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Tours on tilt

Written by Ben Blaschke

There is a fair slice of irony in the fact that, just days before the start of a potentially record breaking Red Dragon Main Event at MPC22, tournament poker in Asia suffered an unfortunate black eye.

On Monday this week, the Asian Poker Tour (APT) announced the cancellation of its upcoming APT Cambodia in late May due to an unforeseen clash with APPT Macau. The reason it was unforeseen was because APPT Macau had originally been scheduled to run from 13 to 24 May with APT Cambodia following on from 26 May, but when APPT sponsors PokerStars realized it clashed with their Spring Championships of Online Poker they swiftly pushed the dates back a week – putting APPT Macau in direct competition with APT Cambodia.

The new dates, announced last week, caught the APT very much by surprise. Although the two tours are technically rivals in the region, organizers figured out some years ago that putting APPT and APT events in direct competition with one another wouldn’t benefit anyone and so they reached a gentleman’s agreement to ensure their events never clashed. Events have even been carefully placed one after the other so that players traveling from further afield can play both tours in the one trip.

For the APPT to renege on this agreement reflects terribly on them and especially so given the fact that they subsequently sprung the new dates on the APT without any consultation. Why they would go ahead and lock in new dates unannounced rather than discuss solutions with the APT first is beyond us here at WGM.

In a statement, APT CEO Jeff Mann said, “We are upset with the sudden and unexpected change to the PokerStars schedule, which creates an unnecessary clash for both tours. We announced and confirmed our dates for Cambodia after PokerStars published their schedule for 2015 last year. There is – or was – an understanding for the good of both tours, for the benefit of players and for the good of poker generally that our events would be planned so they did not happen on the same week. I’m not sure what happened.”

The cancellation of APT Cambodia is also a huge blow for the venue – the Queenco Hotel & Casino. Queenco’s poker room was taken over by new management earlier this year and they had invested heavily in improving their offering, even appointing highly respected poker room manager AJ Brock to put it on the Asian poker map.

But more than anything, the APPT’s move hurts the players. If you were planning to play APPT Macau then follow it up a few days later with APT Cambodia, that option has now been taken away from you. And what of the long term? Should we one day reach a point where the rival tours no longer work together, rest assured it is the players who will suffer most. Schedule clashes would only lead to smaller fields and smaller prize pools.

The APT is hoping to reschedule Cambodia for later this year but with the annual tournament schedule already jam-packed, finding a suitable time is easier said than done.

We reached out to APPT President Danny McDonagh but he informed us he would not be available for comment on the matter.