2016 ACOP: Ziegler leads Bonomo and Co in final six as Haxton bubbles

November 06, 2016


Tobias Ziegler: Leading the last six

Six players are left in the $500,000 buy-in Super High Roller event at the 2016 Asia Championship of Poker, and it’s an agreeable blend of high roller regulars and local stars who head into the final day.

Justin Bonomo put on a masterclass of big-stack play when matters got tense and the bubble approached late on, but then Tobias Ziegler turned Bonomo’s aggression against him and won a decisive pot to snare the overnight chip lead. He heads the last six with a stack of 6.19 million.

The tournament got pretty shallow in the late stages tonight. With only six places paying a return on investment, Bonomo set about abusing his big-stack privilege at the expense of those hoping to cling on for a pay-day.

But then Ziegler found A♣K♥ to double up through Bonomo’s A♠J♥, then he check-shoved a queen-high board soon after and that helped him leap-frog Bonomo.

Meanwhile, Bonomo’s friend and countryman Isaac Haxton suffered even worse fortunes. He ended up going out in seventh, on the stone bubble, after he lost a race to the micro-stacked Yuan Li (yesterday’s overnight leader). Li’s celebration revealed exactly what this meant to him. He is playing in a tournament with a buy-in bigger than his entire career tournament earnings to date.

That left us with the following to play for the big money tomorrow.

Name Country Chip Count
Tobias Ziegler Germany 6,190,000
Justin Bonomo USA 5,350,000
Shunu Zang China 4,250,000
Mikita Badziakouski Belarus 3,210,000
Paul Newey UK 1,945,000
Yuan Li China 1,560,000

This was a super fun day, actually, at the Super High Roller. Registration was still open for the first 70 minutes of the day and, as predicted, at least one plane load of familiar faces showed up in time to get involved.

Fedor Holz, Stephen Chidwick, Rainer Kempe, Salman Behbehani, Mustapha Kanit, Connor Drinan, Jack Salter, Steffen Sondtheimer and Dominik Nitsche were among those to hop in the action today, but none of them were still around at the death.

Chidwick lasted only a couple of hands, but he wasn’t the first man out. Steve O’Dwyer lost his final stack of chips before re-buys were even closed, but could not buy back in.

Sondtheimer had an enormous stack at one point, but lost a massive race to Mikita Badziakouski — Ace-King against Queens — and that gave Badziakouski all the momentum for a long period of play.

However, Badziakouski soon found himself on the immediate right of Bonomo, who was a hoover for chips through the last levels of play. Until, of course, Ziegler did for him.

Of the final six, only Shunu Zang bought in today, so it shows the value of getting here early folks.

You can relive all the blow-by-blow action from today in the hand updates below. Then join us from 1:30pm tomorrow when we play to a winner. There’s HK$7,270,000 up for grabs for the champion, which is very nearly one million US dollars. That’s why they all fly over here, folks.

Goodnight from Macau. Oh, and the ACOP Main Event is tomorrow as well. That’ll be a big one.

Day 2 coverage:

1:45am: Li doubles through Haxton; Haxton bubbles
Level 17 – Blinds 60,000/120,000 (10,000 ante)

We are down to our last six at the City of Dreams, and it’s anything but a dream for Isaac Haxton. He has gone out on the stone bubble.

His last hand was, in the circumstances, not that thrilling, but the one that got him there was a doozy. From a stack of about 850,000, Haxton raised to 400,000 from early position.

Yuan Li, with the shortest stack at the table, moved all-in from the small blind for 720,000. Haxton called.

Haxton: 3♣3♥
Li: K♣5♣

It was a straight race for Li’s life, and he sprinted into the lead. The flop came K♥4♠5♥. The 2♥ on the turn gave Haxton all kinds of potential, but he whiffed on the K♠ river. Li launched into an enormous celebration, but left Haxton with only 105,000.

On the next hand, Justin Bonomo opened to 240,000 from under the gun and Haxton got his chips in. Shunu Zang called on the button too, so they were three-way.

“All right, let me know when it’s done,” Haxton said, turning his chair away from the table.

Bonomo and Zang both checked the 9♦A♣8♣ flop. And they checked the 4♦ turn too. Bonomo also checked the 4♦ river, but Zang’s bet of 200,000 persuaded Bonomo out.

Zang showed Q♦Q♣ and that was better than Haxton’s K♥2♥. Haxton was out!

1:40pm: Badziakouski’s turn to be put through the ringer
Level 17 – Blinds 60,000/120,000 (10,000 ante)

Mikita Badziakouski made a painful looking fold to Shunu Zang just now to drop down to 3.475 million.

He opened to 240,000 from early position and was called by Zang in the big blind. The flop fell 5♠10♦7♣ and Zang check-called 240,000 before he led for 425,000 on the 10♠ turn. Badziakouski called but folded when Zang moved all-in for 1.725 million on the 4♦ river. –MC

1:30pm: Bonomo loses the lead
Level 17 – Blinds 60,000/120,000 (10,000 ante)

Well, we didn’t see that one coming! Justin Bonomo has been overtaken at the top of the counts by Tobias Ziegler, who has shown everybody over the last hour that he’s here to win this thing.

Bonomo opened to 280,000 from the button and Ziegler called. The flop came J♥4♥8♠ and Ziegler check-called 300,000. The turn was the Q♠ and Bonomo bet 850,000 before tank-folding after Ziegler check-shoved for just over four million. Bonomo dropped down to just under 6 million as a result, with Zielger up to 6.25 million. –MC

1:15am: Sun’s out
Level 17 – Blinds 60,000/120,000 (10,000 ante)

Total eclipse of the sun. Sun blind. Sun down. Sun out. You write the headline yourself, but the nut graf is that Yaqi Sun is out of this tournament, shoving one last time from the button, but getting a call from Shunu Zang in the small blind.

Action had folded to Sun and, with the tiny stacks of Zang and Yuan Li to his left, he moved all-in, likely hoping and expecting two folds. But Zang called and Li folded.

Zang: 7♥7♦
Sun: K♥5♣

The dealer didn’t wait to check stack sizes at this point, but everybody in the room knew it was close. After the board ran A♣8♠2♥3♣Q♦ it was time to see how much they had.

Zang’s stack was 970,000. Sun’s was 960,000. And those 10,000 chips–one ante–were crucial. Sun was downed. — HS

1:10am: Ziegler doubles through Bonomo
Level 17 – Blinds 60,000/120,000 (20,000 ante)

Justin Bonomo is human and he can be beaten. He’s dropped back to just under 7 million after doubling up Tobias Ziegler.

Mikita Badziakouski opened to 240,000 from second position and was called by Bonomo before Ziegler squeezed all-in for 2.11 million. Badziakouski folded but Bonomo tank-called.

Bonomo: A♠J♥
Ziegler: A♣K♥

The board ran 3♥Q♣10♥9♠9♥ to see the German’s hand hold up. –MC

1am: Break-time chip counts

No matter how tired Justin Bonomo may or may not be, he’s going to hope this pseudo-bubble period never ends. He is accumulating mountains of chips from players just hoping not to be the next man out. Here are the stacks at this stage, with two more players to go before we’re in the money:

Name Country Chip Count
Justin Bonomo USA 9,070,000
Mikita Badziakouski Belarus 4,200,000
Yaqi Sun China 2,745,000
Paul Newey UK 2,405,000
Tobias Ziegler Germany 2,150,000
Isaac Haxton USA 1,225,000
Shunu Zang China 1,150,000
Yuan Li China 1,100,000

Blinds are going up to 60,000/120,000 (10,000 ante) after this next break.

12:50am: Zang runs into ZeeJustin
Level 16 – Blinds 50,000/100,000 (10,000 ante)

Shunu Zang has assumed the unwanted mantle of short stack now after an accident against Justin Bonomo. Bonomo alone has the chips to play as many hands as he wants, and it paid dividends in this one against Zang.

Bonomo raised to 200,000 from under the gun and Zang three-bet his button. He made it 600,000. Bonomo called. Zang only had about 1.3 million behind.

Both players checked the flop of 4♦J♦10♣ and then after Bonomo also checked the A♥ turn, Zang bet 400,000. Bonomo called.

They both checked the 6♠ river and Bonomo revealed his K♥10♥, which was good.

Zang mucked and is left with about 900,000 now. Bonomo is north of 6 million. — HS

12:40am: Sun sinks again
Level 16 – Blinds 50,000/100,000 (10,000 ante)

Instead of one super-short stack at this table, we now have two very short stacks after Yuan Li doubled through Yaqi Sun.

Sun raised his button, making it 300,000 to play. Li shoved from the big blind for 535,000 total and Sun called.

Sun: Q♦6♣
Li: A♥5♠

The board quickly appeared: K♦5♣3♠K♣4♣ and that was good for a double for Li.

He now has about 1.1 million, while Sun has almost exactly the same sized stack. — HS

12:35am: Bonomo loses two in row
Level 16 – Blinds 50,000/100,000 (10,000 ante)

Justin Bonomo played three hands on the trot and lost two of them. The two he lost were small, and the bigger won he managed to take Ike Haxton off another hand.

He completed from the small blind and Haxton checked his option. The flop fell 6♠8♣9♣ and Bonomo bombed for 300,000. Haxton called and both players checked the 4♠ turn. The river was the A♣ and Bonomo bet 600,000. Haxton made a painful looking tank-fold to drop to 1.65 million.

