2016 ACOP: Geshkenbein heads star-studded final in search of history

November 11, 2016


Vladimir Geshkenbein: Last chance to add APPT to EPT title

As you may have already heard, there are big changes afoot in the world of PokerStars Live. The Asia Pacific Poker Tour and the European Poker Tour, among others, are undergoing a rebrand, returning next year as either a PokerStars Championship or a PokerStars Festival. The APPT and EPT will no longer exist, at least as we currently know them.

With time ticking down until those familiar initials are laid to rest, players seem to be redoubling their efforts to take a permanent place in PokerStars history. And today, at the PokerStars LIVE card-room at the City of Dreams, Macau, Vladimir Geshkenbein took a step nearer writing his name into the record books.

Geshkenbein is a former champion on the EPT, having triumphed at Snowfest in March 2011. He now heads the final six of the Asia Championship of Poker (ACOP) Main Event, the flagship tournament of the APPT. If he manages to outlast five other players tomorrow, he will be the only man to win both EPT and APPT titles. It’s never been done before. And no one will be able to do it again.


A relaxed man on the brink of history

Geshkenbein was the star turn as the final 16 coming into play were reduced to the last six. But he’ll know that this tournament is far from over having witnessed an amazingly topsy-turvy day. Albert Paik was chip-leader this time last night, but he was first out today. Meanwhile Stevan Chew, another dominant stack of the past 24 hours, could only manage 13th, while Jordan Westmorland perished in ninth, also unable to keep a big stack into the very deepest stages.

But what of those who remain? Well, any of three men could really occupy top billing in this report. Geshkenbein may have the most chips, but Jimmy Zhou’s story is possibly even more outstanding. Zhou was the champion in this same event this time last year, and is mounting one of the most successful title defences world poker has witnessed in recent years.


Jimmy Zhou: Back-to-back prospects are very real

Jason Mercier and Vanessa Selbst successfully defended their NAPT titles in Mohegan Sun, but I can’t think of a high profile example since then. If Zhou does it in the most prestigious event in Asia, then his achievement will stand comparison with the two Team PokerStars Pro’s efforts in Connecticut.

And on the subject of Team PokerStars Pros: Bryan Huang is also at this final table. In the remarkable opening level of today, Huang built his stack from the shortest in the room to the biggest. As Paik vanished, Huang grew ever stronger. Tomorrow will be Huang’s third appearance at an APPT final table. He has finished third and second before. One better, Bryan?


Bryan Huang: Can he get the gold medal

The full line-up for tomorrow’s final is as follows–and we are far from ruling out any of Neel Murphy, Kahle Burns or Shinobu Tanaka either. Those three each had their story from today, which is best relived via the blow-by-blow reporting below.

Follow the high roller event in to the night, check out who has cashed already on the payouts page, and join us tomorrow from 2pm to play to a champion.

Name Country Chip Count
Vladimir Geshkenbein Switzerland 2,958,000
Kahle Burns Australia 2,211,000
Jimmy Zhou China 1,642,000
Shinobu Tanaka Japan 1,200,000
Bryan Huang Singapore 595,000
Neel Murphy USA 449,000

Day 4 coverage archive:

10:10pm: Geshkenbein coolers Song to end the day’s play
Level 24 – Blinds: 10,000/20,000 (ante 3,000)

It was a cooler that ended it and unfortunately for Jian Zhong Song, he was on the wrong end of it and busted in seventh place for $981,000.

Song opened to 40,000 from the cutoff and was only called by Vladimir Geshkenbein in the small blind. The flop fell A♣4♥8♥ and Song continued for 100,000. Geshkenbein check-called to see the 2♦ turn where he checked to face another 100,000 bet. He responded by raising to 205,000 and called when Song jammed for an additional 305,000.

Geshkenbein: 8♠8♣ for middle set.
Song: A♥8♦ for two pair.

Geshkenbein just had to avoid an ace and he turned away from the table as the dealer revealed the river. “Oh no!” joked Bryan Huang to Geshkenbein. The latter turned around quickly and saw that it was a bricky K♣ and then he afforded himself a laugh at the Team PokerStars Pro’s antics.

Geshkenbein will take the chip lead going into the final day. Details on all the counts, along with a wrap of all today’s talking points will be up on the blog shortly. –MC

10pm: Tanaka attacks Song
Level 24 – Blinds: 10,000/20,000 (ante 3,000)

Immediately after doubling up, Shinobu Tanaka started taking it out on the short stacks who had tormented him. Well, at least one of them.

With his newly-acquired wealth, Tanaka raised to 54,000 from under the gun. Jian Zhong Song, to his left, wanted a piece of that new stack and three-bet to 110,000. However when action folded back to Tanaka, he slammed the door in his face again. He jammed and Song folded. — HS

9:55pm: Zhou doubles Tanaka
Level 24 – Blinds: 10,000/20,000 (ante 2,000)

All of a sudden we were joined by Shinobu Tanaka’s wife on the stage. The view wasn’t great from her previous position on the rail and her man was all-in, so we let it pass.

He had raised to 55,000 from UTG+1 before Jimmy Zhou three-bet to 135,000 from the small blind. Tanaka then came back with a four-bet to 373,000 leaving himself just 130,000 back. Zhou shoved and Tanaka called.

Tanaka: Q♣J♣
Zhou: K♣K♥

The board ran 5♠6♠A♥4♠4♦ locking up the hand for Tanaka by the turn. Zhou dropped to 1.65 million –MC

9:40pm: Small pots
Level 24 – Blinds: 10,000/20,000 (ante 2,000)

A couple of small pots to report:

First up, Bryan Huang opened the cutoff and the three players behind him all called: Neil Murphy on the button, Jian Zhong Song in the small blind and Kahle Burns in the big blind.

