With 1,145 participants creating an Asian freezeout record at this Red Dragon event, this was a special tournament before it even got up and running. With the brightest stars of Asian poker congregating here in Macau, it was no surprise to see some familiar names building chip stacks through the first few days. One of those high flying pros was Celina Lin. The PokerStars pro has been an unstoppable force at Red Dragon events in recent years, and was the only player to hold the accolade of being a two-time champion – until today. While fans would have loved to have seen her make another final table here, she eventually bowed out in 12th place.
Final table protagonists
When play eventually reached the final table stage, there were still several pros involved, with Jack Salter and Tom Alner being the main attractions. Salter was the most prolific live tournament player remaining with USD$4.9 million in career cashes, while Tom Alner was a back to back final tablist in the Red Dragon and also a former champion. Others could certainly have stood in the way of their run at the title though, with amateur Shai Yang Qiu entering play with the chiplead and Benjamin Hamnet being an experienced pro with a strong stack.
More: Finalists presentation
How the final battle unfolded
In what was undoubtedly the biggest shock of the day, Shuaiyang Qiu inexplicably managed to turn his start of day chiplead into a 9th place finish. It would be easy to suggest that his inexperience may have caught up with him, but in truth it was simply a case of a bluff gone awry, followed by the ultimate KK vs AA cooler. Former small stack Wenxiang Chen was the beneficiary of both of those hands, and found himself up with the big stacks very quickly. Xiao Bo Zhou soon followed Qiu to the rail, after being eliminated by Jack Salter. Jingxuan Zhu was next to fall, with the irrepressible Wenxiang Chen moving into a comfortable chiplead by busting him in 7th place.
With Alner looking comfortable, Salter chipping up and Liang Song falling in 6th, the pressure began to grow as the action became shorter handed and players became more active. Chen then made the call of the day when he snapped off Salter’s river bet with third pair, strengthening his chiplead in the process. Benjamin Hamnet was also momentarily moving up as he busted Daniel Lee in 5th, but his upturn was short-lived, as he eventually hit the rail in 4th after another 2 hours of play. The slowing of pace continued, as it was another 4 hours before we had the identity of our 3rd place finisher. It was Jack Salter, who was finally eliminated after a stellar display of aggressive poker.
Heads up battle
The heads up battle between Alner and Chen lasted a full 3 hours, but when Chen made the fateful decision to limp KK on the button and Alner flopped a straight, the end was already written. This 2nd place finish is an excellent result for Chinese amateur Wenxiang Chen, who picks up HK$1,487,000(USD$192,767) for his efforts.
Our Red Dragon champion and recipient of HK$2,509,000(USD$325,253) is UK pro Tom Alner who becomes the second player in history to hold multiple Red Dragon titles!
The final payouts are as follows:
1. Tom Alner (UK) — HK$2,509,000
2. Wenxiang Chen (China) — HK$1,487,000
3. Jack Zi Yang Salter (UK) — HK$892,000
4. Benjamin Hamnet (USA) — HK$650,000
5. Daniel Hyongin Lee (USA) — HK$440,000
6. Liang Song (China) — HK$321,000
7. Jingxuan Zhu (China) — HK$274,000
8. Xiao Bo Zhou (China) — HK$237,970
9. Shuai Yang Qiu (China) — HK$202,000
More: Macau Poker Cup 25