The next hand, Bonomo opened to 210,000 from the button but folded to Tobias Ziegler’s 1.6 million big blind shove.

The hand after that, he rose to 210,000 again. Paul Newey defended his big blind and a 6♠8♣9♣J♥10♣ board rolled out and was checked all the way. Newey opened K♠J♠ and Bonomo mucked. –MC

12:25am: Keep it ticking over
Level 16 – Blinds 50,000/100,000 (10,000 ante)

Here’s another “Let’s keep this ticking over” kind of post, with lots of inconsequential pots and very little else.

Justin Bonomo, with the dominant stack at the table, opened to 210,000 from the hijack and after a long time in the tank, Yaqi Sun jammed for 1.41 million more from the big blind. Bonomo got a count, but wasn’t interested.

On the next hand, Mikita Badziakouski raised to 200,000 from under the gun and Shunu Zang called in the big blind. After Zang checked the flop of 6♠4♠5♦, Badziakouski’s bet of 200,000 was the last of this hand.

Badziakouski won the next hand, with a raise to 225,000 from under the gun, attacking the seven big-blind stack of Yuan Li, who had one of those in the middle. Li joined everyone else in folding.

And Li also relinquished his small blind, this time after Bonomo opened from under the gun to 200,000 and everyone got out the way.

On the next hand, Isaac Haxton moved all in and nobody was even concerned about getting a count. They all folded.

With six BBs, Li is getting dreadfully short. — HS

12:15am: Bonomo gets Sun off kings
Level 16 – Blinds 50,000/100,000 (10,000 ante)

Yaqi Sun and Justin Bonomo just played out a hand that lasted 15 minutes. That was mostly due to Sun doing an awful lot of tanking, but to be fair to him, this time he did have a big hand and was put in a difficult spot by Bonomo, who ended the hand with over 7 million chips.

Sun raised to 250,000 from under the gun and was only called by Bonomo in the cutoff. The board ran out 9♣Q♦J♠2♣5♦ with Sun checking every street to face bets of 300k, 675k and all-in for an effective 1.63 million. Sun called the first two bets but open-folded K♣K♠ on the river. –MC

12:00am: Midnight counts
Level 16 – Blinds 50,000/100,000 (10,000 ante)

Here are the approximate counts of the last eight players:

Justin Bonomo – 5.85 million
Mikita Badziakouski – 3.5 million
Paul Newey – 2.65 million
Yaqi Sun – 2.4 million
Shunu Zang – 2.2 million
Isaac Haxton – 1.9 million
Tobias Ziegler – 1.7 million
Yuan Li – 800,000

There are three sub 20-big-blind stacks out there, so something seems likely to give in this level. — HS

11:55pm: Blinds up
Level 16 – Blinds 50,000/100,000 (10,000 ante)

They’re into Level 16 now, where the big blind is 100,000. It at least makes it easy to figure out stacks in BBs. Speaking of which, we’ll have a quick count of the eight stacks in play. — HS

11:50pm: Sun putting others in the shade
Level 15 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (10,000 ante)

A quick round-up of what’s happened since our last update:

Yaqi Sun limped from early position and Isaac Haxton (small blind) and Tobias Ziegler (big blind) both came along for the minimum.

Haxton and Ziegler checked the flop of 8♦2♦10♥ and then only Haxton called when Sun bet 125,000.

The Q♠ came on the turn and Haxton checked again. He folded when Sun bet 285,000.

Next hand: Mikita Badziakouski opened the hijack, making it 160,000 to go. Ziegler called from the small blind and they both checked a flop of A♠5♠6♣. Ziegler also checked when a second ace — the A♦ — came on the turn, but Badziakouski bet 200,000. Ziegler folded.

Next up, Ziegler opened his button, making it 160,000 to play. Sun called in the big blind and they took a flop of 7♣10♣K♦. Again, they both checked.

The 2♦ came on the turn and Sun’s bet of 285,000 was enoug to get this one done.

Sun picked up another pot on the next hand too. Action folded to him in the small blind and he raised to 260,000. Shunu Zang called in the big blind, and they saw a flop of 3♥K♣J♣].

Sun continued for 280,000 and Zang folded.

He’s toying with them. Toying. — HS

11:40pm: Bonomo in control
Level 15 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (10,000 ante)

Justin Bonomo has more than a quarter of the chips in play now after taking a pot off Shan Huang, followed by one from Ike Haxton.

Huang opened to 200,000 from the cutoff and Bonomo defended his big blind to see a 10♣K♥J♥ flop appear. Huang continued for 275,000 but tank-folded to Bonomo’s 825,000 check-raise. He dropped to 2.66 million.

Bonomo completed from the small blind the very next hand and Haxton checked his option. The flop spread 2♥A♦9♦ and Bonomo bet 100,000. Haxton called but folded when faced with a 325,000 bet on the 7♥ turn. He dropped to around 1.6 million, nearly five million less than Bonomo. –MC

11:20pm: Zang check-raises Newey out
Level 15 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (10,000 ante)

Justin Bonomo raised three out of five hands pre-flop, from button, cutoff and UTG+1 and picked up blinds and antes from his 180,000 raise each time. However, it was the two hands Bonomo didn’t play that were the most interesting.

On the first, Mikita Badziakouski beat Bonomo into the pot, raising to 160,000. Action passed to Yaqi Sun in the small blind and he shipped for 1.78 million. Badziakouski folded and Sun showed 10♦10♣.

And here’s the other hand: Paul Newey opened this one, making it 170,000 to play from the cutoff. Shunu Zang called in the small blind and the two of them saw a flop of K♦5♦10♠.

Zang checked, eliciting a continuation bet of 225,000 from Newey. But Zang wasn’t done. He check-raised to 725,000 and that gave Newey an agonising decision.

He took a good few minutes before releasing. (On the very next hand, the smile was back: he three-bet Tobias Ziegler’s 200,000 open, making it 585,000 from the hijack, and Ziegler folded.) — HS

11:15pm: Chip leaders battle
Level 15 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (10,000 ante)

Justin Bonomo has a slight chip lead over Mikita Badziakouski and has position as well, except when the latter has the button. Bonomo managed to overcome that – one time per orbit – positional disadvantage just now to extend his lead.

Badziakouski raised to 200,000 and Bonomo called to a 3♥3♦3♣ flop. Badziakouski continued for 160,000 and Bonomo check-called. The board ran out 4♥9♠ with both players checking. Bonomo opened A♠J♠ for ace high and Badziakouski mucked. –MC

11pm: Tens over Kings to end Kojiya’s hopes
Level 15 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (10,000 ante)

Soichiro Kojiya has clung on forever in this tournament with a short stack and just when he was looking at vaulting into contention, he gets a sickening beat and is out. Paul Newey did the deed, at least the second time in this tournament that Newey has flopped a set to crack an overpair.

Kojiya was actually on a roll. After Mikita Badziakouski opened to 125,000 on the hand beford, Kojiya shoved for 990,000 and got a fold. That was the last hand of Level 14, and they rolled into Level 15, with blinds at 40,000/80,000 with Kojiya with the bit between his teeth.

Action folded to him in the cutoff and he shoved again, this time for 1.28 million. The decision was soon on Newey in the small blind and he pondered his options before electing to re-shove. That got Yaqi Sun to fold his big blind.

It looked good for Kojiya when he showed his K♠K♣ against Newey’s 10♥10♦. But there were gasps when the 10♣ was nestled between the 6♣ and the 6♦ on the flop, with neither the 4♥ turn nor 9♣ river saving Kojiya.


Paul Newey: Executioner

Everyone played it right, but the poker gods favoured Newey in this one. He is now up to about 3.1 million, while Kojiya’s elimination snuffs out Japanese hopes.

We’re two from the money with eight players left. — HS

10:55pm: Sun loses a chunk and gets a warning
Level 14 – Blinds 30,000/60,000 (5,000 ante)

Yaqi Sun’s start to the final table has gotten off to a bad start. He paid Tobias Ziegler off on the river and then got a warning for faking raising before he just called.

Sun opened to 130,000 from early position and Ziegler defended his big blind. The flop spread J♥6♣6♦ and Sun had a 125,000 c-bet check-called. Both players checked the K♣ turn and that was invitation for Ziegler to come out firing for 450,000 on the 3♥ river. Sun cut out a raise from his stack, pushed them slightly forward while looking at the Ziegler, then just called.

Ziegler opened A♠6♠ for trips and Sun mucked. –MC

10:30pm: Last table seats and chips
Level 14 – Blinds 30,000/60,000 (5,000 ante)

Players are settling into their seats around the final table ready for the race to the money. Remember, only six get paid so although they have had a photo taken, and this is now on the stage, three men are still going home with nothing. There’s nothing necessarily to smile about.

That brilliant last level from Justin Bonomo has put him in the chip lead. He also still has position on the man in second place, Mikita Badziakouski. This could be fun.

