APPT Macau: PokerStars VIP Program far from pointless
As we enter Day 2 of the PokerStars.net Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT) Macau, stories begin to permeate of players following the Chris Moneymaker-eqsue dream, of turning a tiny satellite buy-in, into a major tournament victory, often with little-to-no tournament experience for the player.
Remember Moneymaker’s 2003 WSOP Main Event victory, universally credited as having instigated the “poker boom”, was the first live tournament he ever played.
Moneymaker converted a paltry $39 investment in a PokerStars online satellite, into a $2.5 million payday, but today inside the Grand Waldo Casino, there are two PokerStars online qualifiers who have not paid a single cent to be sitting alongside some of the giants of poker, here in the APPT Macau Main Event.
Players who play online in real money games at PokerStars, earn Frequent Player Points (FPPs) in the site’s VIP Club program. These FPPs can then be traded for items in the PokerStars VIP Store, like poker books, clothing, poker accessories, electronic items, and tournament buy-ins. In this latter VIP reward category both Andras Kovacs, from Hungary, and Chris Battenfield, from the USA, used their FPPs to buy-in to and win APPT Macau satellites, winning all airfares, accommodation, spending money, and of course Main Event buy-in, at the APPT’s Macau tournament.
In an interesting coincidence, both players have been seated at the same table for the start of Day 2, and with the average stack currently 25,500 chips, both Kovacs, with 16,800, and Battenfield, with 24,500, are only a couple of double-ups from the leader, Andre Wagner, from Germany (109,000).
Talking to Kovacs, known as and217 on PokerStars, before the start of play, we learned he qualified for the APPT Macau in a 10,000 FPP buy-in single table Sit-n-Go (SNG), and has previously used FPPs to also qualify for a few other Latin American Poker Tour (LAPT), European Poker Tour (EPT) and WSOP events. Battenfield, on the other hand has much less major live tournament experience, having previously only played in the WSOP Main Event in 2005 (via a PokerStars satellite) and mostly plays Pot Limit Omaha online at PokerStars, under the name johnniewalk. Battenfield qualified for the APPT Macau in a 10,000 FPP buy-in satellite; with a 180-player multi-table SNG structure.