The four of them saw the flop fall J♠8♦4♠ and no sooner was it out than Song was searching for chips. He pushed about 280,000 forward and his three opponents folded.

That hand was one of the last in Level 23 and blinds moved swiftly up to 10,000-20,000 in Level 24. Then this, as one of the first at the new blind level:

Song raised to 40,000 from the button and both Burns and Vladimir Geshkenbein called in the blinds. All three players checked the flop of 8♠Q♦3♠.

Song checked the 3♥ turn and Burns bet 46,000. Only Geshkenbein called. That took them to the river of A♠ and Burns now checked. Geshkenbein bet 157,000 and that was the end of that. — HS

9:35pm: Geshkenbein in his element
Level 23 – Blinds: 9,000/18,000 (ante 2,000)

He’s at a major final table, has just been brought another glass of wine, he’s challenging at the top of the counts and he’s getting opponents to fold over pairs to him – what’s not to like about Vladimir Geshkenbein’s life at this very moment?

The action folded to Jian Zhong Song in the cutoff and he raised to 65,5000 then called after Geshkenbein three-bet to 234,000 from the small blind. The flop fanned 10♠2♥2♠ and Geshkenbein checked to face a 155,00 bet from Song who had 627,000 after he called the three-bet. Geshkenbein then check-raised him all-in and Song tanked before open-folding J♣J♦.

“Ha, ha, ha, ha! Really?” said Geshkenbein who then opened his A♠K♥ while shrugging. He moved up to around 2.35 million. –MC

9:25pm: Sun goes out
Level 23 – Blinds: 9,000/18,000 (ante 2,000)

We are down to seven players here in Macau as Yunsheng Sun’s short-stack vigil is over. He open-jammed the cutoff for 112,000 and Shinobu Tanaka, the man with the second-shortest stack at the final table, called in the big blind.

Sun: 4♣4♦
Tanaka: A♠8♥

The flop was safe for the pair. It came Q♣7♥5♦. But the A♣ on the turn left Sun with two outs, and the 6♦ was not one of them.

Sun’s eighth place is worth $826,000. Tanaka stacks 420,000. One more elimination and we’re done for the night. — HS


Yunsheng Sun: eighth place

9:10pm: Murphy executes a perfect plan
Level 23 – Blinds: 9,000/18,000 (ante 2,000)

The first job is identifying the good spot, the second job is following through on a plan. Neel Murphy did precisely those two things in a lovely bit of tournament poker.

Jian Zhong Song opted just to call from early position and that became an epidemic. Vladimir Geshkenbein called from a couple of seats along, Yunsheng Sun also called and then Bryan Huang called in the small blind too.

Murphy was sitting in the big blind and regardless of his cards must have been licking his lips. He moved all-in for 444,000 precisely. Only Song was vaguely interested, and it was he who asked for the count.

But after Song folded, the rest followed like timid sheep and Murphy stacked up a healthy few more chips from the strong-arm move. — HS

9pm: Westmorland perishes in ninth
Level 23 – Blinds: 9,000/18,000 (ante 2,000)

Jordan Westmorland is always very content to ride the waves of tournament poker. He takes the rough with the smooth and seems to relish the roller-coaster effect.

Sorry to report, however, that his ride has now hit the buffers. It was more down than up over the past couple of levels, and he has just slammed into Vladimir Geshkenbein for the last time.

Westmorland seemed to be getting a little frustrated with his inability to connect with a flop. On the hand before he went out, he raised from UTG+1, making it 45,000, and Jimmy Zhou called in the big blind.


Jordan Westmorland acknowledges his support at the start of the final

They checked it all the way, through a Q♠6♠Q♣ flop and a 7♣ turn and a 10♠ river and Zhou’s pocket deuces were good.

Westmorland tried an early position raise on the next hand too. He made it 45,000 again, this time from under the gun. Geshkenbein was on the button and three-bet to 113,000.

Westmorland beckoned for the all-in triangle, making the shape of it between two hands. The dealer obliged, and then Geshkenbein gave him action too. He double-checked his cards, then called.

Geshkenbein: J♣J♠
Westmorland: 9♦9♠

The flop came 8♦8♣7♠ and Westmorland did not respond when Geshkenbein suggested a six would be a good sweat card for the turn. It was actually the 4♣, which left Westmorland looking only for one of the two nines.

The Q♥ was not it. Westmorland had jammed for about 450,000 and those chips went over to Geshkenbein, who is now up to 2.1 million. — HS


Man on the move: Vladimir Geshkenbein

8:55pm: Murphy and Song lose chips to the big stacks
Level 23 – Blinds: 9,000/18,000 (ante 2,000)

Kahle Murphy and Jimmy Zhou have tightened their grip at the top of the leaderboard after taking chunks out of two of the shorter stacks.

Zhou opened to 50,000 from the hijack and Neel Murphy defended his big blind. The flop came 7♥2♠2♥ and Murphy check-called 35,000 before he led for 75,000 on the 4♠ turn. Zhou wasted little time in setting him all-in for the 337,000 he had behind. Fold.

Murphy got a few chips back the very next hand by three-betting all-in from the small blind. Team PokerStars Pro Bryan Huang had raised to 40,000 off the button but didn’t have the goods to fold.

The next hand after that saw an under-the-gun open to 52,000 from Burns and a big blind call from Jian Zhong Song. Both players checked the 4♠Q♥10♠ flop before Song led for 60,000. Burns called and then took the pot as song check-folded to his 95,000 bet on the 3♦ river. He dropped to 740,000. –MC

8:40pm: Big tip?
Level 23 – Blinds: 9,000/18,000 (ante 2,000)

Vladimir Geshkenbein’s waiter arrived just in time. At the very moment that one of the Hard Rock Hotel’s very efficient servers was wheeling a side table next to the former EPT champion, with a glass of white wine perched on top, Geshkenbein was tossing in the chips to call a big river bet from Jordan Westmorland. And Geshkenbein was right to do so.