Seat draw:

Seat Name Country Chip Count
1 Shunu Zang China 2,720,000
2 Yuan Li China 1,375,000
3 Mikita Badziakouski Belarus 4,165,000
4 Justin Bonomo USA 4,860,000
5 Isaac Haxton USA 1,970,000
6 Soichiro Kojiya Japan 820,000
7 Tobias Ziegler Germany 2,055,000
8 Paul Newey UK 1,805,000
9 Yaqi Sun China 2,745,000

shr_acop_final_nine.jpgThe final nine (l-r): Tobias Ziegler, Paul Newey, Soichiro Kojiya, Yaqi Sun, Isaac Haxton, Shunu Zang, Yuan Li, Justin Bonomo, Mikita Badziakouski

10:25pm: Cristner sent home by Sun
Level 14 – Blinds 30,000/60,000 (5,000 ante)

Christian Christner was eliminated just a few places shy of a payday at the hands of Yaqi Sun in a recent hand.

Sun raised to 130,000 from the cutoff and Christner defended his big blind before a flop of 7♠5♥Q♠. The action went check-check and the 4♥ was turned up. Christner then took the betting lead with a wager for 230,000. Sun made the call and the 3♠ arrived on the end.

Christner checked but Sun tossed in 600,000 worth of chips with enough to cover Christner’s entire stack. The latter went deep into the tank, pondering the decision for several minutes before Sun finally called the clock.

About 20 seconds later Christner did call it off to see the bad news – but not immediately. Christner tabled Q♣8♠ for top pair and Sun decided to slowroll him, flipping over the 3♥, and then finally the 3♣ only when prompted by the dealer.

Despite the needle Christner was gracious in defeat, offering the table good luck as he exited the tournament area.

And with that we’re combining to an unofficial final table of nine – table draw coming soon! — BK

10:15pm: Bonomo powers out Badziakouski and Li
Level 14 – Blinds 30,000/60,000 (5,000 ante)

Justin Bonomo is in a sandwich between the present chip leader, Mikita Badziakouski, and the man who led for almost all of yesterday, Yuan Li. There’s only one time per round he has positon on both of them, and he has just made the absolute most of his button, beating both of them.

Badziakouski opened from the cutoff, making it 140,000 to play. Bonomo three-bet his button, putting 360,000 out, but then Li four-bet the small blind, making it 760,000 to go.

Badziakouski was out, but Bonomo called, and they saw a flop of 7♣5♦2♠.

Li led for 675,000. He has never seen a flop he didn’t like. But then Bonomo moved all-in over the top, effectively asking Li if he was still interested in playing this tournament or not.

Bonomo’s stack was about 2.3 million and Li had about 1.4 million back, after his flop bet. Li thought long and hard–this could really only have been over-pair versus over-pair, or so it seemed–but eventually folded.

Bonomo did not show, of course, so only he knows what he had there. Just as this was playing out, Christian Christner was knocked out on the other table (details to follow) so we’re down to our last nine.

We’ll have full counts, including Bonomo’s, momentarily. — HS

10pm: Kojiya can’t be beaten
Level 14 – Blinds 30,000/60,000 (5,000 ante)

Japanese hopes remain alive in Macau after Soichiro Kojiya found his latest double up.

Yaqi Sun opened the pot to 125,000 and Kojiya jammed for his last 265,000 from the button. Sun made the call, but his 2♥2♦ were behind Kojiya’s 5♥5♦.

The purists will note that this actually ended in a set-over-set encounter when the board ran 5♠J♠7♣J♥2♠ but the fives were ahead at the start and made their trips first. — HS

9:55pm: Double up for Zang
Level 14 – Blinds 30,000/60,000 (5,000 ante)

Shunu Zang just locked up a double through tablemate on his direct left Mikita Badziakouski.

Zang limped in the small blind for 60,000 before Badziakouski raised it up to 160,000 from the big blind. The flop landed J♦3♣9♦ and Zang checked it over to the preflop aggressor.

Badziakouski made it another 100,000 to go and Zang called to see the 6♠ appear on the turn. Zang checked again which prompted another bet from Badziakouski – this time for 300,000.

Zang called and the Q♣ rolled off on the river. A final check from Zang saw Badziakouski take a moment’s pause before moving in with enough to cover Zang’s 860,000 behind. Zang called off for his tournament life and saw that he had way the best of it.

Zang: A♦Q♦
Badziakouski: 5♣2♣

Badziakouski had just five-high against Zang’s top pair top kicker. The latter doubled through while Badziakouski fell to a still-healthy 4.3 million. — BK

9:45pm: Sun rises again
Level 14 – Blinds 30,000/60,000 (5,000 ante)

Yaqi Sun has found the double-up he’s been looking for, continuing his torment of Christian Christner in the process.

Christner started things with a raise to 125,000 from the button and Sun called in the big blind. This has happened before. The flop brought the 7♦Q♦5♠ and Sun checked, prompting a bet of 105,000 from Christner.

Sun went through his familiar routine of playing with his chips, putting them into bigger piles, cutting them down again, etc. But this time he eventually pushed them all in, a total of 710,000.

Christner called the check-raise to put Sun at risk, but Sun had the better hand. His Q♥4♥ was ahead of Christner’s K♦7♥.

Neither the 2♦ on the turn nor the 4♠ on the river swung things away from Sun and he moves beyond 1.5 million. Christner has 950,000 to work with. — HS

9:45pm: Cheng falls to Badziakouski
Level 14 – Blinds 30,000/60,000 (10,000 ante)

Level 14 started and that put even more pressure on Leo Cheng who was left short after doubling up Ike Haxton in the last level.

He was under the gun and moved all-in for 315,000. The action folded to the small blind where Mikita Badziakouski was found seated. He made the call and the cards were flipped up.

Badziakouski: A♣2♣
Cheng: Q♥10♣

The board ran K♠8♣J♣6♥K♥ to see Badziakous’s hand hold up.


11th place finish for Cheng

Yuan Li was then balanced over to fill the gap. Five players on each table, and when one more goes, the final nine will be redrawn onto one table. –MC

9:30pm: River bombs
Level 13 – Blinds 25,000/50,000 (5,000 ante)

Barrelling big on the river seems to be one of those relatively recent trends. We made note of it at the recent EPT Malta stop, and here’s Justin Bonomo doing again in Macau.

It was a success for him too as he has now built his stack up to around 2.7 million, profiting from his ideal spot to the immediate left of chip-leading Mikita Badziakouski.

Bonomo opened the pot with a raise to 110,000 from under the gun. Badziakouski called from the big blind.

The flop brought the 3♦3♣2♥ and Badziakouski check-called after Bonomo bet 125,000. The 7♣ came on the turn, which both players checked, and then Badziakouski also checked the Q♦ on the river.

Bonomo then put out a bet of 500,000–a full tower of red chips–and Badziakouski tossed one forward to indicate the call.

Bonomo turned over his Q♣J♦ having got there on the end. Badziakouski nodded his head and mucked. He still has about 5 million behind. — HS


Mikita Badziakouski: Still ahead

9:20pm: Haxton hanging on
Level 13 – Blinds 25,000/50,000 (5,000 ante)

Ike Haxton has emerged from the danger zone after winning a flip to double through Leo Cheng. The latter moved all in for 990,000 before the action fell on Haxton in the small blind.

Haxton stood up to assess the stacks at the neighbouring table and then committed to a call for his last 660,000 in chips. The big blind quickly folded and the cards went on their backs.

Haxton: A♠9♠
Cheng: 2♠2♦

Haxton took the lead on the 3♥A♥4♥ flop but was still vulnerable to a deuce or a five. The A♦ turn and 8♦, however, proved no problem as Haxton scored the double up and knocked Cheng down to just 330,000 in chips. — BK

9:10pm: Bonomo catches Badziakouski
Level 13 – Blinds 25,000/50,000 (5,000 ante)

Justin Bonomo just caught Mikita Badziakouski with his hands in the till, winning a pot of more than 1 million as a result.

Badziakouski, with a stack so large you could live in it, opened to 110,000 from the hijack and Bonomo called on the button. Both players checked the flop of 3♠J♠6♦ and the Badziakouski bet 350,000 after the 4♣ on the turn. Bonomo called.

The 2♥ came on the river, which apparently changed very little, resulting in almost a repeat of the turn action. Badziakouski bet 360,000 at this card and Bonomo, after thinking for a comparatively short period of time, called.

Badziakouski was forced to expose his 7♣8♣ and Bonomo began raking the chips as he tabled 7♦7♠. — HS

9:05pm: Kojiya doubles through Ziegler
Level 13 – Blinds 25,000/50,000 (5,000 ante)

It folded to Soichiro Kojiya in the cutoff and he moved all in for his last 395,000. The button and small blind got out of the way but Tobias Ziegler called from the big blind to put Kojiya at risk.

Kojiya: 9♠9♥
Ziegler: K♠Q♠

It was a coinflip and Kojiya ended up with the best of it when the 5♦3♦5♣4♥J♥ runout saw his pocket nines hold.


Soichiro Kojiya: Doubles his short stack

He doubles up while Ziegler drops to 1.75 million in chips. — BK

9:00pm: Small one for Christner
Level 13 – Blinds 25,000/50,000 (5,000 ante)

The pots are still staying small for the moment and Paul Newey lost one of those small ones to Christian Christner.

