APPT Cebu: New record for Philippines poker

By Landon Blackhall and Sean Callander

The records are tumbling in The Marquee at Shangri-La's Mactan Resort and Spa where more than 200 players have taken their seats for day 1B of the APPT Cebu Main Event.

That means the Main Event field has been confirmed at 319 after entries of 255 in 2007 and 285 in Manila last year. Indeed, play was delayed slightly today to allow a plane full of players from Hong Kong to take their seats. That's an awesome effort from all involved with many tournaments around the world experiencing a decline in numbers due to the recent economic gloom.

One of the more intriguing players in today's field is American Michael Soroka. He may not be a household name yet but he already has an impressive statistic on his poker CV. Playing under the online name NeonFrost (USA), the 27-year-old was the player who won the 25th billion hand on PokerStars and secured a package to APPT Cebu (and the EPT Grand Final, PCA, WSOP and WCOOP Main Event) as a result.


25 billion man Michael Soroka picked Cebu for the APPT portion of his prize ... nice choice

"I talked about the 25 billion bash promotion to my friends the entire week. I could not stop thinking about how incredible it would be to win the kind of money that was up for grabs," he said.

The magic moment came in February this year on Susilva, a $1/$2 limit Omaha Hi-Lo table, with NeonFrost and tupapi777 split the pot and the $100,000 cash prize. Because the pot was split, both players received all of the packages. The three other players in the hand, FrtSpkndMn, n47j25s and chris12080 shared $100,000.

Filipino players make up a majority of the field today and leading the charge is 2009 APPT Macau High Roller runner-up Neil Arce, hoping to add another major title to his resume this year. However there is another local player that's stopped us in our tracks - Brazilian-born glamazon winner Priscilla Meirelles.


Neil Arce is out to go one better after finishing runner-up in the APPT Macau High Roller

She won the Miss Globe pagaent in 2003 before taking out the Miss Earth title in 2004. She has since co-hosted the Miss Earth coronation twice, and now makes her home in the Philippines where she works as a successful model. Meirelles is also no slouch at the poker table, as shown by her deep run in last year's APPT Manila Main Event. She's also managed to chip up early after taking down a reasonable sized pot with pocket aces.