Tournament coverage Poker

Here comes the boom

Written by Pai Yao

This article first appeared in the Jan/Feb 2015 issue of World Gaming magazine.

Tournament poker hasn’t had it easy in Macau since the PokerStars LIVE room first opened its doors back in 2007, but having finally settled into its new home at City of Dreams just a little under two years ago player numbers surged to record levels in 2014. Now, as the clock ticks over into the New Year, hopes are high that 2015 will go down in history as the year poker truly boomed in Macau. WGM takes a look at what to expect in the coming 12 months for poker in Macau and Asia-Pacific

We’ve just witnessed the biggest year on record for tournament poker in Macau, but with the foundations now firmly in place the team at PokerStars LIVE Macau and the Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT) are gearing up for something special in 2015.

Never before has the schedule for the coming APPT season been finalized as early as it was this time around and with the benefit of longer lead times it’s likely the record fields we witnessed for the Macau Poker Cup (MPC) and Asia Championship of Poker in 2014 will be exceeded again.

First on the agenda is MPC 22 which will run from 27 February to 15 March. Last year saw 995 players take part in this event – up from 891 players 12 months earlier – and the goal this time around is to top 1,000 for the first time. Despite the buy-in jumping slightly from HK$11,000 to HK$12,000, all indications are that those expectations will be easily met, making MPC 22 the first ever freezeout tournament in Macau to attract 1,000 starters.

In total, Macau will host four major tournament series in 2015 as part of the APPT’s 10 event schedule including MPC 22 and MPC 23 in March and September respectively, APPT Macau in May and the season ending ACOP in early November.

With the exception of ANZPT Melbourne, which has been pushed back by six weeks, all events have been scheduled for the same time of year as they were held in 2014.

“It’s about us starting to set a pattern of multiple events happening each year with a long lead time of dates being issued,” APPT President Danny McDonagh said, pointing to the greater stability the APPT enjoyed in 2014 as a major contributor to its success.

Having moved through a number of properties since it was established in 2007, the PokerStars LIVE Macau poker room has now found a permanent home at City of Dreams where it has been based since April 2013.

“That has certainly helped,” McDonagh continued. “Without a doubt 2014 has been the best year for the APPT and particularly Macau with a lot of significant milestones achieved.

“We had 995 players for the January Red Dragon event, a new Macau Millions record of 1,804 players which was then eclipsed by the 2,732 players at the inaugural Beijing Millions, ANZPT Melbourne set a new APPT player and prizepool record and of course ACOP came of age as a genuine championship on the world poker calendar.”

In 2015, the APPT has outlined a number of goals including building on the 668 players that contested the 2014 Aussie Millions and re-establishing APPT Manila as a key event on the Asia-Pacific calendar, although it comes as no surprise that the real focus will be Macau.

“If we can crack that 1,000 player mark for the Red Dragon for the first time it would be great,” McDonagh said. “And after the success of ACOP recently we really want to build on that again right across the board including not only the Main Event but also the High Roller events and the Spadies.

“It’s shaping up as a huge year.”