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Hata comes back from the brink to lead Guo in PokerStars Championship Macau

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Aymon Hata: Last-gasp chip leader

Shot-clock or no shot-clock, things move quickly in Macau.

Day 4 of the PokerStars Championship Main Event, at the PokerStars LIVE card-room at the City of Dreams, lasted for a little more than five hours. That was all that was necessary to trim an overnight field of 37 down to the last 16 and to catapult Aymon Hata to the summit of the ever-shortening leader board.

Actually, trimmed isn't quite the word. The field was shredded.

The tone was set within the first five minutes when David Peters, the world's top-ranked poker player in 2016 and most recognisable face in the returning field, bluffed off his entire stack to Dong Guo. Guo, who enjoys comparable standing in the tournament poker rooms of Asia as Peters does globally, managed to build steadily from there and was the first to break the 2 million mark.

He was never out of the lead until the very last hand of the day. At that point, Julius Malzanini handed his short stack to Hata (Hata flopped a set of sevens), ending the day and giving Hata 2.188 million chips. Guo was just out-pipped. He finished with 2.16 million.

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Dong Guo: Lead from start to finish...almost

The final 16, who all still have designs on the HK$3.13 million first prize, will line up as follows (in chip order):

NameCountryStatusChips
Aymon HataUK 2,188,000
Dong GuoCanada 2,160,000
Thibaut BlondelFrancePokerStars player1,388,000
Wenlong JinChina 1,296,000
Yan LiChinaPokerStars player1,248,000
Tianyuan TangChina 1,241,000
Daniel LaidlawAustralia 1,077,000
Jianbo JiangChina 1,057,000
Avraham OzielCanadaPokerStars qualifier873,000
Artem MetalidiUkraineLive satellite winner740,000
Elliot SmithCanada 583,000
Feng Wen ChenTaiwan 491,000
Yen ChenTaiwanLive satellite winner481,000
Fabrice SoulierFranceLive satellite winner472,000
Xuan TanChina 439,000
Winfred YuHong Kong 385,000

Despite Peters' absence, this is still a field of high quality and incorrigible wildcards.

Daniel Laidlaw, originally from Australia, is a regular in the Macau poker rooms and has a string of tournament successes in his adopted home. A huge percentage of Elliot Smith's $1.8 million tournament winnings have also come outside of his native North America.

Meanwhile, nobody in the world of Asian poker has more influence than Winfred Yu. He is best known as the facilitator for the continent's biggest cash games, which also happen to be the biggest games in the world. He was getting a little frustrated with a short stack last night, but returned today to tell us that he'd had a rethink. "Main event like this is always a long battle," Yu said, and he battles on.

And then a word about Yan Li. To newcomers to Macau this week, Li might be best known as the person who gave Steve O'Dwyer the mango that he stroked all the way to victory in the Super High Roller event. However Li is already very well known in Asia and has a High Roller title of her own, earned in August last year when the APPT stopped in Manila.

Li has 1.248 million chips heading into the penultimate day, fifth overall, and is a force.

Hata, it should be noted, is also a player of some repute. Despite relatively modest recorded tournament scores, he was able to ante up in the $400,000 Super High Roller event at the start of this festival. He is now on his way to picking up the biggest single cash of his career--and got pretty lucky to last this far.

He was one card away from elimination within two hours of the tournament starting today (Hand history) but that became the springboard for a remarkable surge back to the top.

The best way to relive all the thrills and spills of a frenetic day is to scroll through the blow-by-blow action below. It was still quick, even though it took more than an hour to go from 17 to 16.

The full list of prizewinners is over there on the prizewinners' page, including the name of Julius Malzanini, who was last out tonight.

Join us tomorrow at noon to play down to a final table and beyond. -- HS


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6:40pm: Malzanini makes an exit; Day 4 concludes
Level 22 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (ante 3,000)

Julius Malzanini departs in 17th place to signal the conclusion of the day's play.

It folded around to Malzanini in the small blind and he pushed his last 330,000 into the middle. Aymon Hata looked down at a pair and made a quick call to potentially send Malzanini home and end proceedings.

Malzanini: Q♠5♦
Hata: 7♠7♥

Malzanini was chasing a queen but he stood up at the sight of the 9♣7♦A♥ flop when Hata spiked a set. Down to running straight cards Malzanini couldn't find a miracle when the 2♠ turn and 5♣ river finished his tournament run and Day 4 simultaneously.

A recap of the day and full chip counts will be with us soon. -- BK

6:30pm: Two for Tan
Level 22 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (ante 3,000)

Despite having one of the shorter stacks in the tournament Xuan Tan isn't being shy about putting chips in the pot. He just played three pots in a row. The first and third of these saw him raise to 55,000 and pick up the blinds and antes. On the second, however, he met resistance.

He made his standard raise to 55,000 and Thibaut Blondel, who was to his direct left, put in a raise to 155,000. When it folded back to Tan he instantly released his hand. Tan is playing a stack of 575,000 and is one of a number of players in that 20-30 big blind zone. --NW

6:20pm: Soulier still kicking
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (ante 4,000)

Fabrice Soulier has been nursing a 10 big blind stack for a while but he's now sitting a little prettier after doubling up through Thibault Blondel.

Blondel opened to 55,000 pre-flop before Soulier moved his last 246,000 in from the small blind. Blondel took his time to weigh his options, muttering to himself about the strength of his hand.

"It sounds like deuces," Soulier deducted. "Do you wanna gamble with deuces?"

Blondel had a bit better than that and made the call to put Soulier at risk.

Soulier: A♦K♦
Blondel: 6♠6♥

They were off to the races and Soulier ended up with the best of it when the cards fell A♠T♣T♠2♦K♣.

"Lucky you didn't have deuces," added Soulier with a laugh before he raked in the pot. He now sits with 970,000 while Blondel is bumped back down to just over 500,000. -- BK

6:10pm: Say Wen Chen
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (ante 4,000)

So it turns out Feng Wen Chen is immortal. He's performed a series of elaborate folds this past level with a stack of about six big blinds. But when Aymon Hata opened with a bet large enough to cover Chen.

But Chen called. Which surprised everybody.

Chen: A♠8♣
Hata: A♥7♣

There were ooohs, because that's what eights do in these parts, and a crowd watched the board come 5♣K♦Q♦5♦8♠. That rivered eight also got some ooohs.

