The growth of poker in Macau
Hi everyone! It's an exciting time in my part of the world, as I'm all geared up for the big Asia Championship of Poker in Macau!
I love playing in Macau and I now consider it my home. I've been playing the PokerStars Macau events ever since I qualified on PokerStars for APPT Macau back in 2007 where I managed to finish 24th in the main event. I've been doing well there particularly in the Macau Poker Cup series which runs several times a year. I've played in nearly every one and I've been fortunate enough to win the Red Dragon main event twice. I became the first player to do so with my second title coming just this past June.
It's been amazing to watch the growth of poker in Macau over the years. The ACOP is that next level of excitement for Asia where the main event has a bigger buy-in than the WSOP Main Event at HKD $100,000 (about USD $13,000). There's no doubt in my mind that the ACOP will be amongst the biggest international poker events in the coming years so the prospect of winning the first one is very exciting! Lots of top pros will be there to do the same, including the likes of ElkY and Johnny Chan.
The ACOP is even more exciting for me as I've got a chance to win the Asia Player of the Year title where I'm currently ranked No. 5 and it's been nearly 3 years since I've been in the same position. I always believe that you only get so many chances in life so I'm going to play my heart out and compete in as many events I can during the 17-day schedule.
For those who have never been, Macau is a city that is similar to Las Vegas although it has its own culture and history. And with a lot of successful Chinese businessmen out here who really enjoy the game of poker, the city attracts a lot of pros from all around the world and run the biggest cash games in the world today.
Compared to some of the other places where I've played, Macau has a very accepting community and is very inviting to new players. Of course, there's a lot of competition too, some of which involves national loyalties. You'll hear some incredibly passionate players cheering for their countrymen you'd more likely to see in a football game than a poker room.
In Asia, some poker players really do have the status of celebrities. In some places, being a poker player isn't necessarily looked upon favourably, but in Macau being a poker pro is a job that is respected and which many want to have.
I've played in a lot of countries and one interesting thing is that a lot of women participate in the poker tournaments in Macau. I'd like to think that having Vivian Im and myself representing the region as Team PokerStars Pros has helped inspire more female poker players to play. Compared to the rest of the world where we might see female players only making up 1-2% percent of a field, in Macau we often see about 5-6% women playing in the events. But beware, even though the girls are more likely to be in dresses and skirts instead of sweats and hoodies they're very competitive. While they're still learning the finer points of the game they're also no pushovers. Girl power!
Wish me luck. And if you're coming to Macau, see you there!