A few moments prior to that, Geshkenbein opened the pot from the cutoff, making it 42,000 to play. Westmorland called in the small blind and Bryan Huang folded his big.

The flop appeared before the white wine. It was K♠8♠9♣. Both players checked. The 5♦ came on the turn and Westmorland bet 80,000, which Geshkenbein called. Then the J♣ came on the river.

As the wine wheeled into view, Westmorland bet 205,000 and Geshkenbein called pretty quickly. Westmorland turned over his Q♠4♠, which had missed. Geshkenbein’s K♦2♦ earned him his first pot of the final table and, one assumes, a tip for the man with the white win(e).

Geshkenbein took a deep draw from the wine and things must feel very good in his world. — HS

8:35pm: Big pot earns Burns the lead
Level 23 – Blinds: 9,000/18,000 (ante 2,000)

Just a million-chip pot on the first hand of the final table to kick things off. It saw Kahle Burns take over the chip lead.

Neel Murphy opened to 35,000 from middle position and was called by Jian Zhong Song before Burns squeezed to 144,000 from the button. Murphy wasted little time in coming back over the top with a four-bet to 400,000. That forced out Song but not Burns who made the call.

The flop fanned 5♣5♠J♥ and both players checked. The turn was the Q♦ and Murphy checked to face a relatively small 139,000 bet. Murphy cut that amount from his stack, but folded instead of calling. That put Kahle up to 2,266,000. Murphy dropped to 507,000. –MC

8:25pm: Off they go
Level 23 – Blinds: 9,000/18,000 (ante 2,000)

Cards are in the air again. Playing to six…

8pm: Seat draw
Level 23 – Blinds: 9,000/18,000 (ante 2,000)

Here’s where they’ll be sitting around the final table. This was the final draw seat of the tournament.

1 – Neel Murphy USA 907,000
2 – Shinobu Tanaka Japan 365,000
3 – Jian Zhong Song China 789,000
4 – Kahle Burns Australia 1,785,000
5 – Vladimir Geshkenbein Switzerland 1,355,000
6 – Jimmy Zhou China 1,916,000
7 – Yunsheng Sun China 255,000
8 – Jordan Westorland USA 846,000
9 – Bryan Huang Singapore 842,000


ACOP Main Event final table players (clockwise from left): Yunsheng Sun, Jordan Westmorland, Bryan Huang, Neel Murphy, Shinobu Tanaka, Jian Zhong Song, Kahle Burns, Vladimir Geshkenbein, Jimmy Zhou.

7:20pm: Chips for dinner
Level 23 – Blinds: 9,000/18,000 (ante 2,000)

As players eat their dinner, tournament staff counted their stacks. Here’s what they will return to:

Name Country Chips
Jimmy Zhou China 1,916,000
Kahle Burns Australia 1,785,000
Vladimir Geshkenbein Switzerland 1,355,000
Neel Murphy USA 907,000
Jordan Westmorland USA 846,000
Bryan Huang Singapore 842,000
Jian Zhong Song China 789,000
Shinobu Tanaka Japan 365,000
Yunsheng Sun China 255,000

Jimmy Zhou, the defending champion, is the big stack. He loves the ACOP does Jimmy. — HS

7:20pm: Aido hits the rail the very next hand, and Song nearly follows him
Level 23 – Blinds: 9,000/18,000 (ante 2,000)

Sergio Aido was balanced up to table 1 on the stage and lasted precisely one hand. The action folded around to the blinds where he and Kahle Burns got their chips in the middle. Aido was the all-in player with 340,000.

Aido: J♣J♥
Burns: A♥K♠

It was a cooler and Aido couldn’t hold as the board ran 5♣2♦A♦6♥10♥.


Sergio Aido: Last Spanish hope departs

That meant the final table was reached, but we were almost down to eight players as there was time for one more all-in from the other table.

Yunsheng Sun moved all-in for 118,000 and was called by Neel Murphy in the big blind, who held Q♠2♠. Sun opened A♠K♠ and just about survived as the board ran Q♣9♣9♦4♣A♣ to make him the nut flush. His partner yelled her delight from the rail.

The floor staff then decided that this was a good time to send the players on their dinner break. So we’ll see you back here in 60 minutes. –MC

7:10pm: Lukashaugen taken out by the reigning champ
Level 23 – Blinds: 9,000/18,000 (ante 2,000)

Tore Lukashaugen had the look of a man who wasn’t getting what he wanted from the deck today. He had to make a stand at some point, when he did though, he ran into a big hand and busted.

He made his move for his final 389,000 from the cutoff and Jimmy Zhou made a quick call in the big blind.

Zhou: A♠K♠
Lukashaugen: J♠9♠


Tore Lukashaugen: Disappointment

Lukashaugen made two pair as the flop fell Q♠J♥9♥ but could hold as the board ran out 10♥8♣ to make Zhou a straight. He moved up to 1.9 million. –MC

7pm: Chop, not a chop
Level 22 – Blinds: 7,000/14,000 (ante 2,000)

We are down to 11 in Macau and it might have been 10, but simultaneous called all-ins on each table gave markedly different outcomes. One of them looked like a chopped pot but actually sent Yuguang Li to the rail; the other looked like the end of Yunsheng Sun, but was actually a chopped pot. Let’s unravel it:

On Table 1, action folded to Shinobu Tanaka in the small blind and he jammed his short stack. The only man with fewer chips was in the big blind, and he called. The reason? His A♦10♠ had every right to be ahead. However he was already behind Tanaka’s A♠Q♠.