All of which is another way of saying that Chen lives on, and probably will for the foreseeable future. - SB

5:55pm: Hata doubles through Li
Level 22 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (ante 3,000)

A huge 1.7 million chip pot just played out with Aymon Hata taking the spoils. The action was started by Julius Malzanini. He raised to 55,000 from early position, Hata then three-bet to 140,000 and action folded to Yan Li, who was in the big blind.

Li stood up to get a better look at the stacks of her opponents. Malzanini had about 530,000 total and Hata around 800,000. She thought for a minute or so and then moved all-in. This sent Malzanini into the tank. He then folded, but Hata made the call.

Li flipped J♠J♣ and it was a race against Hata's A♠K♣. The A♦5♦K♠ flop meant Hata leapfrogged into the lead. The 7♦4♠ turn and river bricked off to send the pot Hata's way. He's up to 1.7 million, Li drops to 1.6 million. --NW

5:50pm: Dance of the sugar plum short stacks
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (ante 4,000)

There was something fascinating about watching the two short stacks play a hand against each other. It could have been set to music.

Elliot Smith opened for 50,000 under the gun and the action was folded back to Feng Wen Chen in the big blind, an even shorter stack, who flicked a chip forward to call.

The board of A♠J♣8♦J♥6♥ was checked down on every street. Smith played from behind sunglasses, with his shirt pulled up over his mouth, while Chen cautiously tapped the table on each street as if scared Smith was about to jump out of him from a dark alley.

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Elliot Smith: Getting short

Even the show down was edgy, a you first end to a stand off. King-three for Chen and pocket sevens, the winner, for Smith, who nudges towards 20 big blinds. Chen has about ten. - SB

5:45pm: A shocked and surprised Soulier
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (ante 3,000)

This last hand was a tough one for Frenchman Fabrice Soulier. He's one of the shortest stacks remaining now.

He opened to 55,000 on the button and was flatted by Avraham Oziel in the small blind. The two went to an 8♥3♠Q♦ flop, on which Oziel decided to lead out - or "donk lead" as it's sometimes called - for 60,000. Soulier called.

The turn came the K♣ and now Oziel slowed down, checking it over. Soulier slid out a bet of 117,000, only Oziel to instantly announce he was all-in.

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Avraham Oziel: Pushing out Soulier

This news made Soullier jolt and writhe in his seat. He was frustrated by the way things had played out, but in the end he decided to fold.

It turned out to be a good fold too, as Oziel showed him the 8♠8♣ for a flopped set. The lucky eights strike again!

Oziel has 1.2 million, Soullier has 346,000. --JS

5:40pm: Aces for Li
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (ante 4,000)

Yan Li just increased her stack after a hand against Artem Metalidi, having found aces.

Li opened under the gun which was called by Metalidi when the action was folded to him in big blind. The flop came 9♥4♠5♦ which Metalidi checked to Li. She went for her chips and bet 35,000. Metalidi called.

It was the same pattern on the T♦ turn, Metalidi check-calling Li's 90,000. But on the river card T♠ both players checked, Li's aces getting the better of Metalidi's A♠3♣. - SB

5:35pm: So when Chen?
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (ante 4,000)

Feng Wen Chen looked down at his cards, then stirred. As the short stack every hand is make or break, and his reaction seemed to indicate he had found something. He moved his chips around, and folded his card, fooling everyone. - SB

5:15pm: Another double for Blondel!
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000/20,000 (ante 3,000)

(This pot took place before the recent tournament break.)

Thibaut Blondel just can't lose right now, despite being just one card away from elimination.

Xuan Tan opened to 50,000 only for Thibaut to three-bet to 151,000. Back to Tan, he four-bet it to 311,000 and Thibaut jammed all in.

"How much more?" asked Tan. 'Twas a good question, the answer of which was 252,000. Tan made the call.

Tan - A♣J♥
Blondel - A♥Q♣

Blondel fist pumped the sky as he saw he was ahead, and he'd remain in the lead on the A♦K♠3♦ flop. But it's never easy, is it? The turn was then the J♦.

xuan_tan_thibaut_blondel1_psc_macau_day4.jpg

Xuan Tan and Thibaut Blondel: Uncertainty...

xuan_tan_thibaut_blondel2_psc_macau_day4.jpg

...and ecstasy

But ever so quickly the dealer dealt the Q♠ river and Tan was only ever ahead for about half a second!

Thibaut is up to 1.15 million now, while Tan dips to 710,000. --JS

5:10pm: Level ends

We reach the end of another level and take another 15 minute break.

5:05pm: Chen chips up with lucky double
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000/20,000 (ante 3,000)

Feng Wen Chen was peddling the tournament short stack but that's changed after a come-from-behind pot against Aymon Hata.


Feng_Wen_Chen_PSCMacau_d4Feng Wen Chen

The action folded around to Hata in the small blind and he shoved all in with enough to cover Chen's 201,000 in the big blind. Chen decided his hand was good enough to go with and he called to see he'd need some help.

Chen: J♣T♦
Hata: Q♣7♠

Chen took the lead on the K♣8♠T♠ flop and held it throughout the 7♦ turn and J♥ river. He clapped above his head in celebration and the dealer pushed the pot his way.

"I needed a double up. Thank you," Chen said to Hata on his immediate right.

After that hit Hata falls to 875,000 as Chen chips up to 440,000. -- BK

4:55pm: Blondel back in contention
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000/20,000 (ante 3,000)

Thibaut Blondel has his biggest stack of the day having just doubled up through Daniel Laidlaw.

Action folded to Blondel in the small blind and he moved all-in for 274,000. Laidlaw, with a stack of more than 1.5 million, looked down, saw an ace and called.

It was A♠5♥ for Laidlaw, which was ahead of Blondel's Q♦J♥. But a board of J♠3♦K♣8♥3♥ swung it back in the other direction and Blondel rapped the table in delight.

There's some talk now that we may play on beyond the moment the field is reduced to 16. That is not confirmed, but the decision can still be pending as 17 still remain. -- HS

4:50pm: No one wants to tangle with Yu
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000/20,000 (ante 3,000)

Winfred Yu is a local legend and he is chugging along in this tournament with 20 big blinds or so. I've not seen him play any huge pots, but he's kept his stack ticking over by three-bet shoving over raises.


