2014 ACOP Main Event Day 1: Maddening quest for Asia Player of the Year

If you have ever been at a final table at PokerStars LIVE Macau when a deal is being made you will know that the players here are passionate about the Asia Player of the Year.

The following is an example of a scenario that has happened many times:

Four players remain in a HK$10,000 buy-in event. The payjumps are starting to get quite steep so the players agree to a deal. Hands are shaken and the players call PokerStars LIVE Macau head honcho Danny McDonagh over to clear the deal with him.

"Okay players, no worries a deal is signed and sealed," McDonagh says. "Just to let you know, once a deal is done, the Asia Player of the Year is frozen at fourth-place points for everyone."

What happens next is usually chaos.

What was once a friendly deal-making process is now an argument as many players usually care just as much about the Asia POY points as the money.

Sometimes the players flat-out request to cancel the deal just so they have a chance at a few extra POY points and honestly, sometimes the players are barely in the running for the title.

It's madness, but that's poker in Macau.

You see, over the years, the Asia Player of the Year title has developed quite the reputation in this neck of the woods.

"People do it for a combination of reasons," PokerStars LIVE Macau's Fred Leung says. "They certainly want the one-year sponsorship, but they also think there is a chance that if they do well during their sponsorship year that they might have a chance at becoming one of the Team PokerStars Pros."

A player by the name of Bryan Huang happens to be both an Asia POY title holder and a Team PokerStars Pro. Maybe it isn't out of the realm of possibility that a future Asia POY will join Huang on the team. After all, Asia is still one of the few burgeoning markets in the poker world.

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Bryan Huang is Singapore's all-time tournament money earner

The chance at a sponsorship is certainly strong, but there must be more reasons that the PokerStars LIVE Macau regulars so desperately want to win the POY title.

"Some of it's ego driven as well," Leung adds. "It has that prestige, so getting your name on that trophy is definitely part of it!"

And what a trophy it is.

It's this simple: finish as the Asia POY, get your name etched in the gold and permanently displayed at PokerStars LIVE Macau. Poker players are all about equity and the trophy equity is through the roof in the Asia Player of the Year race.

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There aren't many trophies in the poker world that look better than that

One player who is desperate to get his name on that trophy is Pete Chen.

He's the current frontrunner in the 2014 Asia POY race and will be doing everything he can to hang onto pole position throughout the rest of the ACOP.

Chen does have a big lead, but because the ACOP Main Event is so massive, and because there are still four total events that qualify for the race, he can't afford to slow down.

Considering Chen has made seven final tables this year, claimed one title and won more than HK$1 million, something tells me he doesn't plan on slowing down.

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Pete Chen is hoping 2014 is his year

In fact, the race is so open that the USA's Steve O'Dwyer can conceivably win the Asia POY after picking up plenty of points when he won the ACOP Super High Roller and also picking up some points with a final table finish in the HK$15,000 PLO Championship.

It's Chen's race to lose, but there are 286 other players currently in the ACOP Main Event and many of those are still in contention.

Regardless, by the end of this week, the Asia Player of the Year will be crowned and you can find out whose name will be etched on the trophy right here at the PokerStarsBlog.

You can also continue to find live updates from the Main Event at the top of the ACOP page and start to get an indication of who might be making a late surge in the POY race.

Joshua Bell
@PokerStars in Asia Pacific Poker Tour