,500-3,000 (500 ante)

The problem with 10-minute breaks is that you don’t get much of one if a big hand occurs just as the break starts. Vijay Narula won’t mind though as he was on the right side of a cooler that cost Michael Rocco his tournament life.

Narula was on the button and three-bet to 17,500 after a middle position open to 7,000. Rocco was in the big blind and four-bet to 38,000. The original raiser folded but Narula moved all-in and was quickly called.

Rocco: QQ
Narula: AA

Rocco let out a sound of exasperation when he saw the holdings but after the board ran J33J10, he congratulated his opponent and wished him luck. That win put Narula up to around 300,000. –MC

6:11pm: Break time
Level 15 – Blinds 1,500-3,000 (500 ante)

Players are taking a 10-minute break with 30 minutes still to play in Level 15, and we’ll come back with details of the their chip-counts. There will be a 45-minute dinner break at the end of the next level. — HS

6:10pm: And the other Tran busts too
Level 15 – Blinds 1,500-3,000 (500 ante)

A bad few minutes to have the surname “Tran”. Following his namesake Linh Tran, JC Tran, the tournament’s last $11 million man, has also hit the rail.

It was as though they were ganging up on Tran on his table, especially as his stack dwindled to its last 100,000 or so. During a hand not long before Tran’s elimination, Xixiang Luo bet 40,500 at the flop of J78, which was a pot-sized bet after he and Tran had got involved from big blind and button, respectively. Tran folded, but his stack wasn’t long for the world.


JC Tran: Departed

He opened from early position a little while later, making it 8,000 to play, and Stevan Chew three-bet from the button, making it 25,000. Tran fought back with a four-bet shove, but will have known he was in trouble when Chew didn’t need a count. (I think it was about 120,000-ish.)

Chew called and showed KK. Tran had JK. The flop wasn’t all bad. The AQ3 offered gutshot hopes. But the Q and 3 on turn and river were no help. That’s the last of Tran. — HS

6:05pm: End of the road for Tao
Level 15 – Blinds 1,500-3,000 (500 ante)

Guancheng Tao has departed after getting it all in preflop with the worst of it versus Sergio Espina.

Tao: QQ
Espina: JJ

Tao had run his jacks into queens and couldn’t overcome the dominant hand when the cards fell 105769.

Tao’s exit took Espina’s stack up to 160,000. — BK

6pm: Tran sent to the rail
Level 15 – Blinds 1,500-3,000 (500 ante)

Linh Tran found a big ace, went with it, but ran into a bigger one owning to Christian Christner.

Christner opened to 6,500 from the hijack before Tran three-bet all-in for 29,500 from the button. Christner double-checked his holding and made the call.

Christner: AK
Tran: A10

The board ran 8QJ4Q, missing both players. That put the German up to around 240,000. –MC

5:55pm: Li runs into Burns’ set
Level 15 – Blinds 1,500-3,000 (500 ante)

It’s been five minutes, so here’s some more Yuan Li. This time it’s bad news, Li fans, although great for Kahle Burns.

Burns just secured a full double up through Li, flopping a set of three with his 33. I don’t know when the money went in, but it might easily have been there and then as Li had KJ and the flop was 93J.


Kahle Burns: Three threes

The 6 and 4 on turn and river didn’t change much. Burns’s double was about 160,000 as he is now sitting with around 320,000. Li still has about 310,000. — HS

5:45pm: Luck-Li eights!
Level 15 – Blinds 1,500-3,000 (500 ante)

Yuan Li, as has been established many times this week–many times in the past hour actually–is quite happy playing any two cards. But just like any Asian gambler, he especially likes the number eight. And why not? Li has just boosted his stack close to 400,000 after finding pocket eights, flopping a set and turning quads. Stoyan Obreshkov needs to persuade Bulgaria to get its own lucky hand because his A10 was no match for this. He’s on his way home. –HS

5:45pm: Li aggression
Level 15 – Blinds 1,500-3,000 (500 ante)

It’s becoming commonplace to see Yuan Li raising these days. I find it hard to remember a time in poker when he wasn’t.

