APPT9 Manila: A New Beginning
The Asia Pacific Poker Tour has come to the Philippines annually since 2007 and, in some cases, more than once in a calendar year. Despite the familiarity, Season 9's arrival in Manila feels distinctly different - like the nervous excitement and anxiousness of a first date.
The tradition of the annual Filipino event continues but it's also a new beginning for APPT Manila where the region's biggest and richest poker tour has positioned itself for a lasting effect well beyond the July 30 - August 9 poker festival dates.
HOME SWEET HOME
This year's Manila leg marks the fifth APPT event in the nation's capital but the first time it will be held at the new City of Dreams Manila complex - the home of PokerStars LIVE Manila.
Gerardo 'Hill' Alim has been a member of the PokerStars family for the better part of the past decade where he's become one of most familiar faces on the Asian poker circuit. The region's newest PokerStars LIVE cardroom needed veteran leadership and Alim jumped at the opportunity to return to his hometown of Manila.
With Alim at the helm, PokerStars LIVE Manila has steadily gained in popularity from a modest 61 players in its first special event (this past January) to 311 runners earlier this month.
The winner of the special event in the first week of the month? None other than Mike Kim.
Kim has had multiple tournament successes but is better known as a cash game specialist and poker operator. He's brought that passion to PokerStars LIVE Manila and has played a major role in taking the cash games from good to great. While the poker room is relatively new, it's quickly gained the reputation as one of the city's best places for cash games whether it be ₱25-50 for the masses or ₱500-1,000 for high rollers.
SAME SAME BUT DIFFERENT
Last year's APPT Manila Main Event had a buy-in of ₱50,000 and drew 260 players for a prize pool weighing in at ₱11,349,000. The buy-in remains unchanged but there has been an adjustment to the re-entry on the tournament structure where players now have the option for 1 re-entry for each Day 1 starting flight.
The 11-day schedule for Season 9 offers 14 Official Asia Player of the Year events -- nearly triple the amount from the previous year. Schedule highlights include the opening ₱10,000 Warm-up event on July 30 which comes with a ₱3 million guarantee; and, the ₱200,000 High Roller on August 9.
Add up all those factors and it's all but certain the final tally will obliterate the 2014 poker festival totals of 558 players and ₱15,940,980 in prize money. It's all part of a new future for poker in the Philippines where the foundation has been laid to host the country's greatest poker festivals for years to come.