After some blind and ante swapping action things have come to a decisive conclusion, though the hand took a good 15 minutes to play out but when it did it was well worth the wait.
Kwan Pao Mah bumps it up to 215,000 from the button and Xue opts to make the call out of the blinds before checking the Q♠ K♥ 8♥ flop. Mah hits the think tank for a good three minutes, stacking and re-stacking his 25k-denomination orange chips before deciding the ideal amount to continuation bet is 300,000.
Obviously there is some sort of unspoken competition existing between the two on how long they take to make a decision because Xue sits there with a contemplative look on his face for a good four minutes before sliding out the call.
The dealer flips over the 8♦ turn and Xue quickly checks to Mah, who stares impassively at his opponent for a minute before repeating the arduous bet-sizing process that he utilised on the flop. Eventually he flicks 250,000 in orange chips into the centre of the table, which really seems to be a ‘please re-raise me’ amount.
Xue however, is not going to rush things and he takes a further several minutes to make his decision, eventually electing to flat call. This is where the tempo of the hand changes significantly. Xue instantly announces ‘All-in!’ as soon as the 7♣ hits the river and gets a snap call from Mah, who tables Q♥ 8♣ for the full house, which is well in front of Xue’s missed straight draw with J♦ 10♦.
Just like that it’s all over and we have a new Red Dragon Champion – Canada’s Kwan Pao Mah who is now HK$983,400 richer whilst Xue has to settle for a HK$679,400 consolation prize for second.
In a seesaw battle, Mah has reclaimed the chip lead. He raised to 175,000 preflop and a call from Xue delivered a flop of 4♥ A♦ 5♦. A quick check from Xue saw Mah send another 250,000 into the pot. Xue calls and immediately checks again on the turn 7♦. Mah announces 600,000 and those watching know something big has arrived when again Xue calls and the Q♠ arrives on the river. Another quick check from Xue prompts an immediate all-in and snap call scenario.
When cards are shown, Mah’s two-pair with 7♣ 5♣ is ahead of Xue’s A♣ 8♥ top pair. Mah now sits on around 4,200,000, while Xue is cut down to 2,400,000.
Still smarting from losing the massive race that could have seen him take down the tournament Mah is in no mood to mess around. While he folds the next two hands, as soon as he gets the button back he fires out a 100,000 raise. Xue makes the call and we see a small flop of 4♦ 6♠ 5♦. Xue checks and Mah’s 150,000 c-bet is enough win him the pot, though it’s scant consolation for the one he’s just lost.
Mah thirst for action does not look sated and he opts to call a Xue 155,000 button raise from the big blind and then checks the 7♣ 9♥ 6♦ flop. Xue bets a slightly smaller 150,000 and Mah decides this must be a sign of weakness and check-raises to 400,000 in total, which is enough to end the hand.
Mah ends up right back where he started on the next hand however when he opts to raise to 100,000 from the button. Xue makes the call and donk-bets the A♦ J♦ 3♣ flop for 200,000. After giving the matter some thought Mah makes the call and the dealer burns and turns the J♠ hits the river Xue decides to take a stab and bets 300,000, which is enough to get Mah to fold.
It’s been slow going with a lot of raise-folds and uninteresting hands, but then out of nowhere comes an all-in. Mah opened with a 180,000 raise and Xue responds with 250,000 on top. Mah stands up and has a look at Xue’s stack before sitting down to go in meditation mode.
Strangely enough, Xue then asks Tournament Director Danny McDonagh if he can go to the washroom and even tries to get up. McDonagh lets him know that he can’t leave the table in the middle of hand and calls the clock on Mah.
An all-in finally comes from the player and Xue snap calls with his A♦ Q♦ in a race with 7♥ 7♠. Both players stand up and Xue bows to the Red Dragon winner’s trophy on the table for luck.
His prayers are answered on the 5♠ A♣ 5♦ flop and with no Seven forthcoming Xue has turned it all around in one hand. With 1,850,000 left, Mah faces an uphill battle, while Xue is no doubt relieved he can now go to the washroom.
After a few pre-flop folds with our two protagonists merely swapping blinds and antes we have had another action hand and a pretty sizable pot.
After Xue pops it up to 120,000 from the button Mah counts out a re-raise and three-bets to 465,000 in total. Xue has a lengthy tank, so lengthy in fact that we have time to watch Neil Arce get eliminated in second from the High Rollers Event, before Xue eventually finds the call.
It’s definitely a raiser’s flop, running out J♣ Q♠ 7♣ and Mah doesn’t waste much time before counting out a sizable stack of orange chips and pushing them into the middle, betting 600,000. It’s enough to get Xue to give it up and Mah rakes in a pot worth 938,000.
In our first heads up all-in moment, Kwan Pao Mah has taken the advantage over Haifeng Xue. A preflop raise to 120,000 from Haifeng is called by Mah. On the flop of 9♠ 7♦ 9♣ Mah leads out for 150,000 but Xue makes it 230,000 more. Mah calls and then must have checked the 3♦ turn subtly because the action pauses for an eternity. Xue is unmoving and Mah is giving him the staredown. Finally, Xue is told that the action is on him, and both players share laugh over the confusion, which seems to break the tension.
But it’s back to business the moment Xue bets out another 325,000. Mah then announces all-in and Tournament Director Danny McDonagh counts his stack, which totals 2.3 million. Xue contemplates the call but decides to let the hand go.
We have our first hand of heads-up and it starts off fairly slowly with Kwan Pao Mah just flat calling from the button and Xue checking his option.
The flop comes out 7♦ 7♠ 9♠ and after Xue checks Mah fires out a bet of 60,000, which Xue calls and the dealer burns and turns the 10♦. This time both players check and we have a river – the Q♦.
Xue checks for a third time and Mah fiddles with his chips before deciding to bet 125,000. Xue thinks for a short while before sliding out a tower of orange chips, re-raising to 425,000 in total, eliciting a quick fold from Mah.