Winfred_Yu_PSCMacau_d4_v2Winfred Yu

A short time ago he was at it again. Tianyuan Tang opened to 43,000 in early position and Yen Chen called. Yu took his time and then moved all-in. Tang wanted a count, it was 413,000 total. He mulled it over and folded. Chen did likewise and the pot went to Yu. --NW

4:40pm: pm: Jiang Guo unchained
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000/20,000 (ante 3,000)

Another small vs big blind hand to tell you about. This was a big'n.

It folded to chip leader Dong Guo in the small blind and he raised it up to 55,000, which Jianbo Jiang called out of the big. The two saw a 9♠K♣6♥ flop, on which Guo continued for 55,000 again.

Jiang wasn't ready to throw his hand away though. He started counting raising chips and eventually made it 130,000. Back to Guo, he too went into the tank for a minute or so, before making a triangle with his fingers to indicate he was putting Jiang all in.

Jiang snap-called, slamming his hand down with glee.

Guo - A♦2♣
Jiang - K♠9♣

Jiang had just about got a lock on the hand, which was 100 per cent confirmed when the 7♠ hit the turn. The 3♠ river changed nothing, and Jiang is up to 1.3 million now. Meanwhile, that bluff from Guo has seen his stack drop to 1.32 million. --JS

4:30pm: Rabotkin busts in 18th
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000/20,000 (ante 3,000)

Dzmitry Rabotkin has been playing a short stack ever since he doubled up Aymon Hata about two hours ago. He was the shortest stack of the 18 players remaining, but not anymore, as he's just been eliminated.

He shoved for 178,000 from early position with T♣7♣ and Tianyun Tang called from the small blind with T♥T♦. Dong Guo looked interested, but the chip leader folded J♦9♦ face up from the big blind.

The board ran K♣9♣9♥6♦A♥ to eliminate Rabotkin. Had Guo stuck around he would've further increased his chip lead, but as it is Tang is now up to almost 1 million. --NW

4:25pm: Smith takes from Hata
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000/20,000 (ante 3,000)

Elliot Smith was in the UTG+1 seat/hijack/middle position/whatever you prefer, and opened. It folded to Aymon Hata who made the call to see a J♥9♦9♠ flop, and both checked it.

On the K♦ turn, Hata checked and now Smith was clear for a delayed c-bet. He opted for 45,000, and Hata didn't budge.

By the A♦ river, Hata had decided to check again and Smith came in for 65,000. Hata called relatively quickly, but mucked when Smith showed the J♠J♣ for a flopped full house.

He's up to 720,000 now, while Hata sits with just over a million. --JS

4:20pm: No one tangles with Tang
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000/20,000 (ante 3,000)

Tianyuan Tang opened to 43,000 from the hijack and Jianbo Jiang called on the button. Yen Chen then moved all-in from the big blind for 373,000 and while Tang pondered, Jiang used the thinking time to make up his own mind. It meant that when Tang let his cards go, Jiang quickly did the same. -- HS


Tianyuan_Tang_PSCMacau_d4Tianyuan Tang

4:15pm: Brit on Brit action doesn't lead to Brexit
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000/20,000 (ante 3,000)

There are two players remaining in this tournament from the UK and they are sat side by side. They just played a significant pot.

Julius Malzanini shoved from the button for 287,000 and Aymon Hata thought for an age before calling from the small blind. The big blind folded and their cards were turned over. Hata held A♣4♣ and Malzanini had him out-kicked with A♥8♦.


Julius_Malzanini_PSCMacau_d4_v2Julius Malzanini

There was no outdraw as the board ran T♥6♦Q♣K♠2♣. That hand boosts Malzanini to over 600,000 while Hata drops to 1,100,000. --NW

4:10pm: Tan doesn't really want Blondel booted
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000/20,000 (ante 3,000)

When Thibaut Blondel was moved over to balance Table 3, he took a seat next to Xuan Tan but didn't exactly get the warmest welcome. Tan shooed at him with both hands, asking him to move along. (There was an empty seat next to him, so it was a fair request.)

However, Tan had the chance very soon after to shoo Blondel even further away when he was the only one left in the pot after Blondel had moved all-in. It happened after Tan had raised his button, making it 50,000 to go, and Blondel jammed for 470,000 from the small blind.

Tan gave it some thought, and then took back the two green 25,000-denomination chips he had used for the raise. He replaced them with yellow chips, worth 5,000 apiece, because he had decided they were going to Blondel.

He folded his cards and Blondel took the 10 yellows instead, counting them down just to make sure. -- HS

4:05pm: Malzanini gives it the thumbs up
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000/16,000 (ante 2,000)

Julius Malzanini has just chopped a pot to survive after getting his money in bad. However, he was giving it the thumbs up before the river was even dealt.

Action folded to Yin Li in the small blind, who took one look at Malzanini's shortish stack and put him all in. Malzanini glimpsed down at his cards, and called instantly.

Li: A♥7♠
Malzainini: A♠3♠

Li had the better kicker, but that wouldn't matter by the end. The flop came 4♥K♥K♦ making a chop very likely. The turn was the K♦ making it even more likely. Malazini started wagging his thumb upwards, hoping for any card over a seven to hit the felt. It came the Q♠ and the two split the spoils. --JS

4pm: Oziel over-jams
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000/20,000 (ante 3,000)

Avraham Oziel collected a pot from Wenlong Jin after a huge shove on the turn won him the pot.

Jin got things going preflop with a cutoff raise to 45,000 and Oziel defended his big blind before a flop of A♦4♥Q♠. Oziel checked and then bumped up Jin's continuation bet of 35,000 to 85,000. Jin flicked in a call and the 5♦ arrived on the turn.

Oziel didn't hesitate to move all in for right around half a million - almost double the pot. That was too much for Jin who let it go and dipped to 880,000, while Oziel climbed to 800,000 in chips. -- BK

3:55pm: Aces are ace for Artem
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000/20,000 (ante 3,000)

There was a gap of around 500,000 chips between Artem Metalidi and Aymon Hata but that's since been closed after the former won a pot against the latter.

I joined the action on the turn of a A♣K♠T♥4♠ board to see Metalidi betting 103,000. Call from Hata.


NEIL2566_Aymon_Hata_PCM2017_Neil Stoddart.jpgAymon Hata

The 5♠ completed the board and Hata checked the action to Metalidi. The Ukrainian bet 144,000 and, after a short spell in the think tank, Hata made the call. Metalidi rolled over A♥A♦ for top set and it was good. Both players now have around 1.4 million. --NW

3:50pm: Li licks Kalev
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000/20,000 (ante 3,000)

The first hand of Level 22 took about eight minutes to play out--and eight was the key number in a battle that has taken the field down to 20 and cost Petar Kalev his tournament.