The board quickly ran A♣K♣K♦4♥4♠ and this was the kind of showdown that had everyone taking their time to figure out. It looked for all the world like a chop, but in fact Tanaka’s Queen played. The fours were a red herring. That sent Li out and gave Tanaka 480,000.

Over on the other table, Sun jammed his button for 149,000 and Jian Zhong Song called in the big blind.

Sun: A♦3♣
Song: A♣4♣

So Song had the bigger kicker, but in this particular showdown, after the board fell 10♠K♥7♣10♦5♦, the kickers were irrelevant. Chop it up. — HS

7pm: Get me back over 800k, now!
Level 22 – Blinds: 7,000/14,000 (ante 2,000)

Falling below 800k seems to have had an effect on Jordan Westmorland today, subconsciously or otherwise. It’s like a trigger for him to get back into the action.

Jian Zhong Song opened to 35,000 from the cutoff and Westmorland called to the J♦A♦5♣ flop. Song continued for 30,000 and Westmorland check-called. The board ran out A♣8♠ with both players checking. Westmorland opened J♠5♠ and Song mucked. That put Westmorland back up to 843,000. –MC

6:45pm: Lukashaugen’s double leaves Tanaka in trouble
Level 22 – Blinds: 7,000/14,000 (ante 2,000)

Bryan Huang has been sitting either next to or one seat away from Jimmy Zhou for what seems like three days. That’s been a mixed blessing for the Team PokerStars Pro. Although the two of them are friends, there’s nothing friendly about the way they’ve been going at one another on the poker table, and Zhou has usually had position.

The latest skirmish took place after a brief lull in proceedings. The two shortest stacks are still shoving quite often, but the others are all so deep still that there’s no real need to get involved in anything reckless. But then this:

Huang opened to 33,000 from the cutoff and Zhou three-bet to 92,000 from the button. Huang four-bet to 240,000 and Zhou’s call took them to a flop of 6♠Q♣4♣. Huang checked and Zhou bet 120,000. Huang folded.

Although there doesn’t seem to be much to that, with a big blind still only 14,000, any time a tower of yellow chips moves into the pot, worth 100,000, it is already a big one. And this clash had five of them, plus change.

Zhou is cruising to a back-to-back final table and maybe that rarest of beasts in poker: a title defence. — HS

6:35pm: Small one for Murphy
Level 22 – Blinds: 7,000/14,000 (ante 2,000)

The first ten minutes back from break was a very sedate affair compared to the previous two hours of play. The only showdown pot we saw was checked all the way down.

Jian Zhong Song opened to 34,000 from the cutoff and was called by Sergio Aido on the button and Neel Murphy in the small blind. No more chips ventured forward as the board ran 9♥Q♥10♥8♥2♦. Murphy opened 8♠6♥ and both opponents mucked. –MC

6:15pm: Official counts
Level 22 – Blinds: 7,000/14,000 (ante 2,000)

Here are the official counts for our remaining 12 players coming back from the break. We’re playing to the last six tonight.

Name Country Chips
Kahle Burns Australia 1,380,000
Jimmy Zhou China 1,337,000
Vladimir Geshkenbein Switzerland 1,256,000
Bryan Huang Singapore 976,000
Jian Zhong Song China 917,000
Neel Murphy USA 895,000
Jordan Westmorland USA 747,000
Yunsheng Sun China 704,000
Sergio Aiido Spain 506,000
Tore Lukashaugen Norway 469,000
Shinobu Tanaka Japan 230,000
Yuguang Li China 153,000

6:15pm: Break
Level 22 – Blinds: 7,000/14,000 (ante 2,000)

With 30 minutes played in Level 22, they’re going on a 10-minute break. We’ll have full chip counts soon.

Over the other side of the room, the High Roller event is now under way. Head over to the High Roller page for coverage of that. — HS

6:10pm: Short stack shoves
Level 22 – Blinds: 7,000/14,000 (ante 2,000)

As they headed towards the second break of the day, the short stack on each table, Yuguan Li and Yunsheng Sun, shoved once each. No one gave them action. — HS

6:05pm: Cracking aces, feeling unlucky
Level 22 – Blinds: 7,000/14,000 (ante 2,000)

Vladimir Geshkenbein cracked Neel Murphy’s aces, but ended up feeling as though he was hard done by. “Worst river card ever,” he said.

Murphy opened to 37,000 from the cutoff and Geshkenbein called in the big blind. That took them to a flop of Q♦10♦4♣. Geshkenbein check-called Murphy’s bet of 45,000.

The K♥ came on the turn and Geshkenbein check-called 105,000 this time, leading to the Q♠ on the river. Geshkenbein checked again and Murphy checked behind.

“Should have raised the turn,” Geshkenbein said, berating himself, as he showed the J♣9♠.

Murphy turned over his defeated A♣A♠ as if to say, “You think you got unlucky?” — HS

6pm: Huge river bet from Zhou
Level 22 – Blinds: 4,000/14,000 (ante 2,000)

There’s been lot’s of huge river bets during this ACOP festival and Jimmy Zhou just fired a another one to get Kahle Burns off a hand.

The hand started with a small blind completion from Zhou and a big blind raise to 44,000 from Kahle. Zhou called and check-called another 40,000 on the A♥5♦Q♥ flop. The turn was the 10♥ and both players checked to the 9♠ river. Zhou then counted out 325,000 and slid them forward. Kahle tanked for a coupe of minutes and folded. –MC

5:50pm: Two suns in the sky
Level 22 – Blinds: 4,000/14,000 (ante 2,000)

There is no more passionate supporter in the room than Yunsheng Sun’s fairer half. She’s got a front row view of Table 2 and stands and leans forward every time her guy’s in a hand. He doubled just now and she couldn’t contain her excitement as she yelled her approval.

Sun was down to 130,00 when he moved all-in from the small blind. Vladimir Geshkenbein called from the next seat meaning we finally going to see him show down a hand.

