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Is Macau's Rumored $100 Million Poker Event Possible?

Spokesman Says Winner Will Get $25 Million


Macau, ChinaThe region of Macau, China has been the world’s top gambling destination since 2006, when it overtook Las Vegas. In October, Macau casino operators reported another record month of revenue, increasing their take by 42 percent to 26.9 billion patacas ($3.4 billion) thanks a regional week-long national holiday.

The region boasts 16 different casino properties and is home to some of the highest stakes poker games in the world. It has been reported that in the last few weeks, Tom Dwan, Patrik Antonius, Andrew Robl, Johnny Chan, Phil Ivey and Guy Laliberte have all been competing in these games that feature million-dollar pots and even bigger swings.

Recently, Macau wrapped up the PokerStars APPT Macau main event, which was headlined by Phil Ivey’s return to poker after a five-month absence following Black Friday. The event was won by Randy “nanonoko” Lew, who pocketed 3,772,000 HKD (approximately $484,000) for defeating a record field of 575 players.

Now, Gaming Today is reporting that the region is gearing up for a proposed Macau Pro Am Open in the spring of 2013, which event planners are calling the richest tournament in poker history.

William Murray, an American businessman who represents one of the five Chinese companies who will supposedly sponsor the event, has stated that the goal is to create a $100 million prize pool, with $25 million going to the eventual winner. The proposed first-place prize would automatically make the winner first on the all-time tournament earnings leaderboard.

“This spectacular event will establish Macau as the poker tournament capital of the world and hopefully will bring the world’s top players there for cash and tournament contests,” Murray said. “Macau is already the Baccarat capital of the world and now we are completing the other half of the puzzle, poker.”

Murray also said that the goal was to attract a field of at least 500 entrants and that one-third of the seats have already been taken by players from the far east. The other two-thirds of the field will apparently be made up of U.S. players and the rest of the world.

But, is this event even possible?

In order for a 500-player field to generate a $100 million prize pool, the buy-in for that tournament would have to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $200,000, not accounting for any potential overlay supplied by the event’s sponsors.

Looking at this year’s marquee six-figure buy-in events as examples, you can see just how difficult it would be to attract a field of that size. In January, the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure drew a field of 38 for it’s $100,000 buy-in event.

Later that month, the same buy-in at the Aussie Millions netted the same field. When the buy-in increased to $250,000, the number of players shrunk to just 20. Post Black Friday, the Bellagio hosted its own $100,000 event as part of the Five-Star World Poker Classic and it wound up with a 29-player field.

Even if Macau was somehow able to quadruple the average field size that these events have historically held, it would still need over $80 million in sponsor overlays in order to reach the desired prize pool.

Of course, those four events didn’t take place in China, which now boasts more than 1 million millionaires. That ranks the country third behind the U.S. (5.22 million) and Japan (1.53 million). In fact, the continent of Asia now has more millionaires than all of Europe.