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Asian Poker Tour Philippines

by Warren Lush |  Published: Apr 06, 2009


January 24, 2009

It is the first time I have been to Manila and with all the colour, noise, and traffic the first thing I notice is that boxer Manny Pacquiao is beyond huge out here. I've been looking forward to the Asian Poker Tour Philippines main event for some time - the event in Macau last August was brilliant and everybody involved thoroughly enjoyed themselves. One publication voted the Asian Poker Tour Macau party hosted by Asian Logic CEO Tom Hall in the Presidential Suite at the Star World Hotel the best party on the world circuit in 2008, so there was also plenty to look forward to off the felt.

January 27, 2009

You have to take your hat off to the organsiers of the Asian Poker Tour Philippines. There is a very impressive line-up of side action including a headhunter event, a 13-card tournament, and the first pot-limit Omaha event on a major Asian tour. The social highlight is also great - a wonderful FHM-sponsored party.

January 30, 2009

Day 1B produces a bumper field taking the total number of runners to 262 from over 40 countries with a first prize of $185,000 and a total prize pool of $635,500. There are 22 players who qualified online through, including recent Irish Poker Championship winner Rory Rees Brennan. Rory doesn't last long and the next time I see him a few days later he is off upstairs to play in the inaugural Monthly Million on the site.

Asian Poker Tour Poker PackThe Asian Poker Tour has created an elite poker team to represent them in tournaments around the world and spread the message about the game in Asia. J.C. Tran, David "Chino" Rheem, Steve Sung, Nam Le, Quinn Do, and Kwang Soo Lee are "The Poker Pack". All of them except J.C. are in Manila and with their abilities and recent records, they strike fear into the rest of the field. Also with them is Nam's brother Tommy, who is not as well known as the majority of them yet, but has a great record and proved his credentials by taking down the 13-card tournament.

The Poker Pack went to the Aussie Millions and Chino told me about the sort of bets that were flying around when they went deep sea fishing. We've all heard about high stakes golf and wacky hotel bathroom prop bets but fishing…that's a new one to me.

What strikes me about these lads is their lack of ego and the respect they command from fellow professionals. They are serious players and have serious results but there is a sense of community amongst them. They tend to stay in huge suites with separate rooms together and share each other's success. When J.C. won the Premier League III the others were all cheering him on, and when Chino won the Five Diamond Classic they were also all there for him. Poker is essentially a selfish game and the camaraderie of the guys is quite something. Phil Hellmuth saw them as a posse at the Premier League - but then of course he said he didn't need a posse. That said, one of them, J.C., ended up winning.

February 1, 2009

The 2009 Asian Poker Tour Philippines has a winner; local rounder Neil Arce. He enjoyed his moment and in a quite 'un-Poker Pack' way told Asian Poker Tour CEO Chris Parker that he was going to win it before a card was dealt.

Runner-up Steve Yea was again the bridesmaid after second place in Macau. There was also good final table finishes for Liz Lieu and Casey Kastle, and Matchroom Sport director Eddie Hearn ended up cashing in 16th. The closing ceremony is colourful and spectacular. The Poker Pack boys didn't run too bad either. Both Nam Le and Steve Sung finished in the top twenty - more results to keep the statisticians busy!