He, Vijay Narula and Kahle Burns all took to a K28 flop after the latter had raised. Burns continued for 8,000 from the hijack and was called by Narula in the small blind before Li check-raised to 25,000 from the big blind. Burns tank-folded and Narula followed quickly behind. Li flashed Narula a card, we think it was a king. He moved up to around 290,000.

Narula said he had AK and promised not to slow play anymore. Then he raised his button to 7,00 and was called by Michael Rocco in the big blind. Both checked a 597 flop before Rocco led for 14,000 on the 4 turn. Narula open-folded AQ while laughing, to prove he wasn’t slow playing. –MC

5:40pm: Liu loses to Li
Level 15 – Blinds 1,500-3,000 (500 ante)

MPC22 Main Event and High Roller champion Yuguang Li is stacking some newly acquired chips after eliminating tablemate Pu Liu.

Team PokerStars Pro Chen-an Lin kicked things off with a preflop raise to 7,500 and after Li called, Liu moved all in for 31,500. Lin decided to fold but Li called it off to put Liu at risk.

Li: AQ
Liu: A10

Liu spiked a ten to take the lead on the 5J10 flop but the K meant Broadway for Li and left Liu chasing a queen just to chop the pot. The J river didn’t deliver and Liu left his seat.

Li now has 255,000 worth of chips in play. — BK

5:30pm: Sun downs Dvoress
Level 15 – Blinds 1,500-3,000 (500 ante)

That 100,000 stack didn’t last long for Daniel Dvoress. He got it in pre-flop from the big blind with Ace-King after Yunsheng Sun raised to 8,000 from the button, Dvoress three-bet to 23,000 and Sun jammed. (Thanks to Michael Rocco for this hand history.) Sun had pocket twos and ended up with quads and that was the end of Dvoress.

Sun now has 370,000 and is to Rocco’s direct left. Rocco now has a tough spot, actually, with Sun sitting right there and, on the other side, Yuan Li. This is the table on the stage today, and Li is only one seat away from where he was sitting when he won the Super High Roller. Li has 300,000. — HS

5:25pm: Huang Leaves Linh Tran short
Level 15 – Blinds 1,500-3,000 (500 ante)

APPT Manila champion Linh Tran is still in the running but he just took a hit to his stack after losing a flip to double up Jingzhi Huang.

The two of them got all the money in preflop with Tran holding QQ and Huang the AK.

Huang hit the table in celebration when the 82A flop came down and his top pair held through the 4 turn and 3 river.

He builds to 155,000 while Tran is chopped down to just 35,000. — BK

5:10pm: Geshkenbein and Dvoress get the doubles in
Level 14 – Blinds 1,200-2,400 (400 ante)

Vladimir Geshkenbein had 49,900 at the start of today, and said that he had wondered whether it was worth coming back to play that stack. He was likely not totally serious–poker players don’t tend to abandon stacks, no matter how small–but he was right to stick around. He now has about 265,000. “I won some flips,” he said.

His table-mate Shan Huang was on hand to tell the visiting Philipp Gruissem about it. “He triple up,” Huang said, before realising that he was underselling it. “No. Double and then double again.”

On the subject of short stack double ups, Daniel Dvoress has just done the same, through Tobias Ziegler. Dvoress had about a third of what he finished Day 1 with for much of the opening couple of hours today, but his patience has paid off and he now has something to work with too.

Meanwhile, as Gruissem was chatting to Christian Christner and Huang, Fabian Spielmann played back-to-back pots, winning one and losing the second to Wayne Yap.

The first came about when Winfred Yu opened to 5,500 from early position and Spielmann three-bet to 10,400 from the button. Yu called.

They saw the flop fall 9J5 and after Yu checked, Spielmann bet 25,000 and Yu folded.

