Poker appears to be alive and well in Hong Kong as players turned out in record numbers for the Main Event of the Asian Poker Tour (APT) Macau Festival of Poker. The HK$34,400 (roughly $4,400) drew a total of 326 runners, a 27% increase over last year’s 257-person field. In the end, Frenchman Adrien “zlatan35” Allain took the event down, turning his $5 investment in an online satellite into a HK$3,035,000 ($391,556) profit.
While the World Poker Tour’s Legends of Poker event in Los Angeles saw a 25% drop in attendance, the APT experienced solid growth and interest in this year’s tournament and a number of known pros opted to travel to Asia instead of staying Stateside for the WPT event in California. Full Tilt’s John Juanda and Vivek Rajkumar, Liz Lieu, Johnny Chan, Ultimate Bet pro Liv Boeree, last year’s Macau winner Yevgeniy Timoshenko and November Nine member James Akenhead all played in the Macau Main Event, as did the APT-sponsored Poker Pack.
Several PartyPoker qualifiers participated in the Main Event as well. PartyPoker sponsored pro Ian Frazer finished in 27th place and Gylbert Drolet of Canada took the honor of last PartyPoker qualifier standing with his 21st place finish.
We previously reported on the success of the Poker Pack, comprised of Chino Rheem, JC Tran, Nam Le, Quinn Do and Steve Sung, in the various preliminary events preceding the Main Event. The group continued their strong showing as Pack member Tran ended up at the final table of the event. Joining him there were two other players who have experienced tremendous success over the course of the APT Macau’s short history.  Both David Steicke and Casey Kastle have final tabled events at the stop. Kastle finished in 4th place in last year’s Macau Main Event and Steicke has been a mainstay at the Macau High Rollers Event final table.
The three established pros came into the final table towards the middle of the pack and it was Inwook Choi of Korea who began the day with the chip lead. Kastle was the first player to fall as he was eliminated in 9th on the third hand of play when Allain’s pocket nines were able to outrun Kastle’s pocket kings. This was just the beginning of Allain’s card rush though. Shortly after busting Kastle, Allain knocked out Christer Hallberg in 7th place by cracking Hallberg’s pocket eights with 4-5. Then Michael Woo ran his Q-6 into Allain’s pocket kings and play was down to five-handed a mere twenty minutes after it began.
Play slowed substantially after that and after Steicke fell in 4th place and Tran went out in 3rd heads-up play came down to Choi and Allain. On the final hand of play Allain got lucky once again when his A-3 was able to spike a 3 against Choi’s A-Q to take down the pot and the championship. The 23-year-old Allain, who recently decided to test the waters as a poker pro, kicked off his career with an amazing start in Macau.
After play ended, Tran spoke very highly of his competitor and summed up Allain’s achievement quite well. “It has been a great 12 day festival for The Poker Pack – it is disappointing not to take down the Main Event but congratulations to Adrien, he played good poker and is a deserving champion”, said Tran. “To take down such a major tournament for just $5 is quite something – there’s no doubt he has great potential.”
The complete results of the APT Macau final table are listed below:
1st Adrien Allain (FR) HK$3,035,000
2nd Inwook Choi HK$1,660,000
3rd JC Tran (USA) HK$910,510
4th David Steicke (Hong Kong)HK$708,300
5th Chris Chau (Hong Kong)HK$506,000
6th Michael Woo (Hong Kong)HK$404,800
7th Christer Hallberg (Sweden) HK$303,600
8th Winfred Yu (Hong Kong) HK$202,400
9th Casey Kastle (Slovenia) HK$131,500

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