As if there isn't enough to play for in the Asia Championship of Poker Main Event -- remember, a cool $4,240,000 (HKD) sits up top for the winner -- two groups of players from Hong Kong and Australia have found a way to create extra incentive for both the Main Event and the ACOP series as a whole.
You might have heard something about this -- a $1 million (HKD) prop bet in which players from the two countries are competing as teams to see which can earn the most Asia Player of the Year points in selected ACOP events, including the ME.
Both teams have six players plus one reserve who can be brought in to replace one of the six, although once a substitution has been made no further line-up changes are allowed. Players involved in the challenge are also obviously not allowed to collude.
The team from Hong Kong is captained by the businessman and high-roller Nick Wong, originator of what they are calling the "2012 ACOP Million Dollar Challenge."
Wong's team consists of Kenny Wong, Devan Tang, Bjorn Li, Edmund Lee, and Sparrow Cheung, with Derek Cheung the team's reserve player.
Meanwhile, Jonathan Karamalikis heads the Aussie squad, filled out by Daniel Neilson, David Steicke, David Allan, Andrew Hinrichsen, and Liam O'Rourke, with Daren Yoon their reserve.
Even though the Challenge is being scored according to APOY points, it is a side bet involving only the players (i.e., it is not associated with or endorsed by PokerStars Macau).
Eight ACOP events have been designated as counting toward the challenge, with three of the preliminary events already completed and the Main Event in progress. Four of the last events playing out this week will count as well, including Event #16, the $250,000 (HKD) High Roller event that happens this weekend.
So far through those three completed events, only Australian team captain Jonathan Karamalikis has earned any APOY points to this point, having picking up 150 of them for finishing 10th in the $8,000 (HKD) Turbo Championship (Event #10).
The Main Event offers a prime chance to pick up significant APOY points, and indeed all six members of both teams entered the event.
Heading into today's play Team Hong Kong looked like it might have a better opportunity to get points in the ME given that three of its team members -- Edmund Lee, Sparrow Cheung, and Bjorn Li -- were still alive with 56 players left. However, Li has been eliminated here in the early going on Day 3 after running A♣K♠ into the A♠A♦ of Yuri Ishida, thus leaving Hong Kong with but two players in the Main Event.
Even so, Lee in particular is in an advantageous spot after starting the day with a big stack of 214,600 heading into today's play (5th place overall).
On the other side, five of the six Australian players have already been knocked out of the Main Event, with only Andrew Hinrichsen returning to a below average stack.
We'll keep an eye on the progress of the remaining Million Dollar Challenge players in the Main Event, while also sneaking peeks at those final side events playing out this weekend to see which of the teams wins the Challenge.
Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.