Asian Poker Tour launches 2018 season

Written by Ben Blaschke

The Asian Poker Tour (APT) welcomes the 2018 season by introducing a host of key changes as part of a revamped schedule that will feature a total of seven stops – with more to be added soon – including two events in Macau and stops in the Philippines, Korea and Vietnam.

The 2018 season kicked off in January in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City with the next event to be held at Resorts World Manila in March. The first Macau stop, at Macau Billionaire Poker in Babylon Casino, runs from 25 April to 6 May with Macau to also host the APT Finale for the second year running from 28 November to 7 December.

The APT has also announced a series of significant changes to its tournament series in 2018, including guaranteed prize pools at its Macau and Philippines events and a revamped pay table that will pay out one place for every six entries. The change will make it easier for players to identify the number of places paid in any given event with the “1 for every 6” formula equating to deeper payouts.

Another major change will be the axing of the APT Player of Year race, to be replaced instead by a Player of the Series program whereby the top player at each stop will receive a five night stay at the following stop and US$500 in cash.

The full 2018 schedule and event information can be found over the page.

APT Philippines Championship:

21 March to 1 April 2018

In March, the first 12-day festival of the year takes place with the APT Championships Philippines 2018 slated for 21 March to 1 April. This event will be held at the APT’s most popular venue, Resorts World Manila in Newport City. RWM has been APT’s long-standing partner in the Philippines dating back to 2010.

APT Macau Championships:

25 April to 6 May 2018

Towards the end of April, the APT heads to the gaming capital – Macau – for the next 12-day festival, the APT Macau Championships 2018. This event will be held at Macau Billionaire Poker in Babylon Casino. Players can expect a massive turnout of Japanese players as this event falls under Japan’s Golden Week, one of the country’s celebrated holidays.

APT Korea Seoul:

15 June to 24 June 2018

The APT wraps up its 2018 calendar year by returning to the “Las Vegas of the East” to host the APT Finale Macau 2018 at partner and host venue, Macau Billionaire Poker in Babylon Casino. The festival will run for 10 days. The APT heads to South Korea to stage a 10-day poker festival in Seoul. Through the years, the APT has held numerous events in the country however this will be their first in the capital city. In partnership with Geutebruck Korea, Inc, APT Korea Seoul 2018 will take place at Paradise Casino Walker Hill.

APT Korea Incheon:

10 August to 19 August 2018

The APT action continues in Korea for the second year in a row at Paradise City in Incheon. The 10-day festival will once again be held at the poker room operated by partner Geutebruck Inc. With the venue located in the world famous Incheon Airport complex, this convenience draws big numbers as it is an easy hop in and hop out.

APT Philippines:

11 September to 20 September 2018

Every year, the APT consistently hosts two events in Resorts World Manila with the second one running in the latter part of the year. From 11 to 20 September, the highly enjoyable APT Philippines 2018 will take place but unlike the festival held in April, this one is scheduled to run for only 10 days. Through the years, this event has had a track record of attracting a large number of local enthusiasts that rarely travel outside of the country.

APT Finale Macau Championships:

28 November to 7 December 2018

The APT wraps up its 2018 calendar year by returning to the “Las Vegas of the East” to host the APT Finale Macau 2018 at partner and host venue, Macau Billionaire Poker in Babylon Casino. The festival will run for 10 days.

Doubling down

Blackjack is an interesting game as players get to make meaningful decisions that affect their chances of winning as their hand plays out. The most important of these decisions is whether to hit or stand on a hand, but there are also more intricate decisions, such as insurance, surrender, splitting pairs and the most exciting of all: the double down.

Players love doubling because they generally do it when they have the advantage and it offers the opportunity to win twice what was originally anticipated. A typical dream scenario goes like this: your first two cards total 11, a great hand, against the dealer’s weakest upcard, a 6. At this precise moment, you are a very strong favorite, slightly more than twice as likely to win as you are to lose. It’s a perfect opportunity to double your bet. It’s almost like making a bet after you’ve seen the result!

A lot of players fall in love with doubling. But there is a downside that players often forget: when you double you receive one more card only. You must stand on your three-card hand, with no opportunity to draw subsequent cards. Sometimes this can be quite disadvantageous. For example, what if you double your two card 9 and receive a 2! Now you have to stand on 11, a truly horrible proposition.

There are times when there is essentially no disadvantage at all in doubling. Let’s get back to that 11 against the dealer’s 6. Can you ever see yourself wanting to draw a fourth card? Even you receive an ace on your 11, for a total of just 12, you are going to want to stand.

The soft double

Most players know to almost always double when they have a total like 10 or 11 (and, to a much lesser extent, 9). This is intuitive, since the shoe is stacked with ten-value cards, and a third card on a two-card 10 or 11 often results in great totals like 20 or 21. But far less intuitive is the soft double, which is a double when you have an ace with a card valued between 2 and 9. In this case, you’re not so much doubling in the hope of getting a great hand yourself, but more because the dealer has a relatively high chance of going bust – so you want to get more money on the table.

No matter how weak the dealer’s upcard, he is never more than a 50 percent chance of going bust. But when you add in the ways of winning without the dealer going bust, it often makes sense to double a soft total of 18 (A7) or less against dealer upcards of 6 or less. The lower your soft total or the lower the dealer upcard, the less likely it is that you should soft double.

Surprising results

In the blackjack games in Macau (and in many other parts of the world), if you double and the dealer gets blackjack, you only lose the original bet you placed and not the extra money placed on the layout for doubling. While this may seem counter-intuitive, in fact it makes perfect sense when you realize in the original blackjack games the dealer received a hole card as well as his upcard. If these two cards were a blackjack, the hand was over before the players ever got an opportunity to split or double.

When this lose-original-bet-only rule prevails (as it does in Macau), it is in fact correct to double two-card totals of 11 against dealer upcards of 10. Many players find this result surprising, since it’s pretty scary to be doubling against a 10.

Another surprising result is doubling 9 against a dealer’s upcard of 2. Now a 2 seems a pretty innocuous card and a player 9 versus a dealer 2 does represent a 7 percent advantage to the player, but the downside of possibly getting a 2 on your 9 and having to suffer the dreadful result of standing on 11 tips the scales in favor of just hitting your 9 rather than doubling. A dealer 2 is not as weak as it might seem and many players are surprised to learn the dealer is more likely to get a non-blackjack 21 from a 2 than any other upcard!