On the next hand, Wayne Yap raised from the hijack, making it 5,500 to go. Spielmann called in the cutoff and action folded to Huang in the small blind. Despite wearing a T-shirt bearing the Batman logo and declaring “THE SHOW IS ABOUT TO BEGIN”, it wasn’t. He folded, meaning the conversation with Gruissem could continue. Linh Tran called in the big blind, however.

The flop brought the Q88 and the Asian gambling world prepared for fireworks at the sight of two eights. It was more sedate. Tran checked, Yap bet 6,500 and only Spielmann called.

They saw the 4 on the turn and Yap now checked to Spielmann, who bet 13,500. Yap called.

Then the 3 came on the river and both players checked. Lucky eight anyone? No. Yap’s KQ was the winner. — HS

5:05pm: Martins makes it tough for Boskovic
Level 14 – Blinds 1,200-2,400 (400 ante)

Yuri Martins just put Dejan Boskovic to a decision for all his chips after moving his bigger stack all in on the river.

We caught the action from the turn with the board reading 84J5 and Boskovic had checked it over to Martins. After finding out that Boskovic had a stack of around 70,000, Martins bet 21,500. Boskovic called and the 2 river completed the board.

Boskovic quickly checked and after pausing for a full minute, Martins moved all in with enough to cover. Boskovic rolled his eyes and rechecked his cards before contemplating the decision.

“Will you show me if I fold?” Boskovic asked.

Martins didn’t respond, and after 30 seconds Boskovic threw his cards away.

Raking in that pot Martins moves up to a new tota of 360,000. — BK

4:55pm: Mooney moves in
Level 14 – Blinds 1,200-2,400 (400 ante)

Australian Geoff Mooney just added some chips to his stack after and check-raise jam into two opponents.

The flop read 45A and Mooney checked from the small blind before Senh Ung bet out for 8,000. Neel Murphy made the call on the button and Mooney moved in for 57,800.

Ung didn’t take long to fold but Murphy gave it a lot of thought. Eventually he shot Mooney a quick lance and threw his hand away before the pot was awarded to Mooney.

Despite losing that hand Murphy is still our Day 3 chip leader with a touch over 600,000. — BK

4:35pm: Tu can’t break the Seal
Level 14 – Blinds 1,200-2,400 (400 ante)

Emanuel Seal had less than 50,000 when he came back to play today, and that had dwindled further to 14,800 when he got the last of it in with KJ against Lingjia Tu’s JJ.

Where there’s an overcard, there’s always hope and the 3K7810 runout kept Seal alive. — HS

4:25pm: Stausholm takes nibble from Dours
Level 14 – Blinds 1,200-2,400 (400 ante)

Martin Stausholm was accidentally omitted from that last sweep of chip counts, but the last Danish player in the field continues to do very well. He has about 250,000 at last count.

He also just won a small pot from Romain Dours, who is one of the last French players still alive. (I think Bernard Vu is now out, but Cyril Andre is somewhere in the last 50 players).

Dours opened to 6,000 from the hijack and Stausholm called in the big blind. After the 65Q flop, Stausholm check-called Dours’ 7,000 continuation bet, leading to a J turn. Both players checked.

The 7 came on the river and Stausholm now bet 14,400. Dours folded. — HS

4:20pm: Nozaki saved by miracle runout
Level 14 – Blinds 1,200-2,400 (400 ante)

Koichi Nozaki was just given a second chance by the deck after running his JJ into the KK of Romain Dours.

After a raise from Martin Stausholm, Nozaki moved his last 26,200 into the middle before Dours moved all in over the top. Stausholm let it go and Nozaki quickly saw he needed to catch a lucky break to keep his tournament alive.

That’s exactly what he did as the board ran out AQAQQ to give both players a queen over aces full house, and leave Nozaki and Dours playing the board.