Geshkenbein: K♣J♥
Sun: K♠6♠

The board ran 6♦7♠5♦4♦10♠ to pair Sun’s six. Geshkenbein dropped down to a still massive 1.1million. –MC

5:40pm: Chew spat out
Level 22 – Blinds: 4,000/14,000 (ante 2,000)

This has not been a day to remember for Stevan Chew and his tournament has just ended in 13th place after a craftily-played pair of kings in the hand of Jimmy Zhou did for Chew.

Bryan Huang started the ball rolling with a raise to 35,000 UTG+1. Zhou called in the hijack and then Chew, in the cutoff, seemed interested. He was indeed. He raised to 122,000, a textbook squeeze.

Huang got out of there, but Zhou moved all-in with a covering stack. Chew called it off for what was about 480,000 total, but his J♥J♠ was in bad shape against Zhou’s K♣K♦.


Jimmy Zhou: Would you put this man on Kings?

The flop came 5♠Q♦A♣ (Zhou expressed audible relief that he wasn’t up against a big ace) and the 9♥ and 6♦ completed the board.

Chew headed quickly away, leaving Zhou to stack 1.1 million chips. — HS

5:25pm: Geshkenbein pummelling table
Level 21 – Blinds: 6,000/12,000 (ante 1,000)

Vladimir Geshkenbein is up beyond 1.25 million and he’s doing it largely without having to show his cards. He has bludgeoned Jian Zhong Song out of two big pots with raises on the flop, and he also won one that went three way between him, Jordan Westmorland and Neel Murphy. Geshkenbein was the only one betting a flop of 4♥Q♠7♣ and that took it. –HS


Vladimir Geshkenbein: Relaxed

5:20pm: Burns is on fire
Level 21 – Blinds: 6,000/12,000 (ante 1,000)

A proper bit of poker for you here. None of those aces versus kings set-ups; more like floating and bluffing with king-high in a four-bet pot.

Stevan Chew opened to 30,000 from middle position before Kahle Burns three-bet to 91,000. Chew came back with a four-bet to 225,000 and Burns called. Chew continued for 120,000 on a 5♠5♣7♦ flop and Burns called. Both players checked the 8♣ turn before Chew checked to face a 265,000 bet on the Q♣ river. Chew snap-folded and was shown K♥10♥ by his countryman.

That dropped Chew down to 535,000 and Burns moved up to 980,000. –MC

5:15pm: Aido doubles into contention
Level 21 – Blinds: 6,000/12,000 (ante 1,000)

Sergio Aido’s tournament is back on track after he doubled up through Jordan Westmorland. Aido opened to 26,000 from the hijack and Westmorland three-bet his button, making it 75,000.

Aido jammed for 268,000 total and Westmorland called with the covering stack.

Aido: K♥Q♥
Westmorland: 8♣8♠

Westmorland had the lucky eights, but they didn’t help the man from the United States. The flop brought the Q♣ alongside the 2♦ and 3♠ and Westmorland could retake the lead after the 10♠ turn or 5♥ river.


Sergio Aido: Doubles back

That puts Aido to 680,000, which is marginally ahead of Westmorland’s 650,000. — HS

5:10pm: Lukashaugen’s double leaves Tanaka in trouble
Level 21 – Blinds: 6,000/12,000 (ante 1,000)

Tore Lukashaugen opened pre-flop and picked up only one caller: Shinobu Tanaka. (This was related by Lukashaugen after the event, so we don’t have amounts. History is always written by the winners, so that’s a hint as to where this is going. That and the headline.)

They saw a flop of 5♠K♦10♦ and it went: “Bet, call.” The the 10♦ came on the turn. Lukashaugen bet 70,000 and Tanaka moved all-in, covering Lukashaugen’s 175,000. Lukashaugen called it off and his A♥K♥ was still dominating Tanaka’s K♣Q♠. The 7♣ on the river changed nothing.


Tore Lukashaugen: Ace-King good

That moved Lukashaugen up to 510,000 and left Tanaka with 270,000.

5:05pm: Narula’s fun ride over in 14th place
Level 21 – Blinds: 6,000/12,000 (ante 1,000)

“Awesome playing with you!” said Jordan Westmorland to Vijay Narula after he busted in a race versus Vladimir Geshkenbein,

The latter opened to 27,000 from the cutoff and then called after Narula three-bet al-in for around 180,000 from the next seat.

Geshkenbein: A♦J♣
Narula: 9♦9♥

The board ran 2♥K♣5♠K♦A♣ to pair Geshkenbein’s aces on the river. Narula went around the table and shook everyone’s hand before heading off. –MC


Narula enjoyed his deep run

5:00pm: Westmorland back over 800k
Level 21 – Blinds: 6,000/12,000 (ante 1,000)

Jordan Westmorland has been straddling the 800k-mark for a while now. He had dropped below it, but moved passed it again, thanks to a full house in a three-way pot.

Yunsheng Sun opened from under the gun and was called in two spots before all three players checked a K♥2♦6♥ flop. Westmorland then led out for 55,000 on the 2♠ turn and called when Sun raised to 150,000. The other player folded and the remaining two players checked the 2♣ river. Westmorland opened K♦6♦ and scooped after Sun mucked. Sun dropped to 296,000 and Westmorland jumped up to 860,000. –MC

4:55pm: Ung hits the rail in 15th
Level 21 – Blinds: 6,000/12,000 (ante 1,000)

Senh Ung is out in 15th, the victim of Neel Murphy. In truth, Ung was so short that anybody in the room could have been the one to send him packing, and he ended up third in a three-way coup. But he’ll take $378,200 and, I’m going to guess, enter the High Roller later on.