He opened to 100,000 from the cutoff and Christner defended his big blind. The action was checked to the river where a Q♦7♠K♦2♣2♥ board rested. It was at that point that Christner led out for 135,000 with Q♥5♠. Newey called and mucked to drop to 2.25 million. Christner rose to 1.8 miilion. –MC

8:50pm: Not much up
Level 13 – Blinds 25,000/50,000 (5,000 ante)

Two tables in play, but a lot of nothing much going on at the moment.

Three hands on Table 1:

– Tobias Ziegler opened from the cutoff to 105,000 and Paul Newey raised to 345,000 from the small blind and won.

– Yaqi Sun opened to 115,000 from under the gun and Ziegler called in the big blind. The flop came 2♦K♣2♥ and Ziegler check-called Sun’s bet of 100,000. They both checked the 8♦ turn, then after Ziegler checked the 7♦ river, Sun said that he was all-in, for about 600,000, and Ziegler folded. Sun showed the Q♦K♥.

– Yuan Li raised to 115,000 from the cutoff and Ziegler three-bet to 380,000 from the small blind. Sun was in the big blind and he was very agitated by something, apparently the size of Li’s stacks. Li has his towers in 40s, or thereabouts, and Sun was furious that he couldn’t quickly count how many were there. He got up and walked a little way round the table to conduct a meticulous count down of the stacks.

Everyone else sat still for this moment of unconventionality, but Sun folded anyway. As did Li.

Three hands on Table 1:

– Mikita Badziakouski raised to 110,000 from the cutoff and Justin Bonomo moved all-in from the button. It was about 1.1 million and everyone, including Badziakouski, folded.

– Leo Cheng opened from under the gun and Bonomo called in the big blind. They both checked the flop of Q♦7♣K♦ and they both checked the A♥ turn. Bonomo then bet 150,000 on the A♣ river and Cheng folded.

– Isaac Haxton opened to 100,000 from under the gun and Shunu Zang called from a couple of seats along. Cheng also called in the big blind. The flop came Q♦6♠5♥ and Cheng led 90,000. Both opponents passed. — HS

8:50pm: Sun rises, but not without controversy
Level 13 – Blinds 25,000/50,000 (5,000 ante)

Yaqi Sun came back with the second shortest stack in the room and needed to make something happen. He did that by winning two of three pots he played on the bounce, but they weren’t as clean as the rulebook would have wanted.

The first hand he was under the gun and tanked for a minute, making several gestures, before he moved all-in. All his opponents snap folded.

The next hand saw Christian Christner open to 80,000 on the button. Sun had over 800,000 and had them arranged in three tall stacks and one short stack. He fake pushed them forward a little bit and then put the short stack on top of the middle stack before he fake pushed them forward a little more, all the time trying to get a read on Christner, who was staring straight back at him. Then he pulled his stack back and faked an all-in one more time before he folded and laughed out loud.


Yaqi Sun: Causing trouble

Christner complained about Sun’s conduct and the floor person had a word with him in Chinese. Sun seemed to be arguing that his stack hadn’t crossed the line.

The very next hand he three bet all-in for 820,000 over the top of Juan Li raise. The latter tank-folded. –MC

8:40pm: Zang takes from Cheng
Level 13 – Blinds 25,000/50,000 (5,000 ante)

Leo Cheng raised to 125,000 from under the gun before Zang made it 300,000 to go on the button. Cheng called and the flop fell 8♥K♣6♣.

Both players checked and the 8♠ paired the board on the turn.

Cheng checked again but Zang fired for 150,000. After a call from Cheng the 6♥ arrived on the end to bring the second pair on board. Cheng checked a final time but Zang barrelled again – betting 540,000 and leaving himself just 100,000 behind.

Cheng slid his cards to the dealer and the pot was awarded to Zang. After that hit to his stack Cheng dips to 1.2 million in chips. — BK

8:30pm: Back at it
Level 13 – Blinds 25,000/50,000 (5,000 ante)

Off they go again. The target is to play to six players tonight, but they’ll reach at final table when only nine remain. — HS

7:45pm: Dinner break
Level 12 – Blinds 20,000/40,000 (5,000 ante)

The remaining 11 players are heading to dinner with the following stacks awaiting them when they return:

Name Country Chip Count
Mikita Badziakouski Belarus 6,500,000
Yuan Li China 3,000,000
Paul Newey UK 2,350,000
Tobias Ziegler Germany 2,150,000
Leo Cheng Canada 1,739,000
Christian Christner Germany 1,400,000
Justin Bonomo USA 1,050,000
Shunu Zang China 1,000,000
Isaac Haxton USA 985,000
Yaqi Sun China 800,000
Soichiro Kojiya Japan 700,000

7:40pm: Kojiya quadruples up among an action hand
Level 12 – Blinds 20,000/40,000 (5,000 ante)

Soichiro Kojiya was the biggest benefactor after a lucky hand against Tobias Ziegler, Yaqi Sun and Dietrich Fast, which saw the latter eliminated.

Soichiro Kojiya moved all in first for his last 196,500 before Ziegler made the call on the button, Fast called off for less from the small blind, and Sun called from the big blind.

The flop fell 10♥K♦4♥ and with action still between Sun and Ziegler they both checked to the 9♠ turn.

Sun checked again but Ziegler fired for 250,000. The bet was met with a call and the 5♦ arrived on the end. The action was checked through once more and everybody revealed their hands.

Kojiya: K♠5♠
Ziegler: A♦K♥
Fast: 3♠3♣
Sun: A♠10♣

Kojiya made two pair on the river to scoop the main pot while Ziegler took the side pot down with top pair. Fast was the only evictee with his pocket threes failing to keep his tournament alive. — BK

7:30pm: Badziakouski wins enormous pot to bust Troyanovskiy and decimate Sontheimer
Level 12 – Blinds 20,000/40,000 (5,000 ante)

What did Vladimir Troyanovskiy start here? I can tell you: By a long way the biggest pot of the tournament thus far. When the dust settled Mikita Badziakouski became the overwhelming chip leader on around 6 million chips.

Troyanovskiy was in the cutoff and moved all-in for 582,500. Steffen Sontheimer was in the next seat and flat called. Badziakouski was in the big blind and obviously had big hand. He asked Sontheimer how much he had (2.7-something) and then moved all-in for 2.71 million. Sontheimer double-checked his cards, shrugged, and called.


Sontheimer was left shell shocked

Troyanovskiy: 4♥4♠
Sontheimer: A♣K♥
Badziakouski: Q♣Q♥

The board ran a blank 10♠7♣6♥2♣3♣ to bust Troyanovskiy and leave Sontheimer with 75,000.

Edit: Sontheimer busted the very next hand. He moved all-in with Q♦9♦ and was called by Shanu Zang who held K♥10♣. The board ran 8♣A♣K♥8♥7♥. –MC

7:20pm: Simultaneously big hands
Level 12 – Blinds 20,000/40,000 (5,000 ante)

Two big hands played out simultaneously on adjacent tables–both slow-burners that threatened to turn into huge explosions. Only one of them actually got all the way and it was indeed incendiary, particularly for Dietrich Fast’s tournament hopes. The other stopped a little short of the full detonation.

So, the smaller pot first:

Isaac Haxton raised to 90,000 from the cutoff and Shunu Zang called in the big blind. They took a flop of 4♦10♥10♦ and Zang checked. Haxton bet 60,000 and Zang called.

The 4♣ came on the turn and Zang now led for 100,000. Haxton called, for the J♦ on the river. Zang led for 600,000 this time, which was pretty close to what Haxton had behind.

Haxton went deep into the tank, slumping back in his chair, but folded to preserve that 650,000-ish stack.

Not so much folding on the other table, however. In this coup, Fast opened to 90,000 from under the gun and Paul Newey called a couple of seats along. His role was only a cameo as Tobias Ziegler called in the big blind too, and he would play the leading role.

The three of them peered at the flop of 4♦K♣J♣ and Ziegler checked. Fast bet 150,000 and Newey left them to it. Ziegler called.

The 4♥ came on the turn and Ziegler checked again. Fast bet 330,000 and Ziegler called again.

The 8♠ appeared on the river and Ziegler checked for a third time. Fast ripped at it. He moved all-in for about 800,000, which covered Ziegler. He thought about it for a long, long time, and then called.

Fast showed his Q♥10♥ for very little indeed. Ziegler’s K♦2♦ was the best, and he scores a huge double. He had 520,000 in his stack as his final call, so he now has more than 1.6 million.

There’s a break soon so we’ll get counts then. — HS

7:15pm: Haxton doubles through Cheng
Level 12 – Blinds 20,000/40,000 (5,000 ante)

Ike Haxton raised to 80,000 from under the gun and it folded around to Leo Cheng in the big blind. Cheng checked and rechecked his cards before setting Haxton all-in. Haxton snapped it off with the best preflop hand in hold’em and the two of them tabled their cards.

Haxton: A♣A♦
Cheng: 5♠5♣

Haxton needed to fade a five to stay alive and he did exactly that as the cards came down 7♣8♥10♦2♦10♥. Cheng was forced to match Haxton’s 509,000 and with that Haxton is back over 1 million as Cheng falls to 2.45 million in chips. — BK

7:10pm: No friends at the poker table
Level 12 – Blinds 20,000/40,000 (5,000 ante)

They many be the best of friends, but when it comes to poker, it’s all business. Justin Bonono just raised and then shoved on his buddy, Ike Haxton.

