APPT Manila: The harder you work, the luckier you get

You need luck to win a poker tournament, and the talking point among players as they fly to the four corners of the world after the APPT Manila main event will undoubtedly the luck that carried Van sirens Marcus to the title at the Hyatt Hotel and Casino.

But it’s an unfair assessment of his performance. Sure, he won a disproportionate number of hands when chasing the board, but this is a player who was overdue for a breakthrough victory.

The young poker pro from Melbourne (he’s still a young man in his mid-20s) has been chalking up consistent results on the green and virtual felt for several years.

This was his third APPT cash for this PokerStars Sponsored player, and all had been final table finishes. He was fifth in this event last year, and finished ninth in the 2008 APPT Macau High Roller.


After falling short at two earlier APPT final tables, the monkey is off the back of Van Marcus.

Forget the rivered sets or quads (who could forget that one-out three he hit to make quads on day two) – this win was about grit and determination against the odds. As his stack was under constant attack from the trio of Korea players at the final table, Marcus maintained his composure and ensured he was in a position to win the event. The harder he works and prepares, the luckier he gets.

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As much as it was a breakout event for Marcus, it was also an important event for players from the Philippines and Korea.

The performance of the Filipino players in their home event cannot go without mention. Of the 32 players who cashed, 10 were form the Philippines with Ramil Tandoc’s fifth-place surpassing the performance of Derick Hernandez (ninth) in the 2007 APPT Manila main event.


Ramil Tandoc rode a wave of patriotism and fervent hometown support to fifth place.

With the PokerStars Filipino Poker Tour going from strength to strength, the Philippines can rightly claim to be one of the strongest poker markets in Asia, with the quality and quality of players to prove it.

They also added a unique brand of colour to the tournament – from larger-than-life characters like Melvin “The Miracle” Matibag and Wally “The Dream” Sombero to former models-turned-poker players Sunshine Samson and Priscilla Meirelles and full-time pros like Neil Arce and Franco Mabanta, the local players made the APPT Manila main event (which doubled as the Filipino Poker Tour Philippine Championship) their own.

The three Korean players at the final table – Tae Jun Noh, Hyoung Jin Nam and Chang Yong Suk – showed that Korean poker no longer needs to hang its name on ex-pats like Team PokerStars Pro Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier. They were bold, loose, aggressive and put on a show that made this the most dynamic final table in APPT history.


Tough initiation: the aggressive style of Chang Yong Suk proved his undoing, but not before he'd climbed to fourth.

It was also great to see Team PokerStars Pro Lee “Final Table” Nelson again underlining how he earned that nickname, with a solid sixth – his third APPT cash and first APPT final table.

Amid the fears of a global economic recession, the tally of 285 players (up from 255 in 2007) was rightly regarded as an excellent turnout for the penultimate event on the 2008 APPT. And has been the case in Macau and Seoul, the ratio of Asian players to internationals again increased. Slowly but surely, poker is gaining a foothold in Asia.

We now turn our focus to Sydney, Australia for the 2008 APPT Grand Final. It’s hard to believe that 12 months has passed since a quietly spoken schoolteacher by the name of Grant Levy won a life-changing $1 million.

Held at Star City Casino on the shores of Darling Harbour in the heart of Australia’s largest city, the tournament is played in full view of a poker-loving public and with a backdrop of one of Australia’s most recognisable icons – Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Last year, poker-mad locals and players around the country, combined with hundreds of PokerStars online qualifiers to create a field of 561 players and a massive prize pool of AUD $3.336 million.

Having set such a high bar, how could the APPT possibly soar higher in 2008? Firstly, another AUD $1 million first prize has been guaranteed. In addition to the $6300 buy-in main event, the APPT Tournament of Champions has again been scheduled. Featuring APPT season two winners and a selection of Team PokerStars Pros, this event offers a $50,000 prize, to be donated to the winner’s charity of choice.

A popular addition to other APPT events has been a big buy-in High Rollers event. Logically, a $15,300 High Roller event will be played in Sydney on the penultimate day of the main event.


Team PokerStars Pro Lee Nelson will be hoping to make it back-to-back APPT final tables after finishing sixth in Manila.

There’s even a chance to chat with the champions at a Meet and Greet session on Sunday, December 7, or join Joe Hachem and Lee Nelson at their World Poker Seminar (date and time to be confirmed). Team PokerStars Pros set to be front and centre at Star City are Joe Hachem, Greg Raymer, Lee Nelson, Chris Moneymaker, Isabelle Mercier, Gavin Griffin, Raymond Rahme, Vanessa Rousso and Chad Brown.

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On behalf of the blogging and digital media teams here in Manila, we hope you enjoyed our coverage of the 2008 APPT Manila main event. We look forward to seeing you in Sydney.