This article first appeared in the WSOP 2012 special issue of World Gaming magazine.
With poker’s popularity exploding across the Asia-Pacific region, the World Series of Poker (WSOP) has teamed up with Australia’s Crown Melbourne to take the major poker tournament series “down under”.
“With WSOP Las Vegas growing annually and WSOP Europe poised for long-term success after five years, the time is right to turn our attention to the dynamic poker scene in Asia and Australia,” said WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart. “Given Crown’s success with the Aussie Millions Poker Championship, we couldn’t ask for a better partner than Crown to establish the Asia-Pacific’s definitive poker festival.”
As home of the renowned “Aussie Millions Poker Championship” Crown is no stranger to hosting huge poker tournaments and boasts the world’s largest poker room outside North America. Attracting approximately 18 million local, interstate and international visitors each year Crown Melbourne is Australia’s leading integrated entertainment resort.
“This exciting partnership brings together two industry leaders, and two strong brands, to create a premier poker event in this region,” said Crown Melbourne’s CEO, Greg Hawkins. “Our agreement firmly aligns with our objective of attracting the very best local and international players, all vying for a coveted WSOP bracelet. We are incredibly proud of what we have achieved with the Aussie Millions and look forward to featuring WSOP Asia Pacific on our poker calendar in April 2013.”
The agreement marks the first time the WSOP is exporting its prestigious tournament series to Australia, and marks just the second expansion of the 42-year-old brand, after the advent of WSOP Europe in 2007. To date, WSOP gold bracelets have only been awarded in Las Vegas (1970 to 2012), London (2007 to 2010) and France (2011).
Legions of locals have been swept up in the Australian poker boom that was ignited when Melbournian and Crown ambassador Joe Hachem became the 2005 World Series of Poker Champion, scooping up US$7.5 million in prize money for his efforts.
“It’s thrilling to think the World Series of Poker is coming to Australian soil,” said Joe Hachem. “I know first-hand what a life-changing moment winning the WSOP gold bracelet was and how it served as a catalyst for the growth of poker in Australia and Asia. It will be a dream come true to host a worldwide poker event such as this at Crown. I can’t wait.”
The 2011 WSOP in Las Vegas attracted 75,672 entrants and the newly relocated 2011 WSOPE in Cannes saw 4,389 entrants, together awarding US$223 million in prize money. The WSOP APAC will no doubt follow suit and take Australia by storm. Expect the complete schedule to be announced later this year.