The latter open-raised from the hijack and Bonomo defended his big blind. The flop fanned 10♦6♠Q♥ and Haxton continued for 75,000, then called after Bonomo check-raised to 250,000. The turn was the 4♥ and Bonomo shoved for 457,500. Haxton folded to preserve his 500k stack and gave his mate a look, maybe hoping for some reassurance. Bonomo never looked up. -MC

7:05pm: Sun shining on Christner
Level 12 – Blinds 20,000/40,000 (5,000 ante)

Christian Christner’s stack has risen to 1.25 million after be backed into a flush to scoop a pot off Yaqi Sun.

Sun opened 90,000 from the hijack and was called by both blinds. Sun continued for 85,000 on a 9♦7♦6♠ flop and was only check-called by Christner. The board ran out Q♠10♠ with both players checking.

A sheepish looking Chrisner opened K♠7♠ for a flush. Sun waited a while before mucking, saying he had aces. –MC

7pm: Troyanovskiy’s shove gets through
Level 12 – Blinds 20,000/40,000 (5,000 ante)

Justin Bonomo and Vladimir Troyanovskiy have been in this tournament since the start. Not for them the late arrival. Bonomo just had the chance to send Troyanovskiy packing after the only Russian in the field moved all-in out of the big blind. But Bonomo decided to wait for a better spot.

Bonomo opened the pot from the cutoff, raising to 90,000. Troyanovskiy jammed for 567,000 from the big blind and Bonomo went into the tank long enough to decide to let this one slide. –HS

6:50pm: Small loss for Paul Newey
Level 12 – Blinds 20,000/40,000 (5,000 ante)

It’s been nothing but upward motion for Paul Newey today, building his overnight stack of 365,000 to more than 2.5 million. But he just took a very small dip after not being able to withstand the aggression of Yuan Li.

Li opened to 85,000 from early position and Newey called in the big blind. Those two only saw a flop of 2♥2♠9♥ and Newey checked. Li bet 90,000 and Newey called.

The 7♠ came on the turn and the pattern repeated. Check from Newey, bet of 150,000 from Li, call from Newey. That brought the A♣ on the river.

Newey checked for a third time and Li bet again, this time 260,000. Newey thought about it for quite a while, but eventually folded. — HS

6:45pm: Ziegler eclipses Sun
Level 12 – Blinds 20,000/40,000 (5,000 ante)

Tobias Ziegler opened to 90,000 on the button and Yaqi Sun called in the big blind. That bought them a flop of 10♦J♠5♣ and Sun check-called Ziegler’s bet of 75,000.

They both checked the K♥ turn, but then fancied a stab at the J♥ river. He put 150,000 over the line. Ziegler called quickly and Sun went to muck, before deciding to show his Q♦8♣.

Ziegler’s K♠Q♣ was good. — HS

6:40pm: Choi chewed up
Level 11 – Blinds 15,000/30,000 (3,000 ante)

Stanley Choi has just been eliminated by Steffen Sondtheimer after his pocket aces were cracked by Sondtheimer’s straight.

Sondtheimer raised to 60,000 preflop before Choi played back at him for 135,000 on the button. Sondtheimer made the call and the flop came down 3♥K♥9♣.

After a check from Sondtheimer, Choi continued for 125,000 and Sondtheimer called to see the Q♥ turn. Another check from Sondtheimer was met with a bet of 260,000 from Choi – for around half of his remaining stack.

Sondtheimer moved all in over the top holding J♣10♣ with more than enough to cover and Choi called it off with A♣A♦ drawing dead. He didn’t realise, however, as the 3♣ river arrived and the dealer reached for Choi’s chips.

Choi thought they were about to be cut down for Sondtheimer to match the all in but when they were pushed over to Sondtheimer, Choi pointed to his aces with a confused look.

He was quickly informed that Sondtheimer had turned a straight and he sat there baffled, admitting he hadn’t seen it. After a minute of remaining in his seat Choi finally accepted his fate and left the tournament area.

Sondtheimer now has 2.8 million in chips. — BK

6:35pm: Newey takes out another to see his stack surge
Level 11 – Blinds 15,000/30,000 (3,000 ante)

Paul Newey’s stack has risen to around 2.7 million after he woke up with another big hand after an opponent shoved. He needed a little help from the board this time though.

The action folded around to Salman Behbehani on the button and he moved all-in for 363,000. Newey was in the next seat and made the call.

Behbehani: J♠J♦
Newey: A♥J♥

The board ran A♦10♦3♠9♠A♣ to make Newey trips. –MC


Salman still this happy despite his demise

6:30pm: Last two tables
Level 11 – Blinds 15,000/30,000 (3,000 ante)

Here’s how they line up around the last two tables. Stack sizes are approximate:

Table 1

1: Isaac Haxton – 1 million
2: Vladimir Troyanovskiy – 710,000
3: Steffen Sondtheimer – 1.8 million
4: Shan Huang – 1.1 million
5: Mikita Badziakouski – 2.7 million
6: Stanley Choi – 1 million
7: Justin Bonomo – 840,000
8: Leo Cheng – 2.5 million

Table 2

1: Tobias Ziegler – 1.15 million
2: Dietrich Fast – 1.3 million
3: Yaqi Sun – 1.1 million
4: Salman Behbehani – 450,000
5: Paul Newey – 2.3 million
6: Soichiro Kojiya – 350,000
7: Yuan Li – 2.4 million
8: Christian Christner – 910,000

6:25pm: Full redraw as Salter busts
Level 11 – Blinds 15,000/30,000 (3,000 ante)

Sixteen players remain, meaning a full redraw will take place. Jack Salter was the player to bust in 17th.


Who knocked over the Salt(er)?

He was under the gun and moved all-in for what looked like a little fewer than 500,000. The action folded around to Steffen Sontheimer in the big blind who called.

Sontheimer: A♠Q♥
Salter: K♣Q♣

Salter pleaded for clubs and almost got them as the board rolled out A♣2♦7♥8♣9♦. –MC

6:20pm: Kempe can’t hold
Level 11 – Blinds 15,000/30,000 (3,000 ante)

Rainer Kempe is the most recent evictee after he was flushed out by Vladimir Troyanovskiy.

The two of them got all the chips in on a flop of 9♣7♣2♣ before tabling their cards.

Kempe: 9♦7♥
Troyanovskiy: 6♣6♦

Kempe had the best of it with top two pair but he needed to fade a club or a six to stay alive. The 5♣ turn saw Troyanovskiy improve to a flush and while Kempe still had four outs to a full house to stay alive, he couldn’t find one when the K♦ river fell on the end to signal his elimination.

Kempe leaves us while Troyanovskiy builds to over 700,000. — BK

6:15pm: Newey/Badziakouski up; Buddiga/Kanit out
Level 11 – Blinds 15,000/30,000 (3,000 ante)

Paul Newey and Mikita Badziakouski now each have about 2.5 million in chips, and the empty seats at their tables were once occupied by Pratyush Buddiga and Mustapha Kanit, respectively.

Newey confirmed that he accounted for Buddiga, with king-jack against queen-ten (Buddiga was short). Meanwhile it seems highly likely that Badziakouski did the business against Kanit. That brings us down to 17 players. There will be a redraw when the next man goes out. — HS

6:10pm: Latz night out
Level 11 – Blinds 15,000/30,000 (3,000 ante)

Hendrik Latz’s fall from big stack to no stack has been completed after he busted to Leo Cheng, who moved up to 2.15 million.


Latz raced away

The action folded around to Latz on the button and he moved all-in for 432,000. Cheng was in the small blind and made the call.

Cheng: 5♣5♥
Latz: A♠Q♥

The board ran 9♥J♦7♣7♦4♣ to miss both players. Latz slammed his chips on the table, said, “Good luck, guys!” and made his exit. Salman Behbehani managed to get a needle in before he was out of earshot. –MC

6pm: Haxton back running
Level 11 – Blinds 15,000/30,000 (3,000 ante)

Isaac Haxton is now back in the hunt, finding a double up through Mustapha Kanit.

Kanit opened to 65,000 from the cutoff and Haxton shoved from the small blind. Kanit wanted a count and Haxton said it was five hundred thousand, “plus this”, moving some smaller chips forward. They were worth 18,500 so it was half a million, plus that.

Kanit called.

Kanit: K♥Q♥
Haxton: A♥7♦

The board ran 9♦J♠3♣A♣6♠ and that was good for Haxton. He is beyond a million (on his third bullet, remember) while Kanit is down to about 600,000. He is in for two bullets. — HS

5:50pm: Sun sets over Huang
Level 11 – Blinds 15,000/30,000 (3,000 ante)

We have lost Shan Huang, who made a brave stand with K♠5♠ but ran into Yaqi Sun’s A♠10♥.

Sun opened to 65,000 and then Huang shipped for his last 208,000. Sun got a count but then called and Huang flipped over his cards. Sun didn’t immediately turn his over, and the dealer actually dealt a flop–3♣A♦10♠–before Sun exposed his hand.

Huang insisted he saw what he was up against, as convention would dictate, but he was dismayed when he found out. Already behind pre-flop, he was now in dire straits after Sun flopped two pair.

The 8♦ turn and 5♦ river didn’t help him pull off a miracle. That took us down to 20 players. — HS

5:45pm: Obst eliminated
Level 11 – Blinds 15,000/30,000 (3,000 ante)

Australian James Obst has been eliminated after calling off for his tournament life against Mikita Badziakouski.

