If you weren't looking (and I'm willing to bet that some of you weren't), it's been a lot of fun and games the last few days at the 2012 PokerStars.net APPT Cebu Main Event. But late yesterday the elimination of Mikko Turtiainen popped the money bubble at the Casino Filipino Mactan. We threw one more party last night with the dual purpose of celebrating a successful APPT5 Cebu Main Event and celebrating the birthday of Dragon baby and APPT President Danny McDonagh. Things got a little out of hand when the ladyboy fire dancers showed up, but nobody wound up in a Filipino prison so chalk the night up as a success.
Now it's time to knuckle down to business. 28 in-the-money players return today for Day 3 and all of them are looking to win a poker tournament.
We're planning to get to know the Day 2 overnight chip leader, Amit Varma of India, very well this afternoon. Varma put together a strong run in yesterday's eight levels of play to surge to 545,500, more than 50 big blinds ahead of 2nd chip position player Hoang Anh Do and nearly twice the count of Jacky Wang (274,500), the current 3rd-place player. Varma's huge chip lead puts him in a solid position for the first major final table and first five-figure cash of his poker career. We'll be watching him closely to find out whether he can seize the opportunity and build on a string of smaller successes in Goa and at APPT5 Macau last November.
We'll also be keeping an eye on notorious staller (but consistently solid player) Bobo Chen of Macau and the short-stacked American-by-way-of-Cambodia, Carter Gill. Each displays a certain unpredictability to his game that could be the difference between an early exit today and lifting the champion's trophy tomorrow night. They'll have to outplay several former champions still in the field, including past ANZPT winners Michael Kanaan and Sammy Huang, and past MPCC winner Julian Hasse.
If you're hoping for some Filipino pride to carry the day, the odds aren't in your favor. Only two Filipino players remain and both find themselves in the bottom half of the counts. Victor de Guzman starts Day 3 with 107,000, about 27 big blinds. He's in better shape than Mark Anthony Ortiz, whose 46,000 starting chips are more than only former Asia Player of the Year Kitty Kuo, the short stack to start the day.
Day 3 should consist of 6 or 7 levels of play. By then the field will be trimmed from the 28 starters to the skilled and fortunate final table of nine that will battle tomorrow for the 1st-place prize of 5.9 million pesos (about $141,000).
The laptops are open, the video team is getting ready to shoot the introduction to Day 3, and the mangoes are out on the media desk, waiting to be sliced into bite-sized pieces of orange heaven. It's business as usual when Day 3 of APPT5 Cebu starts in about 20 minutes.