The 160 players still in contention at the PokerStars.net Asia Pacific Poker Tour Macau were back inside the Grand Lisboa on Friday afternoon, all together for the first time and ready for the push through Day 2. Seven levels were scheduled, and the field came tantalizingly close to popping the money bubble by the time the clock ticked down to zero. Only 44 players survived their second day with TJ Vorapanich storming toward the front of the pack to lead the way into the home stretch of the final two days.
Vorapanich was the late-breaking leader, but a few players had their hands on the big stack throughout the day. David Steicke began the day running hot and was responsible for a couple of knockout pots. One came at the expense of his mate Andrew Scott when Steicke's overpair of tens held on a board full of rags. His run came to a close during the last level, though, with Vorapanich notching the elimination. On a turned board showing , Vorapanich fired out 55,000 into a pot of more than 150,000. Steicke tanked for a long while before moving all-in for just a slight raise. Vorapanich snapped with a set of kings, and Stiecke's pocket queens were useless, ushering him out the door a few places shy of the money.
Fellow Aussie Brendon Rubie was terrorizing his tables throughout the course of the day and worked his way to a top-three chip count by night's end. Also still in the hunt is Kai Paulsen who looked for a while as if he might end the day with the chip lead. Paulsen's finishing count of 416,800 puts him firmly in second place, trailing only the 472,900-chip stack of Vorapanich. Apart from those two front-runners, nobody has yet to crest 300,000 chips.
Anyone still with chips should be content, though, as it was a brutal day for many of the notables. Team PokerStars Pro Eric Assadourian was swept away in the early flurry of all-ins, and Aaron Lerner made his departure a short time later after five-bet shoving his ace-ten into an opponent's pocket queens. Tony Hachem was grinding a short stack for essentially the entire tournament, and he too was eliminated in time to head to the noodle bar and grab a late lunch with Assadourian. Also failing to escape Day 2 were Celina Lin, Aaron Benton, Raymond Wu, Nam Le, Michael Pedley, and Wooka Kim.
The 44 lucky souls who survived will be back in the poker room tomorrow ready for the push toward the final table. The money bubble will arrive shortly after the starting gun and then it's a race to gather chips and jockey for a good position for Sunday's final table. Our Live Reporting team will be back inside the ropes for the penultimate day, so be sure to keep a good eye on the blog to keep up with all of the action.