It was Jack Salter who kicked things off with an under the gun raise to 66,000 before Badziakouski called from the button and Obst did the same from the big blind.

The flop landed 5♠4♦3♦ and after a check from Obst, Salter continued for 81,000. With the action back to Badziakouski he moved all in with enough to cover both Obst and Salter.

Obst had about 600,000 behind and went into the tank. After two minutes of deliberation he peeked at his cards again and then committed to a call. Salter threw his hand away and the cards went on their backs.

Badziakouski: 7♠7♥
Obst: 6♦5♥

Badziakouski had an overpair and a gut-shot straight draw versus Obst’s top pair and open ender but the K♣ turn and 9♦ river bricked off to send Obst packing.

Badziakouski meanwhile builds to one of our bigger stacks with 1.95 million in chips. — BK


Eliminated – James Obst

5:40pm: Zang bang, thank you, mam
Level 11 – Blinds 15,000/30,000 (3,000 ante)

Shunu Zang has doubled to around 1.6 million after he and Tobias Ziegler went to war preflop. The latter had the worst of it and dropped to 1.2 million.

Ziegler opened to 75,000 and then four-bet to 875,000 after Zang three-bet to 200,000 from the button. Zang wasn’t three-betting to fold and quickly called off his 753,500.

Ziegler: 10♠10♣
Zang: Q♥Q♣

The board ran 3♥7♦8♠J♦J♥ to miss both players. –MC

5:35pm: Chip counts
Level 11 – Blinds 15,000/30,000 (3,000 ante)

Heading into Level 11, here are the chip counts for the remaining players. We’re playing down to six players tonight, with a dinner break scheduled for the end of Level 12.

Name Country Chip Count
Yuan Li China 3,000,000
Tobias Ziegler Germany 1,900,000
Justin Bonomo USA 1,600,000
Paul Newey UK 1,500,000
Dietrich Fast Germany 1,400,000
Steffen Sondtheimer Germany 1,200,000
Mustapha Kanit Italy 1,150,000
Leo Cheng Canada 1,100,000
Christian Christner Germany 1,100,000
Mikita Badziakouski Belarus 980,000
James Obst Australia 710,000
Shunu Zang China 675,000
Soichiro Kojiya Japan 610,000
Stanley Choi Hong Kong 570,000
Yaqi Sun China 560,000
Salman Behebehani Kuwait 560,000
Hendrik Latz Austria 540,000
Vladimir Troyanovskiy Russia 520,000
Isaac Haxton USA 510,000
Jack Salter UK 490,000
Pratyush Buddiga USA 360,000
Shan Huang China 270,000
Rainer Kempe Germany 260,000

5:20pm: Li leads again
Level 10 – Blinds 12,000/24,000 (3,000 ante)

Start-of-day chip leader Yuan Li has reclaimed that lead once again after taking down the biggest pot of the tournament so far against Hendrik Latz.

We arrived at the table just in time to see the board spread 7♣3♣Q♠7♥5♠, Li with A♥A♦ in front of him, and his stack being cut down for Latz to match it.

The final count was 1.34 million as most of Latz’s stack was taken from him. He’s now left with just 300,000 in play while the chip boss Li moves up to 2.8 million. — BK


Chip leader” Yuan Li

5:05pm: Christner puts Buddiga to test
Level 10 – Blinds 12,000/24,000 (3,000 ante)

Christian Christner just put Pratyush Buddiga to the test for his tournament life in a hand that took so long that Yaqi Sun took phone calls on at least two phones, talked to players on two other tables and Yuan Li doubled up elsewhere all before it reached its conclusion.

It was a battle of the blinds and began when Buddiga limped from the small blind, inviting Christner to check his option. They then saw a flop of Q♠7♣2♣ and Buddiga checked.

Christner bet 30,000 but the first signs that there was more to this hand than met the eye came when Buddiga raised to 80,000. Christner called.

The 7♠ came on the turn and Buddiga checked again. Christner now bet 90,000 and Buddiga, from a stack of about 470,000, called.

The A♦ came on the river and Buddiga checked for a third time. Christner now moved a tower of red chips, with a 100,000 black-chip bonus on top, over the line. That covered Buddiga’s 380,000.

Buddiga thought about it for a long while, with Sun jumping up and down out of his seat to take calls and chat across the room. But Buddiga folded, so we’ll never know. (Details of Li’s double up to come.) — HS

5pm: Kanit climbing
Level 10 – Blinds 12,000/24,000 (3,000 ante)

Rainer Kempe put in a preflop raise to 65,000 and both Mikita Badziakouski and Mustapha Kanit called from the small and big blinds respectively.

The 10♣4♠Q♠ flop was fanned out and after the blinds checked, Kempe fired for 135,000. Badziakouski relinquished his hand but Kanit made the call to see the 3♥ arrive on the turn.

Mustapha_Kanit_2016ACOP_shr_day2 .jpg

Is Musta Italian for mountain, bro?

Kanit checked his option and Kempe bet again, this time for 230,000. After over two minutes in the tank Kanit moved all in for 740,000 – enough to cover Kempe’s last 340,000 behind.

Kempe decided to let it go and Kanit raked in the pot. — BK

4:50pm: Double for Buddiga; Huang still looking
Level 10 – Blinds 12,000/24,000 (3,000 ante)

There were two short stacks at Justin Bonomo’s table. One belonged to Shan Huang, and he shoved under the gun, for 250,000. He got folds around the table.

The other was in front of Pratyush Buddiga, but it’s now twice as big. After Tobias Ziegler opened to 51,000 from under the gun, Buddiga moved all-in for 228,000.

Action folded back to Ziegler, who made the call and took them to the track for today’s big race.

Ziegler: 9♦9♣
Buddiga: A♦Q♠

There was instant gratification on the flop for Buddiga. It came 3♦A♣7♥ and Ziegler never caught up again. — HS

4:50pm: Nitsche and Drinan bust
Level 10 – Blinds 12,000/24,000 (2,000 ante)

The tournament has been whittled down to three tables of eight after Dominik Nitsche and Connor Drinan busted at the same time.

Stanley Choi finished off Nitsche and Mikita Badziakouski took care of Drinan. Badziakouski was in the big blind and called after Drinan shoved for 303,500 from the button.

Badziakouski: K♥Q♦
Drinan: K♠9♠

The board ran 10♣3♦7♥2♠A♣ to miss both players.

Badziakouski moved up to 1.2 million and Choi has almost a million. –MC


Drinan (top) & Nitsche hit the rail

4:40pm: Holz heads home hungry
Level 10 – Blinds 12,000/24,000 (3,000 ante)

Will Fedor get his dinner? That was the question on literally nobody’s everybody’s lips after the young German phenomenon made a pretty crafty play towards the end of Level 9.

Spotting Yaqi Sun getting a tasty bowl of broth and some meat things* delivered to the table, Holz asked a waitress for the same order. But Holz only had about 130,000 in chips and so the likelihood of him still being around when the food came was slim. However, his order could be read as a confidence trick: was he only going to be nitting it up until he got his dinner?


Boy wonder no more

Well, no. That’s the answer to that. Holz is now on the rail, dinner-less, having lost his last chips to Paul Newey.

Holz did get one pre-flop shove through, building his stack to about 170,000 as a result. But he then got the last in with A♦5♣ under the gun and Newey, one seat to his left, called with A♠Q♠.

“Zero. Nada,” Holz said as he exposed his cards after a flop of 6♥K♥J♥. (Holz hadn’t quite got all his chips in pre-flop, leaving about 10,000 behind to “jam” the flop. Newey of course called.)

The 7♣ turn and 4♦ river completed the board, and that was the end of Holz.

We’ve heard that he doesn’t intend to play the Main Event, so may be heading out of Macau already. But we’ve also heard countless times that he’s not playing poker again, so who knows if he’ll be here or not when cards are in the air for that event, starting tomorrow.

Incidentally, the other player to be eliminated in the past 20 minutes was Daniel Dvoress. He left a half-eaten bowl of soup beside his vacated seat. Moral: don’t order broth. — HS

*actual name

4:35pm: Kojiya moves in on Nitsche
Level 9 – Blinds 10,000/20,000 (2,000 ante)

On a flop of 6♦Q♣7♦ Soichiro Kojiya checked from the big blind and then called Dominik Nitsche’s bet of 40,000 from the button.

The dealer turned the A♦ and Kojiya checked again.

Nitsche slid out a tower of chips worth 110,000 and after a few seconds Kojiya announced he was all in with enough to cover Nitsche’s 330,000 behind. Nitsche folded almost instantly and the pot was pushed to Kojiya.

With his newly acquired chips Kojiya now has 880,000 at his disposal. — BK

4:25pm: The genius of Stanley Choi
Level 9 – Blinds 10,000/20,000 (2,000 ante)

“Genius, bro. Genius!” said a fist bumping, wandering Mustapha Kanit to Stanley Choi after the latter doubled through Dominik Nitsche.

Nitsche opened from under the gun and called after Choi three-bet from the small blind. The flop fanned 7♦J♦A♥ and Choi checked to Nitsche who bet 80,000. Choi raised all-in for a 225,500 and Nitsche called.

