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The Railbird Report

Written by Railbird Ronny

This article first appeared in the Jul/Aug 2014 issue of World Gaming magazine.

This is a busy time of year for Railbird Ronny with the WSOP under way in Las Vegas, so it was nice to spend a bit of time closer to home these past few months with the seventh running of APT Philippines closely followed by one of my favorites in APPT Macau.

APT Philippines holds the distinction of being the only APT event to have been held every single year since 2008 so it comes with a fair bit of prestige. A healthy field of 208 players took their seats at Resorts World Manila with dreams of collecting the US$126,500 first prize and by the time the final table was set we had one of the more diverse collections of players ever seen in an APT event with eight players from eight different countries remaining.

They included representatives from China, Norway, Australia, Vietnam, Korea, Lebanon and Spain, but in the end it was a local Singaporean that dominated the final day’s play.

Feng Zhao dominated the final table at APT Philippines

Feng Zhao dominated the final table at APT Philippines

Feng Zhao entered the final table as chip leader and set about narrowing the field himself with five rivals falling at his hands. However, by the time heads-up play began against Spain’s Inaki Santos, Feng held only a narrow chip lead and even fell some way behind for a while before storming home to win the title.

With APT Philippines done and dusted, Railbird Ronny flew home to Macau for a short break before cruising down to City of Dreams for the eighth running of APPT Macau.

The 494 players who stumped up the HK$25,000 buy-in easily bettered last year’s figure of 388 and included some huge names such as Billy “The Croc” Argyros, Daniel Laidlaw, JJ Liu, Celina Lin, Iori Yogo, Bryan Huang, Michael Kanaan, Jay Tan and 10-time bracelet winner and two-time WSOP main event champion Johnny Chan.

After three highly eventful days in the PokerStars LIVE Macau room, the final table was set – and a tough one it most certainly was. Among those still in contention were a number of online and emerging pros including 2012 APT Macau winner Carlos Chang and Frenchman Cyril Andre who boasts cashes at both the WSOP and EPT as well as a seventh place finish at the 2010 Partouche Poker Tour worth US$260,000. The biggest name, though, was Argyros – the Australian Hall of Famer looking to become the first player to win two APPT titles following his victory at APPT Melbourne last year.

Argyros looked to be in good shape to achieve that very feat for much of the final table. He eliminated Jean-Marie Peyron in seventh when his 10s held against the Frenchman’s A-10, then sent overnight chip leader Thomas McGarrity to the rail in fourth with Aces against McGarrity’s A-K.

Jiajun Liu became the second Chinese player in as many years to win the APPT Macau Main Event

Jiajun Liu became the second Chinese player in as many years to win the APPT Macau Main Event

Unfortunately, “The Croc” would eventually fall in third after an epic three-handed battle, leaving Andre and China’s Jiajun Liu to fight it out for the title. As it was, luck didn’t favor the Frenchman. Despite making a fantastic river fold holding a full house against Liu’s straight flush, he couldn’t dodge fate any longer with two cruel hands working against him. The first saw him get it in with A-4 against Liu’s K-3 and when the flop came A-7-4 he had one hand on the trophy. But running 3s would leave him stunned and having to quickly regroup if he was to take the win.

Soon after he looked to be set for a crucial double when he got it in with Q-8 against Liu’s 7-7 as they saw a Q-Q-10 flop. But a 7 on the turn gave Liu a boat and the river didn’t change anything as Liu became the second Chinese player in as many years to claim the APPT Macau main event.

Congratulations to Feng Zhao and Jiajun Liu for their breakthrough wins! Railbird Ronny is off to Vegas now for the WSOP and I’ll bring you all the key results in the next issue of WGM!