“That’s an unbelievable chop. Unlucky man” tablemate Jordan Westmorland consoled Dours, but the latter didn’t seem too fazed as he laughed it off. — BK

4:05pm: Stacks
Level 14 – Blinds 1,200-2,400 (400 ante)

Players have returned from their first break of the day. There are 59 remaining, and here are some selected chip counts:

Name Country Chips
Neel Murphy USA 585,000
Tore Lukashaugen Norway 400,000
Yuri Martins Brazil 340,000
Yuan Li China 285,000
Bryan Huang Singapore 280,000
Senh Ung UK 280,000
Michael Rocco USA 260,000
Chen-An Lin Taiwan 240,000
Kitty Kuo Taiwan 220,000
Tobias Ziegler Germany 190,000
Jimmy Zhou USA 180,000
Vladimir Geshkenbein Switzerland 170,000
JC Tran USA 160,000
Wayne Yap Singapore 130,000
Sergio Aido Spain 110,000
Mansour Matloubi UK 110,000
Daniel Dvoress Canada 50,000


Neel Murphy: Clear air at top of the counts

4pm: Scheduled break

Players have left the tournament area for a 10-minute break. Coverage will resume momentarily.

3:55pm: Luo puts the pressure on
Level 14 – Blinds 1,200-2,400 (400 ante)

Team PokerStars Pro Chen-an Lin brought it in for a raise to 5,500 and after next-to-act Xixiang Luo made the call, Pu Liu did the same from the big blind. The dealer fanned a flop of A29 and both Liu and Lin checked their options.

Luo took the betting lead by firing for 7,500. Liu called and with Lin out of the way the 5 arrived on the turn. After another check from Liu, Luo asked to see his stack. Around 46,000 was revealed with a move of Liu’s hand and Luo decided to bet more than half of it with a barrel for 25,000.


Xixiang Luo: Barrelling

That was too much for Liu who threw his hand away as the pot was awarded to Luo. — BK

3:35pm: Half an hour more
Level 14 – Blinds 1,200-2,400 (400 ante)

As noted below, the blinds went up during the hand featuring Bryan Huang and Ying Lin Chua and they’ll play 30 minutes of this level before pausing for a 10-minute break. — HS

3:30pm: Huge pot for Huang
Level 13 – Blinds 1,000-2,000 (300 ante)

A massive pot here for Bryan Huang, who trusted his instincts to put his tournament life very much in jeopardy, but who came out with a great shot now of heading into the deep stages.

The scene looked like this at the point I arrived: Albert Paik, in the hijack seat, had 12,500 in front of him, Ying Lin Chua had the same in front of him in the cutoff and Huang, on the button, had 30,500 over the line in front of him. I can only infer that someone in early position had opened, Paik had three-bet, Chua had called and then Huang had made a cold four-bet, forcing the original raiser to fold. (There are some other possibilities, but this seems most likely.)

Anyway, what happened next was as follows. Paik agonised but called. Chua agonised but folded. Huang and Paik went to the flop of 9Q8 and Paik checked.

Huang bet 25,000 from a stack of about 85,000 and Chua, with comfortably more than 200,000, called. It took them to the 10 on the turn.

This card now made any hand with a jack in it look pretty handsome, and Paik represented precisely that. He bet 40,000. Huang peered down at his stack of about 60,000 and must have known he was essentially playing for all of it. As if that wasn’t clear enough already, the tournament officials announced that the blinds were going up just as the Team PokerStars Pro was pondering. A big blind was going to cost 2,400 as soon as this hand was done.

Huang was undeterred. He called. And that left him with a potential ten big blinds should this one go south.


Bryan Huang: Boosted

Paik checked the river of 2 and Huang checked behind. Paik turned over his 55–not a jack in sight–and Huang showed his KK. Forgive the PokerStars partisanship: Well played Bryan. — HS

3:10pm: Luo takes on the sharks
Level 13 – Blinds 1,000-2,000 (300 ante)

As mentioned below, Xixiang Luo recently took a trip to the European Poker Tour and ended up on the final table of the EPT Main Event in Malta. He battled some European sharks there, and he’s still clashing with tough players, this time from South America and the United States.

