Macau comes alive for season-ending championship

Welcome to the Grand Lisboa Hotel and Casino in Macau, the gaming capital of Asia, as we bring to you the 2011 Macau Poker Cup Championship. It's exciting to be back in Macau as we get our gamble on for the HK$20,000 MPCC Main Event.

Macau has a long and deep tradition in gaming and gambling. From 1962 the gambling industry was operated under a government-issued monopoly license, but when that monopoly ended in 2002, several overseas operators entered the market and Macau experienced its own boom. With the opening of the Sands Macau in 2004 and Wynn Macau in 2006, gambling revenue was greatly prosperous and more Las Vegas operators grabbed their slice of the pie including the MGM Grand Macau and the Venetian Macau, which at the time was the second largest building in the world by floor space.

While the original Casino Lisboa was built in the late 1960s, it wasn't until 2007 that the iconic Grand Lisboa opened its doors - primarily as competition to the new Las Vegas operators which were dominating the skyline. Today, the Grand Lisboa stands taller than all of them.

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Its perfect location and stunning architectural design give the Grand Lisboa a personality all of its own as it glistens in the sunlight by day, and lights up the city by night.

The Grand Lisboa was also the first casino in Macau to open its eyes No Limit Texas Holdem, so it's fitting that PokerStars Macau calls the Grand Lisboa its home. The PokerStars Macau poker room is the largest in Asia, boasting 33 tables that offer a variety of cash games and tournaments around the clock.

This week is the culmination of a hugely successful year for poker in Macau with the season-ending Macau Poker Cup Championship. Players have travelled from all over the Asia Pacific to be in Macau for a week-long festival of poker. The main attraction is the HK$20,000 MPCC Main Event which will offer an enormous HK$4,500,000 guarantee.

Hong Kong's Devan Tang won the inaugural MPCC Main Event in 2009 when he bested a field of 151 players to take home the HK$727,600 first place prize. Last year it was Germany's Julian Hasse who defeated 254 players to collect $1,064,000 in prize money.

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We're expecting even more growth this year with an even larger prize pool guarantee.

"The opening events have been solid," said Danny McDonagh, Director of Live Operations in Asia-Pacific, "but the real fun now begins. This is by far the most anticipated MPCC we've ever had and I can confidently predict another record breaking tournament this week."

The 11 official championship events this week will also count towards the Asia Player of the Year leaderboard. Not only does the APOY winner get bragging rights and have his name immortalized on the permanent trophy, but also receives a coveted 1-year sponsorship from PokerStars Macau.

2011 Asia Player of the Year Leaderboard
1. Hung-Sheng Lin (Chinese Taipei) 4,955 points, $951,490 winnings
2. Haifeng Xue (China) 3,431 points, $989,000 winnings
3. Hung-Chang Lin (Chinese Taipei) 3,044 points, $269,218 winnings
4. Raiden Kan (Malaysia) 2,760 points, $459,740 winnings
5. Mark Benasa (Philippines) 2,585 points, $1,100,000 winnings
6. Ion Sang Song (Macau) 2,510 points, $331,000 winnings
7. Kwan Pao Mah (Canada) 2,365 points, $983,400 winnings
8. Tetsuya Tsuchikawa (Japan) 2,184 points,$729,268 winnings
9. Vivian Im (Korea) 2,154 points, $760,000 winnings
10. Charles Lam (Hong Kong) 2,077 points, $396,100 winnings

While the top ten will no doubt be here and chasing valuable points, some others expected to be in attendance include previous MPCC winners Julian Hasse and Devan Tang, Team PokerStars Pros Celina Lin, Raymond Wu and Bryan Huang, Team PokerStars Online member Dale "Daleroxxu" Philip, PokerStars sponsored players Neil Arce and Justin Chan, and recently crowned ANZPT Melbourne champion Lee "Final Table" Nelson.

It all kicks off in just a few minutes' time as the opening flight of the HK$20,000 Macau Poker Cup Championships Main Event kicks off at 2:10pm local time (GMT+8). Stay tuned to the PokerStars Blog for all of the live updates.