Choi: A♠A♣ for top set.
Nitsche: K♦10♦ for a draw to the world.

It proved too many outs for Nitsche as the board ran out 10♣2♥. He dropped down to 610,000. –MC

4:15pm: Zang loses one to Christner
Level 9 – Blinds 10,000/20,000 (2,000 ante)

The action folded around to Christian Christner on the button and he raised to 47,000. Shunu Zang was in the small blind and he motioned to see Justin Bonomo’s stack in the big blind before acting. Zang then opted to call and with Bonomo out of the way the flop was spread K♣5♥4♥.

After a snap-check from Zang, Christner continued for 46,000. Zang quickly raised it up to 120,000 and after roughly a minute Christner flicked in a call.

The turn brought the Q♣ and both players checked before the K♥ arrived on the end.

Again the action was checked through and Zang sheepishly tabled A♣9♠ for just ace high. Christner had that beat with A♥5♣ for two pair to scoop the pot. — BK

4:10pm: Wheelie nice hand for Kemper
Level 9 – Blinds 10,000/20,000 (2,000 ante)

The amount of big pots being played has lessened for sure, and that’s to be expected in this new era of freezeout tournament poker.

Connor Drinan completed from the small blind and Rainer Kemper checked his option from the big blind. Both players checked the 10♣10♥5♥ flop before Drinan led for 30,000 on the 3♥ turn. Kemper called and then bet 55,000 on the 4♦ river when the action was checked to him. Drinan tank-called and then mucked upon seeing Kemper’s A♣2♥ for a rivered straight.

Drinan dropped to 505,000 and Kemper rose to 820,000. –MC

4:05pm: Re-buys
Level 9 – Blinds 10,000/20,000 (2,000 ante)

The full list of players taking re-buys is now with us too.

Two re-buys: Steve O’Dwyer, Isaac Haxton.
One re-buy: Dietrich Fast, Leo Cheng, Mikita Badizakouski, Justin Bonomo, Shunu Zang, Shan Huang, Mustapha Kanit, Yaqi Sun.
No re-buys: Vladimir Troyanovskiy, Sochiro Kojiya, Haoyan Wu, Yuan Li, Paul Newey, James Obst, Senh Ung, Stanley Choi, Hendrik Latz, Michael Addamo, Tobias Ziegler, Bjorn Li, Dominik Nitsche, Rainer Kempe, Christian Christner, Stephen Chidwick, Fedor Holz, Steffen Sondtheimer, Jack Salter, Pratyush Buddiga, Connor Drinan, Salman Behebehani.

The list above also serves as details of the full field here. — HS

4pm: Prize-pool
Level 9 – Blinds 10,000/20,000 (2,000 ante)

Tournament staff have crunched the numbers and come up with our prize pool. Here’s how the money will be divided tomorrow:

2016 ACOP Super High Roller

Dates: November 5-7, 2016
Buy-in: $480,000 + $20,000
Players: 33 (plus 12 re-buys)
Prize pool (after deductions): $21,384,000

(All amounts in HKD)

Place Name Country Prize
1     $7,270,000
2     $5,025,000
3     $3,208,000
4     $2,459,000
5     $1,925,000
6     $1,497,000

We will likely play down to the final six today, bursting the bubble and then going to bed.

3:55pm: Christner catches two pair
Level 9 – Blinds 10,000/20,000 (2,000 ante)

The action folded to Daniel Dvoress on the button and he raised to 50,000. Pratyush Buddiga folded in the small blind but Christian Christner defended his big blind to see a flop of 10♦5♥Q♣.

The action was checked through to the 7♥ turn where Christner led at it for 72,000. Dvoress stuck around and the K♠ fell on the river.

Breathing heavily, Christner thought about his decision for around two minutes, before firing for 105,000 on the end. Dvoress paid it off and Christner tabled K♣Q♥ for two pair to rake the pot.

That hand takes Christner up to 920,000 while the setback for Dvoress sees him drop to 220,000. — BK

3:45pm: Chidwick lasts one hand
Level 9 – Blinds 10,000/20,000 (2,000 ante)

Stephen Chidwick lasted one hand in the second level of the day.


Chidwick made a hasty exit

We missed the action but he and Steffen Sontheimer went to war preflop when there was no big blind in his seat. The Brit held K-Q and Sontheimer held pocket sevens. The latter rivered a set of sevens just to make sure. Chidwick will be back for the Main Event tomorrow or Tuesday. –MC

3:40pm: The fifth Beatle
Level 9 – Blinds 10,000/20,000 (2,000 ante)

Fedor Holz is big in Macau. He is the man in demand for photographs at the moment, with all the rail-birds’ cameras trained on the phenom from Germany. It’s not quite the Beatles arriving to the United States, however. Almost all of these fans, including one who has already asked for a personal photo at least twice, are men.

Try pop music next time, Fedor. — HS

3:35pm: Dust just about settling
Level 9 – Blinds 10,000/20,000 (2,000 ante)

Most of us probably first experienced “organised” poker at a mad re-buy event, costing about $5 or £5 a pop. Well, something like that chaos was just replicated here in Macau, with the significant difference being a buy-in of HK$500,000. (That’s about US$65,000.)

Registration has now finally closed on this tournament and they’re into the freezeout period. But there was a flurry of activity right at the death and the upshot of all the last-minute buying of chips is that we now have 27 players seated (from a total of 33), plus 12 re-buys/add-ons.

They are still balancing tables, but the line-up looks a bit like this at the moment. We’ll find out who these new players are as soon as possible:

Leo Cheng – 950,000
Mikita Badziakouski – 510,000
Mustapha Kanit – 970,000
James Obst – 1,050,000
Jack Salter – 470,000
Isaac Haxton – 515,000
Connor Drinan – 465,000
Rainer Kempe – 620,000

Hendrik Latz – 1.8 million
Dietrich Fast – 1.05 million
New player – 1 million
Fedor Holz – 265,000
Paul Newey – 905,000
Vladimir Troyanovskiy – 540,000

Justin Bonomo – 1 million
New player – 770,000
Daniel Dvoress – 490,000
Pratyush Buddiga – 480,000
New player – 720,000
New player – 1.25 million
Tobias Ziegler – 1.3 million

Yuan Li – 1.6 million
Stephen Chidwick – 500,000
Kojiya Soichiro – 310,000
New player – 450,000
Stanley Choi – 560,000
Dominik Nitsche – 1.3 million

3:15pm: Fast jams on Holz
Level 8 – Blinds 8,000/16,000 (2,000 ante)

Fedor Holz has sat down not only with the most fearsome reputation in poker, but also with HK$1 million in casino plaques, making it very clear that he’s prepared to take both his re-buy options if necessary. He’ll be able to make that decision now as we’re in the tournament break at the end of Level 8, when re-buys close. Not only that, Holz also played a big pot that ate into the interval.

Dietrich Fast, who has been here from the start, opened to 36,000 from the cutoff and Holz called on the button. The flop came 7♣Q♦7♥ and Fast bet 45,000. Holz called.

The turn was the 4♣ and Fast bet 130,000. Holz called again.

The river was the K♠ and Fast moved all-in, covering the 350,000-ish that Holz still had. But Holz folded.

Stick around now when we’ll find out exactly who is in this thing. — HS

3:10pm: Cheng chops down Li
Level 8 – Blinds 8,000/16,000 (2,000 ante)

Leo Cheng is making the most of his second bullet – he just caught a lucky double up through Bjorn Li. On a flop of 8♥5♦Q♥ the two players got all the chips in with Cheng’s effective stack of approximately 450,000.

Cheng: A♥J♥
Li: A♣A♦

It was Li’s overpair versus Cheng’s nut flush draw and Cheng received immediate service on the 9♥ turn to leave Li drawing dead. The inconsequential K♣ landed on the river and Cheng secured the double up. The dealer cut down Cheng’s stack and when Li matched it he was left with only 130,000. — BK

3:05pm: Haxton busts for a second time
Level 8 – Blinds 8,000/16,000 (2,000 ante)

Ike Haxton went off to take a ten-minute walk before rebuying after busting for the second time today. It was a case of bad timing as he shoved into a big hand.

The action folded around to him in the small blind and his move for around 230,000. Paul Newey was in the big blind and snapped him off after he looked down at a big pair.

Haxton: Q♥10♦
Newey: J♥J♣

The board ran a blank 6♣4♠3♠9♣4♥. Haxton gave his buddy Justin Bonomo a look of defeat and wandered off. –MC

3pm: Here they come
Level 8 – Blinds 8,000/16,000 (2,000 ante)

With about ten minutes left until registration closes, the plane from Manila has arrived. Fedor Holz, Salman Behbehani, Mustapha Kanit, Jack Salter and Stephen Chidwick are just buying in, with Rainer Kempe also now sitting down. We’ll have the full list of registrants very soon. They’re gambling it up in these late stages of registration. Oh, and here’s Connor Drinan and Pratyush Buddiga too.

2:55pm: Cheng back and chipping up
Level 8 – Blinds 8,000/16,000 (2,000 ante)

Leo Cheng was recently eliminated but he’s back among the action now after a rebuy for 500,000 in chips. That stack is already heading in the right direction after Cheng took a pot from James Obst.

