HAINAN, CHINA–The sixth staging of the World Poker Tour (WPT) Sanya kicks off today with the Main Event’s Day 1A action now underway. By Noel Zarate
12pm: Day 1A is in the book
Day 1A of the WPT Sanya Main Event is in the books with 173 players making the cut and are moving on to Day 2 here. Full recap of today’s hostilities will be posted shortly. Stay tuned!
10:30pm: Quan Zhou, WSOP Bubble Boy in action
One of the most entertaining tables in the Main Event here has one of the most famous poker players in China joining the ostentatious environment, giving curious onlookers more reason to give a glance.
Quan Zhou, who is fifth in China’s all-time moneylist according to Hendon Mob, is having fun with the rest of his tablemates; exchanging jokes and raucously laughing along with the rest of the players.
Quan is coming off three consecutive Final Table showings with two major cashes in the PokerStars Championship Barcelona in August (fifth in the NLHE 8-Handed event and ninth in the NLHE High Roller event) and the recently concluded ACOP (NLHE Teams Championship), but this did not receive as much news as when he didn’t cash a few months back—at the 2017 WSOP Main Event in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Approaching ITM bubble time, Quan tried to make a move against Belgian pro Davidi Kitai; a player notorious for hero calling with what usually looks to be the worst hand. That reputation was tested by the cunning Chinese pro (and with several players holding on to dear life with mere antes and less than three BBs around him).
It’s a tale that could be either used as a training video on “what not to do during bubble time” or an anecdote that will draw a “that can’t have possibly happened” reaction.
Quan three bet a UTG raise by Kitai which the latter just smooth called, revealing a flop that had to which both players checked. When the came out on the turn, Kitai opened with a strong bet that was raised even stronger by Quan (who at this point still had tremendous fold equity). Kitai called. The river yielded a to which Quan shipped his remaining stack and drew an insta-call from Kitai, forcing Quan to show first his (a bluff) while Kitai tabled (a full house on the river). Kitai covered Quan and now the rest is poker lore.
Can Quan navigate his way past this field without making the same error, or will have not have to resort to such tactics—as everyone here knows of that strange story—en route to staying alive for Day 2?
Zhang Li Minwins 8-Max PLO event
Zhang Li Min, who makes a living selling mobile phones, won the first Side Event here by topping a field of 49 entrants in the 8-Max Pot Limit Omaha (PLO) competition.
Zhang led the payouts for the six who made it ITM with Li Fa Min finishing in second place, followed by third placer Yu Jun Da.
The tournament ended approximately eight hours after it all began at 2:00PM, local time.
The Win the Button Turbo No Limit Hold ‘Em (NLHE) is still ongoing as the Main Event is now entering its final level for the day with 203 still left standing.
9pm Side Events in full swing
With the Main Event presently at Level 9 (Blinds: 300/600/75) with still 266 players remaining, we check out the ongoing Side Events here.
There are currently four players left in the ongoing 8-Max Pot Limit Omaha (PLO) competition now at Level 9 (1000/2000/300) with 49 entrants rounding out the field. We are very close to crowning a winner there.
The intriguing No Limit (NL) Win the Button Turbo event is well underway with 60 runners joining, along with the satellite to the “Beauty Sanya”-Lianzhong Cup (presented by Ourgame) just kicked off as well.
6pm: 360 left standing now at Level 5
The one-hour blind levels seem to be a non-issue to the phalanx of online qualifiers vying to survive Day 1A of the Main Event here as only 69 players have been sent packing thus far.
Now at Level 5—with the blinds still at 150/300/50—the starting stack of 25,000 has withstood the action and many players have fully adjusted to the slower grind as opposed to the online satellites that catapulted most of the participants here. We will be playing until Level 10 and it is estimated that the hostilities will conclude at exactly 12:00 midnight.
So far, Hong Xue Chun has the largest stack among all the remaining players and his chip count will be known in the next update.
4PM : Notable names spotted in Day 1A
In a field of mostly Chinese online qualifiers, a number of notable faces were still spotted by somuchpoker.com locking horns with the rest of the competition.
Among them are Pete Chen, who just this April came away as the champion in the WPT Beijing Main Event. Chen, from Chinese Taipei, is perhaps the most travelled among the competitors here and also the most prolific in terms of cashes; making over one hundred live ITMs in 2016 and 55 cashes this year.
More: First major victory for Pete Chen at the inaugural WPT Beijing
Nicky Tao Jin
Nicky Tao Jin was also seen in action as this card shark from China is one of the Ourgame ambassadors and one of the most renowned online players in the continent. Nicky is one of the luminaries that helped put PokerWorld / Lianzhong on the map and the site is now one of the biggest in Asia.
Also in the thick of things is Asia’s poker beauty Gao Wenlin, who is part of team PokerFishs; one of the leading poker apps in the country. Gao is coming off her impressive fifth place finish in the WPT Jeju just last September.
3pm: A Unique Tourney!
Now on its sixth edition, the World Poker Tour (WPT) Sanya leg has enjoyed tremendous success since its opening salvo in 2012. This island paradise off the south western coast of China transforms into a poker smorgasbord once a year and the beautiful setting of tropical trees surrounding the posh MGM Grand here offers a perfect backdrop to intense competition that happens on the felt.
But this event is different from any other on the WPT calendar as local participants must qualify to take part via online tournaments on the Ourgame poker engine PokerWorld; one of the biggest poker sites in Asia. From there, the aspirants must descent upon Sanya for the live finale (this time around, the festival runs six days).
With no direct buy-ins for this undertaking, most players must go through the grind of stomping their class online and must adjust to performing on an entirely new level live.
The tournament is also capped at 888 players for the Main Event; making this also distinctive in that regard as the other stagings welcome as many players as possible—a number of which even breach the thousands.
Players from abroad can also take part in the festivities but have to either be invited by the WPT or have their seats reserved way ahead of time.
These add to the mystique of one of the most enigmatic stops on the WPT calendar.
1pm: Shuffle Up and Deal!
WPT Sanya Tournament Director Justin Hammer did the official “Shuffle Up and Deal” send off with his Chinese counterpart Michael Zheng and Ourgame Chairman Eric Yang joining in the ceremony.
With over 800 players expected to participate in this prestigious undertaking–including reigning champion Chen Hao—WPT Sanya promises to be as action packed as in its previous editions with no less than thirteen supporting side events, including the Hublot Elite high roller event this coming Saturday.
A series of online qualifers were conducted on Ourgame in China with hundreds advancing to the live finale while a number of seasoned pros from abroad such as WPT Beijing titlist Pete Chen of Chinese Taipei, two-time WPT champion Samuel Panzica and WPT Tournament of Champions winner Daniel Weinman will also be mixing it up in this six-day clash.