Most of the hand was taken up in thinking time by Elliot Smith, and he wasn't even in the pot by the time it was done.

It started with a raise to 45,000 from Smith in early position, which Yan Li called on the button. Then Petar Kalev looked down at his cards in the small blind and moved all-in for 480,000.


Yan_Li_PSCMacau_d4Yan Li

This put the decision back on Smith, who had 560,000 back. He wasn't going to get knocked out on this hand if he just called Kalev and was wrong, but Li was also involved still with a bigger stack.

Smith took ages over what seemed like a really tight decision. He counted his own stack a couple of times, then double- and triple-checked Kalev's shove. He also apologised for taking so long. And then he folded.

That meant the action was now on Li, and she took a few seconds as well. However her decision was far more comfortable. She called because she had the nuts: 8♣8♠. "Wow," Smith said of the call.

Kalev showed K♦Q♠ and the board was five bricks: 9♥2♥5♠J♠9♣.

That put Li up to around 1.3 million and sent Kalev out the door. Although it was the first hand back from the break, Pakinai Lisawad was actually eliminated from a neighbouring table before Kalev, so Kalev was our 20th-placed finisher.

It's meaningless in financial terms, however. There's HKD$170,000 waiting for him regardless. -- HS


Main_Event_PSCMacau_d4_v2

3:40pm: Lisawad out of chips
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000/20,000 (ante 3,000)

Pakinai Lisawad was chip leader of this event at one time, but he's just been eliminated by Avraham Oziel.

The latter opened to 40,000 from the button and called Lisawad's big blind jam of approximately 270,000. Oziel showed K♠Q♣ and was up against Lisawad's A♥3♠. The face cards won the day as the board ran 6♠J♥Q♦2♦8♥. Oziel is up to 700,000. --NW

3:28pm: End of the level

We've reached the next break in play. That's 15 minutes before we start Level 22.

3:25pm: Yang perishes at Hata's hands
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000/16,000 (ante 2,000)

We have reached that moment in the PokerStars Championship Main Event where the number of the level is equal to the number of players left. We're down to 21, with only two minutes left until they move into Level 22.

It was Renjun Yang who took the fall, three-bet shoving over Aymon Hata's late-position raise. Hata made it 36,000 from the cut-off and Yang moved in from the big blind for 140,000 total. Hata called from a stack of more than 1.4 million.

It was a race, with Hata's 5♣5♥ up against Yang's K♠T♦. But the board featured cards all around Yang's, but missing the target. He is now out.

Hata, meanwhile, has about 1.6 million. -- HS

3:20pm: Wu gets one through
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000/16,000 (ante 2,000)

A nice coup for Winfired Yu this, as he added a decent chunk to his stack without having to go to showdown. Thibaut Blondel opened to 35,000 from middle position, Artem Metalidi then three-bet to 90,000 from the hijack and action passed to Wu, who was on the button. He cut out chips and then pushed out a raise to 275,000 total.


Winfred_Yu_PSCMacau_d4Winfred Yu

That got rid of Blondel pretty swiftly, but Metalidi wasn't so swift to act. He looked at Yu's remaining chips - he had only about 105,000 more behind the line - and then folded. Pot to Yu. -NW

3:15pm: All outta Luksa
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000/16,000 (ante 2,000)

We've just lost another player - Nerijus Luksa. After Aymon Hata opened, Luksa jammed with the A♦J♦ and Hata made the call with pocket nines.

The flop brought a jack, giving Luksa the lead, but a nine on the river gave Hata yet another set. He's up to 1.6 million now. --JS

3:10pm: Bech to the bench
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000/16,000 (ante 2,000)

Tommy Bech has busted from the tournament after a flip went the way of Wenlong Jin.

Bech opted for an early position shove for 249,000 before Jin made the call from the cutoff. The rest of the table got out of the way and the two players turned their hands up.

Bech: A♦K♦
Jin: 9♣9♦

It was a classic race and one that Bech would lose when he missed on the 2♥T♣5♠9♠8♥ runout. Bech had a late start today but ultimately an early finish as Jin raked in his chips for a new total of 1.1 million. -- BK

3:05pm: Pinching blinds
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000/16,000 (ante 2,000)

Renjun Yang and Nerijus Luksa are two of the shortest stacks in the tournament and they're sitting next to one another on Table 1. That means that their blinds might as well be wrapped in a bow with a cherry on top to the predators at the other end of the table.

Both Feng Wen Chen (who is himself a short stack) and Aymon Hata (who isn't) open-jammed in late position and forced folds from those shorties, who were powerless to fight back. -- HS

3pm: Dong power
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000/16,000 (ante 2,000)

Dong Guo has something enormous and he knows how to use it.

In a recent pot against Winfred Yu, Guo opened to 35,000 from under the gun and Yu called in the big blind. Guo's stack is closing in on 3 million, while Yu has only about 400,000, so this was a mismatch.


Dong_Guo_PSCMacau_d4_v2Dong Guo

The dealer turned over the 4♣8♥8♦ and Yu checked. Dong bet 43,000 and Yu called.

The turn was the 9♣ and Yu checked again. Dong bet 55,000 and Yu couldn't measure up to Dong. He folded. -- HS

2:55pm: Hata hitsa seta
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000/16,000 (ante 2,000)

Petar Kavel opened his button to 37,000 and Aymon Hata defended his big blind to see an 8♣K♥3♦ flop. Hata check-called a 35,000 c-bet, resulting in a turn card: the 7♣. Check check.

On fifth street the two saw the 2♦, and now Hata started counting chips. He led out for 140,000, forcing Kalev into the tank for a couple of minutes.

He eventually called though, and didn't like what he saw when Hata flipped the 7♠7♦ for a turned set. Kalev mucked.

Hata is up to 1.2 million now, while Kalev falls to 405,000. --JS

2:50pm: Oh. My. God.
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000/16,000 (ante 2,000)

Tianyuan Tang can't believe it. He just made a big laydown and it seems he was wrong to do so. He opened to 36,000 and the uber-stacked Dong Guo smooth called. Dzmitry Rabotkin then shoved for 88,000 and action folded back to Tang. He smooth called - leaving himself about 800,000 back - and the decision was now on Guo.