Ung failed to find any traction today

On his elimination hand, Jian Zhong Song opened his cutoff, making it 27,000 to play. Murphy called in the small blind and then Ung shipped from the big blind, with only 58,000 total. Both Song and Murphy called.

The flop came K♠A♠5♥ and the betting on the side was actually checking on the side. Both active players tapped the table. The 4♠ came on the turn and they both checked. Then the J♠ came on the river.

Ung shook his head as both opponents checked again. His Q♥9♥ was a little too red for this board. Song showed 6♠6♣ but the kicker in Murphy’s Q♦7♠ took it. — HS

4:50pm: Song builds Hadrian’s Wall
Level 21 – Blinds: 6,000/12,000 (ante 1,000)

Jian Zhong Song is from China and he is building a great wall of chips. If only there was some metaphor that could help me describe it better. I’ll keep thinking.

Anyway, here’s how he got the latest few bricks. Sergio Aido opened to 26,000 from under the gun and Song called in the big blind. To let you into a secret here, Song had J♦3♦ when he called the blind here, and what kind of flop do you want to see when you do that? This kind: J♥J♣3♠. That’s exactly what came down.

Song checked and Aido fell into his trap with a bet of 20,000. Song clicked it back. He made it 40,000 and Aido called.

The turn was the 6♦ and now Song bet 40,000. Aido called. The river was the 2♠ and Song bet 85,000. Aido believed him this time and folded. That’s when Song let us into the secret, flipping over his flopped full house. It gave Song 1.05 million and left Aido with 340,000. — HS

4:45pm: Big pot ends in a chop
Level 21 – Blinds: 6,000/12,000 (ante 1,000)

Jordan Westmorland and Yunsheng Sun played out a big pot. With the way the hand played out, both must’ve been confident they had the best of it, but it ended in a chop.

Westmorland opened to 25,000 from the cutoff and called when Sun three-bet to 70,000 from the next seat along. The flop came 2♦A♣7♥ and both players deceptively checked to the 8♠ turn where Westmorland led for 85,000. Call. He bet another 125,000 on the Q♥ river and Sun called again. Both tablesd A-Q and chopped the pot.

Vijay Narula stood up, looked at the hands and commented, “He just called on the river? Wow!”

“Nice hand,” said Westmorland to Sun, who nodded in thanks. –MC

4:30pm: Burns putting chips to good use
Level 21 – Blinds: 6,000/12,000 (ante 1,000)

Kahle Burns is resurgent and he just took a pot from one-time leader Stevan Chew.

After Chew opened the hijack, Burns raised to 78,000 from the button and Chew’s call took them to a 9♦9♣2♥ flop. They both checked. The K♦ came on the turn and Chew check-called Burns’s bet of 85,000. The 4♦ came on the river and Chew checked again. Burns bet 242,000 and Chew tank-folded this time. He’s now in a bad seat to the right of his countryman Burns. — HS

4:10pm: Break time chips
Level 21 – Blinds: 6,000/12,000 (ante 1,000)

Well, only one player was knocked out in that opening passage of play, but it just happened to be the overnight chip leader. And at the same time, the shortest stack overnight, that belonging to Bryan Huang, is now the biggest. The Team PokerStars Pro leads the last 15.

Here are the counts:

Name Country Chips
Bryan Huang Singapore 1,200,000
Jian Zhong Song China 900,000
Kahle Burns Australia 865,000
Stevan Chew Australia 725,000
Neel Murphy USA 720,000
Vladimir Geshkenbein Switzerland 675,000
Yunsheng Sun China 635,000
Jordan Westmorland USA 603,000
Sergio Aiido Spain 540,000
Jimmy Zhou China 480,000
Yuguang Li China 475,000
Tore Lukashaugen Norway 440,000
Shinobu Tanaka Japan 220,000
Vijay Narula Australia 205,000
Senh Ung UK 100,000

Huang’s rise should give hope to Senh Ung and Vijay Narula, although it’s looking bleak for them now. — HS

4:05pm: From hero to zero; Paik goes in 16th
Level 21 – Blinds: 6,000/12,000 (ante 1,000)

Albert Paik is a man of extremes. He’s seems to making great calls all-in on the bubble and leading at end of days, or bluffing off his entire stack to go from leader to out in two levels. Unfortunately for him, the latter just happened in a hand that went well into the break.

Paik opened from the hijack and was called by Kahle Burns in the big blind. The flop spread A♣A♠J♦ and Paik continued for 22,000. Burns check-called before both players checked the 8♣ turn. Burns then led for 40,000 on the 3♣ river and tank-called after Paik shoved for 126,000. Paik threw his bluffing K♣10♦ onto the table, losing to Burns’ [a]h]6♠. Burns swingy level ended on 865,000. –MC

4pm: Big pot here, big pot there
Level 21 – Blinds: 6,000/12,000 (ante 1,000)

With the first break of the day approaching, big pots played out simultaneously on both of the two tables. The big winners were Kahle Burns and Jian Zhong Song, with Tore Lukashaugen and Vijay Narula the players left in peril.

Here’s how they played out in their barest forms. You need to add long pauses between pretty much every action, however, as the drama ratcheted through each move.

On Table 1:

Burns opened to 28,000 from under the gun and Lukashaugen called from one seat to his left. The rest of the table left them to it.

They both checked the flop of A♦10♠K♦ and they also both checked the 9♦ turn. Burns checked for a third time after the 8♣ river and Lukashaugen bet 50,000. Burns suddenly came alive. He raised to 176,000.

Lukashaugen tossed out a call but then mucked, dispirited, when Burns showed the 7♠6♠ for the most cunningly-disguised straight of all time.

On Table 2:

Narula raised the hijack, making it 29,000 to go. Song three-bet from the cutoff, putting 103,000 forward. The others folded again to allow Narula to make up his mind, and he called.

