Tournament coverage Poker

Chinese triumph at Macau Poker Cup Championship

Written by Ben Wilson

This article first appeared in the Nov/Dec 2012 issue of World Gaming magazine.

China’s Rui Chen turned HK$1,000 into HK$1.1 million at the MPCC to emerge victorious in PokerStars Macau’s penultimate tournament of 2012.

Taking place from 7 to 16 September the MPCC delivered a wealth of poker action over its 13 events, which saw 1,476 players from over 20 countries compete for more than HK$10 million in prize money.

The 2012 Macau Poker Cup Championship final table.

The 2012 Macau Poker Cup Championship final table.

The Main Event was the one everyone wanted to win. After a hard fought battle that lasted more than 30 hours over five days of poker, it was China which emerged triumphant, with Rui Chen securing victory for the host nation. What makes this feat even more impressive is the fact the Chinese businessman qualified for the Main Event via a HK$1,000 live satellite, before seeing off all challenges from the 270-strong field to take down the HK$20,000 Main Event and turn his HK$1,000 into a whopping HK$1,108,500. That is one hell of a return on investment!

Flying under the radar for the first two days of play, Rui Chen brought himself into contention late in day three when his pocket aces held in a three-way pre-flop all-in to knock out fellow countryman Xing Zhao and Indonesia’s Satrya Teja. This stunning double elimination decided the final table and saw Rui Chen come in as the biggest stack with more than double his nearest rival, Korea’s Sunny Jung. Rui Chen began the final table the same way he finished day three, waking up with pocket aces just two hands into proceedings to send Robert Streatfeild to the rail after the Australian moved all-in with K♣ Q♠. Streatfeild cheerfully departed in 9th place collecting HK$120,500 for his troubles.

It wasn’t all Rui Chen though, with Japan’s Yosuke Sekiya taking the next scalp, when his pocket tens were enough to defeat the pocket eights of Ryan Hong, showing the Aussie the door in 8th place for a HK$144,500 payday. Rui Chen then busted the next two players in quick succession sending the tournament’s last remaining female players, Lisi Wei and Jessica Ngu, to the rail in 7th and 6th places with HK$193,000 and HK$241,000 respectively.

Five became four shortly afterwards when Robert Jin crippled Kevin Kung after spiking the J♣ on the river holding T♦ J♦ to crack Kung’s aceking. Kung was all-in for his last 3,000 the following hand with Sunny Jung administering the coup de grâce, his A♠ 7♦ enough to send Kung out in 5th for HK$289,160.

Sunny Jung attempted to get something going with some aggressive three-betting but this backfired spectacularly when he moved all-in from the button with 4♦ 4♥ and Yosuke Sekiya looked him up with A♥ K♥ and paired his king on the flop to eliminate the Korean in 4th place for a HK$361,500 payday.

A reversal of fortune saw Chen go from first to last in the pecking order after play became threehanded, losing a blind-on-blind battle against Sekiya who rivered a full house to snatch the chip lead. Chen was on the ropes a few hands later, his pocket sevens trailing to the A♣ 8♣ of Robert Jin when the two got all the chips in pre-flop and Jin paired his eight, but the miracle arrival of the 7♣ river saw Chen come back from the brink. Chen romped back into pole position a few hands later when Sekiya moved all in pre-flop with A♦10♥ and Chen woke up with pocket kings.

However, Sekiya recovered from this setback by busting Jin shortly afterwards when the Chinese player moved all-in with K♣ 8♥, which was not enough to beat Sekiya’s A♠ 9♦ and Jin was forced to settle for the HK$458,000 on offer for 3rd place.

Heads-up proved to be a grueling three-hour China versus Japan battle that saw the chip lead change hands on no less than seven occasions. Despite Rui Chen having by far the best of it and getting Yosuke Sekiya all-in with dominated hands on several occasions the Japanese player hit the perfect card time and again to remain in contention. Rui Chen survived all that was thrown at him and when the two combatants got all the chips in for a final time, Rui Chen’s K♣ Q♣ lead Yosuke Sekiya’s K♠ J♣. The board ran out 2♦ 10♠ 6♥ 4♠ 8♦ to give an impassive looking Rui Chen the title, the trophy and the HK$1,108,500 first prize.

While Yosuke Sekiya will be disappointed to have fallen at the final hurdle the HK$759,000 on offer for second is not to be sniffed at. The result also shoots the Japanese player to the number one spot on the Asia Player of the Year (APOY) leader board, edging out China’s Nicky Tao Jin. Rui Chen enters the APOY in 8th just behind the UK’s Craig Eichmeier, and with HK$100,000 of his winnings going towards entry into the prestigious Asia Championship of Poker (ACOP) Main Event running on 7 November there is still a great deal to play for.

Serving as the grand finale to the hotly contested APOY race the 17-day schedule for the ACOP, running 26 October to 11 November, is an official event of the Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT).

In addition to boasting Asia’s largest guaranteed prize pool of HK$10 million for the HK$100,000 (US$13,000) Main Event, there are a total of 10 ACOP Title Events with buy-ins of HK$8,000 or more. There is a HK$2,000 Rebuy Championship and the HK$4,000 Asia Ladies Championship and winners will receive a special ACOP title trophy in recognition of their accomplishments. All 18 feature events give competitors valuable APOY points, and with the number one spot getting their name engraved on the APOY trophy and receiving a one-year sponsorship from PokerStars it looks set be an exciting finale to the 2012 Asian tournament circuit.

How the west won

Western Australia’s poker playing contingent was well represented at the MPCC by the Western Australia Poker League (WAPL), whose members scored some great results. The most notable of these was Robert “Bob” Streatfeild’s ninth place finish in the MPCC Main Event. A regular member of the WAPL since November 2009, it was touch and go whether Bob would play the Main Event due to international bank transfer issues.

However, some quick thinking by the WAPL’s Frank Maley and PokerStars Asia-Pacific Director of Live Operations Danny McDonagh saw Streatfeild squeak into the tournament just 20 minutes shy of the close of late registration. Bob quickly got to work playing the game of his life and battled through to make day 3. Despite being decimated early after running his pocket kings into the pocket aces of Jessica Ngu, Bob dug deep and ran his 30,000 stack back over 100,000 to make the money and guarantee his seat on the final table. Unfortunately Bob became the final table’s first casualty after running into chip leader and eventual winner Rui Chen’s pocket aces on the second hand, but bowed out cheerfully HK$120,500 richer. Bob is thankful to WAPL and all his friends back home in Australia for their support through the WAPL’s Facebook page during the event, and is looking forward to soon re-joining Team WAPL for another assault on PokerStars Macau!

Running free and cash poker events in Western Australia since May 2006, the WAPL has over 11,000 members. In addition to paying out players over AU$2.5 million in prize money the WAPL also raises money for various charities, most of which benefit child-based health and welfare needs in the WA Community. Members can also compete in special events to win trips away with Team WAPL to destinations like Macau to play in major international events.

Lounge around with WGM

Once again the World Gaming Members Lounge proved to be a big hit at the MPCC. Offering members somewhere to relax and hang out with friends while enjoying a cold beer or waiting for a tournament to start the WGM lounge boasted two 60-inch big screens to watch movies, sport or televised poker. We also offered free WiFi and a place for members to charge their mobile phones and tablets. The WGM hostesses were on hand to assist with discounted spa entries for the Grand Waldo’s world-class spa facilities, to arrange spa accommodation, sell dinner buffet tickets or book a limousine to anywhere in Macau. It’s easy to become a member – all you have to do is sign up on the spot, and it’s absolutely free. Come visit us in the lounge during the Asian Championship of Poker from 26 October to 11 November.