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Asia now a thriving hub for poker fests

MIKE ‘The King’ Takayama (rightmost) led a slew of Filipino pros in the final table of the P800,000 2Ace Poker tournament last week to run away with the P223,058 top prize at the 2Ace Poker Club along Macapagal Avenue. Also making it to the finals were Richard Nakila, Ian Santos, Jeff Pamplona, Benjie Chok Manga, Edgar Asehan, Dek Cruz, Jharome Pena and Mark Anthony. | PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF POKERCAST ASIA

Last year, Asia transformed into a thriving hub for poker festivals, offering players a multitude of options every month.

Despite numerous festivals overlapping, players flocked in, resulting in record-breaking attendance at various events. By the end of the year, at least 10 festivals had amassed Main Event seven-figure USD prize pools, and that number didn’t even include mainland China events.

This year, the trend has continued. In January, starting with U Series of Poker. The brand’s season opener in Taipei City, Taiwan saw a 1,100 Main Event turnout and a prize pool of NTD 32,010,000, equivalent to USD 1,030,500.

This was the brand’s third consecutive seven-figure pot following USOP Hanoi — VN₫ 29,158,200,000 (~USD 1,212,000) and USOP Da Nang — VN₫ 34,810,800,000 (~$1,434,020).

Towards the end of January was the WPT Cambodia Championship, the first World Poker Tour Main Tour in Southeast Asia. Players from around the world converged for the inaugural event resulting in 51 nations represented. The USD 3,500 buy-in drew an impressive 760 entries for a WPT Asia record prize pool of USD 2,432,760. This was the fourth time in history the brand had paid out seven figures in Asia.

In early-February, Poker Dream added its own chapter to the seven-figure story. Running its 8th edition in Malaysia — its most popular stop, the Main Event’s unique format attracted 2,219 entries for a prize pool of RM 5,733,896 (~USD 1,215,450). This was a new record for the brand having come close to eclipsing a million back in August last year.

Coming up soon, two events will be joining that list. The Ace Poker League taking place in Seoul, South Korea from February 27 to March 4 at Swiss Grand Hotel, which has, announced a KRW 1,600,000,000 (~USD 1.2 million) Main Event guarantee.

This marks the first time APL has guaranteed a prize pool of this magnitude. In October 2023, APL Seoul amassed KRW 2.18 billion (~USD 1.6 million), its richest in history.

Running simultaneously, the Asian Poker Tour returns to Taiwan for its season opener. The popular brand has announced a jaw-dropping USD 2 million Main Event guarantee, the largest offering in the region. The event runs February 28 to March 10 at Asia Poker Arena and Chinese Mahjong League.

Last year, the APT was the first to announce a USD 1 million guarantee. Since then, it has amassed Main Event seven figure USD prize pools at three of its festivals — APT Taipei, APT Incheon, and APT Hanoi Billions.


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