Cheng opened to 40,000 from the cutoff but when it got to Obst in the small blind he bumped it up to 108,000. After a few seconds’ pause Cheng moved his fresh stack all in and Obst surrendered.

Obst may have lost that pot but he still sits with a healthy stack of more than 1 million chips. — BK

2:50pm: Newey alive and kicking
Level 8 – Blinds 8,000/16,000 (2,000 ante)

After seeing Senh Ung perish with ace-queen not so long ago, Paul Newey might have expected that he would suffer a similar fate when he got it in with the same hand, and was dominated, by Isaac Haxton. But Newey spiked a queen to survive.

It started with Hendrik Latz raising to 35,000 from the cutoff. Haxton called on the button, prompting the shove from Newey in the small blind.

Latz quickly folded, but Haxton wanted a count. He found out that Newey had 307,000 in his stack–about 150,000 less than Haxton had–then Haxton called and tabled A♦K♣.


Paul Newey: Staying alive

Newey showed his A♥Q♣ as Vladimir Troyanovskiy pondered aloud why Haxton had needed a count and taken so long about the call. Haxton had his reasons.

Anyway, the flop brought the Q♦ alongside the 4♦ and the 5♥. The turn was the 7♥ and the 8♣ came on the river. That was good enough to keep Newey’s hopes alive in this one, and leave Haxton short once more. — HS

2:45pm: Dvoress plays back at Li
Level 8 – Blinds 8,000/16,000 (2,000 ante)

Daniel Dvoress now has the unenviable task of sitting to the right of Yuen Li, but showed that he is up for the fight. Dvoress opened his button, making it 35,000 to play, but then was faced with a three-bet to 120,000 in the small blind from the overnight leader.

Dvoress paused a beat or two but then jammed for 440,000 on top of the money already invested. Li folded. — HS

2:40pm: Cheng gets unlucky to bust
Level 8 – Blinds 8,000/16,000 (2,000 ante)

Dominik Nitsche took most of Leo Yan Ho Cheng’s chips and Bjorn Li took the rest. Cheng got his chips in good but was straightened right out.

Li opened to 32,000 from under the gun and called after Cheng moved all-in for about double that from the next seat.

Li: A♣9♠
Cheng: A♦10♠

The board ran J♦8♥Q♦10♦Q♥ to make Li a straight. There were a few groans of sympathy for Cheng when the turn was dealt. — MC

2:35pm: Cheng crippled by Nitsche
Level 8 – Blinds 8,000/16,000 (2,000 ante)

Dominik Nitsche was absent yesterday but he has taken advantage of Day 2 late registration and has already doubled up – leaving Leo Cheng crippled in his wake.

Stanley Choi opened the action with a raise to 33,000 from the cutoff before Nitsche three-bet to 95,000 on the button. It was then on Cheng in the small blind and he counted his own stack before moving all in with just enough to cover Nitsche.

“Jacks,” Nitsche announced after quickly snapping it off as Cheng was left to see he was in rough shape.

Nitsche: J♣J♦
Cheng: 10♥10♦

The A♠3♠J♠ worsened Cheng’s chances with Nitsche improving to a set, and with the 6♦ turn and K♣ river completing the board Nitsche secured the pot.

He doubles through while Cheng is left nursing right around 60,000 in chips. — BK

2:30pm: Latz flying up the counts
Level 8 – Blinds 8,000/16,000 (2,000 ante)

Hendrik Latz has just claimed his second scalp of the day and is up beyond 1.6 million.

“Nothing you can do there,” someone on the rail muttered to Senh Ung as he headed out the door. Details are sketchy beyond the fact that Ung, on the button, had A♣Q♠ and Latz, in the small blind, had K♠10♥.


Senh Ung: Nothing he could do

The board showed A♦Q♣J♦4♥5♣ and, if I was a betting man, I’d suggest Ung probably raised pre, Latz called, and then all the money went in on the flop.

Ung had 665,000 at the start of the day today, but has none of it left. Latz, meanwhile, is on fire. — HS


Hendrik Latz: Flying up

2:25pm: Dvoress completes O’Dwyer demise
Level 8 – Blinds 8,000/16,000 (2,000 ante)

The writing was on the wall after the big pot against Tobias Ziegler and now Steve O’Dwyer has duly become the first player knocked out for good from this tournament. Registration is still open, but he has used both of his re-buys already and cannot come back.

After getting a walk in the big blind, O’Dwyer shipped his last 50,000-ish from the small blind when action folded to him.


Daniel Dvoress

Daniel Dvoress made the mandatory call with J♦9♥ and trailed O’Dwyer’s A♦8♦. However the board of J♠10♣5♠2♠2♦ hit Dvoress and sent O’Dwyer seeking alternative entertainment for the rest of the day. — HS

2:20pm: Today’s a new day, Steve
Level 8 – Blinds 8,000/16,000 (2,000 ante)

“You know what: Yesterday happened, there’s not much I can do about it now. Let’s be positive and make the most of a new day. You’re Steve O’Dwyer and no one has won more of these than you!” was the PokerStars Blog playing Steve O’Dwyer in front of the mirror this morning.

O’Dwyer had one of those on the felt yesterday, where he kept being just on the wrong side of most situations. It cost him big as he had to rebuy twice to stay in the action. There are no more lives available to him so he has to make today count. Surely variance will swing back his way, right? Wrong.

It didn’t take him long to lose a 1.25 million chip pot to be left with fewer than 50,000.
He opened to 35,000 from under the gun and then four-bet jammed after Tobias Ziegler three-bet to 115,000 from the small blind. Call.

Ziegler: Q♦Q♣
O’Dwyer: A♦K♦

The board ran 9♦8♣4♣5♣2♠ and Ziegler’s queens held up. –MC

2:10pm: Haxton shoves once too many times
Level 8 – Blinds 8,000/16,000 (2,000 ante)

The first significant pot of Day 2 has gone in the favour of Hendrik Latz and has cost Isaac Haxton the last of his chips. It remains to be seen if he will re-buy, although I suspect he will.

Haxton had only 214,000 overnight, or 13 big blinds, and was clearly intent on moving in one direction or another. He shoved from the cutoff on the second hand of the fay, and got folds around the table, but he found a customer soon after.

Latz raised to 38,000 from under the gun and Haxton jammed again. Latz didn’t need a count and called quickly. Haxton was in immediate peril:

Haxton: A♣Q♦
Latz: A♠K♣

The board ran 8♦5♠K♦8♥3♦ and that ended it quickly. Latz moves to about 1.2 million, while Haxton now ponders a re-buy. — HS

2:05pm: Li extends his lead
Level 8: Blinds 8,000-16,000 (2,000 ante)

We’re already seeing plenty of action early and Yuan Li is using his big stack to effectively apply pressure to his tablemates. Leo Cheng just experienced that first hand as Li got the best of him in a battle of the blinds.

On a flop of J♣5♣A♥ Cheng checked from the small blind before Li fired for 20,000. Cheng played back at him with a check-raise to 60,000 but Li wasn’t done with it just yet.

Li came back over the top with an additional raise to 110,000 in total and that was good enough to take down the pot. — BK

1:55pm: Newcomers

We’re still a little while away from knowing all of today’s players, but we’ve spotted Dominik Nitsche, Rainer Kempe and Daniel Dvoress, among others, circling the card-room this afternoon. One assumes that they’re not here to see the House of Dancing Water fountain show at the City of Dreams Dancing Water Theater, as spectacular as that is.

1:45pm: Seat draw

We’re expecting more players to fill in some of these gaps, but here’s the table draw for those who have returned after playing Day 1:

Table Seat First Name Last Name Country Chip Count
1 1 Hendrik Latz Austria 959,000
1 4 Bjorn Yin Nam Li Hong Kong 549,000
1 6 Paul Newey UK 365,000
1 7 Isaac ‘Ike’ Haxton USA 214,000
1 8 Senh Man Ung UK 665,000
2 1 Justin Bonomo USA 1,217,000
2 2 Stephen O’dwyer Ireland 649,500
2 6 Soichiro Kojiya Japan 454,500
2 7 Tobias Ziegler Germany 568,500
2 8 Vladimir Troyanovskiy Russia 542,000
3 1 Leo Yan Ho Cheng Canada 714,500
3 2 Yuan Li China 1,568,000
3 4 James Obst Australia 1,165,000
3 6 Chiu Fai Stanley Choi Hong Kong 716,500
3 7 Dietrich Fast Germany 652,500

1pm: More arrive, many to depart

Good afternoon and welcome back to the PokerStars LIVE cardroom at City of Dreams, Macau. It’s Day 2 of the HK$500,000 Super High Roller event, where the race to the money will become ever more difficult.

Rumour has it that our 15 survivors from yesterday will be joined by a host of new arrivals today, and frenetic action will surely follow. Rebuys remain open until the end of today’s first level, so even though a stack starts at 500,000, it’s possible to buy in for double or triple that.

We got word last night that Pratyush Buddiga and Connor Drinan were among a host of players heading towards Macau from Manila, and it remains to be seen who joins them. We’ll know the full size of the field, plus the money they are all playing for, when registration finally closes just before Level 9 begins.

We’re heading into Level 8 at the outset, and we’ll have full coverage right to the death. Can anyone catch Yuan Li? That’s the target. We’ll find out soon.


Yuan Li: Leading the pack

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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