This article first appeared in the Nov/Dec 2010 issue of World Gaming magazine.
The Metro Card Club is amongst best run card rooms I have ever played in. Open 24/7, it has everything that a serious poker player could want and is right in the heart of one of the world’s biggest cities, Manila in the Philippines. Not only is the poker great but the Philippines also offers a unique holiday option not far from home.
Macau is the undisputed home of gaming in Asia and the home of Baccarat worldwide. But when it comes to poker, although Macau is improving, it has plenty of competition. One area where the poker scene is alive and booming is in the Philippines.
The Metro Card Club is situated in Pasig City which is part of the huge urban sprawl of Manila. To say Manila is a hive of activity is a massive understatement. It is a metropolis that is hard to explain and is one of the most interesting cities I have ever been to. Anything and everything can be found and lost in Manila and it is an experience you will never forget.
There are some places in Manila best avoided but there are some fabulous parts that feature exquisite dining, shopping and entertainment. Set right in the middle of one of these havens is the Metro Card Club which is taking Manila by storm and making the rest of the poker world sit up and take notice.
The Metro Card Club was the creation of former Canadian-Filipino Nick Galan and local poker pro Neil Arce who saw that poker was a game that Filipinos would embrace. With the help of the national gaming regulator PAGCOR, the Metro was born and the city’s premier card room was established. From humble beginnings and a few tables the room now offers 32 tables. The room has more than 1,000 unique players every week and the stakes range from small low limit games to big games for high rollers and credentialed pros. Nick is obviously proud of what he has achieved and the Metro brand has expanded to four poker clubs along the length and breadth of the country.
“Poker was always going to be a game that would take off in the Philippines. We already had a strong card-playing culture so poker was a logical step. We love sports that require you to think – Filipinos excel on the world stage in sports such as billiards and chess, for example.”
The Metro runs a great range of tournaments and they also run satellites for some of the big tournaments held in the Philippines like the Asian Poker Tour (APT) and the Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT). They also recently held one of the largest freerolls I have ever heard of. They had a promotion for their local players where they played a certain amount of hours over a three-month period to qualify for a free tournament.
Those lucky enough to qualify competed for nearly US$100,000 in prizes including three new Toyota cars. The structure was such that paydays went all the way down the list – every player who qualified received some of the booty! These are the kinds of promotions that set The Metro Card Club above not only its competitors in the Philippines, but other poker joints internationally.
I have played poker all over the world and I can’t think of another card room I would rather play in. The absence of clinging and clanging slot machines is essential to a good poker game and I also think you get a more personalised service in a place like the Metro. You are made to feel welcome and you can always get a cold beer or something to eat. The dealers are well trained and the room always has a manager on call that knows the rules and maintains the integrity of the game.
While you’re visiting the Metro why not take look around Manila and the rest of the Philippines? From the crazy fast-paced action of Manila to some of the best beaches in the world like Boracay, the Philippines offers a poker holiday that you’ll never forget. Good food, world-class hotels, beautiful girls and friendly people will ensure you leave with a smile on your face.