Dzmitry_Rabotkin_PSCMacau_d4Dzmitry Rabotkin

The Canadian player summoned his inner Jack Salter and requested the all-in triangle. Tang wasn't happy, he shot back in his chair as he considered what to do. He thought for an age, staring at Guo as he did so as he tried to get a read. His ultimate decision was to fold and it was time for the showdown.

Rabotkin showed A♦K♦ and Guo opened 6♦6♣. "Oh my god," said Tang.

Now, I'm no expert but I think Tang had Guo beat! So did Rabotkin after the A♣K♥8♦ flop. The 2♥T♦ turn and river kept him in front and he trebled up. --NW

2:45pm: Tan burnt by Laidlaw's quads
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000/16,000 (ante 2,000)

Daniel Laidlaw is now up to over a million in chips after casually tabling quads to dent the stack of Xuan Tan.

By the turn it was 8♦7♠8♥3♦ face up on the table and Laidlaw called a lead from Tan before the 3♣ rolled off on the river. Tan bet 185,000 but Laidlaw came back over the top with an all-in for 445,000.

daniel_laidlaw_psc_macau_day4.jpg

Daniel Laidlaw: Quads

Tan paid it off and couldn't have been pleased to see Laidlaw flip over 3♦3♠ for running quads. The two of them are now hovering around similar stacks with Tan dropping to 1.2 million and Laidlaw lifting to 1.1 million. -- BK

2:40pm: Last three tables
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000/16,000 (ante 2,000)

Here's how the last 24 now line up:

Table 1

1: Renjun Yang - 230,000
2: Nerijus Luksa - 115,000
3: Yan Li - 920,000
4: Petar Kalev - 520,000
5: Julius Malzanini - 540,000
6: Aymon Hata - 910,000
7: Feng Wen Chen - 185,000
8: Elliot Smith - 640,000

Table 2

1: Dzmitry Rabotkin - 125,000
2: Thibaut Blondel - 590,000
3: Artem Metalidi - 1.1 million
4: Pete Chen - 400,000
5: Winfred Yu - 490,000
6: Tianyun Tang - 740,000
7: Dong Guo - 2.6 million
8: Jianbo Jiang - 620,000

Table 3

1: Fabrice Soulier - 550,000
2: Avraham Oziel - 430,000
3: Xuan Tan - 1.8 million
4: Tommy Bech - 301,000
5: Pakinai Lisawad - 320,000
6: Daniel Laidlaw - 595,000
7: Wenlong Jin - 675,000
8: Zinan Xu - 300,000

--HS

2:34pm: Gross for Tsuji; he's out in 25th
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000/16,000 (ante 2,000)

Yasuyuki Tsuji suffered a bad beat at the hands of Daniel Laidlaw. The latter was in the small blind and when action folded to him he jammed, to put pressure on Tsuji's short stack.

The Japanese player woke up with the A♠5♠ in the big blind and made the call, while Laidlaw had the 9♥3♥. Then the flop came T♥A♥T♣. "It's never easy!" said Pakinai Lisawad.

He was right; the K♥ turn gave Laidlaw the flush and brought sighs from around the table. The 6♣ completed the board but changed nothing, and Tsuji made his exit.

We're down to 24 now which means it's time to redraw for the final three tables. --JS

2:30pm: He folded what?
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000/16,000 (ante 2,000)

Jianbo Jiang opened to 35,000 and Yen Chen then thee-bet to 90,000 from a stack of around 300,000. The action folded back to Jiang and he thought for a couple of minutes. He then folded 8♣8♠ face up. Lucky eights? Not for Jiang. --NW

2:25pm: A Bold departure
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000/16,000 (ante 2,000)

Joachim Bold was the next to fall in this Main Event, and it was Winfred Yu who ended Bold's tournament run.

Bold was down to just 102,000 and he committed those chips preflop. Players folded around to Yu in the big blind and he called to put Bold at risk.

Bold: K♠7♠
Yu: K♦9♥

Bold was chasing a lot of help for the win or a little help for a chop but the 2♣T♦Q♠5♣Q♣ runout just didn't oblige. Wu's higher kicker played and Bold was sent to the payout desk.


Joachim_Bold_PSCMacau_d4Joachim Bold

After winning that pot Wu climbs to a touch over half a million. -- BK

2:20pm: Guo bossing; Bold argues against nominative determinism
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000/16,000 (ante 2,000)

This is going to take some beating as the strangest hand of the day. The bottom line is that it's another big pot for Dong Guo, but what happened as it played out is pretty difficult to decipher. Here, though, are the plain facts.

Guo, with an enormous stack, raised to 36,000 from under the gun and Xuan Tan, to his left, called. Winfred Yu then three-bet to 136,000 and Joachim Bold called that in the small blind.


Dong_Guo_PSCMacau_d4Dong Guo

At this point players requested that the 36,000 be dragged into the pot and the dealer obliged, which left a strange tableau. Four players had cards but only two had any chips over the line: Yu and Bold each had 100,000 forward.

Guo was next to act and he took a while, but then four-bet to 255,000. Tan was no longer interested and folded, but Yu was very interested indeed.

He had about 400,000 back, so had committed a fifth of his stack. But he also had the chip leader directly across the table from him and Bold, who had another 250,000 behind, still to act.

After plenty of huffing and puffing, Yu folded.

So action moved to Bold, who looked at his stack a couple of times but then just called. That left him with 110,000 remaining.

A discussion broke out at this point between Guo and a member of the floor staff, with Guo apparently believing Bold to be all-in, but the staff member saying that he wasn't. It was just a call. This conversation took place in a local dialect, but it was easy to establish that Guo intimated he was going to get his chips in on the flop regardless.

That flop did eventually now appear. It was 7♥4♥8♦. Bold, first to act, checked and Guo did what was obvious and moved all-in. However Bold did not call it off. He instantly folded.

"What!" said Zinan Xu, from Seat 1, and Guo now continued questioning the tournament director whether what had happened had actually happened. He seemed to believe Bold would have to be all-in.

But Bold clearly hadn't announced that he was all-in and instead lost three-quarters of his stack without seeing a turn card.

Bold now has to rebuild from 110,000. Guo has 2.45 million. -- HS

2:15pm: Hata's feeling flush
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000/16,000 (ante 2,000)

Picking up the action on a 9♣5♣3♥K♥A♣ board, Aymon Hata had bet 107,000 and the action was on Pakinai Lisawad. "Wow," he said. "Flush or set?"

