This article first appeared in the May/Jun 2011 issue of World Gaming magazine.
The Dragon recently decided to get out of Macau and play a little poker. His good friends from the Asian Poker Tour (APT) had invited him to enjoy some rest and relaxation at the luxurious Resorts World Manila. But the main aim was for The Dragon to take on some of the world’s best poker players at the APT Manila main event.
As an international poker player there is nothing better than travelling to a new poker tournament and finding top class poker events in a fresh and exotic location. So I didn’t need anyone to twist my arm when the APT invited me to represent World Gaming magazine in some fast and furious poker action in Manila.
I was well rested after I checked into the Resorts World deluxe hotel Maxims (stay tuned for more on this wonderful hotel in future issues of WGM) and I hit the felt at the APT Manila looking to make an impact. My primary interest was in the US$2,700 main event where I had to face 230 other players who were also pursuing one of Asia’s hottest titles.
Day 1 turned out to be a real struggle but I managed to make it through to Day 2. Nothing seemed to go right on that first day but I fought on and took my seat on Day 2 with a modest stack of chips. Finally I had to make the move that ended my dream in this particular tournament. I won’t bore you with the details but I am happy to report that I played well and ended up in the top 50 percent of the field, despite the poker gods not smiling upon my cards at all.
The final table saw many local stars take on a few international guns. The ‘Godfather of Poker’ in the Philippines, Wally Sombero, made it to the final table. Even though ‘Sir’ Wally was short stacked he was the crowd favourite and had a large following of friends, fans and family there to cheer him on.
After getting the better of the other 230 players over five gruelling days it was Enrique del Prado who was finally crowned champion. He pocketed just under US$180,000 which more than made up for his hard work during the tournament. Del Prado had prevailed in an epic heads-up battle to claim a title that is held in high esteem in the Philippines, APT Manila champion. It was great to see it go to a local Filipino player.
The APT Manila ran an excellent support card of smaller tournaments, which catered to an ever-growing throng of local players and the unlucky international guests who were knocked out in the earlier stages of the main event.
Once again the APT and their host Resorts World Manila put on an excellent show. The tournament was expertly run and the surroundings were nothing short of spectacular. With poker in the Philippines supported by both the APT and the APPT (Asian Pacific Poker Tour) and also highly experienced local poker experts like the Metro Card Club, there is no doubting that the Philippines is ready to compete with Macau as the home of poker in Asia.