After the first stop of the 2008 season for the Asian Poker Tour (APT) in Manila in late May, the Macau destination was a much-anticipated one. Macau is widely regarded as the “new Las Vegas” and the most exciting gaming destination in the world, so it was no surprise that names like Doyle Brunson were scheduled to be there and Matt Savage was to serve as the tournament director of the main event.
Speaking of the main event, the APT had decided to up the ante, literally, since the $1 million guarantee in Manila by guaranteeing the Macau main event would have a $1.5 million prize pool, with a minimum of $500,000 going to the first place finisher. The large figures were based on the Manila stop that garnered more than 400 players.
When the APT Macau main event got underway on August 27th, it was clear that the organizers would struggle to meet that number instead of reaching the goal of 500 registrants. There were two first days to accommodate all players in the best way possible at the Galaxy StarWorld Hotel and Casino, but only 103 players showed up for Day 1A. But what it didn’t have in numbers, it had in famous faces that brought the public out to watch. Players like Doyle Brunson, Johnny Chan, Todd Brunson, Harry Demetriou, Liz Lieu, Nam Le, J.C. Tran, Quinn Do, and David “Chino” Rheem paid the $5,000 entry fee. APT Manila winner David Saab was also in the field in an attempt to wrap up a second title in a row.
By the end of the first day, however, most of those names had been eliminated from the field. Only 23 players survived, with Guray Turkay in the chip lead and Carter Gill chasing from second place. Rounding out the top ten was Yevgeniy Timoshenko.
Day 1B began with 154 players, creating a total field of 257. Though it may have been a disappointment for planners who hoped for and expected 500 players, more big names in the crowd of players possibly quelled some of the anxiety. Showing up for the second day were J.J. Liu, John Juanda, Mike “timex” McDonald, Terrence Chan, Huck Seed, Tony Dunst, and Mel Judah. When the 10 levels had concluded for the day, there were 46 survivors with Ryan Gentry at the top of the Day 1B leader board, though Dunst was in third chip position and Liu in fourth.
Day 2 combined all 69 remaining players to play down to the final eight spots. And it began with an apparent rush to get to the final 40 payout places. Judah was one of the first to leave the tournament, with Everest Poker’s Wooka Kim joining him early in the day. And when the players reached the bubble, it was a seasoned pro by the name of J.J. Liu who took that 41st place finish, despite another player, Piotr Gruzcynski sitting with a single chip and hanging on for a $6,000 payout.
When it came down to the final two tables, Yevgeniy Timoshenko looked strong and built a tremendous amount of momentum. The eliminations of other players were as follows:
18th place: Ryan Gentry eliminated by Timoshenko ($11,250)
17th place: William Te, Jr. by Quang Nguyen ($11,250)
16th place: Kent Hunger by Michael Pedley ($15,000)
15th place: Kou Vang by Quang Nguyen ($15,000)
14th place: Carter Gill by Joon Hee Yeah ($15,000)
13th place: Moritz Schmejkal by Joon Hee Yeah ($18,750)
12th place: Grant Levy by Rober Karian ($18,750)
11th place: Matsukawa Shoichi by Timoshenko ($18,750)
10th place: Julius Colman by Chong Wing Cheong ($22,500)
Just before Colman was eliminated in 10th place, U.S. pro player Casey Kastle doubled through Timoshenko to play on. Soon after, the final nine players held a redraw for new seats at the last remaining table. One more player had to be eliminated before play wrapped for the day, and it was Michele Ferrari who was taken out by Kastle in 9th place for a $22,500 payout.