He'd have to pay to find out, and that's what he did. Hata rolled over the 7♣4♣ for a runner funner flush, and that was good as Lisawad mucked. Hata is on 680,000 now, while Lisawad is down to 320,000.


Aymon_Hata_PSCMacau_d4Aymon Hata

Flushes have been kind to Hata in this Main Event; yesterday he rivered a flush against Kahle Burns after calling two streets with just the draw. He then shoved, Burns called, and Hata shot up the chip counts. --JS

2:10pm: Hata doubles down, then doubles up
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000/16,000 (ante 2,000)

It's been all Aymon Hata over on table four with the UK player involved in all the significant action. In the first big pot he played he opened to 36,000 from the button, Pakinai Lisawad shoved for 261,000 from the big blind and Hata called.

Hata: A♥J♠
Lisawad: 6♦6♠

The 7♣6♣9♣9♠7♦ run out improved Lisawad to a full house and left Hata with just 165,000. He took the next two hands down uncontested with pre-flop shoves but on the third there was action. He shoved for 226,000 with A♥3♥ and Dzmitry Rabotkin called with T♠T♥. A 4♥4♣6♣5♠7♥ board meant Hata rivered a straight to survive. That loss drops Rabotkin down to just 160,000. --NW

2:05pm: Sick runout sees Siow saying goodbye
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000/16,000 (ante 2,000)

Graeme Siow has an unfortunate turn of events to blame for his recent exit. He was eliminated at the hands of Zinan Xu.

Siow moved all in for 88,000 under the gun and the action folded around to Xu in the small blind. Xu moved all in over the top, Joachim Bold folded in the big blind, and the cards went on their backs.

Siow: A♠9♣
Xu: A♥8♦

Siow had the lead and things looked even better by the 9♠2♦7♣ flop. As Siow was quickly reminded though, a great start doesn't always guarantee a great finish in poker, and a running J♦ turn and T♣ river saw Xu's catch a straight by the end.

Hopefully for Siow a trip to the cashier will ease the pain a little on his way out. Xu meanwhile moves up to 380,000 in chips. -- BK

2pm: Beep beep beep & Smith loses his cool
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000/16,000 (ante 2,000)

There's a table next to where the Main Event is being played right now that's for the floor staff. It's where the players go after they've been eliminated to collect their pay slips, as it were.

As well as the screens, the floor have little timers on the table to let them know exactly when the level starts and ends. There must have been a problem with one of them though, as a staff member was having to reset the time. This resulted in him pressing the same button over and over, making a beep noise each time.


Elliot_Smith_PSCMacau_d4Elliot Smith

After half a minute of this, the beeping had to stop.

Elliot Smith looked around to see where it was coming from before getting out his chair and walking over to that table. "Excuse me sir, can you stop that please?!" he said, "It's f***in' non-stop!"

The poor floorman was in a tough spot, but he did what he had to do: he moved the clock under the table for the remainder of the necessary beeps, which quietened the noise.

With Smith back at the table and on the button, he opened to 35,000 and Thibaut Blondel defended his big blind. The two saw a 5♥K♥9♠ flop, on which Blondel check-called a 30,000 c-bet.

The dealer burned and turned the 8♥ and both checked to see the Q♣ river. Now Blondel led out for 125,000, and that got Smith to lay his hand down.

Smith is now on 680,000, Blondel is now on 640,000, and the beeping is now finished. --JS

1:55pm: Yang v Jiang
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000/16,000 (ante 2,000)

Renjun Yang opened his button. Standard. Jianbo Jiang defended his big blind. Standard too. Then the flop came J♣Q♠2♥.

Jiang checked and Yang bet 42,000. But that wasn't going to get through. Jiang moved all-in for about 580,000, which was considerably more than the 220,000 Yang had back.

Yang decided that this wasn't his moment. He folded. -- HS

1:40pm: End of the level

Players are on the first 15 minute break of the day.

1:37pm: Yu misses out on monster
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

You might think this only happens to you, but it happens to Yu too.

Winfred Yu and Dong Guo were at a turn with the K♣6♦A♦T♦ on the felt. Guo, with a near 2 million stack, checked and Yu bet 60,000. Guo called.

The river was the 4♦ and Guo checked again. Yu now also checked.

Guo turned over A♠6♠ for a flopped two pair. Yu had J♦8♦ for a turned flush that he couldn't bet on the end because of the four diamonds on board.

That river was pretty gross for Yu. He can have legitimate claim that he would have won a much, much bigger pot had the fourth diamond not appeared.

As it is, his stack is up to 610,000. Guo has around 1.9 million. -- HS

1:35pm: Soulier flattens Kojiya
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

Fabrice Soulier's stack received a very nice boost on the final hand of Level 20, but Soichiro Kojiya's fans will be less pleased. Kojiya is out, leaving us only one Japanese player (Yasuyuki Tsuji) in the field, and a short-stack at that.

This was all pretty standard at the beginning. A button raise from Soulier called by Kojiya in the big blind. The flop brought the T♠7♠8♦ and Kojiya check-called Soulier's bet of 32,000.

The 2♥ came on the turn and after a short think, Kojiya moved all-in. This was music to Soulier's ears. He had 7♣7♦ and called instantly. Kojiya's Q♣T♥ hit the T♦ on the river, but it wasn't enough.

Soulier moved up to 690,000. Kojiya moves over to the payouts table. -- HS

1:32pm: Cowboys shoot Soulier's stack skywards
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

Raise, shove, call. Run it. That was about the size of the pot that just played out between Fabrice Soulier and Thibaut Blondel.


Fabrice_Soulier_PSCMacau_d4Fabrice Soulier

Soulier raised with kings from under the gun, Blondel shoved from the big blind with jacks and Soulier called all-in for 228,000 total. The Q♦3♥T♥ flop changed nothing, but the 9♥ turn gave Blondel an open-ended straight draw. Both players had a heart in their hand so hearts weren't outs for him. The 4♦ river kept Soulier in front and he doubled to 470,000. Blondel is down to 575,000. --NW

1:30pm: Tevis terminated
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

Vitaly Tevis is no longer with us after getting it in good but being rundown by Aymon Hata.

Hata opened the action with a raise from the hijack to 26,000 before Tevis moved all in from the cutoff for 88,000. It folded back around to Hata, he called it off, and the hands were tabled.

