APPT Macau: Bang a gong, let's get it on

Watch APPT Macau 08: Day 1a Intro on

The Grand Waldo Hotel and Casino has burst to life with a traditional Lion Dance to kick-off the 2008 Asia Pacific Poker Tour, and the APPT Macau HKD $25,000 Main Event.

Despite the absence of big cats in China, the Lion Dance originated in China close to a thousand years ago. The lion is traditionally regarded as a guardian creature (poker players take note: mind your stack).


Roar power at the Grand Waldo!

The lion dance is often confused with the Chinese dragon dance, which features a team of around 10 or more dancers. The Lion Dance usually consists of just two.

When the dancing lion enters a village or township, it is supposed to pay its respects first at the local temple, then to ancestors, and finally through the streets to bring happiness to all the people. We’re not sure how this translates in a poker room, although the lion did pay its respect to our tournament director Danny McDonagh!

The lion dance was accompanied by drums (performed by Joe Hachem), gong (performed by Johnny Chan) and cymbals (performed by APPT president Jeffrey Haas) – just the tonic for those who partied a little too hard last night.


Johnny, Joe and Jeffrey set the music industry back 50 years.

Players in action today include Team PokerStars Pro Barry Greenstein, last year’s APPT Macau High Roller champion Eric Assadourian, APPT Grand Final winner Grant Levy and Celina Lin (all PokerStars Sponsored players), John Juanda, Mike timex McDonald, Harry Demetriou, Ira Blumenthal, Derrick Hernandez, Tony Dunst, Alex Fitzgerald and Jin Cailin.

We’ll be playing at least seven levels of 60 minutes today, with the blinds:

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

Another chapter in the history of Asian poker was written at this morning’s official media conference with press from Macau, Hong Kong and throughout the region eager to hear about the latest developments in the growth of poker.

APPT president Jeffrey Haas said he expected last year’s figures of 1413 players from 73 different countries to be well surpassed in 2008 – even doubled.


APPT president Jeffrey Haas

“We’re privileged to continue leading the growth of poker and poker culture in Asia, and expect local and regional player participation to at least double during this year’s events,” Haas said.

Team PokerStars Pro Joe Hachem echoed Haas’s comments, adding that the APPT provided an option for players in the Asia Pacific region who once had to travel far further afield in search of major events.


Team PokerStars Pros Joe Hachem and Bertrand 'ElkY' Grospellier with PokerStars Sponsored player Celina Lin.

“The APPT has brought a quality product virtually into my backyard – where once I had to travel to Europe and the USA to play in events like this, the APPT is taking poker to a new level in Asia Pacific,” Hachem said.

And having already played in some smaller events at the Grand Waldo, Hachem said he wouldn’t be surprised to see Asian players again dominate this year.

“My experience is that the Asian players have no fear. If they sense weakness, they’ll put you to the test in a heartbeat,” he said.