APPT Macau: Mask unveiled on tour's third season

The ceremonial duties have been completed, the mask has been changed, handshakes have been exchanged and the cards are in the air for season three of the Asia Pacific Poker Tour.

The buzz is electric in the PokerStars Macau room at the Grand Lisboa Hotel and Casino where more than 100 players have taken their seats for the first of three day one flights in the HKD $40,000 buy-in APPT Macau Main Event.

The day started with the official media conference, with dignitaries including Grand Lisboa Director of Table Games Michael Au, Grand Lisboa Vice-president of Table Games Timothy Gilbert, APPT President Jeffrey Haas, PokerStars Asia Regional Director David Jung, Team PokerStars Pros and former world champions Chris Moneymaker and Joe Hachem, Team Asia Pros Celina Lin and Bryan Huang plus Bertrand ElkY Grospellier, who spoke fondly of his time living in Asia.


The official word: PokerStars players, tour management join casino officials to discuss the 2009 APPT Macau Festival of Poker

After some words of thanks for the Grand Lisboa and the people of Macau who've embraced the arrival of poker, it was down to the poker room for the official opening, with Bryan Huang giving the order to "shuffle up and deal".

It's become tradition for each APPT event to start with a slice of local culture - here, players were treated to a mask changing ceremony or "Bian Lian". Originally part of the Sichuan Opera, it is considered one of China's most elusive performing arts. In fact, it was even considered by the Chinese government as a national secret.


Who is that masked man? A slice of Chinese culture adds to the spectacular opening of the APPT Macau Main Event

But it's no secret that we'll be playing a maximum of eight 60-minute levels today, with all players starting with 20,000 in chips and a pile of PokerStars merchandise. APPT tournament director Danny McDonagh has also announced that players with holding the top 10 chip stacks after day one will be placed on separate tables for day two.

Players in action today include Team Australia pros Eric Assadourian (High Roller champ here two years ago), 2007 APPT Grand Final winner Grant Levy, WSOP Main Event winners Johnny Chan and Mansour Matloubi, 2009 Aussie Millions Main Event winner Stewart Scott, 2008 WPT Championship winner David Chiu, member of the 2009 "November Nine" James Akenhead, number one ranked Australian online player Jay SEABEAST Kinkade, 2008 WPT Borgata Open winner Vivek psyduck Rajkumar and Filipino poker icon Wally Sombero. Team Asia trio Dan Schreiber, Jonathan Lin and Raymond Wu are also in action today, as is Joel strongplay Dodds, who is chasing the unusual record of three successive 14th-place finishes in the APPT Macau Main Event.

The structure for today's play is:

Level 1: 50/100
Level 2: 100/200
Level 3: 100/200 (ante 25)
Level 4: 150/300 (ante 25)
Level 5: 200/400 (ante 50)
Level 6: 300/600 (ante 75)
Level 7: 400/800 (ante 75)
Level 8: 500/1000 (ante 100)