Tevis: A♥J♠
Hata: K♥Q♠

Hata was the one being awarded the pot after the cards fell K♣7♥J♥Q♦8♦ to see Tevis eliminated. He exited the tournament area while Hata built to 520,000 in chips. -- BK

1:25pm: A bold strategy
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

Under the gun limps are somewhat rare these days in poker. But if your name's Bold, you've got to be bold and go against convention, right?

It was a strategy that just worked out for Germany's Joachim Bold, banking him a small pot. He limped under the gun, and that brought in Wei Lik Graeme Siow for a call (UTG+1), Xuan Tan (button) and the big blind of Zinan Xu checked.

They all saw a 6♠T♠A♠ flop and it checked all the way around. When the A♥ turn landed, pairing the board, Xu checked and Bold made it 25,000 to go. Three fast folds ensued and Bold raked it in.

He's up to 520,000. --JS

1:20pm: Zhou loses to Jin
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

It is my solemn duty to report that Jun Zhou's Main Event is over. He open-pushed for his last 87,000 and Wenlong Jin called from the cutoff.

Zhou: A♦6♣
Jin: Q♣Q♥

Had Zhou's rag-ace been accompanied by an eight, he would still be in because the board ran 8♠4♠3♦6♥8♥. But one pair of sixes was not good enough to beat the queens and Jin moves up to 760,000 as a result.

Zhou, meanwhile, is out in 30th and collects HKD$130,500. The next pay-jump, by the way, does not happen until there are 23 players left. -- HS

1:15pm: Guo, Guo, Guo
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

You can't accuse Dong Guo of sitting on his chip lead. He's playing lots of pots, although not always with success. I watched him play three hands in a row, losing two and then winning one.

The first and second both went the same way. He opened and then folded to a three-bet -
Xuan Tan and Zinan Xu were the men doing the pushing around.

On the third hand of the sequence Graeme Siow opened from the button and Guo called from the big blind. Neither player bet the J♦7♦2♦ flop and a bet of 100,000 from Guo on the T♥ turn won him the pot. --NW

1:10pm: Sun down as Guo gains more
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

The rich get richer and we lose another player as Dong Guo outshines Liwei Sun.

Sun shoved all in from the hijack for 152,000 and Guo made the call from the button to put Sun at risk.

Guo: A♠5♠
Sun: K♣J♣

Sun was behind and while his cards were live he did not improve when the board came down 2♠9♣4♦T♥T♣. Sun headed to the payout desk while Guo extended his chip lead to 1.95 million. -- BK


Main_Event_PSCMacau_d4

1:05pm: Smith pushes Blondel out
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

Elliot Smith and Thibaut Blondel just played a pot that only got as far as the turn but took forever and seemed prone to set off a major skirmish. But Blondel eventually backed down.

It started when Smith opened to 25,000 from the cutoff and Blondel three-bet the small blind, making it 83,000 to play. Smith called.

The A♦8♦9♥ flop had potential, but Blondel checked. Smith bet 60,000 and Blondel called.

The T♥ fell on the turn and Blondel checked again. Smith bet 125,000 and Blondel folded.

That bare hand history makes it sound quick and easy, but there was a lot of tanking on each street and a good deal of psychological posturing. By that, I mean cutting out of chips, face hiding in T-shirts, sunglasses wearing, etc.

But it's all history now. -- HS

1pm: Murray's exit takes us to the final four tables
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

This tournament is down to 32 runners and just four tables now. Niall Murray was the player who went in 33rd. He three-bet shoved with A♦K♠ for what looked to be just over 100,000. Jianbo Jiang had already put 26,000 into the pot with 4♠4♦ and he called the extra.

The 5♠Q♣8♥2♣T♦ run out kept Jiang in front and sent Murray to the rail. --NW

12:55pm: Late-running Bech scores first-hand double
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

The principal mystery of the first level surrounded the whereabouts of Tommy Bech. The Norwegian PokerStars qualifier bagged an overnight stack of around 280,000 but did not appear for the opening exchanges of the day. That stack wasn't enough that it could withstand being blinded away for very long.

With about half of the first level gone, Bech showed up and scurried to his seat. (As a European, I can attest it's incredibly easy to oversleep flying east to Macau. You can't drop off until about 6am, then you can easily sleep through an alarm.)

Anyhow, Bech was in the big blind for his first hand back at the table, and saw Dzmitry Rabotkin open from under the gun. Bech looked at his first cards of the day and saw enough to call. That took the two of them to a flop of Q♠2♣3♦.

Bech had precisely 100,000 left in his stack at this point and he moved it all-in. After a little while to think about it, Rabotkin called. Bech turned over K♥Q♦ having flopped top pair. Rabotkin's T♣T♦ had been out-flipped.

The 9♥ turn and 8♠ river did not help Rabotkin and so Bech doubled up. He now has 290,000, which is 10,000 more than he would have started with had he been here at noon. Like comedy, it's all about the timing. -- HS

12:50pm: Malzanini makes a railbird of Radzivonau
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

Julius Malzanini is stacking chips after a correct call saw him felt Kiryl Radzivonau.

We caught the action on the turn with the board already showing 2♠8♥J♠7♣. It appeared that Radzivonau had checked it over to Malzanini and the latter fired for 75,000. Radzivonau shoved all in over the top for a total of 327,000, propelling Malzanini into the tank.


Julius_Malzanini_PSCMacau_d4Julius Malzanini

It was roughly two minutes until Malzanini decided on a call with Q♥Q♦ and it proved to be good against Radzivonau's 9♠7♠ for a pair and flush draw. Malzanini faded danger on the K♥ river to secure himself a stack of 875,000 and send Radzivonau packing. -- BK

12:45pm: Tevis doesn't love a chopped pot
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

Sorry Hartigan and Stapes, the song is wrong. Vitaly Tevis doesn't love a chop pot. He doesn't even like them.

He raised from under the gun and Yasuyuki Tsuji called from the big blind. There was about 70,000 in the pot as they went to a Q♥7♦J♥ flop. Tsuji checked and Tevis moved all-in. Tsuji requested a count. The all-in bet was 133,000 and Tsuji decided to call. Tevis opened A♥Q♦ and Tsuji was out-kicked with Q♣8♣. The J♠Q♠ turn and river meant they both made queens full of jacks and the pot was split. --NW

12:40pm: pm: If at first you don't succeed...
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

...Keep raising and shoving until you do. That was Tianyuan Tang's philosophy just now, anyway.