Luo was at a flop of 7108 against Yuri Martins and JC Tran, both of whom had called Luo’s raise from the blinds. After they checked action over the Luo, he bet 4,500 and only Martins called.


Yuri Martins and JC Tran

The 3 came on the turn and was checked by both players. But after the J came on the river, Martins bet 13,500 and Luo folded.

If I remember rightly from watching Luo in Malta, he’s a deliberate player who is quite capable of laying down a hand. But when he commits, he commits. He might have to be fairly committed this afternoon in this company. — HS

3pm: Lin repping Team Pro
Level 13 – Blinds 1,000-2,000 (300 ante)

Chen-An Lin has the biggest stack of the two Team PokerStars Pros left in this one. He’s sitting with about 250,000 and has position on both Yuri Martins and JC Tran, sitting to their immediate left. It’s a tough corner of the room to be in, but Lin has the best seat in it.

Lin just pushed Xixiang Luo out of a hand, firing 43,000 at a board of 73K9A. With around 60,000 in the pot already, Luo was clearly tempted to stick around. But the man who recently reached the final table at EPT Malta decided to fold and preserve his stack. — HS

2:55pm: Dvoress has one move
Level 13 – Blinds 1,000-2,000 (300 ante)

Daniel Dvoress, the Day 1 leader, is now a tiny stack. He just shoved for 15,000 from early position and got it through, but he’s going to need a few double ups to get back into this.

2:50pm: Yap attack
Level 13 – Blinds 1,000-2,000 (300 ante)

Wayne Yap just told Christian Christner that he is not to be messed with, raising Christner off a hand on the flop and then showing the bluff.

Yap opened the cutoff, making it 4,500 to play. This raise passed through Vladimir Geshkenbein on the button (whose stack has recently doubled to more than 110,000) and got to Christner in the small blind. He three-bet to 16,000.

Yap called and surveyed a flop of KJ6. Christner bet 13,500 but Yap fairly quickly bumped it up to 30,000. Christner thought a little while, then folded. Yap revealed his A8 to some chuckles from table-mates. I’m sure Yap knows as well as anybody that there’s a chance he was bluffing with the best hand there. Christner is not always going to be three-betting with the goods. — HS

2:40pm: Tran applies the pressure
Level 13 – Blinds 1,000-2,000 (300 ante)

JC Tran is one of the relatively few players left in the field who has actually won more in a single tournament than the first prize on offer this week. Although he is absolutely not going to consider $862,000 to be small fry, he won more than $2 million for coming fifth in the World Series Main Event one year, and more than $1.1 million for one of his two WPT titles. (He also has two WSOP bracelets and a WCOOP Main Event title to his name.) Actually, looking at Tran’s career resume gives an idea of how significant this tournament in Macau is. Despite his exceptional number of results, the title here would be his third largest individual cash.

Anyway, Tran is on the march today. He just pushed Pu Liu out of a had and left Liu staring angrily at the skies.

Liu opened and Tran three-bet from the hijack. Liu called and these bets were being raked into the pot at the point I arrived. Liu checked the flop of 426 and Tran bet 9,000. Liu called. Then the 7 came on the turn and Liu checked. Tran bet 19,000 and Liu called.

Then the 3 came on the river and Liu’s third check was a red rag to a bull for Tran. He moved all-in, covering Liu’s remaining 50,000, and Liu had little option but to fold. — HS

2:25pm: Five down
Level 13 – Blinds 1,000-2,000 (300 ante)

Five players have been knocked out in the opening 30 minutes, although the overnight short-stack, Ling Tong, is not one of them. He has so far kept his 12 big blinds out of trouble. Tom McDonald, who was second shortest, has departed, however. — HS

2:20pm: Murphy takes the lead
Level 13 – Blinds 1,000-2,000 (300 ante)

We have a new chip leader here in Macau as Neel Murphy stacks up more than 420,000 chips (possibly even more) having knocked out Yueyuan Wang. Wang has been in or around the chip lead for almost all of this tournament, but it has come to an end several places before the money kicks in.


