The final day of the Macau Poker Cup Red Dragon Event saw 23 hopefuls return to the Grand Lisboa Casino with dreams of becoming Asia's newest poker champion. Ultimately, only one would earn that honour, and today it goes to the unassuming Kwan Mah.
Yesterday we nicknamed him "Spiderman" for the colourful artwork on his cap. Today we simply name him "Champion".
When the day started all eyes were on PokerStars sponsored Justin Chan. He was the highest profile player in the field, he was a previous Macau Millions champion and he held the chip lead. It all seemed to add up in his favour. However Chan really never got out of second gear today. Some days can be like that, as Chan could only sneak onto the final table and slide out in 6th place with barely a whimper to speak of. It's still a tremendous result, but just short of the second Macau title that he craved.
At the other end of the spectrum new names emerged. Haifeng Xue was the final table chip leader, Tim Luk rode a wave of double ups to look threatening while Matthew Chan sprung to life when he caught a mistimed bluff from our last woman standing, Jessica Ngu.
It was a dramatic day for Ngu, and one that she is likely to ponder for some time. Misreading her hand cost a large chunk of chips early on, before misreading her opponent was her ultimate undoing in 7th place. Her aggression was admirable, and with a little more experience, she's a player to watch on the Asian scene in future.
When play became short-handed, it appeared that Conrad Coetzer was going to be taking the trophy back to South Africa, and when he found a double up right before the dinner break, Coetzer was back in contention with three to go. However Coetzer couldn't find the luck when he needed it when his flush draw missed the mark and he was bundled out in third place.
It was a key moment for Kwan Mah, who won the pot with a full house to take a narrow lead into heads-up play against Haifeng Xue. Two of the more aggressive players of the final table had found their way to the final stage, and we were looking forward to an entertaining battle.
The deep stacks made for an epic struggle as the lead swapped back and forth on several occasions. Mah had a chance to win a coinflip to claim victory but his pocket sevens fell to the ace-queen of Xue when an ace spiked on the flop.
Xue was then on top but he always appeared a little frustrated as Mah maintained a deliberate and composed approach to the duel. When Xue hit top pair holding ace-eight, he went all the way with it, hoping it would be enough to claim the title, but Mah had caught two pair on the turn with his seven-five and extracted full value to snatch back the advantage.
Then came the final hand. It was almost as if it was scripted for television, such was the drama. You have to give some credit here to Kwan Mah. His incredibly deliberate actions did indeed build pressure on his opponent and ultimately caused him to snap as the final hand was almost 13 minutes long. When Xue missed his straight draw on the river, he open-shoved all in but Mah instantly called and tabled a full house to claim a memorable victory.
Kwan Mah has pocketed a massive HK$983,400 for his win after gaining entry for this event from a local Phase 1 satellite for the cost of just HK$1,200. Not a bad return on one's investment! He brought an aggressive game that was hard to read, that was well suited to heads-up play. In the end he claimed a well-deserved victory and takes home the stunning Red Dragon trophy.
Final Table Results
1st Kwan Mah (Canada) - HK$983,400
2nd Haifeng Xue (China) - HK$679,400
3rd Conrad Coetzer (South Africa) - HK$402,300
4th Tim Luk (Hong Kong) - HK$317,300
5th Matthew Chan (Hong Kong) - HK$250,300
6th Justin Chan (Hong Kong) (PokerStars Sponsored) - HK$201,100
7th Jessica Ngu (Australia) - HK$156,400
8th Yue Xu (China) - HK$116,200
9th Yong Kin (Malaysia) - HK$91,600
That wraps up our time here in Macau and it's been another fantastic week. We've seen record fields and massive prize pools as the Macau Poker Cup has elevated itself to a whole new level. It has firmly stamped its place on the local poker calendar and is quickly gaining attention from the rest of the poker world.
I'd like to thank Danny McDonagh, Fred Leung and all of the PokerStars Macau staff for their wonderful hospitality once again and congratulations for producing another successful event. The poker room at the Grand Lisboa Casino is one of the best managed and run poker rooms in the world and definitely worth a visit if you are yet to travel to these parts.
That's all we have for you from Macau this week, but if you're looking for more poker action, stay logged into the PokerStars Blog for regular updates from the World Series of Poker.
The next event on the Australasian calendar is the ANZPT Canberra event which will be held from June 10-13 at Casino Canberra. We hope to see you there!