Day 3 of the APT Macau main event on August 31st consisted of the final table with the following players and chip counts:
Seat 1: Casey Kastle 456,000
Seat 2: Michael Pedley 132,000
Seat 3: Joon Hee Yeah 160,000
Seat 4: Chong Wing Cheong 454,000
Seat 5: Yevgeniy Timoshenko 318,000
Seat 6: Quang Nguyen 315,000
Seat 7: Julio Diaz 315,000
Seat 8: Rober Karian 419,000
Kastle looked good coming into the final table with the chip lead that he earned late in Day 2; he was also clearly the most experienced player at the table. However, Timoshenko looked quite strong on Day 2 and had some online and live tournament successes to back him up. It would be a fight to the finish for the international finalists representing Slovenia, Hong Kong, Thailand, United States, Spain, Vietnam, South Korea, and Australia.
The first elimination came on the first hand when the shortest stack at the table made a move. Quang Nguyen raised pre-flop, and Michael Pedley simply called at that point. But when the flop came and Nguyen bet out, Pedley put it all in. Nguyen called with , and Pedley showed . The turn gave Nguyen the flush with the , and the was meaningless. Pedley was out in 8th place with $26,250.
One player had a rough going at the final table, losing over half of his chips in back-to-back hands and following that up by shipping more chips to Casey Kastle. After coming to the table in second chip position, Chong Wing Cheong was suddenly in desperation mode. In a raised pre-flop pot with Yevginiy Timoshenko, the two saw a flop of . Cheong checked, Timoshenko bet, and Cheong then raised. Timoshenko pushed all-in, and Cheong called and was covered. Timoshenko held the dominating , and Cheong had to show his bluff. With a 4 and King on the turn and river, it was over for Cheong in 7th place, who won $37,500 for his efforts.
Joon Hee Yeah came to the table as the second shortest stack but made some solid efforts to slowly chip up. The patient Yeah finally doubled through Rober Karian, and continued to accumulate more chips as the final table rolled on.
Not so easy for Quang Nguyen, who became involved in a three-way pot pre-flop. After seeing the , Timoshenko took the reins and bet out. Nguyen was the only caller. The turn brought a and a check from Nguyen, but when Tomishenko bet, Nguyen quickly raised all-in. Timochenko ultimately called with for two pair, and Nguyen had hope with , top pair with the flush draw. But the river brought a , and it was Nguyen was out in 6th place with $52,500.
Timoshenko was on a roll and raised the next hand pre-flop. Julio Diaz raised, so Timoshenko moved all-in. Diaz considered his options and called with , but Timoshenko showed . The coin flip situation played out with , and Diaz was out in 5th place with $67,500.
Timoshenko was dominating the final table and sat with well over 1.5 million chips. That stack continued to grow as he bullied his opponents, all of whom were well below the 500K mark.
Yeah continued with his patient but persistent game and doubled through Karian to stay in contention. Kastle then turned the tables and did the same through Yeah.
But Kastle couldn’t compete with Timoshenko, who came into a subsequent pot raising. Kastle pushed his remaining 132K into the pot from the big blind with , and Timoshenko called with . The board came , and Timoshenko won on the river. Kastle was gone in 4th place and awarded $90,000 for his final table play.
In the very next hand, Timoshenko opened with a raise, and this time it was Karian who pushed all-in. Timoshenko called and showed , and Karian turned over an inferior . The dealer gave them , and Karian was gone in 3rd place with $126,000.
Heads-up play began with the following chip counts:
Yevgeniy Timoshenko 2,301,000
Joon Hee Yeah 257,000
Play began between the two finalists at a relatively cautious pace, but soon Yeah had to move. He called a Timoshenko all-in raise pre-flop. Timoshenko had only , while Yeah had . The pocket pair held up, and Yeah got a much-needed double-up.
But it wasn’t long before he was forced into action again. Timoshenko kept the pressure on with a pre-flop raise, but Yeah reraised. Timoshenko came over the top all-in, and Yeah called for his tournament life with . Timoshenko showed , and the board came . Joon Hee Yeah was forced to accept 2nd place and $250,000.
Yevgeniy Timoshenko happily took first place and title of 2008 APT Macau Champion, along with the $500,000 prize.
(Thanks to PokerNews live updates for hand and chip count information.)