Tournament coverage Poker

The Railbird Report

Written by Railbird Ronny

This article first appeared in the Jul/Aug 2013 issue of World Gaming magazine.

Railbird Ronny is excited! As your resident tournament poker aficionado, it’s my job to bring our readers all the latest from the world’s top poker tournaments but there has been so much going on over the past two months the guys at WGM have given me a whole three pages to work with this issue! I usually only get one page so I feel very privileged.

By far the biggest event to take place since my last “Railbird Report” was the inaugural WSOP Asia-Pacific at Crown in Melbourne. This was the first time any WSOP event has been held in the Southern Hemisphere and not surprisingly it attracted the cream of the poker world’s crop.

A short five-event schedule culminated in the AU$10,000 Main Event which attracted a solid field of 405 runners all looking to stamp their place in the history books. Among those to take their seat were international stars Phil Hellmuth, Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, Erik Seidel, John Juanda, Dan Kelly, Lee Nelson, Raymond Rahme, Dan Shak, David Steicke, Sam Trickett, Joseph Cheong, Jonathan Duhamal, Greg Merson, Antonio Esfandiari, Barry Greenstein, Bertrand Grospellier and 2013 Aussie Millions Champion Mervin Chan.

Daniel Negreanu won the inaugural WSOP APAC main event

Daniel Negreanu won the inaugural WSOP APAC main event

They were joined by a strong Australian contingent headed by 2005 WSOP Main Event champion Joe Hachem as well as Jeff Lisandro, Mel Judah, Gary Benson, James Obst, Jonathan Karamalikis, Brendon Rubie, Grant Levy and of course WGM CEO Andrew W Scott!

It took three days for the 405 starters to be whittled down to a final table of eight players – headed by four-time WSOP bracelet winner Daniel Negreanu, Macau’s Winfred Yu and Russell Thomas who was playing his second consecutive WSOP Main Event final table after finishing fourth in Las Vegas in late 2012.

Despite a strong challenge from local youngster Daniel Marton, who finished second, and Yu who came in third, it was Negreanu that was celebrating his fifth WSOP bracelet and a first prize of AU$1,038,825.

Negreanu’s win couldn’t have been scripted better for either the WSOP or Crown Melbourne. One of the most recognized and popular players in the world, his win provided a huge PR boost for this latest series and should go a long way towards attracting even bigger numbers to WSOP APAC in 2014.

The WSOP APAC final table

The WSOP APAC final table

Incredibly, Negreanu’s Main Event win was actually his second final table of the week after he finished fourth in the AU$2,200 Mixed Event. Again it was a popular figure in Phil Ivey adding another bracelet, number nine, to his collection after outlasting a field of 81 players.

Australia’s Aaron Lim completed a stunning double when he won the popular 6-max event for AU$233,800 ahead of fellow Aussie hotshots Andy Lee and Brendon Rubie. Incredibly, Lim took down APPT Seoul just two weeks earlier and proved that good form can play its role at the poker tables as he became the first Australian to win a WSOP bracelet on home soil.

Americans Jim Collopy and Bryan Piccioli won the other two bracelets up for grabs.

It’s been a big few months for poker in Macau with the launch of the new PokerStars Live room at City of Dreams. Having spent the past 12 months at Grand Waldo, the move to a permanent room at City of Dreams is an exciting one for players in Macau who had been wondering if the room would ever find a permanent home again in Macau.

Terry Fan is the latest Macau Poker Cup champion photo: Kenneth Lim

Terry Fan is the latest Macau Poker Cup champion photo: Kenneth Lim

The PokerStars team celebrated the launch with the latest instalment of the Macau Poker Cup and were rewarded by a record field of 891 entrants for the Main Event – the largest field ever assembled on the Asian continent, easily smashing the previous record of 635.

After five long days, it was Terry Fan that emerged victorious to claim the Red Dragon trophy and a first prize of HK$1,771,000. Fan headed into the final table as a comfortable chip leader and never relinquished control. He entered heads-up play with a 2:1 chip advantage over Gie Angelo Reyes and the title was his just a few minutes later when he got it in pre-flop with A-5 against K-8 and managed to hold.

Just a few days later the PokerStars team, headed by tournament director Danny McDonagh, was off to the Philippines for APPT Cebu – one of the most popular events on the Asia-Pacific tournament circuit.

A field of 158 players turned out at the Waterfront Airport Hotel & Casino to fight it out for the US$97,000 first prize including Raymond Wu, Celina Lin, Bryan Huang, Dan Kelly, Vivian Im, Sam Razavi, Jesse McKenzie and recent WSOP APAC bracelet winner Jim Collopy who looked set for another live title when he took the chip lead into the final table.

Alas, it wasn’t to be as South Korea’s Jae Kyung Sim went on a final table rampage to etch his name in the record books.

Incredibly, Sim eliminated six of his eight final table opponents with heads-up play against Sweden’s Magnus Karlsson lasting just three hands before they got it in with Sim holding the nut straight with 8-6 on a 4-5-7 flop to the open-ended draw of Karlsson’s 10-6. The Swede would need an 8 to split the pot and stay alive but couldn’t catch the miracle.

Another significant event of the past few months was APT Manila which saw a very healthy field of 205 players stump up the US$2,700 entry fee.

Continuing their tour of the Asian circuit were the likes of Dan Kelly, Sam Razavi, Jordan Westmorland and Nam Le, who all cashed, but in the end it was Australia’s Khac Trung Tran who prevailed to pocket a cool US$124,000.

The Macau Poker Cup attracted a record field at its new home at City of Dreams photo: Kenneth Lim

The Macau Poker Cup attracted a record field at its new home at City of Dreams photo: Kenneth Lim

Last of all, how could I not mention the incredible Guangdong Asia Millions which was held in Macau in early June with 71 of the world’s best players stumping up the HK$1 million entry fee. The tournament offered a double rebuy and by the time the dust had settled, 54 rebuys created a massive HK$119 million prize pool, making it the second largest tournament in history outside of Las Vegas. In the end it was Germany’s Niklas Heinecker who prevailed to take down the first prize of more than HK$34 million ahead of Australia’s Jeff Rossiter and Canada’s Sorel Mizzi.

All our friends at Guangdong Group, including Executive Director Mr Nicholas Niglio, Chief Executive Officer Ms Winnie Wong and Chief Operating Officer Mr Sampson Fung, are to congratulated for bringing such an amazing super high roller tournament to our city. We look forward to the 2014 Guangdong Asia Millions being even bigger and better.

With all of that, it seems like Railbird Ronny has barely had time to catch his breath but there is no time to rest with the eyes of the poker world now firmly fixed on Las Vegas with the 2013 World Series of Poker now well and truly underway.

Be it one of the weekly US$1,500 WSOP events or the coveted Main Event, every poker player ever to have ever peered down at Aces wants to pull up a seat at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino at least once in their lives.

This year’s schedule features a massive 62 events with the $50,000 Poker Players Championship beginning on June 30 and the Main Event on July 6, so make sure you pick up the next issue of WGM where I will bring you all the news and results from the 2013 WSOP!