Wednesday, 8th February 2023 00:13
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A milestone has been reached today in the evolution of poker as a truly global sport with the launch of the PokerStars Asia Pacific Poker Tour.What’s been described as the birth of poker in Asia began with the Manila Cup, in the five star Hyatt Casino and Hotel, a stone’s throw from beautiful Manila Bay.

In the run-up to tomorrow’s Main Event, 108 players entered the Pesos 5 000 ($106.00 USD) buy-in No Limit Texas Hold’Em Freezeout Tournament, and three quarters of the field were Filipinos.

Four local players remained when the final table of ten had been reached, after 7 hours of tough competition.

Despite the lateness of the hour, applause erupted in the room as 2005 World Series of Poker Champion Joe Hachem appeared, to wish the final ten good luck and, and check out the competition before the big one.
First out was local player Mark Pagsuyin, who collected P10 700, followed by one of the handful of women players in the field, Linda Guo.It was hard to tell what excited her more, her final table finish or meeting Joe.
Another Filipino player was out in 8th place, Garry Cantong taking home P 21 400, followed by Ravi Mahtani from the USA P 26 700. Benny “Mr Energy” Gonzales finally ran out of steam in 6th place and the Filipino player collected P 32 100.

Busted out fifth was another American, Victor Catalan, who won P 40 100, and the last local player remaining, Amor Nario, was eliminated in 4th place taking home P 48 100.

And they were down to three contenders for the Cup. Amongst them, PokerStars qualifier Gianni Barbieri from Sydney, who won his way to the Philippines after playing in a $22 rebuy event.It was Gianni’s first major tourney. “I found the level of play was excellent, really couldn’t ask for anything better. It’s great being able to play major tournaments without traveling to USA or Europe.” That’s the sentiment expressed by many of the players who have traveled here from within the Asia Pacific region, who are glad that for once it’s not them suffering jetlag.Gianni turns 30 the day of the main event final table so no prizes for guessing what he’d like for his birthday.

Kenneth Leong, a Hong Kong-based Singaporean, dominated for most of the heads-up game but after one slip he saw all his chips move across the felt in just a few hands, to James Honeybone from NewZealand

32 year old Kenneth, who won P 106 900, is delighted to be able to play in major tournaments so close to home. “Poker is exploding all over Asia” he said.” So many Asian players are coming up now, it’s going to be great.”

It was an impressive performance by 23 year old James, a business student from Hamilton, who had been up for more than 30 hours straight when he finally clinched the Cup in the early hours of this morning.

“It’s huge, absolutely huge” he said of the launch of the APPT. “I want to thank everyone for putting on such a fantastic event, the competition has been great.”

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