Yueyang Wang: Short day

Bryan Huang sat next to Wang all day yesterday, and he was also close by to see her elimination today. The general gist is that Murphy flopped top two and Wang flopped a flush draw in a four-way pot, but they waited until the turn to get it in. Wang missed.

She started today with more than 200,000 chips, while Murphy had nearly 220,000. That accounts for the massive stack now with Murphy.

Their table has subsequently broken, meaning Huang and Jimmy Zhou have headed off to a different table and Murphy has taken the mountains of chips in an opposite direction. — HS

2:05pm: Long day for Geisel, to the left of Li
Level 13 – Blinds 1,000-2,000 (300 ante)

For most, the under-the-gun seat is the worst at the table. For Yuan Li, it’s great: it’s offers the first chance to get your chips in. He raised to 4,500 from under the gun and action passed all the way round to Fabian Geisel in the big blind. Geisel called.

The flop fell 283 and Geisel check-called a continuation bet of 5,000 from Li. Then they both checked the 9 turn. After the Q river, and clearly having not improved, Geisel check-folded to Li’s bet of 12,000.


Yuan Li: Firm favourite

I make no apology for following every move Li makes this week. The Super High Roller champion has quickly become one of the most exciting players to watch in the room. There’s barely been two cards all week he hasn’t felt like playing. –HS

2:05pm: Westmorland tries to forget the beer pong
Level 13 – Blinds 1,000-2,000 (300 ante)

Jordan Westmorland was the ACOP Beer Pong champion of 2015 and came to tonight’s contest, at the players’ party, with high hopes and a new partner: Jonathan Karamalikis. However, the American/Australian partnership was defeated in the second round last night, surrendering the title, and leaving them both with only the prospect of winning close to a million US dollars as consolation. It’s a tough life.

Both Westmorland and Karamilikis are in the last 77 players in this tournament, and Westmorland won an early pot to add to his 219,000 stack.


Jordan Westmorland: Back to poker from beer pong

Westmorland opened to 5,000 from the cutoff and Wai Chan called in the big blind. The flop came 10A3 and Chan checked. Westmorland bet 5,500 and Chan called. The 9 came on the river and after another check from Chan, Westmorland bet 17,500 and Chan folded.

If only the beer pong opponents had rolled over so easily. — HS

1:55pm: Christmas comes early
Level 13 – Blinds 1,000-2,000 (300 ante)

Big news from the City of Dreams, Macau: a Christmas tree has arrived in the hotel lobby, and the well-known, popular Seattle-based coffee firm, who have a branch about 15 yards from the PokerStars LIVE card-room, have broken out their red cups today. Christmas has come to Macau.

For 40 players still in the ACOP Main Event, this is going to feel like a ropey Christmas. They’re going to go home today without so much as a mince pie. For close relatives of 36 of them, however, it’s time to start writing down that gift list. They will all be in the money.

Play is just getting started, so stick with us all day.

1pm: Playing into the money

Good afternoon all and welcome back to the PokerStars LIVE card-room at the City of Dreams, Macau, where things are about to get very interesting in the Asia Championship of Poker (ACOP) Main Event.

With 77 players remaining from the 302 who started, the money bubble is gradually nearing. We have seven 90-minute levels planned for today and we will burst that bubble at some point. The player knocked out in 36th will win HK$182,100. The player who is knocked out in 37th will win nothing.

Those are the harsh realities of tournament poker, and it’s what makes bubble day all the more tense and thrilling. We will have blow-by-blow coverage from the moment the cards are in the air at 2pm until day is done some time in the early hours of Friday. Stick around.

Ready to embark on your own poker adventure? Sign up for PokerStars and begin your journey. Click here to get an account.

PokerStars Blog reporting team at 2016 ACOP: Marc Convey, Brad Kain and Howard Swains. Photography by Long Guan/Kenneth Lim Photography. Follow the PokerStars Blog on Twitter: @PokerStarsBlog


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