The flop brought the 6♣10♣8♠ and Narula checked. Song moved all-in for what was quickly determined to be 336,000. Narula called with about 200,000 more than that behind.

Song: A♦10♦
Narula: 9♦9♣

This time neither the straight nor the under-pair hit on the 6♥ and K♥ turn and river. Song is singing again, while Narula is left short.

There was time for one more hand–and I believe it was dramatic–before the first break of the day. We’ll have news of that dramatic hand shortly, then the chip-counts for the remaining players. — HS

4pm: Huang and Burns battle for the lead
Level 20 – Blinds: 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

Bryan Huang and Kahle Burns were battling it out for the chip lead over the course of two hands. Burns snatched it from Huang before the Team PokerStars Pro came roaring back a couple hands later to stretch clear of the field.

Huang opened from the cutoff and Burns peeled from the big blind. The flop fanned Q♠Q♦3♦ and Burns check-called 22,000 there and 58,000 on the 6♠ turn. Both players checked the J♦ river and Huang mucked upon seeing Burns’ Q♥5♠ for trips.

Two hands later, Huang raised to 29,000 and was called by Burns on the button and Tore Lukashaugen in the small blind. The flop came J♦J♥K♠ and Huang continued for 47,000. Only Burns called to the 7♣ turn where Huang led for 135,000. Call. Huang emptied the clip on the 9♥ river with a 248,000 bet. Burns wasted little time in calling. Huang opened 7♠7♥ for a turned full house and it looked as if Burns flashed Huang a card before mucking. We can only assume it was something big like a jack.

Huang moved up to 1.45 million and Burns, who dropped to 515,000 said, “Back to the drawing board!” –MC

3:45pm: Murphy back in business
Level 20 – Blinds: 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

And here it is, that big pot that we knew Neel Murphy was capable of playing–and which has now got him back to a big stack and put a halt to Jordan Westmorland’s early dominance.

Westmorland opened from under the gun and both Murphy, in the small blind, and Senh Ung, in the big blind, came to a flop of K♦8♥5♣. Both blinds checked, but then both called after Westmorland bet 30,000.

The 10♦ came on the turn and now Murphy led at it. He bet 80,000. Ung seemed like he was interested in a call here, but with a stack that is now sub 200,000, he folded. But Westmorland was still interested.


Neel Murphy: Top pair good

He asked to see Murphy’s stack. “Three-hundred behind?” Westmorland said. Murphy told him it was slightly less than that. Westmorland called.

The 4♥ came on the river and Murphy quickly checked. Westmorland wasn’t interested in a cheap showdown. He said he was all-in, covering Murphy.

Murphy took a second look at his cards and assessed the state of affairs. Then he called and Westmorland turned over Q♣J♦, a turned straight draw that missed. Murphy’s K♠Q♠–top pair–was good for a big double.

His stack was counted to 262,000 and that was cut from Westmorland’s towers and handed over.

Murphy now shows a profit on the day with about 670,000 chips. We will have full chip-counts in the break, which is 20 minutes away. — HS

3:35pm: Burns shoves on Tanaka
Level 20 – Blinds: 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

Shinobu Tanaka has dropped down to 180,000 after he was forced to fold in a hand versus Kahle Burns.

The latter opened to 22,000 from the cutoff and called after Tanaka three-bet to 50,000 from the small blind. The flop came 4♦J♥K♥ and Tanaka led for 60,000. Call. Tanaka bet another 100,000 on the J♦ turn and was soon faced with an all-in bet of 420,000. It was for an effective 180,000 and Tanaka folded after a couple of minutes thought. –MC

3:25pm: Narula double delight
Level 20 – Blinds: 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

Vijay Narula was buzzing after he doubled up through his neighbour Jian Zhong Song. He’s really enjoying his day and it’s great to see.

He opened to 25,000 from the cutoff and called after Song three-bet to 64,000 from the next seat. The flop fanned 7♦10♥K♥ and the chips went flying into the middle. Narula was the all-in player with 219,000 and he opened K♣2♣ which was ahead of Song’s drawing A♥3♥. The board ran out J♣8♠ and Song dropped to 440,000. –MC

3:15pm: Murphy still struggling; Aido finds new tactic
Level 20 – Blinds: 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

Neel Murphy hasn’t won a significant pot yet today, although one thing we know from his performance in this tournament so far: he is not afraid of playing huge pots and could easily rocket back into contention.

In a recent pot, he opened from under the gun and only Vladimir Geshkenbein called in the cutoff. Murphy bet 35,000 at the flop of 8♦7♣5♠ and Geshkenbein called. And then they both checked the J♣ turn. After the 6♣ fell on the river, Murphy checked and Geshkenbein bombed 100,000 at it. Murphy folded and Geshkenbein flashed the 5♥.

Two other small developments on that table:

– After not having much success with raised pots, Sergio Aido just limped twice in succession, from mid-position. Two other players came along both times (the big blind being one of them, of course) and Aido twice bet a low flop and got them both to fold.
– Jian Song entered a pot for what was one of the first times, raising to 25,000 from under the gun. Jordan Westmorland three-bet to 70,000 from the cutoff and Song folded. “You’re playing crazy today,” Vijay Narula said to Westmorland. “I’m coming for you.”


Jian Zhong Song: Tentative start to the day

3:05pm: Paik’s slide continues as he doubles Li
Level 20 – Blinds: 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

Not an ideal Day 4 at all so far for overnight chip leader Albert Paik. He’s down to around 450,000 after he doubled up his neighbour, Yuguang Li.

Li opened to 23,000 from under the gun before Paik three-bet to 60,000 from the next seat. When the action was back on Li, he jammed for 267,000 and Paik called after giving it a good think through.