He opened to 26,000 on the button and Wenlong Jin called out of the big blind to see a 6♥Q♥9♦ flop. Both checked it to the 8♦ turn, on which Jin led out for 30,000. Tang made the fold.

But he'd come back fighting in the next hand. Soichiro Kojiya opened under the gun to 24,000 and it folded to Tang in the cutoff. He bumped it up to 64,000, and after a couple of folds it was on Feng Wen Chen in the big blind. He counted out raising chips and looked very much intent on increasing the price of poker, but in the end he just flatted, as did Kojiya after him.

The three players saw a 2♦J♥J♠ flop and it checked to Tang. He jammed for around 500,000, and got two folds.

That means he's up to 680,000 now, while Chen is on 225,000 and Kojiya has 290,000. --JS

12:35pm: Guo ahead, make my day
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

Well, it's not often we report on a misstep by David Peters, but after starting the day with over 70 big blinds he has found himself on the rail in the first orbit of play - much to the delight of new chip leader Dong Guo.

Zinan Xu got things started in the hand that saw Peters' demise. Xu raised to 27,000 preflop and both Peters and Guo called from the button and big blind respectively. The flop landed J♥5♥4♦ and after it was checked through to Peters, he took the betting lead, firing for 52,000. That wasn't enough for Guo, who reraised to 108,000. Xu folded, Peters called, and the J♣ turn card paired the board.

Guo continued for 135,000 and Peters called to see the 3♥ river. It took over three minutes for Guo to act before he finally led for 155,000. Peters reached for chips before a pump fake saw him go into the tank a little himself. Finally Peters pushed all in for around 605,000 and was snapped off by Guo with a full house.

Peters sheepishly revealed A♣3♣ but Guo's 5♠5♦ had that crushed. And just like that, Peters' day was done, and Guo rocketed into the chip lead - now with over 1.7 million. -- BK

12:30pm: Fast starts, quick ends
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

We're losing playing rapidly here so far. Ro Woong Park was just felted by former chip leader Xuan Tan. --JS

12:25pm: Ma needs his mummy; Luksa doubles
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

With the dust still settling from the explosion that accounted for David Peters, Nerijus Luksa became the next man under threat. But he pulled off a double-up, leaving Zedao Ma in peril and looking for a maternal hug.

Luksa open-pushed from the hijack with a stack worth 169,000. Ma, on the button, cut out the calling chips, establishing that he would be left with only about 90,000 should it go wrong. But he decided this was the moment and re-pushed, getting both blinds to fold.

He was in a race. Luksa had A♠K♠ and Ma had 9♥9♦. But the board swung things in Luksa's direction. It was A♣7♥3♠. And by the time the 8♠ had turned and the 2♠ rivered, Luksa had the nut flush.

He also had a grand portion of Ma's chips and now has about 350,000 in his stack. Ma is in danger. -- HS

(Ma was out shortly after)

12:20pm: David Peters is out
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

See entry at 12:35pm.

12:15pm: Small pots for Smith and Yu
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

Elliot Smith has continued his fine start to the day. the pot he just won was far smaller than his double up (see below), but it all counts.

Smith called from the small blind after Jules Malzanini had opened to 26,000 from the button. Artem Metalidi came along from the big blind and the three of them saw a Q♣K♥9♠ flop. Smith led out for 28,000 and that was good enough to win the pot.

Meanwhile over on table five, Winfred Yu raised to 30,000 from the small blind and Shyngis Satubayev defended his big blind. A monotone J♣K♣4♣ flop hit the felt. A bet of 22,000 from Yu was called by Satubayev. Both players checked the 9♠7♦ turn and river and Yu's J♥T♣ took the pot down. --NW

12:10pm: First hand double up for Smith
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

Maybe Elliot Smith prayed for aces before he went to bed last night. Maybe he dreamt of them while he slept. Or maybe the cards you're dealt are entirely random and not affected by any supernatural forces.

Right now Elliot Smith won't care how he got the pocket rockets. But he did, in the very first hand, and managed to double up.

He was under the gun and opened to 25,000, before Artem Metalidi three-bet from the UTG+1 seat to 63,000. It folded back to Smith and he took a look at Metalidi before sliding in his entire 256,000 stack. The Ukrainian looked back at his cards and quickly called.

Smith: A♦A♠
Metalidi: Q♣Q♥

A first-hand cooler, but one that Smith will welcome after the board ran out 5♣9♠4♠8♠J♣.

Smith is up to 546,000, while Metalidi has just 520,000. --JS

12:05pm: From leader to shover
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

Pakinai Lisawad started yesterday as the chip-leader. He started today with an open-shove from the button.

With Tommy Bech not having yet shown up, there was nobody to mount a defence of the small blind and Lisawad's push, for 130,000, only had to get through Dzmitry Rabotkin in the big blind. And it did. After a few seconds in the tank, Rabotkin folded. -- HS

12pm: Five levels
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

Cards are in the air for Day 4. Tournament staff have announced that we'll play five levels today, finishing at around 9pm. That could shred rather than just trim this field, but that'll be fine by us.

Winfred Yu is back and seated among the last 37. Late yesterday, Asian poker's kingmaker was getting frustrated about a lack of opportunities to get his chips in the middle, but ground it out and moved up to 378,000.

"Main event like this is always a long battle," Yu said, underlining his new patient philosophy.

And with that, they're off! -- HS

11:30am: Getting serious

Morning all and welcome back to the PokerStars LIVE! card-room at the City of Dreams Macau for Day 4 of the PokerStars Championship Main Event. It's getting serious now. From the starting field of 536 players, only 37 now remain. As ever, the big money is at the top and we'll trim the field further today in a bid to close in on the final.

We will likely play down to the last two tables today, however long that takes. It should be done in around five hours.

Have a look back on yesterday's coverage to find out how we got here. It was a day on which Xuan Tan emerged at the top, but with David Peters not far back, there is plenty of very stern competition.

peters_tan_this_one.jpg

Xuan Tan and David Peters

Play gets under way again at noon. -- HS

Take a look at the official website of PokerStars LIVE, with tournament schedule, news, results and accommodation details for the PokerStars Championship Macau and all other Festival and Championship events.

Also all the information is on the PokerStars LIVE App, which is available on both Android or IOS.

PokerStars Blog reporting team on the PokerStars Championship Main Event: Stephen Bartley, Brad Kain, Jack Stanton, Howard Swains and Nick Wright. Photography by Neil Stoddart.

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