Travel Diary: Cebu

Having never been to an APPT, I embarked on my journey with both excitement and a bit of fear. Having been referred to by many as the PCA of the APPT, I figured there was a good chance I would have a blast. And boy was I right.

The Shangri-La Mactan is one of the most luxurious hotels in the Philippines. So, naturally it was the host hotel for the PokerStars players and qualifiers. When I arrived to shoot the location video I was overwhelmed with the beauty and clarity of the sea.

PokerStars couldn't have planned it any better as we arrived during the week-long celebration of the Battle of Mactan. Cebu is such an interesting mix of cultural influences. It's the heart of Christianity in the Philippines, yet, it also hosts Mactan Island and Lapu-Lapu city where the locals celebrate the killing of Magellan. Magellan colonized the Philippines in an attempt to spread Christianity, but was killed by tribal leader Lapu-Lapu. The Philippines are littered with bits and pieces of both tribal and Spanish traditions.

Once the tournament started I was worried I might have seen the last of the crystal clear waters and sunshine. However, being that the event had three day ones, I managed to wrangle some time with a Pro on his off day.

On the second Day 1, PokerStars hosted a beach party at the Shangri-La. It was one of the most tasteful and fantastic parties I have ever been to. They had a live Filipino band doing American pop covers, a roasted pig, and even fireworks.

Once it came time to play poker, these guys were all business. And when I say guys, I mean ladies too. I was so impressed by how many women were in the field representing. On Day 1c, women represented 10 percent of the field. Unfortunately none of them made the final table. Kitty Kuo was the last woman standing on Day 3.

Although the final table didn't contain any women, it contained a variety of playing styles and nationalities. The players hailed from France, India, Australia, Vietnam, Hong Kong and Korea. After a lengthy three-handed battle where the chip lead changed many times, it seemed it was anyone's game. But ultimately it was the soft-spoken Vietnamese Hoang Anh Do who emerged victorious. Seeming a bit of an underdog since he admitted he has only been playing poker for six months, he still managed to secure the title and a score just under $140,000 USD.


Sarah Grant
@PokerStars in Cebu