Li: J♣J♦
Paik: 8♠8♥

Li jumped out of his chair and shouted yes when he saw a J♥2♣K♠ flop appear. The board ran out K♦10♦ and Li let out one more cry of delight before he raked in the pot. –MC

2:50pm: Unstoppable Westmorland
Level 20 – Blinds: 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

Jordan Westmorland has engaged boss mode in this opening level in Macau. He is now up to about 850,000 chips and is running the show on Table 2.

In the latest pot over there, Sergio Aido opened to 23,000 from the hijack and Westmorland called on the button. Vladimir Geshkenbein called from the big blind and that meant three of them considered their options on a flop of 10♥3♠2♣.

Geshkenbein checked and Aido continued for 38,000. Westmorland called and then Geshkenbein gave a gesture that said, “What the hell?” and called too.

The J♥ came on the turn and Geshkenbein checked. Aido now checked too and that prompted Westmorland to slide out 125,000. Geshkenbein folded quickly and Aido followed suit.

After the big double up through Neel Murphy, Westmorland has been repeatedly taking small pots like this. Geshkenbein is still close behind with about 825,000 while Aido has slid to 410,000. — HS


Jordan Westmorland: Great start

2:40pm: Paik loses the lead
Level 20 – Blinds: 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

Bryan Huang and Stevan Chew both took chunks out of Albert Paik’s stack, with the result being that he lost the chip lead.

In one hand, Paik raised to 22,000 from the button and called after Huang three-bet to 58,000 from the small blind. Paik called to face a 67,000 bet on the 7♦6♣3♦ flop that he treated to a raise to 170,000. He had to admit defeat with a fold though after Huang moved all-in.

The very next hand saw Paik raise from the cutoff and Paik defend his big blind. The flop fell 4♣3♠7♠ and Chew check-called 22,000 before both checked the 2♥ turn. The K♥ came on the river and Paik bet 63,000 and was check-called by Chew who held 7♣5♠. Paik could only muster 10♠8♠.

Chew – 880,000
Paik – 695,000
Huang – 675,000

2:25pm: Geshkenbein’s queens beat Aido
Level 20 – Blinds: 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

There have been some big hands already on Table 2, with Vijay Narula showing down A♣K♣ (his three-bet got Vladimir Geshkenbein to fold) and, of course, a similar hand earning a double for Jordan Westmorland. Geshkenbein also just showed up with pocket queens to win a pot from Sergio Aido.

Aido opened the hijack, making it 23,000 to play. He had also just taken order of a pizza for breakfast/lunch and put down his fork to play this one. (He wasn’t eating the pizza yet. He was scraping the pineapple off of it, like a true European with respect for Italian cuisine.) Geshkenbein, who was eating a bowl of Chinese food, put his chopsticks down to three-bet to 65,000 from the big blind. Aido called.

The flop came K♣8♥3♦ and Geshkenbein bet 47,000. Aido called. They then ate and checked as the 3♣ came on the turn and ate and checked as the 4♠ came on the river.

Geshkenbein’s Q♣Q♦ won the day as Aido mucked and sprinkled some parmesan cheese over the top of the pizza. — HS

2:20pm: Westmorland rivers a double
Level 20 – Blinds: 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

The two most active players during the early stages on the secondary table were Jordan Westmorland and Neel Murphy. And, what do you know, they have just clashed in the first pot that put a tournament life fully on the line.

It started wheen Vijay Narula opened to 24,000 from UTG+1 and Murphy called on the button. Westmorland, in the small blind, made it 100,000 to go, from a stack of a little less than 400,000, and Murphy set him all-in.

Westmorland shrug-called and they were racing.

Westmorland: A♣K♦
Murphy: 6♣6♠

The flop came 5♥9♥5♦ and the turn was the blank 3♦. But it ain’t over until it’s over, as the K♣ on the river proved.

Westmorland’s stack at the point of the shove was 377,000 and so he is now around the 750,000 mark, while Murphy has closer to 230,000. — HS

2:15pm: Huang close to doubling on the very first hand
Level 20 – Blinds: 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

It took eight minutes to play the first hand out on one of the remaining and it was one of those hands that didn’t get to showdown but you really wish it did.

Shinobu Tanaka opened to 22,000 from UTG+1 and called after Bryan Huang three-bet to 58,000 from the hijack. The flop came K♦5♣Q♦ and Tanaka led for 45,000. Huang called and did so again when faced with a 55,000 bet on the Q♣ turn. That only left the Team PokerStars Pro with 110,000 and he bet them all on the 4♠ river after Tanaka had slowed to a check. The man from Japan tank-folded.


Huang shoves on first hand

Huang moved up to 450,000 and Tanaka dropped to 456,000. –MC

2pm: Welcome back to the Lying Club
Level 20 – Blinds: 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

The PokerStars LIVE card-room, at the City of Dreams Casino, Macau, sits adjacent to a nightclub/restaurant called the Li Ying Club. However the kerning on the signs that lead to it makes it easy to mis-read as the LYING club. As we head towards the final table of this huge and prestigious poker tournament, the LYING club seems more appropriate: we saw some spectacular bluffs yesterday as they played into the deep stages, and it’s worth noting that of course we only saw the ones that failed.

Today we’re going to play until we have a final six, which means 10 players will go broke today, whether lying or telling the truth as they do. Strap in. Cards are now in the air. — HS

1pm: Two tables down to one

Good afternoon once again and welcome back to the PokerStars LIVE card-room in the City of Dreams, Macau, where there is a very simple plan: to reach the final table. Sixteen players come back with designs still on the top prize of HK$6,684,000, but today 10 of them will lose that chance. We are playing to the last six.

They are all, of course, guaranteed a decent payday already. Look at the payouts page for the full prize structure. And look at the chip-count page for details of who is still involved. Or right here:

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

Albert Paik heads Jian Zhong Song at this stage, but plenty will change over the coming hours.


Albert Paik: Wake up!

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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