APPT Macau: Team Philippines on the charge
It was appropriate that the poker wave that is now enveloping East Asia started in the Philippines. Thanks to a strong western influence, a poker culture has existed in the nation since World War II.
It may have been Americans who introduced poker to the nation of more than 7000 islands, but it’s a young band of players who’ve enthusiastically picked up the torch and taken Filipino poker to previously unscaled heights.
The momentum created by last year’s PokerStars.net APPT Manila event (the first ever APPT tournament) has been maintained in casinos and dedicated poker rooms throughout the country.
They might be fierce rivals on the PokerStars-sponsored Filipino Poker Tour, but the local players have banded together to travel to Macau for the opening event of the 2008 APPT.
PokerStars Sponsored player Neil Arce is the face of Team Philippines. The highest profile player on the local poker scene, he recently took out the Filipino Poker Tour against the best field of local players ever gathered. Arce is also lauded as the first locally based Filipino player to cash in the WSOP when he finished 222nd in the 2007 main event.
Other Philippines playing today include PokerStars Sponsored player Franco Mabanta and Alan Escano while Derick Hernandez, who final-tabled at last year’s APPT Manila, is already through to day 2 of this event.
Players have just returned from the first break after two levels of play. Lee “Final Table” Nelson was able to kick back and savour his cup of green tea after eliminating a player just minutes earlier, winning a pre-flop race with jacks against his opponent’s Ad-Qc after the board ran out 9h-8d-6d-Kh-10h. The Team PokerStars Pro and celebrated author of books like Let’s Play Poker, Kill Phil and Kill Everyone is up to 17,000.
But PokerStars Sponsored player Tony Hachem was despondent during the 10-minute rest period after taking a big hit from JJ Liu late in level 2.
On a board of 8d-Ac-7s-Ks, Liu called Hachem’s bet of 2000 before the river came 9s. Liu made it 3000 and Hachem called, showing Kc-7d. However, Liu made a runner-runner flush with As-3s to take down the pot and send Hachem crashing down to less than 4000.
We’ve just had the prize pool confirmed for the PokerStars.net APPT Macau main event, with the 538 players chasing HKD $12.643 million (or approximately (USD $1.62 million), making this the richest and largest event ever played on Asian soil. Good times APPT!