Monday, November 12, 2012

Travel Report: APPT Macau, ACOP Main Event, Day 5

Because poker tournament reporters are generally paid by the day or gig -- and not by the hour -- it isn’t surprising to hear varying degrees of complaining or self-pity being expressed when a particular day’s assignment stretches out to an inordinate length. I know I’ve used this space from time to time to share stories of marathon final tables or other situations where I’ve found myself in less than desirable circumstances work-wise due to the unpredictable nature of my job’s hours.

I try not to complain overly about such things, though. Partly because I’m not really the complaining sort (in most cases), but mostly because I accept as part of the assignment that if I’m going to be covering a poker tournament, well, in most cases, it isn’t like there’s a point in time when I know for certain my work will end. Such is the nature of the game.

Still, I’ve indulged in that fantasy now and then -- one I think most tourney reporters have at least thought about -- wishing that a long heads-up match might end abruptly in some fashion and cut the work day short. “Oh, just go all in already,” we think. Or maybe even sometimes say to one another, if willing to share such a sentiment.

Well, last night the fantasy became reality in a stunning way. I’m still shaking my head over it.

The heads-up match to conclude the Asia Championship of Poker Main Event between Xing Zhou of China and Ying Kit Chan of Hong Kong had lasted more than six hours, including the breaks. Both players had led in the match, and the stacks were still quite deep after all that time, with the average between them being nearly 70 big blinds.

Then, suddenly, a hand was dealt to the pair and instead of betting they began talking. Their speech (which I couldn’t understand, of course) became more animated, then they both stood up, the crowd began shouting and clapping, and we were hearing a familiar phrase -- “All in!”

They’d agreed to chop the remaining prize money evenly (despite Zhou having about a 3-to-2 lead in chips). And they’d go all in without looking at their cards in order to determine the winner.

I ended up writing a lengthy post about it all over on the PokerStars blog, if you’re curious to read more about what happened. None of us had ever seen anything quite like it, and I’m referring to people who’ve covered hundreds of tournaments before.

The scene was kind of joyous, really, with the excellent Danny McDonagh (APPT President and tournament director) handling the situation even-handedly and effectively. As I describe in the post, Zhou ended up winning the hand and the chips, and our little fantasy of an abrupt end came upon us so quickly we had to sit around talking about it for a while just to reassure each other we weren’t dreaming.

Definitely was an ending that helped further demonstrate the Asian culture’s love of gambling. And truly it seemed like the sort of thing one might have to go to a place like Macau ever to see happen.

Speaking of dreaming, gonna try to get some winks here before the long journey home begins. It’s good that I’m writing this now before bed, as I’ll have further proof here that it really happened.

Catch you all on the other side.

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