APPT Cebu: The measure of a man
The poker culture in the Philippines has been lively and thriving since the first time the APPT set foot in the country, during the Season 1 event in Manila in 2007. Filipinos, like many people in other parts of the world, have taken to the game with passion and fervor, helped in no small part by a governmental regulatory apparatus (PAGCOR) that supports the game and legitimate poker rooms run by organizations like the Metro Card Club that makes live poker as accessible as the online variety.
The game's growth here in the Philippines has been made possible by a number of people, not the least of whom is Wally Sombero. Some refer to him as the Godfather of Filipino Poker. Others call him, simply, "a good man". No matter who he is to the speaker, all speakers agree that he has helped popularize poker in the Philippines.
Even a good man can have his dark days, and for Wally those days came a few years ago when he was the victim of an assassination attempt. In a former life, Wally was a well-regarded police lieutenant in Manila. I can't sugar-coat that there isn't crime and corruption in the Philippines. It exists and it's a problem. In the course of working to solve that problem, working to prevent crime and to root out corruption, Wally made some of those proverbial "powerful enemies". One of them tried to take him out.
The hit took place while Wally was in his car. He was shot six times and yet miraculously didn't take any lasting damage. He was hobbled for a while, and had to undergo an extensive amount of physical therapy to recover from his injuries, but he sits in the tournament room today fully healed from what could have been a life-ending tragedy.
We'll be the first to tell you that Wally's live tournament results are limited. He has only cashed on the APPT twice - in the Macau Main Event in Season 3, and in a side event at Cebu the same year. More recently he made the final table of a $2,500 no-limit hold'em event in Manila. He's much more of a cash-game player, the type of player that often goes unnoticed and unheralded by the poker world.
But sometimes, in poker and in life, it's not about big, splashy results. It's about a person's presence, his impact on the world around hiim. It's about the measure of a man and the mark that he makes. The measure of Wally Sombero, at the poker table and away from it, can't be disputed by anyone. Hopefully he continues to attract Filipinos to the game for many years to come.